In 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 the Apostle Paul contrasts human and divine wisdom. To understand his argument one must pay attention to the shifts in the meaning of the word “wisdom.” When he uses it for human reason apart from God it has a negative connotation, which is “wisdom of the world.” When he uses it of God it has a positive force, which is something like “God’s wise plan of salvation.” Since God’s plan of salvation is ultimately revealed in the cross of Christ, the word is personified. In other words, Christ on the cross is the ultimate wisdom of God.
Thus, the contrast is between wisdom as human intellectual striving to attain the ultimate and wisdom as revelation, God’s gift. The cross is the divider which separates those who are on their way toward salvation and those who are perishing. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (v 18).
In verses 19 -20 Paul establishes the premise that God has rendered worthless all human-centered attempts at salvation: “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Not only did God reject the fruitless striving of human wisdom, but also He chose a means of revelation actually contradictory to that wisdom, namely, the foolish proclamation of a crucified Savior: “but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (v 23). But those whom God has called are able in faith to understand Christ is the ultimate wisdom and power of God (v24).
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength” (v 25). Therefore, let us demonstrate in our lives this wise foolishness about which Paul wrote, which is the true wisdom of the cross that reduces to foolishness everything the world values, and let us be faithful in living sacrificial lives as we share the Gospel to a culture to which the Gospel seems foolish.
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Barry Allen is the retired President and CEO of the KBF and currently serves as a consultant to the interim management team. This article published in this week’s Western Recorder also appeared in a previous edition of the paper. The information in this article is provided as general information and is not intended as legal or tax advice. For advice and assistance in specific cases, you should seek the advice of an attorney or other professional adviser.