Study Sheet for I Corinthians 1:18-25 (click here for Study Notes)
For 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. For it is written:
"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
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? 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. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. (NIV)
1. Why is the "message of the crossfoolishness to those who are perishing"? Those who are perishing have not accepted the message of the cross. What does the message of the cross teach and demand from believers? Why might people resist the demands of the cross?
2. Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 where God says he will "destroy the wisdom of the wise" and frustrate "the intelligence of the intelligent." He continues to enlarge on the idea that humanity's wisdom, knowledge, philosophies, and education are of no help in understanding the cross. Why do you think God's plans are so inscrutable to our analysis and logic? Why would God set in motion something so difficult to grasp? If salvation is so inscrutable, how are we to understand it and make it part of our lives? (I Cor. 2:9-14, Gal. 3: 14 & 23)
3. "Jews demand miraculous signs," Paul says, "and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified". Why do you think the Jews in particular wanted or expected miracles from the Messiah? (see Matthew 12:38; John 2: 11 and 4:48) Why do you think the Greeks wanted wisdom? Why didn't they also look for miracles? Why did Paul's preaching Christ not satisfy the Jews or the Gentiles?
4. What did Paul mean when he said Christ crucified is "a stumbling block to the Jews"? Why did Paul use the "stumbling block" metaphor to describe the Jews' reaction to Jesus? (See Luke 2:34, Matt. 21:42) Why might they choke on the idea of a crucified redeemer? How would a crucified Savior affect their traditions and chosen status?
5. Why would the Greeks consider "Christ crucified" to be foolishness? How is the Greeks' reaction to Jesus different from the Jews' reaction?
6. Paul says in verse 24 that to both Jews and Greeks who are being saved, Christ crucified is "the power of God" and "the wisdom of God." How are "the power of God" and "the wisdom of God" different from and similar to the miracles and wisdom for which the unrepentant Jews and Greeks were looking?
7. Have you had any intellectual understandings about God challenged by the cross? Has the reality of the Holy Spirit caused you to question or change any perceptions about salvation or Jesus? What are/were they?
8. Do you have any practice or belief that you believe Jesus is causing you to re-examine? What?
9. Do you have any expectations or understandings of God that you need to submit to Jesus? Are there any doctrines or biblical interpretations about which you feel protective and are unwilling to explore deeply? Do you have a conviction for which you need to become accountable instead of merely analytical?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.