1 Corinthians 1:22
For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) For.—This is a further unfolding of the fact of the simplicity of the preaching of the Cross. It pandered neither to Jewish-minded persons (not in the Greek “the Jews,” “the Gentiles,” but simply “Jews,” “Gentiles”) who desired visible portents to support the teaching, nor to those of Greek taste who desired an actual and clear philosophic proof of it. (See Matthew 12:38; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; John 4:48.)

1 Corinthians 1:22-25. For the Jews require a sign — Demand of the apostles, as they did of their Lord, more signs still, after all they have seen already. And the Greeks — Or Gentiles; seek after wisdom — The depths of philosophy, and the charms of eloquence. But we preach Christ crucified — We proceed to bear our testimony in a plain and historical, not rhetorical or philosophical manner, to the sufferings and death of Christ, endured to expiate the guilt of mankind, and procure for them pardon, holiness, and eternal life: unto the Jews a stumbling-block — An occasion of offence, by reason of his mean appearance, his sufferings, and death; they having looked for a glorious and victorious Messiah, who should rescue them from all their enemies, and exalt them to wealth, dignity, and power; and because the profession of Christianity was attended with reproach, and various other sufferings. This doctrine therefore was in direct opposition to the signs which they demanded, and to all their secular expectations; and unto the Greeks foolishness — A silly tale, just opposite to the wisdom they seek. But unto them which are called — And who obey the call; both Jews and Greeks — For the effect is the same on both; Christ — With his doctrine, his miracles, his life, his death, his resurrection, &c.; the power of God — Creating men anew by his word and Spirit, enabling them to withstand and conquer all their spiritual enemies, and to do with cheerfulness, and suffer with patience, the whole will of God: and the wisdom of God — The person by whom God also manifests his infinite wisdom in the contrivance and execution of his plan of redemption and salvation, and the preaching of whom in the gospel, is not such folly as the Greeks count it; but the declaration of that great mystery of godliness, in which are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Because the foolishness of God — That preaching of Christ crucified which men account foolishness; is wiser than men — Contains more true wisdom than any or all of the apparently wise contrivances of men: or, the lowest expressions of God’s wisdom in those actions and dispensations, which are most contrary to the judgment, wisdom, and experience of carnal persons, are incomparably wiser than all the projects which the wit of men can devise; and the weakness of God — Those weak means by which God is wont to accomplish his purposes, or the smallest effects of his power; are stronger than men — More available than any human power to bring about their designs. In other words, the weakness of Christian teachers which God makes use of will be found to be stronger than all the efforts which men can make, either to reform the world any other way, or to obstruct the prevalence and success of this.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.For the Jews require a sign - A miracle, a prodigy, an evidence of divine interposition. This was the characteristic of the Jewish people. God had manifested himself to them by miracles and wonders in a remarkable manner in past times, and they greatly prided themselves on that fact, and always demanded it when any new messenger came to them, professing to be sent from God. This propensity they often evinced in their contact with the Lord Jesus; Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; Luke 12:54-56. Many mss., instead of "sign" here in the singular, read "signs" in the plural; and Griesbach has introduced that reading into the text. The sense is nearly the same, and it means that it was a characteristic of the Jews to demand the constant exhibition of miracles and wonders; and it is also implied here, I think, by the reasoning of the apostle, that they believed that the communication of such signs to them as a people, would secure their salvation, and they therefore despised the simple preaching of a crucified Messiah. They expected a Messiah that should come with the exhibition of some stupendous signs and wonders from heaven (Matthew 12:38, etc., as above); they looked for the displays of amazing power in his coming, and they anticipated that he would deliver them from their enemies by mere power; and they, therefore, were greatly offended 1 Corinthians 1:23, by the simple doctrine of a crucified Messiah.

And the Greeks ... - Perhaps this means the pagan in general, in opposition to the Jews; see the note at Romans 1:16. It was, however, especially the characteristic of the Greek philosophers. They seek for schemes of philosophy and religion that shall depend on human wisdom, and they therefore despise the gospel.

22. For—literally, "Since," seeing that. This verse illustrates how the "preaching" of Christ crucified came to be deemed "foolishness" (1Co 1:21).

a sign—The oldest manuscripts read "signs." The singular was a later correction from Mt 12:38; 16:1; Joh 2:18. The signs the Jews craved for were not mere miracles, but direct tokens from heaven that Jesus was Messiah (Lu 11:16).

Greeks seek … wisdom—namely, a philosophic demonstration of Christianity. Whereas Christ, instead of demonstrative proof, demands faith on the ground of His word, and of a reasonable amount of evidence that the alleged revelation is His word. Christianity begins not with solving intellectual difficulties, but with satisfying the heart that longs for forgiveness. Hence not the refined Greeks, but the theocratic Jews were the chosen organ for propagating revelation. Again, intellectual Athens (Ac 17:18-21, &c.) received the Gospel less readily than commercial Corinth.

The Jews were not without some true Divine revelation, and owned the true God, and only desired some miraculous operation from Christ, Matthew 12:38 John 4:48, to confirm them that Christ was sent from God: without signs and wonders they would not believe; giving no credit at all to the words of Christ. And the Greeks, (by whom the apostle understands the Gentiles), especially the more learned part of them, (for Greece was at this time very famous for human literature), they sought after the demonstration of all things from natural causes and rational arguments, and despised every thing which could not so be made out unto them. For the Jews require a sign,.... The Jews had always been used to miracles, in confirmation of the mission of the prophets sent unto them, and therefore insisted on a sign proving Jesus to be the true Messiah; except signs and wonders were wrought, they would not believe; and though miracles were wrought in great numbers, and such as never man did, they remained incredulous, and persisted in demanding a sign from heaven, and in their own way; and it was told them that no other sign should be given them, but that of the prophet Jonah, by which was signified the resurrection of Christ from the dead; this was given them, and yet they believed not, but went on to require a sign still; nothing but miracles would do with them, and they must be such as they themselves pleased: the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, read "signs", in the plural number:

and the Greeks seek after wisdom; the wisdom of the world, natural wisdom, philosophy, the reason of things, the flowers of rhetoric, the ornaments of speech, the beauties of oratory, the justness of style and diction; as for doctrines they regarded none, but such as they could comprehend with, and account for by their carnal reason, everything else they despised and exploded. Hence we often read (l) of , "the Grecian wisdom", or wisdom of the Greeks; which, the Jews say (m), lay in metaphors and dark sayings, which were not understood but by them that were used to it; the study of it was forbidden by them, though some of their Rabbins were conversant with it (n),

(l) T. Bab Menachot, fol 99. 2. Bava Kama, fol. 82. 2.((m) Maimon & Bartenora in Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 14. (n) Shalshelet Hakabala, fol. 25. 1. Ganz. Tzemach David, par. 3. fol. 31. 2.

{25} For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

(25) A declaration of that which he said: that the preaching of the Gospel is foolish. It is foolish, he says, to those whom God has not endued with new light, that is to say, to all men being considered in themselves: for the Jews require miracles, and the Greeks arguments, which they may comprehend by their intellect and wisdom: and therefore they do not believe the Gospel, and also mock it. Nonetheless, in this foolish preaching there is the great power and wisdom of God, but such that only those who are called perceive: God showing most plainly, that even then when mad men think him most foolish, he is far wiser than they are, and that he surmounts all their might and power, when he uses most vile and abject things, as it has appeared in the fruit of the preaching of the Gospel.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 1:22 f.[244] Protasis (ἘΠΕΙΔΉ) and apodosis (ἩΜΕῖς ΔΈ) parallel to the protasis and apodosis in 1 Corinthians 1:21 : since as well Jews desire a sign as Hellenes seek after wisdom, we, on the other hand, preach, etc. It is to be observed how exactly the several members of the sentence correspond to what was said in 1 Corinthians 1:21; for Ἰουδαῖοι κ. Ἕλληνες is just the notion of the ΚΌΣΜΟς broken up; ΣΗΜΕῖΑ ΑἸΤΟῦΣΙ and ΣΟΦΊΑΝ ΖΗΤ. is the practical manifestation of the ΟὐΚ ἜΓΝΩΤῸΝ ΘΕΌΝ; and lastly, ἩΜΕῖς ΔῈ ΚΗΡΎΣΣΟΜΕΥ Κ.Τ.Λ[245] contains the actual way in which the εὐδόκησεν ὁ Θεός κ.τ.λ[246] was carried into effect. And to this carrying into effect belongs in substance ἸΟΥΔΑΊΟΙς ΜῈΝ ΣΚΆΝΔΑΛΟΝ Κ.Τ.Λ[247] down to σοφίαν, 1 Corinthians 1:24,—a consideration which disposes of the logical difficulty raised by Hofmann as to the causal relation of protasis and apodosis.

The correlation καὶκαί includes not only the two subjects Ἰουδαῖοι and Ἕλληνες, but the two whole affirmations; as well the one thing, that the Jews demand a sign, as the other, that the Gentiles desire philosophy, takes place.

ἡμεῖς δέ] This δέ, on the contrary, on the other hand, is the common classical δέ of the apodosis (Acts 11:17), which sets it in an antithetic relation corresponding to the protasis. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 184 f.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 92 f.; Bornem. Act. ap. I. p. 77. Examples of this usage after ἐπεί and ἐπειδή may be seen in Klotz, a[248] Devar. p. 371 f. The parallel relation, which the eye at once detects, between 1 Corinthians 1:21 and 1 Corinthians 1:22 (and in which a rhetorical emphasis is given by the repetition of the ἐπειδή used by Paul only in 1 Corinthians 14:16, 1 Corinthians 15:21; Php 2:26, besides this passage), is opposed not merely to Billroth and Maier’s interpretation, which makes ἐπειδὴζητοῦσιν introduce a second protasis after εὐδόκ. ὁ Θεός, but also to Hofmann’s, that 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 are meant to explain the emphasis laid on τοὺς πιστεύοντας; as likewise to the view of Rückert and de Wette, that there is here added an explanation of the διὰ τῆς μωρίας κ.τ.λ[249], in connection with which Rückert arbitrarily imagines a ΜΈΝ supplied after ἸΟΥΔΑῖΟΙ.

ἸΟΥΔΑῖΟΙ
and ἝΛΛΗΝΕς without the article, since the statement is regarding what such as are Jews, etc., are wont, as a rule, to desire.

σημεῖα] Their desire is, that He on whom they are to believe should manifest Himself by miraculous signs, which would demonstrate His Messiahship (Matthew 16:4). They demand these, therefore, as a ground of faith; comp John 4:48. That we are not to understand here miracles of the apostles (Chrysostom, Theodoret, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Bengel, and others) is clear, both from the nature of the antithesis, and from the consideration that, in point of fact, the apostles did actually perform σημεῖα (Romans 15:18 f.; 2 Corinthians 12:12). What the Jews desired in place of these were miraculous signs by which the crucified, but, according to the apostles’ teaching, risen and exalted, Jesus, should evince His being the Messiah, seeing that the miracles of His earthly life had for them lost all probative power through His crucifixion (Matthew 27:41 f., 63 f.). Comp Reiche, Comment. crit. I. p. 123 f. To take, with Hofmann, the σημεῖα αἰτ. generally, as a universal Jewish characteristic, of the tendency to crave acts of power that should strike the senses and exclude the possibility of doubt, is less suitable to the definite reference of the context to Christ, in whom they were refusing to believe. Were the reading σημεῖον (see the critical remarks) to be adopted, we should have to understand it of some miracle specifically accrediting the Messiahship; not, with Schulz, Valckenaer, Eichhorn, and Pott, of the illustrious person of an earthly ruler. Any such personal reference would need to be suggested by the connection, as in Luke 2:34; but this is not at all the case in view of the parallel σοφίαν, nor is it so even by Χ. ἘΣΤΑΥΡ. in 1 Corinthians 1:23. See on the latter verse.

ΑἸΤΟῦΣΙ] is the demand actually uttered (that there be given); ζητοῦσι the seeking after and desiring, anquirere (correlative: εὑρίσκειν).

ΧΡΙΣΤῸΝ ἘΣΤΑΥΡ.] Christ as crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 3:1), and therefore neither as one who exhibits miraculous signs, nor as the originator of a new philosophy, such, possibly, as Socrates or Pythagoras.

σκάνδαλον] in apposition to Χ. ἘΣΤΑΥΡ. As crucified, He is to them an occasion for unbelief and rejection. Galatians 5:11. For His being put to a shameful death conflicts with the demand to have a Messiah glorified by miracles.

μωρίαν] because philosophy is what they desire as a guide to salvation; therefore to believe in Christ (not as one of the wise of this world, but) as crucified, is to them a folly, an absurdity; whereby, indeed, their own σοφία becomes ΜΩΡΊΑ ΠΑΡᾺ Τ. ΘΕῷ, 1 Corinthians 3:19.

[244] Ver. 22 f. is the programme of the history of the development of Christianity in its conflict with the perverse fundamental tendencies of the world’s sensualism and spiritualism; ver. 24, the programme of its triumph over both.

[245] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[246] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[247] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[248] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[249] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 1:22-25 open out the thought of 1 Corinthians 1:21 : “the world” is parted into “Jews” and “Greeks”; μωρία becomes σκάνδαλον and μωρία; the κήρυγμα is defined as that of Χριστὸς ἐσταυρωμένος; and the πιστεύοντες reappear as the κλητοί. Both Mr[229] and Al[230] make this a new sentence, detached from 1 Corinthians 1:20 f., and complete in itself, with ἐπειδὴ καί κ.τ.λ. for protasis, and ἡμεῖς δέ κ.τ.λ. for apodosis,—as though the mistaken aims of the world supplied Paul’s motive for preaching Christ; the point is rather (in accordance with 20) that his “foolish” message, in contrast with (δέ, 1 Corinthians 1:23) the desiderated “signs” and “wisdom,” convicts the world of folly (1 Corinthians 1:20); thus the whole of 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 falls under the regimen of the 2nd ἐπειδή, which with its καί, emphatically resumes the first ἐπειδή (1 Corinthians 1:21)—“since indeed”. God turned the world’s wise men into fools (1 Corinthians 1:20) by bestowing salvation through faith on a ground that they deem folly (1 Corinthians 1:21)—in other words, by revealing His power and wisdom in the person of a crucified Messiah, whom Jews and Greeks unite to despise (1 Corinthians 1:22-24).

[229] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[230] Alford’s Greek Testament.22. the Jews require a sign] The plural, ‘signs’ ‘miracles,’ is the better supported reading here. The Jews (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; John 2:18; John 6:30) required external attestations of the power of Christ, and especially that of the subjugation of the world to His kingly authority. The Greeks sought dialectic skill from one who aspired to be their teacher.1 Corinthians 1:22. [9]ΑἰΤΟῦΣΙ, require) from the apostles, as formerly from Christ.—σοφίαν, wisdom) [The Greeks require in] Christ the sublime philosopher, proceeding by demonstrative proofs.[10]

[9] Σημεῖα, signs) powerful acts. We do not find any sign given by Paul at Corinth, Acts 18.—V. g.

[10] They are not satisfied because Christ, instead of giving philosophic and demonstrative proofs, demands man’s belief, on the ground of His word, and a reasonable amount of evidence.—ED.Verse 22. - Jews ask for signs; rather, Jews demand signs. This had been their incessant demand during our Lord's ministry; nor would they be content with any sign short of a sign from heaven (Matthew 12:38: 16:1; John 2:18; John 4:48, etc.). This had been steadily refused them by Christ, who wished them rather to see spiritual signs (Luke 17:20, 21). Greeks seek after wisdom. St. Paul at Athens had found himself surrounded with Stoics and Epicureans, and the same new thing which every one was looking for mainly took the shape of philosophic novelties (Acts 17:21). The Jews

Omit the article. Among the Jews many had become Christians.

Require (αἰτοῦσιν)

Rev., ask. But it is questionable whether the A.V. is not preferable. The word sometimes takes the sense of demand, as Luke 12:48; 1 Peter 3:15; and this sense accords well with the haughty attitude of the Jews, demanding of all apostolic religions their proofs and credentials. See Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1; John 6:30.

Greeks

See on Acts 6:1.

Seek after (ζητοῦσιν)

Appropriate to the Greeks in contrast with the Jews. The Jews claimed to possess the truth: the Greeks were seekers, speculators (compare Acts 17:23) after what they called by the general name of wisdom.

Christ crucified (Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον)

Not the crucified Christ, but Christ as crucified, not a sign-shower nor a philosopher; and consequently a scandal to the Jew and folly to the Gentile.

Unto the Greeks (Ἕλλησι)

The correct reading is ἔθνεσιν to the Gentiles. So Rev. Though Ἕλληνες Greeks, is equivalent to Gentiles in the New Testament when used in antithesis to Jews, yet in this passage Paul seems to have in mind the Greeks as representing gentile wisdom and culture.

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