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The Message of the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:21

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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 Corinthians 1:21 NIV

The Greek culture, much like ours today, placed a high value on wisdom. The highly educated were respected and held in honor. They were, and are, generally the problem solvers who understand how the world works and how to harness it to humanity’s advantage. So what Paul has to say in verses 18-31 of this chapter was surely unsettling to this Greek church. A church that seemed to be overly in love with the wisdom of this world.

To be clear, Paul is not against the world’s wisdom, at least in general terms. But he is clear that the wisdom of this world will never bring a person into a saving relationship with God. We cannot think our way into heaven. And that is apparently by God’s design. The message of the cross, a crucified messiah, was offensive to Greeks, as well as to the Jews. In the 1st century, the cross had the same connotations as the electric chair does for us today. How many of us would be willing to wear a miniature electric chair around our necks? Or install one at the front of our sanctuaries? And yet, of all the ways God might have chosen to reconcile humanity to himself, he chose the message of the cross.

The Wisdom of God

God, in His wisdom, determined that man, in our wisdom, would never find him. It is only through believing in the foolish message of the cross, of Christ crucified, that we can be saved. And so for us, the cross, this bloody symbol of death, symbolizes the power of God.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

4 thoughts on “The Message of the Cross – 1 Corinthians 1:21”

  1. The cross is really a symbol of death, even worse, the death of a criminal by execution. Like the gallows or the electric chair in our time, as you said. Jesus was unjustly condemned, but paradoxically the cross became the quintessential symbol of Christianity. Theologians say this is so, because Jesus died for us, for the redemption of the sins of the world. However, the sight of the cross is felt by many people as something terribly unfair and sad, the death of the one who came to save us. If the cross is offensive to the Jews, as you said, it is because it permanently reminds and accuses them of the crime they committed, condemning a righteous person to death. For many others, the cross is just the symbol of death, the negation of life. Many Christians take refuge in Marianism, because the image of the Virgin is welcoming and maternal, therefore preferable to a symbol of death or unjust death. What do you think of this?

    • The Jews do not take offense in the cross because of what they did. But because the idea of a crucified Messiah is offensive to them.

      I think the cross is a good symbol for us, and one that the Scripture uses. It reminds us of the sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf. It is through the cross that we can have salvation. I think we make a big mistake when we try and tone down the cross and all it represents.

  2. I have for many years lamented that here in the UK the message of the cross is not taught strongly enough. Yes people are told that Yeshua died for their sins. This is done now and again. Maybe for special youth meetings, or at Easter. And then it is told in a wishy washy way. The message isn’t put across with the same power as when I was a young person. I guess you must find the same thing in the States. The whole Bible, if we bother to look carefully enough revolves around the message of the cross, that’s why I believe that, that same message should be preached all the time, not just on odd occasions. I feel like I’m like a voice crying in the wilderness, yet I will not relent, on this and other issues involving people who proclaim they are Christian’s yet endorse all the sexual depravity that is being taught in our churches these days
    I must stop here. Once I get going there is no stopping me.
    Yahweh bless you Ed and all the work you are doing.
    Yours in Yashua

    • Sorry that this comment got lost for so long Mary. It is unfortunate that the message of the cross has lost its place in so much of Christianity today. It is the heart of the gospel message.


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