The Foolish Wisdom of God
Paul continues his argument for the wisdom of God over against the wisdom of the world in 1 Corinthians 1:22-25. He points out that Jews look for signs and Gentiles look for wisdom, or for a way to understand the world and the gospel offends both of them. The gospel offends the Jew because it has become a stumbling block to them (Isaiah 8:14, 15. Matthew 11:6; 13:57. Luke 2:34. John 6:53–66. Romans 9:32, 33. Galatians 5:11. 1 Peter 2:8). And the gospel offends the Gentile because it seems like pure foolishness (v. 28; ch. 2:14). What is the offensive gospel? A crucified Christ. For a Jew, a crucified messiah was unthinkable since “cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”(Deuteronomy 21:23). Galatians reminds us that Christ became our curse that we might receive God’s blessing and it was necessary for him to do so in order to fulfill the law, righteousness and justice of God(Galatians 3:13-14). This foolish gospel offends the Jew and the Gentile in it’s wisdom.
But God calls/elects (Romans 8:28-30) both Jew and Gentile to be saved. “But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1:24). Jesus is the power of God (Romans 1:14-16) and that salvation belongs to God from start to finish (Romans 8:28-30, Ephesians 1:4-2:10), Jesus is the author and the perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-3), and it is by his power we are saved. Christ is the wisdom of God, as in him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), for no man has seen God, but Jesus has made him known to us (John 1:18). Thanks be to God for Jesus Christ, the foolish wisdom of God!
The Radical God-Centeredness of the Gospel
In 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 Paul reminds his readers that the gospel is God-centered. He reminds them that they were not impressive people. They were not of noble birth. Yet God chose the weak to shame the strong. He chose the foolish to shame the “wise”. What was his reason for doing things this way? So that no man could boast in the presence of God. That is, God saves the people he saves in the way that he saves them and uses them in the ways that he does so that he would receive maximum glory for his work within them. God always acts with a view to his own glory. It is because of God that the believer is in Christ Jesus (John 6:44).
Jesus has become four things for us:
- Wisdom: “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3 ESV).
- Righteousness: “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV). God has arranged the great exchange, my sinfulness for the righteousness of Christ. God has declared us righteous because Christ has satisfied the justice of God in his person and work.
- Sanctification: “Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ephesians 1:4 ESV). We have been chosen by God that we might be holy. Our growth in sanctification, or the process of growth in holiness is due to the grace of God and the ministry of the Holy Spirit on our behalf (Galatians 5:22-23).
- Redemption: “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23 ESV). Salvation, from beginning to end, has been orchestrated and accomplished by the Trinity to the praise and glory of God!
The result of this gospel change is the exaltation of God! Jesus has become our righteousness and sanctification and redemption. We have not attained these things on our own. God has gifted them to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ. If you are to boast, or exalt, then do so in God, for he is the one who deserves praise and glory for all that has happened in the gospel (Galatians 6:14).