2. Human vs. Spiritual Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17b-2:16)

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Zeno of Citium (ca. 334-262 BC), founder of Stoic school of philosophy that was popular in Corinth in Paul’s day. Cast in Pushkin museum from original in Naples.
Zeno of Citium (ca. 334-262 BC), founder of Stoic school of philosophy that was popular in Corinth in Paul's day. Cast in Pushkin museum from original in Naples.

Though Corinth wasn't the seat of great philosophers, as a leading Greek city it was strongly influenced by the philosophical schools of the day as well as Greek standards of persuasive speech -- rhetoric. So it would be natural that they would see Christianity through the lens of their own culture. The same applies to people in every culture and time.

We considered 1:17 in the previous lesson, but let's revisit it here to examine what Paul is saying about his preaching style.

"17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross28 is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1:17-18)

Paul is contrasting his preaching of the gospel29 with "words of human wisdom." Paul, the preacher, the apostle, the founder of scores of churches, doesn't speak in the classical rhetorical style that is so valued by the Greeks, so his enemies use it against him.

Greek Wisdom and Philosophy

In our passage, 1:17 to 2:16, the noun sophia, "wisdom" appears 13 times and the adjective sophos, "wise" appears another five times. Paul is dealing with wisdom as understood by the various schools of Greek philosophy that captured the common mind in Corinth.

  • Epicureans saw religion as irrelevant and saw the pursuit of pleasure as the primary good.
  • Middle Platonists followed Plato in their belief in the immortal human soul that needed to be freed from its attachment to the body and ascend towards deity.
  • Paripatetics followed Aristotle who rejected Plato's concept of an immortal soul.
  • Sotics were materialists who believed even the gods had a material substance. Several stoic teachers came from Paul's hometown of Tarsus. An important question for them was, "How can the wise man live in accordance with nature?" The answer: through a virtuous life.
  • Cynics espoused more a way of life than a philosophy, living with only the barest essentials. They were known by their ragged cloaks and begging, and often being caustic, abusive, and arrogant.

Greek Rhetorical Style

But Paul wasn't experiencing just a clash in world views. The phrase "words of human wisdom" (NIV), "eloquent wisdom" (NRSV), "wisdom of words" (KJV) suggests oratorical style. Sophia, "wisdom," is joined here with logos, "word," especially of oral utterance.30 In Greek culture, oratorical performance was valued highly. Indeed, the Greeks had developed the whole science of rhetoric, the art of persuasive speech. The quality of one's public speaking was judged on how well it conformed to the principles of rhetoric that were currently in vogue.

Thus Paul contrasts his message with what was in fashion in Corinth, realizing that part of the Corinthians' criticism of Paul stemmed from how they perceived him in relation to oratorical style.

The Message of the Cross (1:17-18)

It was vital, however, that Paul not be viewed as one more philosopher, albeit one with a mere mediocre rhetorical style. It wasn't about style, but the message!

"17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel -- not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied31 of its power. 18 For the message32 of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing33, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1:17-18)

Paul develops this theme throughout our lesson, stating in 2:2,

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (2:2)

Paul's core message is that Jesus is the Messiah or Christ, that he died for our sins and was raised from the dead. As he says in 15:3-4,

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (15:3-4)

Christianity is not primarily a philosophy to be debated in the marketplace, or even a religion. Christianity is based on the historical facts of the life, crucifixion, and resurrection of the Messiah. Paul's message is to proclaim these truths and their implications. He has no use for the niceties of oratorical precision. In fact, the prettiness of speech can obscure the bare facts and empty the cross of Christ of its power (1:17).

Paul is well aware that his message seems foolish to the average Greek. "Foolishness" in verse 18 is mōria (from which we get the English word "moron"), a form the noun moros, "foolish, stupid,"34 referring to mental dullness, "a weakness of understanding or judgment, sometimes through stupidity, sometimes through confusion, but always demanding censure."35 The world's assessment of the message of the cross and resurrection -- then and now -- is an arrogant sneer (Acts 17:32), dismissing Christianity as the belief of ignorant simpletons, not the belief of sophisticated, educated, worldly men and women.

Whatever their reaction to the gospel, says Paul, "to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1:18b), the dynamis of God. What worldly people dismiss as foolish is actually the real wisdom! To the Romans, Paul writes,

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

Dear friends, the message that you and I bear contains the power that can set people free and open their eyes. But we are not facing just intellectual barriers, but demonic as well. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes,

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (2 Corinthians 4:4)

Because the gospel is the power of God for salvation, therefore, Paul must proclaim the gospel no matter how it might be perceived! How about you? Have you been demoralized and silenced by unbelievers who put you and your faith in Christ down with a sneer and a patronizing word? Do you speak about Jesus only to people who are friendly to the message or already believers themselves? Dear friends, we must not let our message be silenced to suit the prejudices of our hearers. We must be wise and winsome, yes. But we must declare the message. In it is power for salvation.

The Wisdom of the Wise (1:19-20)

We've spent quite a bit of time considering the challenge at Corinth -- and in our own culture. But now, the rest of Paul's argument in our lesson makes sense. He continues (quoting from Isaiah 29:14b):

"19 For it is written:

'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence36 of the intelligent I will frustrate37.'

20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." (1:19-21)

Paul considers the status of those that the Greek world honored above all: the wise man38, the scholar39, and the philosopher40. Think about all the people that this world holds in high esteem -- but who don't follow Christ. Their knowledge about how the world works may be great, but without understanding how God fits into the picture, their so-called wisdom is actually foolishness, since there is a gaping hole about the most important thing.41

It is difficult for us within a cultural system to see it clearly, since we take it for granted. It is also difficult to discern the difference between Western culture and Christian values, since Western culture has been so strongly influenced historically by Christianity. But let's try.

Q1. Name four value differences between Christian teaching and the values you see pushed to us on television. Example: Sex between consenting adults is okay, vs. sex belongs in marriage. Now name four more.

Preaching Christ as Crucified (1:21-25)

Paul contrasts the wisdom of the world with the so-called "foolishness" of preaching -- since his preaching was probably scorned by the sophisticated in Corinth as it had been in Athens (Acts 17:32).

"21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach42 Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1:21-25)

Preaching in verse 21 is kērygma, "a public declaration, something proclaimed aloud, proclamation," by a herald sent by God.43 It wasn't so much the act of public preaching that was scorned in Corinth, but the message itself.

The typical Jewish reaction to the Christian message -- even with Jesus' preaching, for that matter -- was a demand for some kind of confirmation by a miraculous sign (sēmeion, Matthew 13:38-39; 16:1; etc.).44 But when Jesus demonstrated his power by healing miracles and even raising the dead, his enemies sought to kill him. The demand for signs turned out to be a smoke-screen to hide their rebellious hearts.

The Greeks, on the other hand, were seekers of "wisdom" (sophia), probably referring to wise and profound insights and sayings, such as might come from Plato or Aristotle. In their ears, Paul's message was crude and unrefined. It was about the death and resurrection of an historical person who he claimed was God. The concept of resurrection especially was foreign to their worldview (Acts 17:32), which tended to think of the immortal soul rather than a transformed physical body.

Rather than conform to their preferred communication style and familiar platitudes, Paul is adamant in verse 1:23 and 2:2.

"We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles." (1:23)

"I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (2:2)

How does the message of "Christ crucified" come across when declared in the context of Corinth? What does it mean?

When you think about it, "Christ crucified" is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron, like "fried ice." On the surface it doesn't make sense. "Christ" or "Messiah" carries ideas of triumph, power, splendor, while "crucified" brings to mind concepts of weakness, humiliation, defeat.45 To the Jews this was a scandal. To Greeks it made no sense at all. It was foolishness. It was madness.

But it is important to see that Paul did not soft-pedal or water-down his message just because various groups had a problem with it. He declared the straight gospel. That way, those who did respond received true Christianity, not "Christianity Lite" that satisfied the mind, but left the soul empty.

This doesn't mean that we can forget our missionary role to declare the Gospel to our generation in terms they can understand. We must! We must find culturally relevant equivalents and metaphors to communicate clearly. But that is quite different than altering the essential message or avoiding those aspects that are perhaps embarrassing to us.

We see a number of examples of the core content of the apostles preaching that includes the truth of Christ's crucifixion and death for our sins (Acts 2:36; 4:10; 10:39-40; 13:28-30; 17:2-3; 26:22-23). Later in 1 Corinthians, Paul includes the crucified and resurrected Messiah among the core truths of the Gospel.

"For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures." (15:3-4)

Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1:24). This message may sound like foolishness to the sophisticated people of any age, but it is far more powerful than what they call "wisdom."

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1:25)

Q2. (1 Corinthians 1:21-25) In what areas do non-Christians in our culture stumble over the basic gospel of Christ? To what degree can we help bridge this gap through careful and creative presentation? To what degree might that be "watering down" the gospel? Why can't we escape the tension between culturally-relevant communication and changing the essence of the message?

Christ, our Wisdom (1:26-31)

Paul continues his argument, stating the paradox of the power of what others consider weak.

"26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him." (1:26-29)

We're so likely to boast about our achievements before God rather than give glory to him alone. But grace negates boasting. Christ dying for our sins gives all glory to God; we can take no credit ourselves.

Notice that even the definition of "wisdom" has changed from what the Greeks considered wisdom.

"30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
31 Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'" (1:30-31)

The Greeks -- and twenty-first century citizens -- have their own worldly wisdom, their own list of virtues, their own value system. But in Christ it's all wrapped up in Christ Jesus. He is the author of our:

  1. Wisdom (sophia). Christ is Reality, so that his values, his thoughts, his guidance are all wisdom for us, far more valuable and reliable than any worldly wisdom we might acquire in our lifetimes.
  2. Righteousness (dikaiosynē) -- the state of people who are in right standing before God, without any unforgiven sins. Christ's death on the cross took our sins upon him and suffered their penalty in himself. We are free. Hallelujah!
  3. Holiness or sanctification (hagiasmos) -- "personal dedication to the interests of God, holiness, consecration, sanctification,"46 here probably the result of God's work is in mind, the state of being set apart as God's own people. Christ brought us to this unique relationship to God. Praise Him!
  4. Redemption (apolytrōsis) -- literally, "buying back" a slave or captive -- "release from a captive condition, release, redemption, deliverance."47 And what was the purchase price? Christ's blood shed for us.48 Praise the Lord!

Q3. (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) In what way does Christ represent God's wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption? How far do these go to lay the basis of a truly Christian philosophical system?

Preaching with the Spirit's Power (2:1-5)

As we discussed above, Paul purposely did not attempt to emulate the rhetorical standards of his time in his preaching.

"1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (2:1-5)

Paul declares the things he did not bring to them in his preaching, that he specifically rejects.

  1. Eloquence or lofty words, that is, a refined oratorical style49 (2:1).
  2. Wisdom -- at least, wisdom as would be perceived as such by the Greek philosophers (2:1).
  3. Persuasive words of wisdom.50 Paul didn't present a sales pitch (2:4).

He also declares what he did bring them in his preaching.

  1. Testimony51 about God (2:1). The word is sometimes used for Paul's testifying about what God has done in Christ. But it may also include Paul's personal testimony which he shared in Jerusalem (Acts 22:1-21) and before King Agrippa (Acts 26).
  2. Focus on "Jesus Christ and him crucified" (2:2). As we saw on 1:23 above, Paul's focus is on the historical data -- the crucifixion of Christ for our sins and his subsequent resurrection.
  3. Weakness, fear, and trembling (2:3). Paul may have been suffering from physical weaknesses or ailments. He was faced with death threats (Acts 18:10) and other struggles, but spoke anyway.
  4. Demonstration of the Spirit's power (2:5-6). This power seems to have consisted of two things. First, "by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit" (Romans 15:19; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:12). But also with the deep convicting power of the Holy Spirit that we've sometimes seen in revivals in modern times. "Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction52" (1 Thessalonians 1:5). Persuasive words without the Spirit's power don't transform people's lives.

Q4. (1 Corinthians 2:1-6) Why didn't Paul conform to the rhetorical standards of his day in order to communicate more clearly? What is the danger of "repackaging" the message? What does it mean that Paul relied on a demonstration of the Spirit's power?

Declaring the Mysteries of God (2:6-8)

Now Paul qualifies his statements a bit. He declares God's wisdom -- spiritual, divine wisdom -- in contrast to the wisdom of the philosophers which would pass away.

"6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (2:6-8)

Verse 7 describes this wisdom with two modifiers: "secret" and "hidden."

  • "Secret" (NIV, NRSV), "mystery" (KJV). The word is mystērion, "a hidden thing, secret, mystery,"53 here, "the unmanifested or private counsel of God, (God's) secret."54
  • "Hidden" is apokryptō, "to hide, conceal." Here is denotes, "to keep from being known, keep secret."55 God has purposely concealed his secret until now.

Paul is saying that God's purposes had not been fully revealed, but are now being known through his Holy Spirit to those who are spiritually attuned.

The Spirit Searches All Things (2:9-11)

Now Paul quotes from Isaiah 64:4 to illustrate his point.

9 However, as it is written:
 "No eye has seen,
 no ear has heard,
 no mind has conceived
 what God has prepared for those who love him"--

10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." (2:9-10a)

What hadn't been known by even the Old Testament prophets concerning the Messiah and the Church, for example, has now been made known in this era of the Holy Spirit, poured out at Pentecost.

Paul offers an image of the Holy Spirit going where no physical being could go -- probing, searching out, and knowing both God's mind and man's spirit. Nothing is hidden from the Holy Spirit. He knows God thoughts and yours too.

"10b The Spirit searches56 all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God." (2:10b-11)

Paul's point is that the sophistication of the world is nothing compared to the wisdom that God reveals through his Spirit to his children. As the Apostle John wrote:

"For the whole world-system, based as it is on men's primitive desires, their greedy ambitions and the glamour of all that they think splendid, is not derived from the Father at all, but from the world itself. The world and all its passionate desires will one day disappear. But the man who is following God's will is part of the permanent and cannot die." (1 John 2:16-17, J.B. Phillips)

We don't have to be ashamed of our lack of sophistication or erudition. We Christians have Someone vastly superior -- the Holy Spirit of God to teach us (John 16:12-15).

The Essential Holy Spirit (2:12-15)

The philosophers and orators of the age have drunk deeply from the world, but ironically, that hinders them from discerning the real wisdom.

"12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." (2:12-13)

Paul is referring again to his preaching -- "what we speak" (2:13a). As Paul told the Romans,

"You are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9)

The last part of 1 Corinthians 2:13 can be translated in several ways:

"... Comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (KJV)
"... Expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." (NIV text)
"... Interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men" (NRSV, NIV margin)

Given the various translations, it isn't surprising that the verb is synkrinō (with the basic meaning of "to combine, to join together fitly") can be rendered three ways in Greek, depending upon the context: (1) "to bring things together so as to form a unit, combine," (2) to draw a conclusion by comparing, compare," (3) "to clarify on the basis of a compatible relationship, explain, interpret."57

There is debate about the proper rendering. What makes the most sense to me is definition 3, which involves comparing a new truth with what we already know, in order to interpret it correctly. People who haven't received the Holy Spirit have no frame of reference in which to understand spiritual things. They have nothing with which to make a meaningful comparison. Imagine being a child, trying to understand the intricacies of human behavior without knowing about sexual attraction. What understanding does the child have with which to compare anything to help understand what he or she is observing?

"14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment." (2:14-15)

"Make judgments" (NIV), "discern" (NIV), "judge" (KJV) in verse 15a is anakrinō, "to examine with a view to finding fault, judge, call to account, discern."58 The same word is found in the second half of the sentence, translated "judgment" (NIV), "scrutiny" (NRSV), "judged" (KJV). Only those who have the Spirit are able to discern accurately.

The Spirit Communicates to Us the Mind of Christ (2:16)

Paul concludes this section with an amazing reflection on a quotation from Isaiah 40:13.

"'For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?'
But we have the mind of Christ." (2:16)

The word "mind" is nous. It doesn't mean "brain," since the ancients didn't understand what that organ does in the way we do. Rather it refers to "the faculty of intellectual perception, mind, understanding." Here, our verse may have the nuance, "result of thinking, mind, thought, opinion."59

Who can know God's thoughts? Who has the temerity to think they can tell God something he doesn't already know? No one. (Though we often seem to do that in prayer, don't we?) Isaiah's prophecy refers to the era of the Law before the Spirit came to indwell the believer (verses 9-10). Now things are different. We have the Holy Spirit who can communicate and mediate our thoughts at their most basic level and communicate to our spirits God's guidance and truth.

How could Jesus know that the woman at the Samaritan well had five husbands previously, and was currently living with a man she wasn't married to (John 4:18)? By the Holy Spirit who conceived him and anointed him at his baptism (Luke 3:21-22; John 3:34; Acts 10:38; Isaiah 11:2). Jesus operated by the Spirit of God, demonstrating to his disciples how this was done. He was their Exemplar -- and ours too.

The Corinthians didn't understand what it meant to be spiritual. They confused speaking in tongues, for example, with spirituality (1 Corinthians 14). So Paul explains it to them.

Q5. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Explain how we can "have the mind of Christ." How does this work, according to these verses? How does having the Holy Spirit "circulating" through our minds explain spiritual gifts working through us?

Opening Your Spirit to the Mind of Christ

For you to understand this Corinthian letter, it is vital for you, too, to understand that through the Holy Spirit we can tap into the mind of Christ. This is the basis of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation, for example. Also the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are gifts of the Spirit, and all the other gifts, too (12:7-11).

I once met a person who said, "I'd rather have a verse than a voice." Cute. He prefers the written word of God, given as Holy Scripture for all eternity. Amen. It is our foundation! But at the same time he is uncomfortable with God speaking to him in the here and now. I understand his concern for purity of doctrine, to keep present-day prophecy from somehow replacing the authority of the Scripture. But what he is giving up is the intimate work of the Spirit to lead us personally and empower us for ministry.

Jesus told the earnest Pharisees and Scribes,

"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40)

Jesus operated by the Holy Spirit himself. He said,

"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13-15)

Fortunately, we don't have to choose between the Spirit and the Word. We have -- and must have -- both! The Spirit clarifies the Scripture. And the Word confirms and is the authority to judge anything we may feel that the Spirit has shown us.

1 Corinthians: Discipleship Lessons from a Troubled Church, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
Available as a book in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.

My dear friend. You know that I love the Word of God, and do not want to diminish its authority in the least. But I also long to know God more deeply, to let his Spirit probe me deeply and reveal more of Him as I receive the mind of Christ through the Spirit. This is the spirituality that the Corinthians needed to grasp. Yes, this may sound scary, but this is what the Spirit-led Christian life is all about. Don't miss out!


Father, some of this seems mystical to us -- and it is! But gently lead us to commune with you deeply by your Spirit. Speak to our hearts and to our minds. Guide us. And let us speak to you from the core of our beings. Don't let us miss out on this birthright of all Christians because of our fear of the unknown! In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Key Verses

"The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength." (1 Corinthians 1:25)

"It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God -- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." (1 Corinthians 1:30)

"I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Corinthians 2:2)

"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

"... God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God." (1 Corinthians 2:10)

"'For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?' But we have the mind of Christ." (1 Corinthians 2:16)


28. "Cross" is stauros, first "a pole to be placed in the ground and used for capital punishment, cross," then, "the cross, with focus on the fate of Jesus Christ" (BDAG 943, 2).

29. Euangelizō, "bring good news, announce good news," here, "proclaim the divine message of salvation, proclaim the gospel, proclaim, preach" (BDAG 402, 2aδ).

30. Logos, BDAG 598, 1aβ.

31. Kenoō, "to make empty, to empty," then, by extension, "to cause to be without result or effect, destroy, render void or of no effect" (BDAG 539, 2).

32. "Message" (NIV, NRSV) or "preaching" (KJV) is logos, the same word that we saw in verse 17.

33. Apollymi, in verse 18 in the middle voice, "perish, be ruined ... die." (apollymi, BDAG 115, 1bα). In verse 19 in the active voice, "ruin, destroy" (BDAG 1aβ).

34. Moros, "foolish, stupid" (BDAG 663a).

35. G. Bertram, moros, ktl., TDNT 4:832-847.

36. "Intelligence" (NIV), "discernment" (NRSV), "understanding" (KJV) is synesis, the faculty of comprehension, intelligence, acuteness, shrewdness" (BDAG 970, 1a).

37. Atheteō, "to reject something as invalid, declare invalid, nullify, ignore," here, "thwart, confound." (BDAG 24, 1).

38. "Wise" (sophos) means "wise, learned, having intelligence and education above the average, perhaps related to philosophy (BDAG 2aα).

39. "Scholar" (NIV), "scribe" (NRSV, KJV) is grammateus, in classical Greek, "secretary, registrar," here probably "scholar" (Liddell-Scott) or "expert in the law" (BDAG 206, 2a).

40. "Philosopher" (NIV), "debater" (NRSV), "disputer" (KJV) is syzētētēs, "disputant, debater" (BDAG 954), literally, "joint enquirer" (Liddell-Scott), used only once in the New Testament and rare elsewhere.

41. "Make foolish" is the verb mōrainō, "make foolish, show to be foolish" (BDAG 663, 1).

42. Kēryssō, "to make public declarations, proclaim aloud" (BDAG 543, 2bβ).

43. Kērygma, BDAG 543, 2.

44. "Sign" is sēmeion, "an event that is an indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers, miracle, portent" (BDAG 920, 2aα).

45. Fee, 1 Corinthians, p. 75.

46. Hagiasmos, BDAG 10.

47. Apolytrōsis, BDAG 117, 2.

48. Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 3:18-19; Matthew 20:28 with 26:28; Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9.

49. "Eloquence" (NIV), "lofty words" (NRSV), "excellency of speech" (KJV) is two words, hyperochē, "a state of excelling, superiority, preeminence" (BDAG 1034, 1) and logos, "utterance, oral communication" (BDAG 598, 1aβ).

50. "Persuasive" is peithos, a word not found elsewhere in Greek, from peithō, "to persuade," that is, "to induce one by words to believe" (Thayer 497, active 1a).

51. "Testimony" (NIV, KJV) is martyrion, "that which serves as testimony or proof, testimony, proof" (BDAG 619, 1b). "Mystery" (NRSV) is mystērion, "secret." Ancient manuscripts show two alternatives here. Martyrion is better supported (Alephc B D G P Ψ Byz etc.) than mystērion (p46 Aleph* A C etc). However, Metzger and the United Bible Society Committee believes that "the reading mystērion seems to be a recollection of 1:6, whereas mystērion here prepares for its usage in ver. 7." They give this a confidence level of {C}, "considerable degree of doubt" (Metzger, Textual Commentary, p. 545). I agree with Fee (1 Corinthians, p. 91) that martyrion is the most likely reading, but it really doesn't matter much.

52. "Conviction" here is plērophoria, "state of complete certainty, full assurance, certainty" (BDAG 827).

53. Mystērion, Thayer, p. 420.

54. Mystērion, BDAG 622, 1b. The word is also a religious technical term, applied in the Greco-Roman world mostly to the mystery religions with their secret teachings. Paul would have known this technical sense when he used the term -- but here he means something that has not been disclosed, not the mystery religions.

55. Apokryptō, BDAG 114, 2.

56. "Searches" is the verb eraunaō, "to make a careful or thorough effort to learn something, search, examine, investigate" (BDAG 389).

57. Synkrinō, BDAG 953.

58. Anakrinō, BDAG 66, 3.

59. Nous, BDAG 680, 3.

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