1 Corinthians 1:18-25
The Gospel versus Human Wisdom:
The Greeks prided themselves on their wisdom. Real wisdom, however, is in the “word of the cross,” i.e., the message of the crucified and resurrected Christ. To the “intellectually elite,” the gospel was foolishness; to those “being saved” (a process, not a one-time act) it was the “power of God” (cf. Rom. 1:16). The so-called “wisdom of the wise” would come to a dead end (cf. Isa. 29:14, LXX). The philosophers of the Greek world were fools compared to the revelation from God (v.20). Compare the modern philosopher who has no idea how the universe came into being—or of his own origin. Instead, he pontificates utterly ridiculous theories.
It was God’s pleasure to save lost humanity (i.e., those who will) through the so-called “foolishness” of the message of the cross, accessed only by those who believe it and surrender to its obligations (v. 21; cf. Acts 18:8). The pride of the Greeks would not allow many of them to accept the simple message of a Savior who died for their sins. So remains the situation with many today. A crucified Messiah was a “stumbling block” to the Jews; such did not fit their perception of a conquering king who would overthrow Rom (cf. Jn. 6:15). To those who truly were wise, however and accepted the sacred “calling” (v. 24; 2 Thes. 2:14), Jesus Christ was the power and wisdom of God. With strong hyperbole Paul declared that the “foolishness” and “weakness” of God is so vastly superior to the “wisdom” and “strength” of men, there is no comparison! (v. 25).
Wayne Jackson, A New Testament Commentary
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