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” (I Cor. 1:21-25).
In the first chapter of Romans, Paul wrote of the shameful conduct of those who turned away from God and walked in the light of their own wisdom. The ineffectiveness and frustration of human wisdom are nowhere more dramatically illustrated. This kind of “wisdom” has drowned the world in shameful actions. Who can believe that modern man, in the act of turning away from God, will do any better, or be any more successful in finding the good apart from the God who created them than were these ancient ones Paul wrote about?
When Paul speaks of “the foolishness of preaching” he speaks of that which is foolishness from the human viewpoint in the eyes of those who “profess themselves to be wise.” But as Paul points out, any time people elevate themselves in their own eyes, “they become fools” (Rom. 1:22).
“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” Our Lord on the cross appeared to be weak, especially to the Jews who were waiting for the Messiah. But it was that “weakness” of God that was stronger than men and everything that men could produce. The Jews could not even comprehend the mighty “sign of the prophet Jonah” played out before their eyes (Matt. 12:38-45); and the wisdom-seeking Greeks could not discern the most profound wisdom in all history, not even after it had been preached to them! The many centuries since Paul wrote these words have vindicated the truth here proclaimed. If you study carefully the rest of the first chapter of I Corinthians, Paul demonstrates by the church at Corinth the truthfulness of this statement.
Why is it that men have not learned from the great Creator? Why do men doubt God’s word? When one cuts himself off from the God who created him, and wants him to be saved (I Tim. 2:4) he has forfeited his only hope. When men elevate themselves, in their own eyes, to be wiser than God, only doom and damnation awaits them. Paul warned the Thessalonians that Jesus will come “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power” (II Thess. 1:8-9).
Paul M. Wilmoth