Sermons

Summary: Paul had the best Jewish education available at that time; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the essential point and substance of the gospel.

August 5, 2012

First Corinthians

By: Tom Lowe

Lesson 2.2: Jews and Greeks and Wisdom

Scripture 1 Corinthians 1.18-1.25

1 Cor 1:18-25 (KJV)

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Introduction

Paul had the best Jewish education available at that time; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the essential point and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, and the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we live. The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, if put in plain words by a child of God, appears foolish to those on the road to destruction. The immoral, the greedy, the self-righteous, and pompous, know that the Gospel opposes their favorite activities. But those who receive the gospel with faith, and whose minds are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works. God has allowed most of the world to follow the dictates of man's corrupt nature, and the outcome has shown that human wisdom is foolishness, and is unable to discover or retain the knowledge of God as the Creator. It pleased Him, through the foolishness of preaching, to save those that believe in Christ. By the foolishness of preaching, I don’t mean foolish preaching; what I mean is that the subject matter of the message was foolishness to men who were wise by the world’s standards. The Gospel has always been, and forever will be, foolishness to all who are on the road to destruction. The Gospel of Christ, plainly preached, has always been a decisive factor by which men may determine the road they are travelling. But the despicable doctrine of salvation by faith in a crucified Savior, who was God in a human being, and who purchased the church with his own blood, to save all that believe in Him from ignorance, delusion, and vice, has been blessed by Holy God in every age. And the weakest instruments used by God are more powerful and effective, than the strongest men can use. It is not that there is any foolishness or weakness in God, but what men may consider foolishness or weakness, overcomes all their wisdom and strength.

Commentary

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For the preaching of the cross

The cross mentioned here is not the Christian’s cross, which He must take up and bear for Christ’s sake; although it is a doctrine that Christ and His apostles taught, and all His saints down through the ages have found to be true. It is the cross that was held in contempt by those who love the things of the world instead of Christ. It is the cross of Christ; the doctrine of salvation through faith in a crucified Savior; or the doctrine of peace and reconciliation with God by the blood of the cross, and the doctrine of righteousness, pardon, and atonement by Christ offering himself on it as a sacrifice for sin.

What follows in this verse are the two effects of the preaching of the cross. To those who perish it is foolishness, but to those who are saved it is the power of God. It is to the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; but unto those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, v. 23, v. 24. Christ crucified is a stumbling-block to the Jews. They could not get over it. They had a smugness that came from the belief that their expected Messiah was to be a great earthly prince, and therefore they never would accept One who had such a poor appearance in life, and died such a shameful death, for their deliverer and king. They hated him, and thought He was despicable, because he was hanged on a tree, and because he did not humor them with a miracle, though his divine power had been on display in numerous miracles. The Jews require a sign (See verse 22 and Mt. 12:38).

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