Sometimes I give Paul a hard time, but if there’s one thing I can appreciate about him, it’s his predilection for metaphors. And in this, the third chapter of 1st Corinthians, he’s got three of them for us: feeding a baby, doing agriculture, and building a house.
This passage is a tricky one for me to approach, because it’s about two kinds of wisdom. And one could easily take Paul’s point as being anti-intellectual, anti-scholarly, anti-knowledge, and in fact plenty of people have done so. Plenty of people reject Christianity for rejecting learning, claiming it necessarily throws the life of the mind out the door–and plenty of other people embrace Christianity while dismissing any kind of intellectual engagement as arrogant and anti-spiritual. The gospel is accessible to everyone regardless of intelligence, but it’s not inherently elitist to think. Let’s take a look at what Paul actually says.
Welcome back to All The Paul, here on the Paul Channel, your place for the most up-to-date Paul coverage. (From the couch, someone remarks, “This 24/7 Paul Cycle has really gotten out of hand.”) Today we’re taking a second look at the first chapter of 1 Corinthians, because we’re all about making that progress.
Transitioning is hard. It’s a new place in my Bible, new chocolate, new Bible Gateway link to a new book, and it’s gonna be new hashtags when I post the photo to Instagram. I’ve got that Psalms momentum, but here I am taking a hard right turn, and it’s just about killed my velocity. I read 1 Corinthians 1 today—I’ve been thinking about doing a series on everything Paul wrote, call it All the Paul. And since we’ve already gone through Romans, I figured I’d get into the next book in line. But man, writing anything about this feels like tunneling through a brick wall.
I got a surprise this morning. According to my memory, Psalm 150 was a litany of exhortations to praise God with various musical instruments, with zero substantive theological content. As it turns out, the List of Approved Instruments is bookended by reasons to praise God, a context to establish why praising God is a good thing to do with your music. The lessons here are twofold: the best source for determining what the Bible says is the actual Bible, and also my memory is failing me in my old age. I’m thirty-four.
I’ve been trying to write this entry today, and the inertia is palpable. Some psalms it’s easy to sing along with. This one, though? I hit the midpoint and just about got whiplash. Psalm 149 is a praise song, it’s as much a product of ancient Jewish culture as psalms like 147 and 132, and it’s a song about singing, and I would characterize it as a psalm of new orientation—but man, if it doesn’t induce disorientation in me. It may be a psalm of praise, but it’s also a psalm of war.
Who should praise God? The beings in the heavens and the beings on the earth. And why should they praise him? Because he is the greatest being. There, that’s Psalm 148. Good work, everyone; see you tomorrow.