1 Corinthians 1:21
For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God…
Seeing that in the wisdom, etc.
I. THE CONTRAST AT CORINTH. The Greeks could no longer boast of great soldiers or statesmen, for military and political power had deserted them and centred at florae; but they had among them rhetoricians and philosophers, and still considered themselves intellectual leaders of the world. In this spirit they sat in judgment on the gospel. As to his treatment of the problems of sin and righteousness, they were not deeply concerned; but they were ready to weigh and measure it as a new philosophy, and thought it deficient in intellectual flavour, and quite inferior to the speculations of Greek teachers on the nature of God and of man, the order of the world, the beautiful and the good. St. Paul knew this feeling well, and felt the sting of such imputations, for he was an educated man; but with his usual frankness and manliness he faced this allegation of the supercilious Greeks, and with a sharp spear pricked the bubble of their self conscious wisdom. Nay, he boldly maintained that what they thought wise was foolish, and what they thought foolish was wise. At the same time, he was too wary and too kind hearted to irritate his readers by pointing the statement at Corinth, or even at Greece by name. He spoke of the wisdom of the world. Let all the wisdom to which the whole world had attained by human investigation into the things of God be gathered into a heap, and displayed in all the light that the world's best minds could cast upon it, and he would maintain that it was weak, dim, and futile as compared with that wisdom which he and other preachers of Christ could inculcate by the gospel. It was a large claim; but those who know "the wisdom of the ancients" best, and are most accurately acquainted with the ideas and usages of that old heathen world, will be the most ready to say that St. Paul had good ground for his assertion - that his claim was absolutely true.
II. THE CONTRAST TODAY. Contemptuous thoughts about the evangelical faith show themselves in many quarters, Men seem to forget that the intellectual advancement of modern society, of which they boast, and which they put forward as superseding old fashioned Christianity, is itself mainly due to Christianity; that the great schools and universities of Europe all had their roots in religion; and that the very ideas which give tone and breadth to our civilization, the appreciation of the force of truth, and the sense of human brotherhood as something far above mere enthusiasm for one race and antipathy to all others, all have been engendered and fostered by our holy faith Ungratefully overlooking this, men stand today on an eminence which Christianity has cast up, and thence decry Christianity. Religion is pronounced weak and quite unprovable. It is not good enough for these very knowing people and hard thinkers! Yet nothing is more certain than that men have urgent need of God, and of those moral helps and profound consolations which are bound up with a knowledge of God and friendship with him. And the heart at times has a passionate cry, "Where is my God?" Put aside the money bags, the clever schemes, the amusements, the newspapers, the scientific instruments, and the social engagements, and tell me this, O wisdom of the world! "Where is God my Maker? Is there not a Highest and Wisest and Best? And where is he? 'Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!'" What can the wisdom of this world reply? It does not deny Divine existence, though a good many persons are coldly doubtful and agnostic on the subject. But as in the first century any effective conception of the Divine was wearing out of thoughtful minds, and there was hardly any religious check on licentiousness and rapacity; so now there are mere vague and high sounding phrases about the Almighty current among the worldly wise, without as much real faith in God as may restrain one fit of passion or dry one bitter tear. He is a force - personal or impersonal, no one knows; where seated, why operative, how directed, none can tell. Or, he is a dream of ineffable beauty and a fountain of ineffable pity; but how to reconcile this with the more severe aspects of nature and life baffles all the wisdom of the world. The sages arc puzzled; the multitude know not what to think; and so the world by wisdom knows not God. But there is a better wisdom, and St. Paul has shows it to us. It may be well for some to watch the weary gropings and. struggles of the world's wisdom, and speak or write on the evidences of Biblical theology and the Christian faith when they find a fit occasion. Yet those to whom the gospel is committed ought not, as a general rule, to turn aside to such discussions. They ought to preach often and earnestly, trusting to God's vindication of the wisdom of that which men call foolishness. "What will this babbler say?" they cried against St. Paul in Greece. "What will this heretic say?" they cried against Wickliffe in England, and afterwards against Luther in Germany. "What will this tub thumper say?" they cried against Whitefield and Wesley - men who, under God, saved the moral and religious life of England. But however preachers may be mocked, the foolishness of preaching has abundantly shown itself to be wisdom by its results. Its seeming weakness covers real power. O wise babbler who says, "Christ crucified! - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.