|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:17-25 Paul had been bred up in Jewish learning; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we live. The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, if explained and faithfully applied, appears foolishness to those in the way to destruction. The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and ambitious, alike see that the gospel opposes their favourite pursuits. But those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works. God left a great part of the world to follow the dictates of man's boasted reason, and the event has shown that human wisdom is folly, and is unable to find or retain the knowledge of God as the Creator. It pleased him, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. By the foolishness of preaching; not by what could justly be called foolish preaching. But the thing preached was foolishness to wordly-wise men. The gospel ever was, and ever will be, foolishness to all in the road to destruction. The message of Christ, plainly delivered, ever has been a sure touchstone by which men may learn what road they are travelling. But the despised doctrine of salvation by faith in a crucified Saviour, God in human nature, purchasing the church with his own blood, to save multitudes, even all that believe, from ignorance, delusion, and vice, has been blessed in every age. And the weakest instruments God uses, are stronger in their effects, than the strongest men can use. Not that there is foolishness or weakness in God, but what men consider as such, overcomes all their admired wisdom and strength.
Verse 23. - Christ crucified; rather perhaps, a crucified Messiah. It was only by slow degrees that the title "the Christ," i.e. the Anointed, the Messiah, passed into the name Christ. A stumbling block. They had for centuries been looking for a regal and victorious Messiah, who should exalt their special privileges. The notion of a suffering and humiliated Messiah, who reduced them to the level of all God's other children, was to them "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence" (Romans 9:33; comp. Isaiah 8:14). These two verses, translated into Syriac, furnish a marked play on words (miscol, stumbling block; mashcal, folly; seed, cross); and some have seen in this a sign that St. Paul thought in Syriac. Unto the Greeks; rather, unto Gentiles; א, A, B, C, I). Unto the Jews... unto the Greeks. Both alike had failed. The Jew had not attained ease of conscience or moral perfectness; the Greek had. not unriddled the secret of philosophy; yet both alike rejected the peace and the enlightenment which they had professed to seek. Foolishness. The accent of profound contempt is discernible in all the early allusions of Greeks and Romans to Christianity. The only epithets which they could find for it were "execrable," "malefic," "depraved," "damnable" (Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny, etc.). The milder term is "excessive superstition." The heroic constancy of martyrs appeared even to M. Aurelius only under the aspect of a "bare obstinacy." The word used to express the scorn of the Athenian philosophers for St. Paul's "strange doctrine" is one of the coarsest disdain (ἐχλεύαζον), and they called him "a seed pecker" (Acts 17:18, 32), i.e. a mere picker up of "learning's crumbs."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But we preach Christ crucified,.... Regardless of the sentiments and opinions of Jews and Gentiles, of what the one required and the other sought after; and in opposition to all their senseless and groundless cavils, the apostle and his fellow ministers continued preaching the doctrine of salvation by a crucified Christ, and him only; though it was
unto the Jews a stumblingblock; as was prophesied it should be, and as it came to pass; for they not only stumbled at the meanness of his birth, parentage, and education, at his ministry, miracles, company and audience; but especially at his sufferings and death: it was a stumbling to them that he should die at all, for they understood out of their law, that Christ should abide for ever; and it was more so that he should die the death of the cross, by which, according to their law, he appeared to be accursed; and most of all this was stumbling to them, because they expected a temporal kingdom to be set up by him:
and unto the Greeks foolishness; as that the Son of God should be crucified; that riches should come through his poverty, and men be brought to a kingdom and glory through one so mean and abject; that there should be life for men in his death, and salvation through his crucifixion, or the shameful death of the cross; that blessings should come through his being made a curse; and that his death should be an expiatory sacrifice for the sins of men; and that justification should be by one that was condemned; and peace and pardon should be by his blood; and that he should be raised again from the dead. These things were the subject of their ridicule and banter, and, in their opinion, deserved rather to be laughed at than credited. The Alexandrian copy, and others, and the Vulgate and all the Oriental versions, read, "unto the Gentiles".
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. we—Paul and Apollos.
Christ crucified—The Greek expresses not the mere fact of His crucifixion, but the permanent character acquired by the transaction, whereby He is now a Saviour (Ga 3:1) crucified was the stone on which the Jews stumbled (Mt 21:44). The opposition of Jew and Gentile alike shows that a religion so seemingly contemptible in its origin could not have succeeded if it had not been divine.
unto the Greeks—the oldest manuscripts read "unto the Gentiles."
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