7 March 2017

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

“Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (vv. 22-23)

Psalm: Psalm 119:17-32


The city of Corinth contained many nationalities and beliefs, but the two that caused most problems for the Christians were the Jews and Greeks. Much of this was because many Christians had their roots in either of those two communities and may still have had relations or friends there. So they were subject to argument and ridicule about their new found faith and being called fools for taking on the Christian way of life.

To the Jews the problem of belief in Jesus was mainly because he was not the kind of Messiah they had been expecting. In spite of some of their prophecies that he would be a suffering servant (eg Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12), many of them still expected a spectacular appearance with wonders and miracles, like some special effects in a Hollywood film. They also found it impossible to cope with the idea of their Messiah being crucified. Surely, the cross was a sign of defeat, not of triumph.

Most Greeks took a completely different view. They were far more interested in intellectual pursuits and being able to put words together in ways that would display their knowledge and wisdom. They even had speech competitions in the original Olympic Games. They also believed in gods who were totally separate from humans and had no interest in the welfare, or problems, of the people who lived on earth. To them the idea of a God who would come and live among them was foolishness in the extreme.

The followers of Jesus knew that he had lived on earth, shown them the true nature of God and had suffered and died to prove that God's love could live on even after death. Yet they were continually being faced with mockery and scorn.

Paul's words were written to encourage them to keep on believing in the wisdom of God. So there is one big question.

When worldly wisdom and superior knowledge
and intellectual snobbery and informed atheism
have died the death of earthly flesh and fragile brain,
will God be quietly weeping over the waste,
even as the cross blazes out its triumphant foolishness?

To Ponder

  • How do you cope with people who mock your faith?
  • What does the cross mean to you? And why?

Bible notes author

Marjorie Dobson

Marjorie Dobson is a local preacher and a writer of hymns, prayers, poetry and short dramatic pieces for use in worship. She particularly enjoys writing character pieces - 'getting under the skin of the real person that hides in the shadows of a good story'.