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For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

New Defender's Study Bible Notes

1:17 not to baptize. Paul did baptize believers, for this was a part of the great commission (Matthew 28:19-20), but baptism, as this verse makes very clear, is not a part of the gospel, and therefore not a requisite of salvation, for it is by the gospel that men and women are saved (I Corinthians 15:1-2).

1:18 foolishness. Those who regard Christianity as foolishness, rejecting and perhaps even ridiculing God’s Word, thereby prove to others that they are perishing in sin, on their way to hell.

1:19 it is written. Paul is quoting here from Isaiah 29:14, with somewhat similar relevant passages in Jeremiah 49:7 and Obadiah 8. The section from this verse through the end of chapter 2 is a sobering indictment of supposed human wisdom, as opposed to true wisdom in Christ (I Corinthians 1:30).

1:21 wisdom knew not God. Human wisdom—whether ancient Greek philosophy or modern evolutionary scientism—has always sought to explain the origin of the world by some means apart from its God and Creator. In the sight of God, this attempt is not true wisdom, true philosophy, or true science, but mere rebellious foolishness (Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:22).

1:21 foolishness of preaching. To the wisdom of the ungodly, “foolish preaching” is preaching the crucifixion of the world’s Creator by His creation.

1:22 require a sign. Note Christ’s rebuke of this carnal attitude in Matthew 12:39-40 and John 4:48.

1:26 not many. Paul does not say: “Not any,” but: “Not many.” There have always been a few brilliant or powerful or aristocratic men who have devoted their gifts to the Lord and His Word, but they have always been the exceptions. This passage, in fact, is a remarkably fulfilled prophecy, having remained incisively true for almost two thousand years. Rather than being discouraged by the intellectual snobbery of educated unbelievers, their very dominance in the world should be regarded as merely another proof of the inspiration of the Scriptures.

1:30 made unto us. All we are, and all we have—if it is of any value at all in the scale of eternity—is given us by our Creator and Savior Jesus Christ. “In [Him] are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3); “[He] is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth” (Romans 10:4); we are “sanctified in Christ Jesus” (I Corinthians 1:2); and, “in [Him] we have redemption through His blood” (Colossians 1:14).

1:31 it is written. See Jeremiah 9:23-24. Pride is the devil’s sin (I Timothy 3:6), and “God resisteth the proud” (James 4:6).

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