Explaining Spanish Grammar in 1 Corinthians 1:13

Lately, the “likes” on the 1 Corinthians’ Spanish grammar have kind of dried up. It is probably because Paul has been telling everyone that they don’t need to be in separate groups, and we have separate groups today in Christianity. People really don’t want to hear someone saying, “Please try to get along” which is what Paul is telling us. We all want to think we are adults and can do what we want, and that is true. However, if we are Christians, we have vowed to make God’s ways more important than our own ideas. It isn’t easy to bend our will to God’s will sometimes. However, right now, with the coronavirus in full swing, the whole planet is feeling “we are all in this together,” and we are pulling for everyone to do the right thing, to stay clean, stay home if they can, and try to protect themselves and everyone around them. We are a human family, and we know it. The church is also a family, not different families, each in a different building. We have one father, one savior, and one Bible. We should be pushing for unity because Jesus prayed that we would all be one. Jesus prayed for us, “My prayer is not that you take them out of this world, but you protect them from the evil one…They are not of this world even as I am not of this world…my prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me, and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them, and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:15-23). You see, if we love God, we will try for unity. It is what Jesus wants.

Unity is importnat to God. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Now, we will go on to Verse 13 of 1 Corinthians where the apostle Paul is trying to get the people in the church in Corinth to understand how important unity is.

Is Christ divided? (?Esta’ dividio Cristo?)Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

1 Corintios 1:13: ?Acaso esta’ dividio Cristo? Fue crucificado Pablo por vosotros? ?O fuisteis bautizados en el nombre de Pablo?

Acaso = “perhaps.”

esta’ dividio Cristo? = “Is Christ divided?” Sometimes we really don’t think about it because at times, the word order between Spanish and English is very similar. It isn’t like the subject comes at the beginning and the verb at the end of the sentence like it does in languages like Japanese and Korean, but we do have some fundamental differences between English and Spanish word order. In English, we have a special word order just for questions that we never use in sentences. It was really hard for some of my ESL students to learn to ask questions in English because we never think about it, so when I wrote my book on writing sentences in English, I included a section about questions because our questions don’t use the same word order as our sentences, but often they do in Spanish. Without the question marks on this question, we wouldn’t particularly know it was a question in Spanish, but in English, we would.

It looks like the subject of this question is “Cristo,” but it isn’t. It is the direct object. Often in Spanish, the subject comes after the verb as it does here. I learned from studying Romanian that in Latin languages, there is not always a definitive place for words in a sentence in a Latin language like there is in English. If we make a sentence with this in English, we must begin with the subject, but in Spanish, they are going to begin with whatever word they consider the most important. In this kind of question in English, we begin with the “to be” verb, “is,” and then we go on to the subject even though the verb isn’t technically finished because the verb in English is “is divided.” In Spanish, they have put the verb first because the division is more important to them than who is divided. The point of this passage is the division in the church in Corinth. Often, in Spanish, the subject comes after the verb, as “Cristo” does here. However, “Cristo” (Christ) is actually the direct object because we can ask, “What is divided?,” and the answer is “Christ” (Cristo). The answer to a “what” sentence about our sentence is always the direct object. The direct object receives the action of the verb.

“Esta’ divido” is the whole verb. It is the state of being verb, “estar,” (to be) with the past participle of the verb. “Estar” is used for things that are temporary, for health, and for where something is located. It is also used for the present progressive verb. This is not a present progressive verb. It is a passive voice verb. A passive voice verb is made up of a state of being verb and the past participle. When a passive voice verb is used, you don’t know who actually did the action of the verb. Who made the division? It doesn’t say.

Fue crucificado Pablo para vosotros? = “Was Paul crucified for you?” Everything I said about the grammar in the proceeding question is true about this question too. “Fue” means “was,” so it is a state of being verb, a “to be” verb, and “cricificado” is the past participle of the verb. This is also a passive voice verb. In this sentence, “What was crucified?” The answer is “Pablo” (Paul). This makes “Pablo” (Paul) the direct object of the verb. “Para vosotros” is a prepositional phrase. “Para” (for) is the preposition, and “vosotros,” (you guys) is the object pronoun of the preposition.

Cristianos tienen que saber que fuimos bautizados en el nombre de Jesus, no en un otro nombre. (Christians need to know that we were baptized in the name of Jesus, not in any other name.)Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

O fuisteis bautizados en el nombre de Pablo? = “Or were you guys baptized in the name of Paul?” “O” means “or.” “Fueisteis” is another state of being past tense verb. It is second person plural preterite tense of “ser” (to be). “Ser” is the state of being verb for things that are permanent. Once you have been baptized, it is impossible to undo a baptism so “ser” is used because it is for permanent things. “Bautizados” (baptized) is the past participle from. We all know that no one baptizes themselves. “Ser bautizados” is a passive voice verb that needs a direct object. “Bautizar” is the infinitive form. If you baptize someone else, you say ” Lo bautizo” (I baptize him).

“En el nombre” is a prepositional phrase. “En” (in) is the preposition, and “nombre” (name) is the object noun of the preposition. “El” is the definite article meaning “the.” It means that it is a specific name. “De Pablo” is another prepostional phrase with “de” (of) as the preposition and “Pablo” (Paul) as the object proper noun of the preposition.

Let’s put this verse all together: “Perhaps is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you guys? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”

Thee are different kinds of questions, and these are called rhetorical questions, ones everyone already knows the answer to. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These are actually called rhetorical questions to help people understand. Everyone know that there is only one Christ. Everyone knows that Christ was crucified, not Paul. Everyone know that we are not baptized in the name of Paul. Sosthenes and the apostle Paul, the authors of this letter, are using rhetorical questions to make their point.

Cuando somos bautizados, es importante que entiendemos. (When we are baptized, it is important what we understand.) Photo by Daisa TJ on Pexels.com

It is important whose name we are baptized in. There is a story in Acts 19 about Paul. He went to Ephesus where he found some believers. He asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Their reply was, “No, we have not heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” So Paul asked them again, “Then what baptism did you receive?” because all the apostles were teaching baptism. The men replied, “John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” When the men heard this, they were baptized in the name of Jesus.

Hay muchas en Bible del empiezo hasta el fin acerca del Espiritu Santo. (There is a lot in the Bible from the beginning to the end about the Holy Spirit.) Photo by Eduardo Braga on Pexels.com

You see, if you look over in Matthew 3 where John the Baptist was baptizing, he told them Jesus was coming. He told them to repent, but he said when Jesus came, he would baptize us with the Holy Spirit. John was not baptizing with the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2:38, Peter promised that when they repented and were baptized, they could have the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised the apostles in Acts 1 that the Holy Sprit was going to come to help everyone understand better and to comfort us that God is still with us. People really wonder what this gift is or was. It wasn’t something new. It was mentioned way back in Genesis at creation. In Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. In Judges 13:25, the Spirit of the Lord was in Samson. In 1 Samuel 10:10, the Spirit of God came upon a group of prophets. There are numerous places this Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, was around all through the Old Testament. When Mary got pregnant with Jesus, it was the Holy Spirit’s work in Matthew the first chapter. If we read Galatians 5:22-23, it tells us what kinds of things we see today when someone has the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience. kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” When Peter told them how to come to God and get rid of their sins, he spoke the same way John the Baptist did when he said they should repent meaning whatever bad things they were doing like stealing, lying, sleeping around, etc., they needed to stop, but Peter went further than John the Baptist. He promised them complete goodness coming from inside of them too through the Holy Spirit.

Los hombres recibidieron bautizmo dos veces. (The men received baptism twice. )Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

These guys in Acts 19 didn’t know anything about the Holy Spirit. They only knew to repent through John the Baptist. They were baptized a second time, into the name of Christ this time because they wanted the gift of the Holy Spirit. I have seen people request to be baptized the second time because they said they just didn’t understand what they were doing the first time, and wanted to be sure they were doing it how Jesus wanted. This place in Acts 19 is an example, and if we feel we didn’t know what we were doing the first time, it is okay to be baptized the second time to make everything sure. We want Christ!! We want forgiveness of sins!! We want the Spirit of Goodness (the Holy Spirit) living in us!!

Cristianos tienen que bautizado en el nombre de Cristo, no en ninguno otro nombre. (Christians are baptized in the name of Jesus, not in any other name.)Photo by Juhasz Imre on Pexels.com

When Paul asks the people in Corinth if they were baptized in the name of Paul, he was reminding them that Christians are all baptized in the name of Christ, that Christ is our leader, not Paul or some other preacher or priest.

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