Writing to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul asks these believers to consider their own backgrounds. In verse 26, the inspired apostle writes:
1 Corinthians 1:26
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
God does not choose an individual because of his standing in society, or because of his ability. (Nor does he choose a person because of their lack of standing, or lack of ability.) God’s choice is based on sovereign free grace, and not because of anything that he sees or foresees in the one chosen—otherwise mercy would no longer be mercy, and grace would no longer be grace.
As Paul rightly observes, very few of the Corinthian believers were wise by human standards. Very few occupied positions of influence. Very few could trace their ancestry back through many generations, and very few were born of noble or high-ranking families.
God does not exclude the wise, the noble or the powerful of this world. Many such have been brought to acknowledge Christ as their Saviour and Lord. However, as a rule, the majority of those who are brought to a saving knowledge of God’s Son are not from these levels of society.
In verses 27 and 28, the apostle continues:
1 Corinthians 1:27-28
27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are…
What the world considered foolish, God chose—to confound and shame those who considered themselves enlightened or well-informed. What the world considered weak, insignificant, or inconsequential, God chose—to confound and shame those who relied on human strength, power, or supposed superiority.
God chose deliberately that which the world despised and rejected. He chose the lowly things [KJV, base things]; i.e., that which was low-born or of no reputation. God chose that which the world considered insignificant to render powerless and ineffective that which the world counts as significant or important.
Once again, God’s wisdom demonstrates his righteous, just and merciful character. God exalts those whom men debase. God debases those whom men exalt, or who exalt themselves. (Isa. 2:11-12,17-19)
Thus, in verse 29, the apostle writes:
1 Corinthians 1:29
…so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.
No one may glory in his or her own achievements—for God did not choose that person on this account. No one may boast of their position in society—for God did not choose that individual on this account. No one may boast of their righteous acts, good deeds, or exercise of faith—for God did not choose that person on any of these accounts.
God chose whom he would—on account of his own good pleasure. Therefore, as the apostle declares, no one may boast in God’s presence, for nothing in us influenced God’s decision. He chose us out of love, mercy and grace; and in accordance with his sovereign purposes in election. (1 Cor. 4:7)
[Excerpt from Expository Notes: 1 Corinthians (chapter 1 verses 26-29). To read or download the full version of these Notes, click on the NT Commentaries menu tab above.]Follow @gordon_lyons