What sources of wisdom do we pursue today?
II. Exploring the Text
1 Corinthians 2:1-16 (NKJV)
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. 6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the LORD that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ."
In the Greco-Roman world of Paul's day, rhetoric and philosophy were highly valued. To be skilled in speech and rhetoric allowed one to persuade and convince others. Philosophy, from great philosophers such as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates abounded in the Greco-Roman culture of the first century. Much of their teaching is still an influence in our modern western world today.
It is possible that this influence could be, at least in part, some of the cause for divisions seen in the church at Corinth.
1 Corinthians 1:11–13 (NKJV)
"For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?"
Paul contrasts the wisdom of this age with the wisdom of God. Paul did not proclaim the glory of the cross using persuasive words of human wisdom. Rather, he preached Christ and Him crucified, which, as Paul stated earlier, was "foolishness" to the Greeks (ref. 1 Cor. 1:23). However, for Paul, the cross, Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection is central to the good news.
Seeing the wisdom of God is not done through natural means, it is discerned through the Spirit of God. What sense would it make to follow a crucified Messiah? Following a crucified Messiah would not seem logical or wise. Unless this Messiah overcame death!
Jesus did overcome death and in doing so He made a public spectacle of the principalities and powers.
Colossians 2:15 (NKJV)
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Jesus overcame death through the wisdom of the Spirit and not the wisdom of age. He did not overcome with power.
John 18:36 (NKJV)
“Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Jesus overcame death in weakness and humility.
Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV)
"He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth."
Paul proclaimed the wisdom of the Spirit to those in Corinth. He did not come with persuasive words or the wisdom of the age. Paul proclaimed Christ and Him crucified, the wisdom of God, foolishness to the natural man. “But we have the mind of Christ.” (ref. 1 Cor. 2:16)
IV. Questions for Deeper Thought
In what ways does the wisdom of Christ differ from the wisdom of this age? (ref. Matt. 5-7)
How can we learn to discern the Spirit of God?