The Jews, the Greeks, and Paul’s Gospel

Friday, February 24, 2012

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:22-24 KJV).

Jews were fixated on “signs,” miraculous demonstrations that God had long used to teach them and their forefathers, whereas Greeks were obsessed with “wisdom” (philosophy, human viewpoint). These distracted them from focusing on what really mattered—salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ!

  • JEWS AND SIGNS: After Jesus performed miracles before Israel the Bible says “many believed in his name,… but Jesus did not commit himself unto them…” (John 2:23-25). Jesus understood they were just awed by the miracles; they overlooked the doctrine He was teaching through the miracles!! When Paul preached the Gospel of Grace to Jews, they too just wanted miracles, not the salvation that the miracles represented. Also, to Jews, “Christ crucified” was a “stumblingblock,” something offensive, for did they not crucify Christ (today’s Scripture; cf. Isaiah 8:13,14; Romans 9:32,33; 1 Peter 2:6-8)?
  • GREEKS AND WISDOM: In Acts chapter 17, when Paul encountered the Athenian philosophers near Mars’ Hill, they wanted to learn from him “new doctrine… for all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing” (verses 19-21). Notice again how these Greeks focused on learning/philosophy. Yet, once they learned God’s wisdom, Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, they considered that “foolishness” (today’s Scripture; cf. Acts 17:18,32; 1 Corinthians 1:18).

Thankfully, today’s Scripture teaches that for Jews who were “called” (members of the Church the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE POWER, “the power of God”—for God demonstrated His miraculous power by raising Christ from the dead (cf. Romans 1:4; 2 Corinthians 13:4). For Greeks who were “called” (also members of the Body of Christ), Christ was TRUE WISDOM, “the wisdom of God”—for God demonstrated His unrivaled wisdom in saving us using “the foolishness of preaching” (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:21, 25-30; Colossians 2:2,3).