The Book of Isaiah is a composite of writings from three distinct periods in Israel’s history. Chapters 1-39 are called “First Isaiah” and were written by “Isaiah of Jerusalem” in the 20 years before Jerusalem was under direct siege by the Assyrians in 701 BCE. “Second Isaiah” is Chapters 40 to 55 and brings hope to the Judeans during the time of the Exile in Babylon (587 to 539 BCE) by telling them they have suffered enough and will return to Jerusalem. “Third Isaiah” is Chapters 56 to 66 and gives encouragement to the Judeans who returned to Jerusalem after the Exile.
In today’s reading from Third Isaiah, the prophet is told by God to reveal to the people who returned to Jerusalem that their way of living is immoral, and that prayer and sacrifices without serious moral reformation do not please Yahweh (vv. 1-5). Instead, the LORD wants justice, freedom for the oppressed, sharing of food, bringing the homeless into one’s home, and sharing one’s goods and clothing (vv. 6-8). When these things are done, Yahweh will guide the people and the ruins of Jerusalem will be rebuilt (vv. 9-12).
1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was Hellenistic and emphasized reason and secular wisdom. In addition to Paul, other Jesus Followers also taught in Corinth, sometimes in ways inconsistent with Paul’s understandings of what it means to be a Jesus Follower. This led to contentions among the Corinthians.
Today’s reading is the entirety of Chapter 2. In it, Paul continues his opposition to worldly wisdom and asserts that the Corinthians became believers because of the power of the Spirit and God, not because of lofty words. Paul says he can speak of God’s wisdom among those spiritually mature because the Spirit enables them to understand the gifts bestowed by God. Those who are “unspiritual” (or natural) regard the gifts of God’s Spirit as foolishness, but those who are spiritual have the mind of Christ. In Chapter 3, Paul will describe the Corinthians as spiritual infants because of their quarreling.