| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 48 - Page 18 of 181 Index | Zoom | |
With this, the section closes:
"And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for
your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that
no one of you be puffed up for one against another" (I Cor. 4: 6).
While the actual names of the apostles do not occur in chapter 2:, the purpose before
the apostles expressed in verse 5: "that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men,
but in the power of God" is very evident. Paul is still turning their minds away from
Paul, Apollos and Cephas as such. The subject is resumed in chapter 3:, for after
charging them with being babes and unspiritual and with being carnal, he advances as
proof of their party spirit:
"For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?"
Out of this arises the theme of the foundation and the superstructure as a consideration
of I Cor. 3: 5-9 will show. This party spirit is again in mind when the Apostle contrasts
man's judgment with the judgment of the Lord (I Cor. 4: 1-6).
In order to show the evil of their attitude, the Apostle startles the Corinthians by
daring to speak of God's "foolishness", and by decrying human wisdom. The
Corinthians, being Greeks, sought after `wisdom' (I Cor. 1: 22), and to the Greek the
preaching of the cross was `foolishness' (I Cor. 1: 23). Nevertheless, "unto them which
are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God"
(ICor.i.24), even as the preaching of the cross is to them that perish `foolishness', but
unto us which are `saved' it is the power of God (I Cor. 1: 18). No other epistle or set of
epistles can compare with those to the Corinthians in the use of the words `wisdom' and
`wise'. Sophia `wisdom' is used in I and II Corinthians eighteen times, and in all the
remaining epistle of Paul but ten times. Sophos is found in I Corinthians eleven times,
and in the rest of Paul's epistles but twice! Paul, writing to the Corinthians, was touching
upon a subject as dear to their national pride as was the Law and its observance to the
Jew. It is unfortunate that the two expressions "Jew and Greek" and "Jew and Gentile"
should be confused or treated as being synonymous. Every Greek was certainly a
Gentile, but every Gentile was not a Greek, and the Greek drew a most decided line
between himself and the `barbarian'. We must therefore remember that just as the Jew
stood for signs, for law, for ceremonial, so the Greek stood for wisdom and for physical
beauty and fitness. In both cases the end was an occasion for `boasting' (kauchomai,
kauchema, kauchesis). "Where is boasting?" asked Paul at the close of Rom. 3: "That
no flesh should glory in His presence" is the conclusion of I Cor. 1: 29. Circumcision
had degenerated into an occasion to boast in the flesh (Gal. 6: 13) whereas the true
circumcision were those who `boasted' in Christ Jesus and had no confidence in the flesh
(Phil. 3: 3). And so, by a bold figure, the Apostle attacked the centre of the Corinthians'
pride, namely "Wisdom":
"Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect"
(I Cor. 1: 17).
"Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" (I Cor. 1: 20).
"In the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God" (I Cor. 1: 21).