1-corinthians-1-26-29Comparing Bible translations reveals some very telling biases. In our publishing houses humility is obviously a very bitter pill to take. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 starts with Paul suggesting the Corinthians look at their own history. He points out that few of them brought any worldly wisdom with them; few had any power; and few could claim any nobility.

It was humbling enough for the Corinthians, having Paul make it so clear that God is not picking those the world would choose but a bunch of losers. As we move on to verse 27 however, all the other translations have placed God’s choice in the past tense, forgetting that He continues to choose the foolish and helpless. And all but the Aramaic Bible have also added ‘things’ to ‘foolish’ and ‘weak,’ which has the effect of stopping this verse from talking about people at all! Perhaps they couldn’t cope with the insult in the Greek as it could hardly avoid including them.

The reason the Greek doesn’t specify ‘things’ is specifically because it does refer to us: those people who are called. All these adjectives describe attributes of people—and in no generous terms either. It might just possibly also include God’s methods, not because His methods are foolish at all, but because that is how the world assesses them. But the proof that this speaks primarily of people, rather than things is that “the weak things of the world” doesn’t refer to anything at all: what “weak things” did God choose?

Strangely, coming to faith at all requires a deep and genuine humility, as we have to confess our total inability to save ourselves; we have to repent of all the ugly things we have done, said and thought; and we have to admit that only Jesus can sanctify us. We can only come to Christ as beggars, saved by God’s free grace, so why should the thought that we used to be unimpressive in the world, the values of which are not supposed to be of any interest to us now we are saved, cause anyone a moment’s embarrassment?

The other translations continue in verse 28, to speak of things rather than people, thus reducing verse 29 to a meaningless remark with no purpose. The entire section is of a piece, simply talking about the humble origins of most of the people whom God calls. The point is simply to display the worthlessness of the world’s measures and values; it’s not even pointing out the uselessness of our flesh. This is in perfect harmony with the Lord’s parable of the banquet in Luke 14:21, where He says, “Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame” because those of significance in the world generally reject His salvation. God much prefers losers.

Bless you folks, Geoff  >ᴥ<


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