1 Corinthians 1:31





1.         Is there anyone present who has any problems to deal with?


2.         No book in the New Testament wrestles with as many prickly practical problems as First Corinthians does.

a.         It is no surprise that problems like these exist, or that Christians have to handle them appropriately.

b.         What is a surprise is the theme that underlies everything the apostle writes in correcting these diverse problems.


3.         The note that is struck at the end of the first chapter, then sounded several times throughout the letter, is this: “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord’” (1 Cor. 1:31).

a.         “Boasting” has to do with what a person has confidence in, what he rejoices over, and what he is thankful for.

b.         The issue is especially the ground of the gladness; what the person glories about is the question.

c.         Some form of the original word appears thirty-nine times in Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians.

d.         It has both a negative and a positive force, and the implications extend into every corner of life.

e.         Boasting in the Lord is a key to right living.




1.         The inclination to boast about something appears to be part of human nature.


a.         Perhaps it is an indication of our human need for significance.

i.          We need to matter, to be important, to count.

ii.         Our understanding of ourselves is fashioned by what we think gives us standing and security.

iii.        In fact, it may be that nothing else has as big an impact on our choices and our relationships as this.


b.         Anything this pervasive and powerful may be misdirected.

i.          Where “glory” is possible, so is “vainglory” (cf. 1 Jn. 2:17).

ii.         A man who boasts in this way has his attention focused on himself.

iii.        In his bragging, he not only deceives himself about the substance of his own life, but also introduces jealousy, envy, and contention into his relationships with others.

c.         That may be why Paul identifies boasting as the real root of the difficulties the church was encountering in a very worldly place like Corinth.

i.          He was simply applying the scriptures to an ever-present mistake.

ii.         The principle he cites in 1:31 might have brought to mind at least two scenes from the Old Testament.

(1)        Jeremiah 9:23-24

(2)        1 Samuel 2:9-10 (LXX had a longer ending for it.)

iii.        “The God with whom the Corinthians must learn to deal is the God of Jeremiah and Hannah, a God who acts surprisingly for the salvation of his people, demands just actions from them in response, and leaves no scope for human pride.” (Hays, First Corinthians, 35)


2.         The Lord has addressed our human need in such a way as to exclude all our boasting except in him.


a.         Paul presses the point home with inescapable logic.

i.          First, there is how he has saved: not by impressive indications of power, nor by eloquent expressions of wisdom, but by the crucifixion of a criminal, 1:25.

ii.         Second, there is who he has saved: not many wise or powerful or wealthy, 1:26-29.

iii.        Third, there is why he has saved: the gracious initiative of God is emphasized with the repeated “God chose” – he is “the source” who “made” what has been given to us in Christ, 1:30.


b.         The Lord is the only proper foundation for, and content of, boasting.

i.          1:31; 3:21; 4:7

ii.         Someone observed that “this glorying has as its object something before which all self-praise disappears”  (K. L. Schmitt, quoted in NIDNTT, 1, 228)–and that something is God’s offering of his own Son!

iii.        Galatians 6:14


c.         But what does it mean to “boast in the Lord”?

i.          It means to exult in him, to be glad in him, to have confidence in him.

ii.         1 Chronicles 29:11-13

iii.        The king who asked his flattering servants to set his chair on the beach at the water’s edge


3.         Faithful Christian living is basically about boasting in the Lord.  First Corinthians may be understood as an exposition, in practical terms, of this works out.


a.         We should boast in the Lord by being one church and not making him into just another leader of a religious faction.

i.          1 Cor. 1:11-13


ii.         Christ is not merely one more object for the same old spirit of rivalry, and Christianity is meant to be embodied in something more than rival cliques.

iii.        1 Cor. 1:10


b.         We are to boast in the Lord through the practice of honor in all sexual matters.

i.          1 Cor. 5:2, 6

ii.         Paul thought they all should have known that sexual immorality, adultery, and homosexual practices belonged to what they were before and had no place in what they had become in Christ (6:9-11).

iii.        The reason is that they had been bought with a price.  They were not their own.  God was to be glorified in their bodies (6:19-20).


c.         We may boast in the Lord by voluntarily foregoing personal privilege in the interest of making full use of the gospel.

i.          1 Cor. 9:15-16, 18

ii.         He was following the example of Christ by making himself a servant to save some.

iii.        He was intentionally acting for the sake of the gospel.


d.         We must boast in the Lord by remembering and exalting Christ in the assembly of the church, rather than our own reputations and preferences.

i.          Chapters 11 through 14 of the letter have to do with what was happening at Corinth when the church came together: members were seeking occasions for boasting.

ii.         1 Cor. 13:4 – “ does not envy or boast...”

iii.        Love is not ostentatious; it is not out for applause.


e.         We will boast in the Lord as we make choices with hope in view of the resurrection when he puts the last enemy under his feet.

i.          In chapter 15 the apostles responds to some who were apparently saying that there is no resurrection of the dead.

ii.         1 Cor. 15:30-31

iii.        The winning of the Corinthians from the pagan world is worth dying every day–if there is a future, if there is hope!




1.         “Boast in the Lord!”  He is worthy of it.  We will not find the significance or the standing or the security for which we hunger anywhere else.


2.         Romans 5:2; Hebrews 3:6


3.         Acts 18:8