It is the pastor’s desire to see believers in Jesus, enriched in speech and in knowledge (1 Cor 1:5), with no divisions among the brethren (1 Cor 1:10). For this reason, God sends preachers to herald the Gospel, in plain speech (1 Cor 1:17).
When the testimony concerning Christ is confirmed in a professing believer (1 Cor 1:6), the validation is centered on the cross. Those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, know that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16–17; 1 Cor 1:18).
God has purposefully set His own wisdom against the wisdom of this world (1 Cor 1:19–20). Men think more highly of themselves than they ought to (Rom 12:3), and their philosophies utterly fail to know God. Their purported wisdom brings absolutely no salvation to anyone (1 Cor 1:21).
In stark contrast is the wisdom and power of God, personified in Christ Jesus our Lord (1 Cor 1:24). We preach Him and His death by crucifixion (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2). This is pleasing to God (1 Cor 1:21), who is glorified when Christ is exalted (Phil 2:11). Jesus is the church’s one foundation, the cornerstone of God’s Temple building project, in the Spirit (Eph 2:20–22; 1 Cor 3:11).
Coincidentally, this same Jesus is a rock of offense (Is 8:14; Rom 9:33; 1 Pet 2:8), a stone upon which the Jews stumble with their Judaism (1 Cor 1:23). The Greeks, and all human wisdom, dismiss Jesus Christ as foolishness (1 Cor 1:23). In this, God thwarts the wisdom of the wise (1 Cor 1:25), for the foolishness and weakness of God is wiser (1 Cor 1:25), and those who are predestined as sons, to adoption, as God’s children (Eph 1:4–5; 1 Jn 3:1; Rom 8:15, 23) and who are called to come to Christ (Mt 11:28; Eph 1:4; Rom 8:30; 1 Cor 1:24, 26), know the truth about this dichotomy (e.g. sheep/goats; wheat/tares; righteous/unrighteous; children of God/children of the devil).
When one observes Gospel believers, who have been called, they are typically unimpressive world performers (1 Cor 1 :26). Wealth, power, position, intelligence, and prowess serve as great hindrances because God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the strong (1 Cor 1:27).
Base things, even that which is despised by men, is God’s preference (1 Cor 1:28), executing His salvation. The simple reason is that God will not share His glory with another (Is 48:11). No man should boast before God (1 Cor 1:29). The Jews did this with pride of performance, in their effort to keep the Law of God given to Moses. The Greeks were ingenious speculators, having conjured their pantheon of gods to worship.
False religion invariably finds something to do, in order to do impressive works, in the quest for self-glory (Gen 3:5). Missing the issue of utmost importance, that is, how to have right standing before God on the Day of Judgment (Jn 5:28–29; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 Thess 5; Rev 19:11–21), religionists will do something, and then boast about it in their sinful pride. This is unacceptable to God and worthy of further judgment.
There is only one man in the history of the world, who earned right standing (righteousness) before God, by His meritorious works, and that man is the God-man, Jesus Christ. In order for one to be saved, from the coming wrath of God against sinners (Mt 3:7; Lk 3:7), one must be positioned “in Christ,” who is our propitiation for sins committed against the Holy God (1 Jn 2:2; 4:10).
Those people who are transferred into Christ, for refuge and shelter — they did nothing, no works at all (Rom 4:5) — to find themselves “in Christ (see Eph 1).” It was God’s doing, alone (1 Cor 1:30). In this way, those who are truly saved cannot boast in anything, as the catalyst for being seated with Christ, in the heavenlies (Eph 2:6). There is no boast in one’s free will, his decision, his choice, his acceptance, or his “good” works (Is 64:6).
There is one boast and that is the person and work of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 1:31). He is the testimony of God (1 Cor 2:1), and it is His excellencies that we proclaim (1 Pet 2:9). This requires no superiority of speech or wisdom from the preacher. It does, however, require a focused message, for the steward to be found faithful (1 Cor 2:2; 4:2; Gal 5:22).
Paul, like Moses, was weak in oratorical skills. This made him fear and tremble at the exercise of His God-ordained task (1 Cor 2:3), to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15; Eph 3:8; 1 Tim 2:7). Oratory was big business in those days, but the Athenians relegated Paul’s message and delivery to the esteemed category of, “babbler (Acts 17:18).”
God was pleased to turn the world upside down with apostolic preaching that utterly required a demonstration of the spirit and power (1 Cor 2:4). Whoever believes the prophet or apostle or preacher’s report (Is 53:11)? No one does — apart from the wisdom and power of God, which accompany the faithful preacher and preaching.
In closing this brief commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:18–2:5, let us ever be reminded that the message (Bible), and the method (expository preaching), are the means by which faith is manifested in the hearts of God’s elect, redeemed people (1 Cor 2:5).
If faith is claimed, as having come to one’s soul by any other means than the receipt of the gift of God, who is the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 10:45), then that man’s faith is unfounded. We ascribe honor and glory to our Triune God, for working the necessary grace, to accomplish each one’s salvation. Faith is not of ourselves (Eph 2:8–9), for if it were of ourselves, we would surely boast about it somehow, in our foolish pride
Instead, we thank God for sending the man of God, in the Spirit of God, to preach the Word of God, resulting in our faith in Christ, being manifested by the grace of God, entirely for the glory of God. Amen.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
November 23, 2020