“That is not to say that Jesus’ message does not contain wisdom. In fact, it contains wisdom much greater than any that can be found anywhere in the world, because all the so-called wisdom of this world is made nothing in comparison. And my fellow apostles and I do teach the wisdom of His message to those who are mature enough to hear and understand it. But you were babies in your faith, and so I taught you only what you were ready to hear and understand, giving you spiritual milk until you grew in your faith and were ready to learn more. When we teach God’s Holy Truths to new believers, it is as if it were a mystery and new discoveries are made as the students are ready for them. As your faith and understanding grow, new and more complicated pieces of the puzzle are given to you. When you are ready, you will understand how to put them together to reveal a clearer picture of God’s Word and His plans for you. This wisdom of God has been present since before the beginning of time, but He has hidden it from most people, knowing that they would not be able to understand it, nor would they use it as He intended, but for evil. If the people in power at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion knew of the hidden wisdom of God, they would never have allowed His crucifixion. The prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
1 Corinthians 2:6-9, Isaiah 64:4
“Brothers and sisters, when I came to you, I did not speak to you of the miracles of Jesus, nor did I try to persuade you with the great wisdom of Jesus’ words and the scriptural basis for them. Knowing how great a hurdle His crucifixion is between Himself and those who He would have as His children, I put forth the fact of His crucifixion first and foremost, speaking of it quite plainly instead of hiding it behind exciting stories. In myself, I was not bold. No, in fact, I was weak and inside trembling with fear. But I allowed the power of God to speak through me, and proclaimed His words boldly simply through the faith that I have in Him, and by the power of His Holy Spirit working in me. And instead of speaking to you in human terms, with great words of wisdom, I demonstrated the power of the Spirit and of God, who gave me this Spirit in my heart, because I wanted you to have faith not in people but in God and His power.”
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
“You have been chosen out of the world by God Himself. Very few wise or strong or aristocratic people are called by God. Instead, He chooses what the world deems foolish to admonish those who think themselves wise and what the world deems weak to admonish those who think themselves strong. He chooses those who are hated and looked down upon by the eyes of the world, using what most people would consider nothing to take down the true nothings that men have made important for themselves. God does not want people to boast of who they are or what they do in and of themselves. He wants them to see that they need a Savior, and without Him they are and they have nothing. God gave us Jesus to teach us His wisdom, to reveal Himself to us, and to pay the penalty for every sin in every life for every person who will believe in Him and put their trust in Him to save them. And now you live in Him, and, as Jeremiah has written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Jeremiah 9:24
“For those who do not know Jesus, to hear that He willingly died on a cross to take the punishment for our sins seems like foolish philosophy. But to those of us who belong to Him already, it is the wisdom and power of God that we hear in the message of the cross. The prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.’ Look at the people of this world who put their faith in the wisdom and knowledge of men. Look at those who live to debate, as the Greeks do. Look at even the Jews, God’s chosen people, who believe themselves to hold the wisdom of God because they have been given His Holy Word. To God, every one of them is foolish. God Himself has given freely of His wisdom through the wonders of His creation, through the words spoken by Him through the prophets, and through the Law of Moses that He gave to show us the perfection we need to live by in order to be granted access to Him. But even with all of this, people still do not know Him. They don’t see what is right in front of them, believing themselves to be wiser than God. Because of this, He used a rough wooden cross to bear His message. To the Jews, this is a difficult thing to reconcile, because our very scriptures tell us that crucifixion, or any kind of death by hanging on a tree, is the ultimate humiliation and shunning. To the Greeks, this is simply madness because of its simplicity and seeming impossibility. But we proclaim the message of Jesus, crucified for us, to all who will listen because there are some Greeks and some Jews who will hear the Word of Truth and believe. Jews look for a sign from God to show them what is true. Greeks look for wisdom and seek to increase their knowledge. But God uses something that seems foolish and humiliating and completely against Himself to save any who will believe. God’s foolishness is wiser than men’s wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than men’s strength.”
1 Corinthians 1:18-25, Isaiah 29:14
“Please, brothers and sisters, in the Name of our Messiah and Lord, Jesus, be in unity with one another. Don’t let petty disagreements divide you, but be in agreement with one another on the important things. I have received reports from many, including some in Chloe’s household, that factions have formed within the church at Corinth. There are those who say, ‘I am of Paul,’ believing that the most important part of Christianity is to be liberal and include everyone. Then there are those who say, ‘I am of Apollos,’ because you favor his methods of teaching, his eloquent speaking, and his intellectual arguments. Third is the group who declares, ‘I am of Peter,’ believing that it is important to have a background in Judaism and adhere to the Law of Moses, and also believing that Peter is a more important apostle because he knew Jesus when He was here on earth and was called by Him to be a leader of the church. And lastly, there is the group who proclaims, ‘I am of Jesus,’ believing that they should not listen to any human teacher, but only to the words of Jesus Himself. Now, I ask you, is our Messiah divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? In truth, I thank God that I only baptized Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas among you, to my knowledge, because I am now afraid that some would begin to claim that I baptized in my own name! I was not sent to you to baptize, but to teach you the words and the message of Jesus the Messiah, and that not as a philosophy, but as God’s Holy Truth, because otherwise Jesus’ crucifixion for us would seem meaningless to you.
1 Corinthians 1:10-17
Paul continues in the letter to the Corinthians, “Every day I thank God for you, for His grace given to you by Jesus, our Messiah, that you took to heart the message that was proclaimed to you about Him and through your faith you have received Heavenly wisdom and knowledge, and your lives have been enriched in every way. Upon receiving the Holy Spirit when you were baptized, your faith was confirmed in you because you received spiritual gifts that were no less than those received by your brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Because of your faith, you are able to wait for the return of Jesus to earth, not impatiently or fearfully, but calmly and expectantly, eagerly expecting to see His face. When He does return, He will once again affirm your faith and your faithfulness to Him and receive you to Him without any stain of sin upon you. We know that God, who has called you to be His child through our Messiah, Jesus, His Son, always keeps His promises, and this is a great promise indeed!”
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
Paul has begun to receive reports from trusted friends in Corinth of troubles that have arisen in the Corinthian church. After several such reports, he, himself is troubled, and so he decides another letter is in order. Finding a believing scribe and asking for the assistance of Sosthenes, his brother in the faith and a former leader of the synagogue, he sets to work on his next composition. “I, Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus the Messiah by the will of God the Father, and our brother Sosthenes, write this letter to the church of God in Corinth, to those who have been saved by Jesus and called to be His people, with all those who in all places call on the Name of Jesus the Messiah, our Lord and theirs. We wish you grace and peace from God our Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus, the Messiah.” Paul stops for a moment to contemplate how to proceed with the letter. This is to be a letter addressing the concerns that have been brought to Paul’s attention lately, but he doesn’t want the brothers and sisters of Corinth to think that he doesn’t appreciate them and their good qualities as well. “Perhaps I had better write in praise of the good things they have been doing first, so that they can see the love with which I write to them,” he muses. Sosthenes thinks that a very good idea, and so they proceed positively.
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
Word spreads quickly of the incident with the Seven Sons Of Sceva and the possessed man. The travelling exorcists, knowing that they will never be able to practice their trade anywhere near Ephesus again, slink quietly out of the city, nursing their wounds. “That’s the last time we use those names!” one of them mutters as they go. Jews and Gentiles alike begin to tell their friends and family in neighboring cities about what has happened, and a new reverence for the power of Jesus’ Name comes among them. They have seen what happens to those who attempt to use His Name without faith in Him, and seeing the power it holds both draws more to faith in Him and creates a greater fear of Him. In the following weeks, great crowds of people throng to Paul, confessing their sins and asking Paul how they can be saved. Those who have been practicing sorcery abandon their craft, seeing it with new eyes. Humbled, they make a great bonfire in the middle of the city and all who have given up sorcery bring their magic books and implements and burn them in front of the whole city. Hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of books and items used in the practice of sorcery are burned, and the former sorcerers turn from the practice, devoting their hearts and lives to Jesus. God’s Word grows more and more revered throughout the city and in neighboring cities as well, and continues to draw more and more people to Jesus as their Messiah.
At the same time, a group of seven men are making their way to Ephesus. They are Jews, but only in name. They have no use for the Most High God, except for the money His Name might make for them. Their number, seven, shows devout Jews that they are powerful and blessed by God, and this brings them more customers. Their business? They are travelling exorcists, going by the name of The Seven Sons Of Sceva. Sceva is the name of a famous Jewish priest, and though the men are really of no relation to him, the name gives them greater authority. Lately, they have heard many people referring to a man named Jesus as the Messiah, and speaking His Name with awe and reverence. They have decided to incorporate this new powerful Name into their exorcisms, especially after reaching Ephesus and watching Paul in his work. Coming upon a man who is clearly possessed by a powerful evil spirit, the seven men decide to put Paul’s name to good use as well. Going into a nearby building for some privacy, just in case it doesn’t work, they grab hold of the possessed man and declare loudly, “We exorcise you by Jesus, whom Paul preaches!” But to their horror, the spirit, speaking through the possessed man, says to them, “I know who Jesus is, and who Paul is, but who are you?” Before the men have a chance to react, the possessed man jumps on top of them and begins to beat them. All seven somehow manage to escape the building, but not without many wounds and missing articles of clothing.
During the time that Paul is in Ephesus, he finds more and more people seeking him out during the week while he is working as a tentmaker. At first, they simply come to listen to him tell of Jesus as he works. But soon, as many people come to believe in Jesus, their faith leads them to bring their sick friends to Paul for healing. Eventually, it gets to the point where all they have to do is touch something that Paul has used, like a handkerchief or the apron he was wearing as he worked, and they are healed. Others bring friends who have been possessed by evil spirits, and, again, simply touching something of Paul’s drives the spirits out. Word quickly spreads throughout the city of the great miracles that Paul is able to perform, and the Name in which He performs them. This leads many more people to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and to be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit. The new believers are welcomed into the fold, and the Ephesian church grows considerably.