1 Corinthians 1:18-31
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but to us which are saved it is the power of God.…
By an easy movement he advances to the gospel, to the mode of preaching it as essential to its Divine success, and thus reaches the climax of his reasoning in the first chapter. Other functions of his apostleship will come hereafter into view - the resolute disciplinarian, the firm, administrator, the tender but unyielding executive of the Head of the Church. At present, however, one thing absorbs him, namely, the Divine institution of preaching. What is his foremost relation to these Corinthians? It is that of a preacher of Christ's gospel. And how had he preached it? "Not with wisdom of words" - not as a speculative thinker, not as a Greek rhetorician, not in the spirit of worldly eloquence - "lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." Two things are prominently set forth - the gospel and its manner of presentation; and Christ is in each of them, and in each of them alike, so that not only the substance of the gospel, but the mode of its exhibition, must conform to his sovereignty as the Head of the Church. All preaching of the gospel is not gospel preaching. Looking at the character in the light St. Paul viewed it, the preacher was an original creation of Christ, a new force ordained and anointed of him, and introduced by him for the proclamation of the gospel. It dated no further back than Pentecost; it was of universal adaptation; it was to command all languages, and speak to the simplest instincts, not of men, but of man as man; and this original creation, this new force, was to continue through all time, and never surrender its rights and prerogatives to any successor. And the spirit and matter of fulfilling this grand office were thoroughly unworldly, so much so, indeed, that, it would strike the Greek as "foolishness," and prove to the Jew "a stumbling block." But in contrast with the Greek and his search after wisdom, and with the Jew in his love of national signs as the elect race of Jehovah, Christ was preached as "the power of God and the wisdom of God." The word "power" is not used except in connection with the preaching of "Christ crucified," and its value in the argument is assured by its specialty of application. All the aid of contrast and comparison is given to this one word. Power, God's power, is the designation of preaching Christ crucified. Over against it are put "not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble," and the array of dissimilarity is lengthened out by "foolish things," "weak things," "base things," and "things despised." But what bearing has this condensed energy of a single idea and its rapid accumulation of phraseological forms on the partisanship of these Corinthians? Has not the apostle wandered from the main idea of the chapter - the "contentions among you"? Nay, this very partisanship is the exact opposite of Paul, Peter, Apollos, in preaching the gospel, and they can never consent to this abuse of their position. Nay, further, it is in downright antagonism to "Christ crucified." There is no "power" in it, no "wisdom." It is the idolatry of the senses. It is the intellect of the senses repeating the folly of Greek and Jew in another but equally fatal shape. It is mere seeking to find themselves and their glory in man. Directly opposite to this, St. Paul argues, we preach "Christ crucified," so that "no flesh should glory in his presence." A great lesson it is in the true spirituality of Christianity as the only strength and safeguard of the Church. If Christ is "made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption;" if Christ become "the power of God" to our hearts in this fourfold form of the "riches of grace;" the root of all worldliness is destroyed, partisanship is at an end, because self-seeking is ended, and henceforth that Scripture has a very real import to us, "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." A man may admire others for their own sakes, and this admiration may be very helpful. To admire others because our image is projected upon them can only augment our own weakness. Our praise in such cases is but the echo of our self admiration, and echoes are dying sounds. - L.
Parallel VersesKJV: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.