God's Execution of His Condemned Apostles. Paul's Imagery of the Roman Arena in 1 Cor 4,9

V. Henry T Nguyen 1
  • 1 King's College, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, AB24 3UB, UK.


Paul begins the body of 1 Cor 1–4 with an appeal (παρακαλ) for the Corinthian Christians to be in agreement and in unity, and that there be no splits (σχίσματα; cf. ριδες, 1,11) among them (1,10). He has received reports that the problem of divisions and strife has taken the shape of “factions” over “apostolic” figures, which is seen in the party slogans in 1,10–12 (cf. 3,3–4). There is a growing consensus that Paul's primary conflict in Corinth was with Apollos or a group of his followers, given that Paul mentions Apollos six times in this section and singles him out for comparison (3,4–6; 4,6). Since the Corinthians highly valued wisdom and rhetoric, they would have accepted and esteemed the sophisticated and eloquent Apollos, who is described as νήρ λόγιος and δυνατός ν ν τας γραφας (Acts 18,24), more so than Paul, who came not with λόγος τοφία but in much weakness, fear, and trembling (1 Cor 2,1–5). Paul responds to the factionalism by concentrating on the two key themes of “wisdom” and the “cross”, as indicated in his statement that he proclaims the gospel οκ ν σοφί λόγου, να μή κενωθσταυρς το Χριστο (1,17). With the copious instances of σοφία/σοφός in 1 Cor 1–3, the root of the conflict seems to revolve around the Corinthians' inappropriate use of a particular “wisdom,” which is likely related to their “knowledge” (γνσις, 8, Therefore, Paul importantly contrasts the σοωία λόγου and the “wisdom of the world” with the λόγος το σταυρου and the “foolishness of God” in 1 Cor 1–4.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.

Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

A highly reputed journal published since 1900, the Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft is an international journal for the exegesis of the New Testament and knowledge of the early church (patristics).