God’s Wisdom

1 Corinthians

The Corinthians were very much into secular wisdom, individualism, egocentricity, prestige, power, philosophy, debate, etc.

I love how God in His wisdom had Paul preach what is foolish to the Corinthians.

1 Corinthians 1:21-24
For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

It’s interesting how Jesus and Paul made it more difficult to be saved than easy. They wanted to make sure that Christians are true believers who are drawn by God and spoken to by the Holy Spirit instead of those who just agree with the Gospel on an intellectual level and don’t truly believe or love God.

What could be more foolish to people like the Corinthians than a person dying on a cross? David Garland in his commentary on 1 Corinthians says, “To be full of oneself as a golden-tonged orator is the opposite of emptying oneself (of oneself), which is the paradigm presented by the cross.” He goes on later to say, “He does not say that he preached the resurrected Christ, but the crucified Christ. Crucifixion and resurrection belong together as part of the gospel story (1 Corinthians 15:3-5), but the cross was repugnant to ancient sensibilities and assailed the world’s self-centeredness and self-destructive ways. It was not yet the ‘old rugged cross’ sentimentalized in hymns, embalmed in stained-glass windows, perched on marble altars, or fashioned into gold charms.”

There were no altar calls or asking people to pray the sinner’s prayer. The message was simple. The persuasion was left to the Holy Spirit.

As a side note I found that 1 Corinthians 1:21 (a) and 1 Corinthians 1:29 serve as bookends to what is explained in between. Together they are, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

It’s unlikely that the typical Corinthian (or us) is going to boast in something that seems foolish to us. Salvation through someone’s death on a cross is not something anyone would come up with in their own wisdom. And even if they did, it’s not something they would present as an orator for people to marvel at.

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