Wisdom And Folly – Part I – 1 Corinthians 1:18 – 2:5

By John Bellingham on March 19, 2017
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Wisdom and Folly

1 Corinthians 1:18 – 2:5


I.  The ‘Folly’ of God’s Evangel– vv. 18-25

1)     Word of Wisdom (v.17) vs. Word of the Cross (v. 18)

  1. Pursuit of worldly ‘wisdom’ was at the heart of the Corinthian disunity and division
  2. Corinthians cared greatly about the form of preaching (ie. rhetoric & eloquence), whereas Paul cared about the content of preaching

2)     Those Perishing vs. Those Being Saved

  1. Every person falls into one of these categories
    1. Perishing – view the gospel message as foolish (literally in Greek – ‘moronic’)
    2. Saved – understand that the gospel message as the power of God (cf. Romans 1:16)
  2. True condition of the heart is revealed by its response to gospel proclamation

3)     God’s Wisdom vs. Man’s ‘Wisdom’

  1. There are 2 kinds of wisdom – one is earthly and one is heavenly (cf. James 3:13-18; Job 28)
  2. God’s wisdom seems ‘foolish’ to unregenerate humanity, but in reality the ‘wisdom’ of unregenerate humanity is utterly foolish to God!
    1. Evidence from history (v. 19, cf. Isaiah 29:14)
    2. Evidence from experience (v. 20)
  3. God made a sovereign choice to bring salvation through a ‘foolish’ method and message (v. 21)
    1. A crucified Messiah was scandalous to the Jews (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23)
    2. A resurrected Saviour was foolishness to the Greek philosopher (physical body = evil)
    3. Christians (literally ‘called ones’ – v. 24) recognize Christ as God’s wisdom and power


– Do you view the message of Christ’s crucifixion for sinners as foolishness, or as God’s wisdom and power?   What does that indicate about the current condition of your heart and your eternal destination?

– Do not be ashamed of the gospel because people around you think it is foolish!

– God does not need us to ‘tweak’ the Gospel in order to make it more attractive and appealing for the lost.


II.  The ‘Folly’ of God’s Election  – vv. 26-31

1)     The Objects of God’s Calling (v. 26)

  1. The doctrine of God’s effectual ‘calling’ and ‘choosing’ (literally ‘electing’) dominates the entire chapter (v. 1, 2, 9, 24, 26, 27, 28)
  2. In His sovereignty God has chosen to save many people that this world chooses to reject

2)     The Purpose of God’s Calling

  1. To reveal the utter foolishness of man’s wisdom
  2. To eliminate every form of human boasting and pretension (cf. 2 Timothy 1:9)
    1. The Corinthians were puffed up in pride
    2. In reality they had nothing to boast about!
  3. To ensure that God receives all the glory for the saving work that Christ accomplished


– God’s call to salvation is unconditional (ie. not based on anything meritorious he saw/ foresaw in man) so that He receives all the glory in the work of salvation.   We should be very careful never to rob God of the glory He alone deserves by boasting in our own merit.


III.  The ‘Folly’ of God’s Evangelist  – 2:1-5

1)     The Preacher’s Eloquence does not save

2)     The Preacher’s Self-Confidence does not save

3)     Only the mighty power of God’s Spirit can save!


– When you share the gospel do not rely on your own methods, abilities and strength – trust in the power of God’s Spirit working through His Word

– A Church built on the foundation of personalities and pragmatism (ie. popular methods) may attract a crowd but it will accomplish very little for God’s Kingdom.

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