The Wisdom & Power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)
Shared March 17th, 2019; Updated March 17th, 2019
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This is the arc / bracket that underlies my Sunday message at the 2019 Austin Discipleship weekend.
The unsearchable wisdom and power of God (Rom 11:33-36) are revealed in: - the word of the cross (1:18-25) - the redeemed of the cross (1:26-31) - and the ministry of the cross (2:1-5). In each section, Paul concludes with the purpose for which God has revealed his wisdom and strength in this way: (1) The word of the cross (1:18-25) teaches us that the 'foolishness' and 'weakness' of God are wiser and stronger than men (1:25). (2) The redeemed of the cross (1:26-31) teach us that no flesh should glory in his presence and those who glory must glory in the Lord (1:29,31). (3) The ministry of the cross (2:1-5) teaches us to focus on Christ crucified so that our faith stands in the power of God and not in the wisdom of men (2:2,5).
1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5
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 it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
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?
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.
For the Jews require a sign,
and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
But we preach Christ crucified,
unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
and unto the Greeks foolishness;
But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men;
and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For ye see your calling, brethren,
how that not many wise men after the flesh,
not many mighty,
not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world
to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things of the world
to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world,
and things which are despised, hath God chosen,
yea, and things which are not,
to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,
who of God is made unto us wisdom,
and righteousness,
and sanctification,
and redemption:
That , according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
And I, brethren, when I came to you,
came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness,
and in fear,
and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God.
v. 22-24 - How has God destroyed worldly wisdom yet saved lost souls? The Jews were looking for a mighty sign . The Greeks were looking for wisdom , and neither of them saw it in the cross. Instead the Jews stumbled at the apparent weakness of it all. The Greeks stumbled at the foolishness of such a plan. Both those who were called both Jews and Greeks , found it the source of divine power and wisdom.
The Cross of Christ magnifies the Wisdom and Power of God v. 18 - The message of the cross divides humanity. It is rejected by some as foolishness, and they perish. It is embraced by others and they find it to be the mighty power of God in salvation. v. 19-20 - Why is this so? Because God has determined to bring to nothing the wisdom of this world - to show its foolishness, just as he promised. v.20 - When worldly wisdom showed its futility, then God stepped in to save those who believe. v.22-23 - The Jews looked for a mighty sign and stumbled at the apparent weakness of the cross. The Greeks looked for wisdom and a crucified Saviour seemed foolish to them. v. 24 - But some Jews and Greeks embraced it and found in Christ the power of God and the mighty strength of God. v. 25 - The 'weak and foolish' message of the cross surpassed the 'strong and wise' plans of man. It satisfied the yearning that both Jews and Greeks had never found satisfied in the plans of men.
v. 25 - The message of the cross is wiser and stronger because it can accomplish what man could not.
2:1 - Paul came to them, not to impress them with his words or knowledge, but to declare the testimony of God. He only wanted to know Christ crucified among them. 2:3 - His Presence with them was in weakness 2:4 - His Words were ordinary but the Spirit was powerfully at work. 2:5 - So that their faith would stand in God's unchanging power and not in man's failing wisdom.
v. 21 - It pleased God to save through the very thing that the wise men of this world scoffed at (v.20)?
How did the world know not God? The Jews were not mighty enough to save themselves, but they stumbled at the weakness of the cross. The Greeks were not wise enough to save themselves, but the stumbled at the foolishness of a crucified Saviour.
The people God has saved are not the impressive ones (v.26), but the despised ones (v.27-28). He chose the despised to overthrow the impressive ones so that " no flesh should glory in his presence " The Corinthians have missed this entirely and that's why they are glorying in the presence of God - even in the church, the Temple of God. They don't see that God chose them for exactly the opposite reason - so that this wouldn't happen
v. 30-31 - Instead of men glorying in men, God wants men to glory in Christ. The Corinthians are glorying in themselves , but the only wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemptive power anyone should glory in is that of Christ - that of God himself.
Disclaimer: The opinions and conclusions expressed on this page are those of the author and may or may not accord with the positions of Biblearc or Bethlehem College & Seminary.