1 Corinthians 1:17-2:2*

The following is from “Recovering the Poetic Structure of 1 Cor. I 17 – II 2: A Study in Text and Commentary”: K. E. Bailey, Novum Testamentum, Vol. 17, Fasc. 4 (Oct., 1975), pp. 265-296

“The poem is written with a series of seven semantic units which are then repeated in an inverse order (inverted parallelism). The six outer semantic units (three inverted pairs) are each composed of four lines. Units A and A’ relate to each other in step parallelism. Units B and B’ as well as C and C’ are internally chiastic and at the same time, match each other also using step parallelism. With one exception (line C-I) the outer two lines of each of these six units are longer than the inner two lines. After the outer envelope of twenty-four, the inner heart of the poem is composed of fourteen lines which form into seven couplets. Then at the very center of the poem …  each line is composed precisely of seven syllables. Thus the number seven is worked into the overall structure three ways”.

1 For Christ did not send me to baptize
2 but to preach the gospel
3 not with wise words
4 lest it be emptied of its power, the cross of Christ

1 For the word of the cross, to those being destroyed, is folly
2 but to us who are being saved
2′ it is the power of God
1′ For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise men”
(and the cleverness of the clever I will thwart)

1 Where is the wise man
2 Where is the scribe
2′ Where is the scholar of this age
I’ Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world

1 For since in the wisdom of God
2 The world did not know God through wisdom

1 It pleased God through the folly of the kerygma
2 To save those who believe

1 Since Jews demand signs
2 And Greeks seek wisdom

1 But we preach
2 Christ crucified

1 A stumbling block to Jews
2 And folly to gentiles

1 But to those who are called  (both Jews and Greeks)
2 Christ the power of God and wisdom of God

1 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men
2 And the weakness of God is stronger than men
(for consider your call brethren)

1 For there are not many wise men according to the flesh
2 Not many powerful
2′ Not many of noble birth
1′ Yet, the foolishness of the world, God chose to shame the wise men

d. (What is weak in the world, God chose to shame the strong)
e. (what is low born and despised in the world, God chose even the things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are)

1 So that all flesh might not boast in the presence of God
2 From him you are in Christ Jesus
2′ Who became wisdom for us from God.
(which is righteousness, santification and redemption)
1′ Therefore it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord”.

1 And I came to you    g. (brethren I came)
2 Not in lofty words   h. (or wisdom)
3 Proclaiming to you the testimony of God
4 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus
       Christ and him Crucified.


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