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1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (NASB)

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” ‭

Here, Paul seems to say that God specifically chose these believers because they were not wise or strong in the world’s eyes. Does this passage imply that God chooses people to be saved (for His own purpose, such as to nullify the things that are) rather than people choosing to believe in Christ themselves?

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The answer is yes because the 2 verses after what you quoted define the ending context that God is the One who saves:

But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written: “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:30-31‬

Keeping in line with the Grammatical Historical Method of interpretation, Paul wasn’t writing to all of mankind, but to those Saints in Corinth:

“Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

To the church of God which is in Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭1:1-2‬

Paul clearly says it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus. This is similar Language to Romans 8:1.

“Therefore there is now no condemnation at all for those who are in Christ Jesus.” ‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:1‬

It is due to Him that we(Christians) are IN Christ Jesus, and to be in Christ means no condemnation.

Conclusion:

The text in Corinthians is simple, & our resistance to God’s sovereign election of sinners is common. It’s a doctrine most of us don’t fully appreciate.

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  • The saints at Corinth were called saints b/c they answered the call, & obeyed the command to be immersed in water for forgiveness of sins. That is when they f1st believed. They showed their faith, perfected their faith through their obedience to His word. Afterwards they became the elect, defined as the party of the 1st part who made the offer (grace - God's free will choice) & by the party of the 2nd part - the one who answered the call of their own free will by being immersed into Christ . The elect are elect b/c of free will choices of both parties to the agreement / covennant.
    – Gina
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 1:23
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    @Gina That’s where I differ with respect to Sotieriology, God alone grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25), and God grants faith, just as Paul told the Philippian Christians: “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on His behalf,” ‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:29‬. God grants on behalf of Christ both suffering & belief in Him(Christ). I would also add Paul in the beginning of Corinthians that I quoted above^ said “saints by calling”. Paul doesn’t say “saints by choice”.
    – Cork88
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 2:30
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    @Gina You mentioned Acts 2:38 when Peter calls people to repentance & baptism. Yet it is God who calls people to Himself as spoken in the next verse: “For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.”” ‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:39‬ - I don’t deny that we have our own faith, but such faith is a gift from God, it is granted to us by God alone. You said “It is through the preaching of the word that repentance comes…” only if God grants repentance through the preached Word. Nobody seeks after God naturally: (Romans 3:9-11).
    – Cork88
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 4:40
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    Up-voted +1 He hath chosen us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world Ephesians 1:4.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 15:58
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    Amen. That irresistable inward call - you have to experience it to understand it.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 18:13
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No, it is the method of the calling that the world looks upon as being too simple, or too weak. God uses the weak things so that we cannot boast of having done some great deed to earn our salvation.

This goes back to the Syrian leper, Naaman in II Kings 5:1-15. Naaman thought that immersing himself into the dirty river Jordan was beneath him. He had thought that the prophet would bid him do some great and noble deed in order to be cleansed. But, that is not the way God works.

Excerpt from my blog post "Behold I Thought..."

" In II Kings Chapter 5 we are told of the account of a captain of the host of the king of Syria, whose wife’s servant was taken captive from Israel, and laments that Naaman was not in the land of Samaria where the prophet could heal her master. Other servants repeat this news to Naaman, and Naaman sends a letter with many gifts to the King of Israel requesting that the king heal him of his leprosy.

The king of Israel is emotional, and reacts angrily believing that Naaman is provoking a situation of political strife whereby a quarrel might result in a war. But, Elisha the prophet hears of the king’s anger, and sends word to the king to send the leper to him. Naaman comes to the prophet with his horses and chariots. Can’t you just see this man with his show of wealth and station waiting for the prophet to appear?

And Elisha sends out a messenger with a simple command telling Naaman to go and wash in the river Jordan seven times. Now this is not usual, as most men who claim to perform miracles or magic usually put on a great show and performance for the people. So, look how Naaman responds. Look at his emotion.

”11 But Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? may I not wash in them, and be clean? So he turned and went away in a rage.” (II Kings 5: 11,12)

Naaman’s pride gets in the way. Can’t you just hear him? The prophet sent a servant to him! He’s not important enough in the eyes of the prophet to have the prophet’s personal attention? And, the waters back home are certainly cleaner and nicer than any in Israel! Doesn’t this prophet know who I am?

The servants come to Naaman and ask if the prophet had told him to do some great thing would he not have done it? This is such a simple thing the prophet has told him to do, why not try it? Naaman agrees, and on the seventh time that he dipped down into the waters of the Jordan he came up clean of his leprosy.

If Naaman had only dipped six times in the river Jordan, would he have been cleansed? No! He had to do exactly what the prophet of God told him to do, in just the waters he told him to use, in just the way he told him to do it.

“Behold, I thought”….. That is the problem. Too many people are depending upon their own reasoning, instead of seeking out what God says to do. Their emotions are ruling their intellect. Their pride is ruling their heart. It is a simple matter to let God rule, and it is a critical matter to your soul. But, it takes a little humbleness to admit that you need Him, and that you must submit to His word and His instructions." Source: ShreddingTheVeil

It is by the preaching of men, and the washing with the water, the going under and rising back up - resurrection - that is the simple, easy and weak method of calling us that God has proscribed for our salvation. He set the terms and the method, and we answer that call by obeying the command (Acts 22:16). And, too many decide people it is not necessary. But, Naaman found that following God's instructions is absolutely necessary.

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To your last question I would say that it is not either-or, but both-and. The parable of the wedding banquet in Matthew 22 explains it very well. The "chosing" has two elements, first a calling=invitation, then an acceptance. Matt 22:14: For many are called, but few are chosen.

If God had already decided sovereignly that the first people invited would necessarily reject the invitation, it would be absurd to even invite them.

That God knows beforehand who will accept is a matter of God's foreknowledge that goes beyond human knowledge. We live in a progressive time dimension, God does not. God's foreknowledge does not invalidate a person's need to accept the invitation.

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God's wisdom and strength is being made known through these believers. It is part of His calling.

This epistle was written to the Corinthians who lived in a place where debate and worldly wisdom was highly valued. They were probably looked down on by many because of their faith in Christ.
I would say that this verse is demonstrating people who put their trust in the Lord for their strength in the midst of their weakness. Strength may seen by others in an individual that can confound the strong of the world who rely on their own strength. Where did they get that strength? Perhaps it is like a witness that makes them want what they have.

The believers on the other hand should not boast in themselves but in the Lord's strength. It is God who put them in Christ who is their strength in their weakness.

The same is true regarding wisdom and those that are despised.

Therefore neither can they boast their flesh.

"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness”; most gladly, therefore, will I rather boast in my weaknesses, that the power of the Christ may rest on me: 2 Cor.12:9

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God chooses all people to be Christians (see appendix below), but some will reject that by choice; see Rom 1:18-22, 1 Thess 5:19, Eph 4:30, Matt 23:37, etc.

Note that in 1 Cor 1:26-29 we have an allusion to the purpose of the new covenant expressed in 1 Peter 2:9 -

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. Compare Ex 19:5, 6.

That is, God has made ordinary people into a "royal priesthood" with Jesus as the High Priest (Heb 8:1, etc). Thus, God uses (1 Cor 1:26-29):

  • the "foolish" (in the eyes of the world) to confound the wise (in the eyes of the world)
  • the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong (in the eyes of the world)
  • the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen {to be a royal priesthood), the things that are not (in the eyes of the world), so that He may nullify the things that are.

The triple affirmation makes Paul's point strongly.

APPENDIX - God Chooses all people to be saved

  • John 1:29, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”
  • John 3:16, “God so loved the world that He gave …”
  • John 12:32, “I [Jesus] … will draw all people to myself.”
  • John 12:47, “… for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.”
  • Acts 17:30, “God … commands all people everywhere to repent.”
  • Rom 3:23, 24, “… for all have sinned … and all are freely forgiven...”
  • Rom 5:18, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all people, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all people, resulting in justification of life.”
  • Rom 11:32, “For God has imprisoned everyone in disobedience so that He may show mercy to all.”
  • 2 Cor 5:14, “…we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”
  • 2 Cor 5:18, 19, “…God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ …”
  • 1 Tim 2:3, 4, “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
  • 1 Tim 2:6, “[Jesus Christ] gave Himself as a ransom for all people.”
  • 1 Tim 4:10, For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
  • Titus 2:11, “For the grace of God appeared bringing salvation to all people.”
  • Heb 2:9, “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.”
  • 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
  • 1 John 2:2, “He Himself [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours [Christians to whom John writes] only but also for the whole world.”
  • Isa 53:6, “We all like sheep have gone astray … and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
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  • That God wants all people to be saved, to answer the call doesn't mean that He is choosing which people will answer the call. The choice is still ours whether we will serve Him or not. God chose the method and the plan.
    – Gina
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 1:18
  • @Gina - I fully agree as stated in the answer above.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 1:24
  • Yes, just want it to be clear as many ppl get confused over this.
    – Gina
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 1:27

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