Summary: Paul gives us two proper responses to the cross of Christ.

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[What religions/groups do these symbols represent: crescent and star, Star of David, Square and Compasses, swastika, peace, yin-yang, Ichthys, cross.]

The symbol of Christianity is the CROSS.

• The Judaizers were preaching circumcision: justification by the LAW.

• Paul was preaching the cross: justification by God’s GRACE.

Why did Paul use “large letters” (v. 11)? Three possibilities:

• Because of bad eyesight (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 4:15).

• Because of poor handwriting.

• For emphasis (like typing in italics).


Our focus will be one verse 14. In this verse, Paul gives us two proper responses to the cross:

1. The cross is the object of our BOASTING.

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 14a).

Boasting in the cross would have been an extremely strange statement to make in Paul’s day (could last as long as nine days, public, mocking, vultures and dogs).

The pain of crucifixion was so horrendous that a word was invented to explain it—excruciating—which literally means “from the cross.”

“We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

To the world, the message of the cross is STUPID.

“Foolishness” (moria) = MADNESS.

“Gentiles wrote off the message of the cross not as eccentric, harmless folly, but as dangerous, almost deranged stupidity” (D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry, p. 22).

Alexamenos graffito: “Alexamenos worships his god.”

To the world, the message of the cross is OFFENSIVE.

“Stumbling block” (skandalon) = SCANDAL.

“‘Scandal’ is in fact closer to the sense than ‘stumbling block,’ since the word does not so much mean something that one is tripped up by as something that offends to the point of arousing opposition” (Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, p. 75). Skandalon is also found in Galatians 5:11: “the offense of the cross.”

“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13; cf. Deuteronomy 21:23; Acts 5:30; 13:29).

To the Jews, “Christ crucified” was a contradiction in terms (like “godly murderer”). The cursed one (“crucified”) is the anointed one (“Christ”) didn’t make sense. Christ/Messiah meant power, splendor, triumph; crucifixion meant weakness, humiliation, defeat.

Many Jews viewed the crucifixion as the ultimate proof that Jesus had been cursed by God for some sin of His own. In their minds, making Jesus one’s Savior would be like asking a pedophile to babysit your children.

Three humiliating doctrines:

(1) We are SINNERS.

(2) We are INCAPABLE of earning salvation.

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