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If the `wisdom of this world' is of no avail in the things of God, if the very wisdom of
this world has become foolish and, conversely, if the preaching of the cross is to them
that perish `foolishness' (I Cor. 1: 18, 21), then God will accept the estimate of the world
and, by the very `foolishness' of preaching, He will save them that believe. It is here that
Paul introduced his double antonym, saying:
"Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is
stronger than men" (I Cor. 1: 25).
The Corinthians had to learn, as we must learn too:
"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" (I Cor. 1: 30, 31).
The same interplay of figure brings chapter 3: to the same conclusion:
"If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that
he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God . . . . . Therefore
let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas,
or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye
are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (I Cor. 3: 18-23).
The word `foolish' or `foolishness', moros, moria, moraino, means something
`insipid' and is translated of salt that `lost its savour' (Matt. 5: 13). The word `weakness'
is asthenes, which like `foolishness' was a reproach in the eyes of the Greek. I was with
you in `weakness' said the Apostle (I Cor. 2: 3); `his bodily presence is weak'
commented the Corinthians, `and his speech contemptible' (II Cor. 10: 10). Yet said the
Apostle, I learned that His strength is `made perfect in weakness' (II Cor. 12: 9), and of
the Saviour Himself he wrote:
"He was crucified through weakness" (II Cor. 13: 4).
All this was but to bring pride in human attainment down to the ground that all
boasting should be in the Lord. If the very `weakness' of God is `stronger' (ischuros)
than man, what shall we say of the `mighty' (ischus) power that triumphs in resurrection?
The gospel is not foolishness, the cross is not folly, God is not weak. The intensity of the
Apostle's language but emphasizes the utter folly of human wisdom, and the innate
weakness of all human strength, to the end that we should not trust in ourselves but in
God that quickeneth the dead. We shall catch the strains of this interplay of foolishness
and weakness in the remaining portion of I Corinthians and in II Corinthians as well.
Whether we be Jews, Greeks or Barbarians, whatever trust we may have put in the flesh,
must all be relinquished in the presence of the cross of Christ.
"God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal. vi 14),
is the conclusion of the Apostle, not only when writing to the Galatians but when
summing up the attitude of himself and all of like precious faith.