1 Corinthians 3:19
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He takes the wise in their own craftiness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(19) With God.—Better, in the sight of God (Romans 2:13).

For it is written.—By two passages, one from Job, and the other from the Psalms, St. Paul proves the truth of his previous assertion regarding God’s estimate of mere “worldly wisdom.” It may be noticed that with the exception of the reference in James 5:11 to the “proverbial patience” of Job, of which the writer says “ye have heard” (not read), this is the only allusion to the book of Job or to Job in the New Testament.

3:18-23 To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that wordly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; All are yours, even ministers and ordinances. Nay, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours, that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father's house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you for ever at your journey's end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of his kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must own his dominion, and cheerfully submit to his command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.For the wisdom of this world - That which is esteemed to be wisdom by the people of this world on the subject of religion. It does not mean that true wisdom is foolishness with him. It does not mean that science, and prudence, and law - that the knowledge of his works - that astronomy, and medicine, and chemistry, are regarded by him as folly, and as unworthy the attention of people. God is the friend of truth on all subjects; and he requires us to become acquainted with his works, and commends those who search them, Psalm 92:4; Psalm 111:2. But the apostle refers here to that which was esteemed to be wisdom among the ancients, and in which they so much prided themselves, their vain, self-confident, and false opinions on the subject of religion; and especially those opinions when they were opposed to the simple but sublime truths of revelation. See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:20-21.

Is foolishness with God - Is esteemed by him to be folly. See the note at 1 Corinthians 1:20-24.

For it is written ... - Job 5:13. The word rendered "taketh" here denotes to clench with the fist, gripe, grasp. And the sense is:

(1) However crafty, or cunning, or skillful they may be; however self-confident, yet that they cannot deceive or impose upon God. He can thwart their plans, overthrow their schemes, defeat their counsels, and foil them in their enterprises, Job 5:12.

(2) he does it by their own cunning or craftiness. He allows them to involve themselves in difficulties or to entangle each other. He makes use of even their own craft and cunning to defeat their counsels. He allows the plans of one wise man to come in conflict with those of another, and thus to destroy one another. Honesty in religion, as in everything else, is the best policy; and a man who pursues a course of conscientious integrity may expect the protection of God. But he who attempts to carry his purposes by craft and intrigue - who depends on skill and cunning instead of truth and honesty, will often find that he is the prey of his own cunning and duplicity.

19. with God—in the judgment of God.

it is written—in Job 5:13. The formula of quoting Scripture used here, establishes the canonicity of Job.

He taketh … wise in … own craftiness—proving the "foolishness" of the world's wisdom, since it is made by God the very snare to catch those who think themselves so wise. Literally, "He who taketh … the whole of the sentence not being quoted, but only the part which suited Paul's purpose.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; God accounteth that folly which the world calleth wisdom, and indeed it is so (for God cannot err, nor be mistaken in his judgment): the philosophers and wise men of the world propose the happiness of man as their end, which indeed is the true end which all men aim at, and do propound to themselves; true wisdom directeth the best means in order to the best end. Whatsoever directeth not to the best end, or to what is not the best means in order to that end, is not wisdom, but real folly; worldly wisdom neither directeth to the best end, for it looks at no further happiness than that of this life, nor yet to the best means, and therefore is truly, what God accounts it, foolishness.

For it is written: He taketh the wise in their own craftiness; and to see the wise and learned men of the world thus err both in their judgment and practice, is no wonder at all; for God is set out of old by Eliphaz, as one that taketh the wise in their own craftiness, Job 5:13. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God,.... The wisdom of the Jewish, or Gentile world. It is had in no account with him; it is despised and neglected by him; he makes it foolish, destroys it, and brings it to nothing; he lays it aside as useless, to make men wise unto salvation, and by the foolishness of preaching saves them that believe; he passes by the wise and prudent, and hides the things of the Gospel from them; so, that, with all their learning and wisdom, they can neither apprehend nor comprehend the mysteries of grace, whilst he reveals them unto babes, and chooses the foolish things of this world to spread the knowledge of himself, his Son, his Gospel, and the truths of it, and whom he makes successful, to the confusion of the wise and learned.

"For it is written", an usual form of citing Scriptures with the Jews; it is in Job 5:13 he taketh the wise in their own craftiness, or by it. What Eliphaz says of the wise politicians of the world, who are often disappointed of their crafty devices, and cannot perform the enterprises they have took in hand, but their schemes are broken, and the snares they laid for others they are taken in themselves, is applied by the apostle to the Jewish doctors, or the Gentile philosophers, or rather to the false teachers among the Christians; whose schemes they have formed to corrupt the churches, and demolish the Gospel, prove their own destruction; nor will they, with all their cunning, be able to get out of the hand of God, and escape his awful vengeance. The allusion is either to the taking of wild beasts and birds in snares and nets, or to the taking of men in flight, laying hold of them with the hand, and grasping them hard, that they cannot get loose. The Targum interprets the words of the wise men of Pharaoh, and of the Egyptian astrologers, schemes they have formed to corrupt the churches, and demolish the Gospel, prove their own destruction; nor will they, with all their cunning, be able to get out of the hand of God, and escape his awful vengeance. The allusion is either to the taking of wild beasts and birds in snares and nets, or to the taking of men in flight, laying hold of them with the hand, and grasping them hard, that they cannot get loose. The Targum interprets the words of the wise men of Pharaoh, and of the Egyptian astrologers.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He {g} taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

(g) Be they ever so crafty, yet the Lord will take them when he will discover their treachery.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 3:19. Giving the ground of the μωρὸς γενέσθω demanded in order to the γίνεσθαι σόφον.

τοῦ κόσμου τούτου] i.e. such as is peculiar to the pre-Messianic world (humanity), like the Hellenic sophistry, rhetoric, etc.; comp 1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Corinthians 2:6.

παρὰ τ. Θεῷ] judice Deo; Romans 2:13; Winer, p. 369 [E. T. 493]. How truly that wisdom was its own very opposite, and how utterly to be given up!

γέγρ. γὰρ] Job 5:13, not according to the LXX., but expressing the sense of the Hebrew with quite as great fidelity. The passage, however, serves as proof, not for the warning and admonition in 1 Corinthians 3:18 (Hofmann),—to take it thus would be arbitrarily to reach back over what immediately precedes the γάρ,—but, as 1 Corinthians 3:20 also confirms, for the statement just made, ἡ γὰρ σοφία κ.τ.λ[559] If, namely, God did not count that wisdom to be folly, then He could not be spoken of as He who taketh the wise in their craftiness, i.e. who brings it to pass that the wise, while they cunningly pursue their designs, do not attain them, but rather their craftiness turns to their own destruction. Thus the hand of God comes in upon their doings and takes them in their craftiness, whereby He just practically proclaims His judgment regarding their wisdom, that it is foolishness. As respects πανουργία, comp the Hellenic distinction between it and the true wisdom in Plato, Menex. p. 247 A: πᾶσά τε ἐπιστήμη χωριζομένη δικαιοσύνης καὶ τῆς ἄλλης ἀρετῆς πανουργία, οὐ σοφία, φαίνεται.

ὁ δρασσόμ. is not “ex Hebr. pro finito ΔΡΆΣΣΕΤΑΙ” (Pott, following Beza), but the quotation, being taken out of its connection, does not form a complete sentence. Comp Hebrews 1:8; Winer, p. 330 [E. T. 443]; Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 250 [E. T. 291].

On δράσσεσθαι with the accusative (commonly with the genitive), comp Herod. iii. 13, LXX. Leviticus 5:12, Numbers 5:26.

[559] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 3:19 a gives the reason why the philosophy of the times must be renounced by the aspirant to Christian wisdom: “For the wisdom of the world is folly with God” (= 1 Corinthians 1:20); and since it is folly with God, it must be counted folly, and not wisdom, amongst you (1 Corinthians 3:18). God’s judgment is decisive for His Church.—παρὰ Θεῷ, apud Deum, judice Deo (see parls.).

1 Corinthians 3:19-20. That the above is God’s judgment appears from two sayings of Scripture, bearing on the two classes of worldly wise—the men of affairs (such as the ἄρχοντες of 1 Corinthians 2:6) and the philosophers (1 Corinthians 1:20), distinguished respectively by πανουργία and διαλογισμοί. In the first text (the only N.T. quotation from Job: Php 1:19, perhaps an allusion), Paul improves on the LXX, possibly from another version, substituting the vivid ὁ δρασσόμενος (He that grips: cf. δραξάμενος φάρυγγος, Theocritus, xxiv. 28) for ὁ καταλαμβάνων, and πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν for φρονήσει,—both nearer to the Heb. (LXX reads πανουργίαν in 1 Corinthians 3:12). The words (from Eliphaz) are “appropriated because of their inherent truth” (Lt[615]); they reassert the anticipation expressed in 1 Corinthians 2:6. For πανουργία, see parls.; note its deterioration of meaning, as in Eng. craft. When the world’s schemers think themselves cleverest, Providence catches them in their own toils.—The second text P. adapts by turning ἀνθρώπων into σοφῶν: what is true of the vanity of human thoughts generally (machsh ’both ’âdâm) he applies par excellence to “the reasonings of the wise”.—διαλογισμοί, signifying in Plutarch’s later Gr[616] debates, arguings (see parls.), recalls 1 Corinthians 1:19 f. above, echoing the quotation of that passage. On μάταιοι, futile, see note to 1 Corinthians 15:14 (κενός).

[615] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[616] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.19. it is written] In Job 5:13.1 Corinthians 3:19. Ὁ δρασσόμενος τοὺς σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ πανουργίᾳ αὐτῶν) Eliphaz in Job 5:13, in the LXX., says, ὁ καταλαμβάνων σοφοὺς ἐν τῇ φρονήσει. The apostles seem to have kept very much by the words of the LXX. Interpreters in passages very well known to the Hellenists [the Greek-speaking Jews], for example in the Parschijoth[29] and Haphtaroth, and likewise in the Psalms; but they have recourse to the Hebrew, in passages less generally used, such as this passage of Job. Paul has also in another place referred to Job. See Php 1:19, note.—ἐν, in) not only whilst they think that they are acting wisely, but in such a way, that their very wisdom is a snare to them.

[29] Parschijoth, sections of the Pentateuch; Haphtaroth, sections of the Prophets, read publicly.—T.Verse 19. - The wisdom of this world. Here the word for "world" is kosmos, in the last verse it was alert. Kosmos is the world regarded objectively; aion the world regarded in its moral and intellectual aspect. He that taketh the wise in their craftiness. This is one of the few references to the Book of Job in the New Testament. It comes from the speech of Eliphaz in Job 5:13, but St. Paul substitutes the words "clutching" (drassomenos) and "craftiness" (panourgia) for the milder katalabon and phronesei of the LXX. He taketh (ὁ δρασσόμενος)

Cited from Job 5:13, but not following the Septuagint verbally. The verb occurs only here, meaning to grasp with the hand. Rev., more accurately, gives the force of the participle with the article, he that taketh. This is the only allusion to the book of Job in the New Testament, except James 5:11.

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