Q: Is Paul stating that he does not believe in baptism or that it’s unnecessary? How did Paul implement baptism in his ministry?
A: Analysis of Acts indicates that he probably baptized the very first converts when establishing a church but largely delegated the responsibility of baptism to his ministry team or deacons. The team followed up by building the church up and ensuring that new believers completely understood the purpose of baptism. Apparently this didn’t have the effect in Corinth as it did in other places as here they quarreled and boasted regarding who baptized them.
Q: What’s wrong with preaching really well? Why is Paul worried that a clever presentation might negate the Gospel?
A: The art of rhetoric was one of the most prized abilities of the day, especially in Corinth where one of the most popular forms of entertainment was oratory and debate. It’s an extension of their quarrel as to which personality they clung to more. Paul is trying to get them to look beyond man to the source: Jesus Christ. [Read 1:9, “God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”] They should be unified in their fellowship with one another through Christ, not divided as to which apostle they favored best.
Q: What are the two basic groups Paul identifies in v.18?
A: “….those who are perishing….” and “….us who are being saved….”
Q: Why is it significant that these conditions are described in the present tense?
A: It describes the current earthly situation for believers and non-believers. One is in the process of dying, the other being rescued from death.
Q: How is the Gospel – or “the word of the cross” as Paul calls it in v.18 – viewed be each group? They’re witnesses of the same events/message, yet how do they describe it?
A: “Foolishness” and “the power of God”.
Q: How could two groups, viewing the same events and hearing the same message, come to such radically different conclusions?
A: It’s not a matter of knowledge but faith.