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Introduction of major theme: the folly of the cross
cross is absolutely counter-cultural - it is the verdict on the culture, judgement on the world (Jn 12.31) - three sections
- the message (1.18-1.25): a reversal of worldly values - consider Psalm 37.25; Deut 28.1-8 - how does this link with the 'prosperity gospel' (God's rewards are in this life)?
- the recipients (1.26-31): gospel is for the marginalised and weak, not for the high and mighty; the things which are not - we are the 'nobodies' - are we nobodies who still want to be 'somebodies'?
- its proper medium (2.1-5): not by worldly power but by spiritual - what is spiritual power or God's power? how do we know what is of God?
issue of eloquence - what is the effect of Paul's own rhetoric?
what is rhetoric? in philosophy, contrasted with 'dialectic' - big argument in ancient philosophy, which is the background for Paul's own argument here - can truth be discerned solely by logical analysis (dialectic - Plato, 'philosophy') or is it important to consider the context (rhetoric - the poets, the 'sophists')? rhetoric is concern with the form of an argument, the eloquence of the words
was Paul effective as a person (charismatic)? as a speaker? see 2 Cor 11.6
why counter cultural? what is being opposed, ie what wisdom - Greek 'sensibility' (moderation, balance, beauty) - Jewish law(?) 'cursed be he that hangs on a tree'?
in what ways can we see the church pursuing worldly renown? when in history? when today?
1.18 - those who are perishing/ those who are being saved - what does it mean to be _being_ saved? (NB Paul doesn't talk of those who have _been_ saved)
1.23 - the stumbling block - crucial Christian concept - consistency often obscured by being translated in different language each time - we'll return to this!
- compare Ps 118.22 (quoted in Mk 12.10/Lk 20) Isaiah 8.12-15, 1 Peter 2 4-10
- literally 'skandalon' in Greek - something which causes offence (scandal)
- if we can be 'not offended' by the cross - then we are saved
- Mt 11.6 - "blessed is the one who takes no offence at me" - ie is not scandalised by Jesus
- Jn 6.53-61 - teaching about communion - "Does this offend you?" - communion shares in the scandal of the cross
- Mt 5.29 - if your right eye causes you to sin, literally 'if your eye causes you to be scandalised' pluck it out
- Mt 9.42 - whoever causes one of these little ones to be scandalised....
- Jn 16.1 - "these things I have told you so that you will not be scandalised" (go astray)
1.29 - so that no-one may boast - priority of grace - to boast is to boast in the Lord, not in anything human, especially wisdom, power, wealth - in what do we rest our own sense of self? what is it that matters the most to each of us - worldly value, or God's scale of value?