1 Corinthians 1:22
Jews demand signs and Greeks search for wisdom,
Sermons
Man's Wisdom and God'sH. Bremne 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
The Preaching of the CrossE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
Paul's PreachingJ. Exells, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
Paul's PreachingW. M. Taylor, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
PreachingJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Aim of the MinistryC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Cross Neutralised by Theories About ItPrincipal . Edwards.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Cross of Christ of None EffectS. Martin.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Foolishness of PreachingM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Gospel as Preached by PaulA. J. F. Behrends, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Gospel Neither Ritual nor PhilosophyJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The Preaching Which the Apostle Condemns as IneffectiveJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The True Minister of ChristJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The True Work of the PreacherH. W. Beecher.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
The World's Greatest Blessing and its Greatest EvilD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:17-31
How St. Paul Regarded the Preaching of the GospelC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 1:18-31
The World's Foolishness, and God's WisdomR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 1:19-25
An Orthodox PreacherA. Buckley.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingJ. Hooper.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingE. Oakes.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic PreachingD. Fraser 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Apostolic Preaching: its Theme and EffectsJ. Bowers.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedThomas Horton, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Baldwin Brown, B. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedT. R. Stevenson.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christ CrucifiedJ. Waite 1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Christianity Viewed in Three AspectsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
En Touto NikaG. Kingsley, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
How the Gospel TriumphedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Jew, Greek, and ChristianA. M. Fairbairn, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Offensiveness of the Gospel to Human PrideJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Our PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching ChristF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching Christ and Preaching the TimesPrincipal Edwards.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
Preaching Christ CrucifiedJ. Oswald Dykes, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
St. Paul's Preaching At CorinthC. Clayton, M. A.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Atonement Adapted to AllC. H. Spurgeon.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Causes of the Rejection of the GospelJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Cross of ChristDean Stanley.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Crucifixion of ChristI. Barrow, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Gospel and its OpponentsJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Jews Require a Sign, the Greeks Seek WisdomThomas Horton, D. D.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
The Reasonableness of the GospelBp. Fellowes.1 Corinthians 1:22-24
It is difficult for us to realize the deep rooted strength of the prejudices the truth of Christ encountered on its first proclamation. One thing, however, is clear - while the apostles accommodated the mode of their teaching to those prejudices, they never so accommodated the teaching itself. Their doctrine was the same for all. They never thought of modifying it or softening down its essential peculiarities, to suit the taste of any. With reference to the form of his teaching, St. Paul says, "To the weak I became weak," etc. (1 Corinthians 9:22); with reference to the substance. "Though we or an angel from heaven should preach any other gospel," etc. (Galatians 1:8). Jews and Greeks are the two broad classes under which these varieties of prejudice might be grouped; and here are their prominent characteristics. "Jews ask for signs." It was so in the days of Christ. "An evil and adulterous generation," etc. (Matthew 12:39); "Except ye see signs and wonders," etc. (John 4:48). And in the apostolic age the race everywhere manifested the same mental tendency. They were sign seeking Jews. "Greeks seek after wisdom" - such wisdom as found a home for itself in their own philosophic schools. They knew no other. Thus each of these classes illustrated a particular aspect of the vanity of human nature; the one craving after that which would minister to the pride of sense, the other to the pride of intellect. For both Paul had but one message: "Christ and him crucified." Note -

I. THE THEME OF THE APOSTOLIC TEACHING. "We preach Christ crucified" (see also 1 Corinthians 2:2; Galatians 3:1). This is the sum and substance of evangelical doctrine, the idea that filled the foremost place in the apostle's thought and supplied the chief inspiration of his heroic life. Not a little of the emphasis falls on the word "crucified." He preached Christ as the personal Redeemer of men, and that not merely as the great miracle working Prophet of God, the moral Reformer, the Revealer of new truth, the Lawgiver of a new spiritual kingdom, the Example of a divinely perfect life, but as the Victim of death. It was in the death of Christ that the whole force and virtue of the apostolic testimony about him lay. What meaning did Paul attach to this death? The mere reiteration of the fact itself would be powerless apart from its doctrinal significance. If he had represented it simply as the crowning act of a life of devotion and self sacrifice in the cause of God and of humanity, he would have placed the Name of Christ on the level of many another name, and his death on a level with the death of many another witness for truth and righteousness; instead of which a virtue and a moral efficacy are everywhere imputed to it, which cannot be conceived of as belonging to any other death, and which alone explain the position it occupies in apostolic teaching (see 1 Corinthians 5:7; Ephesians 1:7; Ephesians 2:14, 16; Colossians 1:21; 1 John 1:7; 1 John 2:2). Forgiveness of sins, spiritual cleansing, moral freedom, practical righteousness, fellowship with God, the hope of eternal glory, - all are set forth here as fruits of the death of Christ and our faith in it. St. Paul made it the one grand theme of his ministry, because he knew that it would meet the deep and universal needs of humanity. No other word would bring rest to the troubled conscience and satisfaction to the longing, weary, distracted heart of man; no other voice could awaken the world to newness of life out of the dread shadow of despair and death in which it lay.

II. THE RECEPTION IT MET WITH, from "Jews," "Gentiles" and "them that are called."

1. "Unto Jews a stumbling block" - an offence, something "scandalous." O, several special grounds Christ was such an offence to them.

(1) The lowliness of his origin.

(2) The unostentatious character of his life.

(3) The unworldliness of his aims and methods.

(4) The expansive spirit of his doctrine; its freedom from class and national exclusiveness.

(5) The universality of the grace he offered.

(6) Above all, the fact of his crucifixion.

How could they recognize as their Messiah One who had died as the vilest of malefactors; died by the judgment of their rulers and amid the derision of the people; died by a death that above all others they abhorred? The cross, which Paul made the basis of human hope and the central glory of the universe, was to them "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence."

2. "Unto Gentiles foolishness." The Gentile world was pervaded by Greek sentiment. "Greece had now for more than a century been but a province of Rome; but the mind of Greece had mastered that of Rome." "The world in name and government was Roman, but in feeling and civilization Greek." Such a world scorned the "preaching of the cross" because:

(1) It lowered the pride of the human intellect, both by its simplicity and by its profundity - so plain that "the wayfaring man though a fool" could understand it, too deep for the utmost stretch of thought to fathom.

(2) It revealed the rottenness of the human heart beneath the fairest garment of civilization and culture. It made man dependent for all his light upon supernatural revelations, and for all his hopes of redemption on the spontaneous impulse of sovereign mercy. No wonder it was "foolishness" to proud Romans and polished, philosophic Greeks. And have we not around us now similar phases of aversion to the doctrine of "Christ crucified"? The spirit of the world is not the spirit of the cross. The one is carnal, vain, selfish, revengeful, self indulgent; the other is spiritual, lowly, benevolent, forgiving, self abandoning. The cross to every one of us means submission, humiliation, self sacrifice, it may be reproach and shame; and these are hard to bear. It is hard to say, with Paul, "God forbid that I should glory," etc. The cross may occupy a prominent place in our creed, our worship, our sermons and songs, may decorate our churches, may be made a favourite instrument of personal adornment; but to have its spirit filling our hearts, moulding and governing our whole being and life, is another thing.

3. "Unto them that are called," etc. The "called" are they who "are being saved" (ver. 18). In the case of all such the Divine purpose in the gospel is answered. They are called, and they obey the call. The heavenly voice falls on their ears, penetrates the secrecy of their souls, and there is life for them in the sound, because, like the still, small voice that breathed in the hearing of Elijah at the mouth of the cave, "the Lord is in the voice." The proof they have that the gospel is the embodiment of the power and wisdom of God is the infallible seal of the Spirit, the unanswerable witness of a Divine and heavenly life. Is it a "sign" that you ask for? Believe in Christ, and you shall have within you that mightiest of all wonders, the miracle of grace by which a soul is translated from darkness into light, and from the death of sin to the life of holiness. Is it "wisdom" you seek after? Believe in Christ, and he will unlock for you the unsearchable riches of the mind and heart of God. - W.







For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom.
I. AS ASSOCIATED WITH A GREAT FACT. "Christ crucified." This maybe looked at —

1. Historically. As an historical fact it is the most —

(1)Famous.

(2)Influential.

(3)Best authenticated.

2. Theologically —(1) It unfolds the Divine, and is a mighty expression of God's idea, government, and heart.

3. Morally. It is fraught with suggestion the most —

(1)Quickening.

(2)Elevating.

(3)Sanctifying.

II. AS ASSOCIATED WITH POPULAR OPINION. It had not sufficient of the gorgeous philosophical ritualism for the speculative and pedantic Greek, nor sufficient of the gorgeous religious ritualism for the sensuous and bigoted Jew. And now to millions it is nothing. To the sceptic it is a fable; to the formalist a creed or a ceremony.

III. AS ASSOCIATED WITH CHRISTIAN CONSCIOUSNESS. "But unto them that are called," &c. The Christian sees the highest wisdom in a system which, in saving a sinner —

1. Manifests the righteousness of an insulted sovereign.

2. Augments the influence of moral government.

3. Maintains intact all the principles of moral freedom.

4. Develops, strengthens, and perfects all the powers of the soul.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

The Christian of to-day can but ill-understand the Christian of the year 50. Perhaps if he did, he might feel much more as did the Greek or the Jew, than as did the Christian.

1. Think of Paul in Corinth.(1) The city was full of Jews, base sometimes, and poor, doing meanest work; rich sometimes, and able to play as it profited him most.(2) There, too, was the Greek, argumentative in his very commerce, and beating out all questions connected with the principles and profits of trade.(3) There, too, was the Roman, thinking the world had been made to be conquered, and he the conqueror of the world.(4) And Paul preached, and the Jew hated and despised; the Greek smiled in his large disdain; the Roman tolerated in his proud indifference; and you might have seen him some evening stealing along the quay, the mean-looking little Hebrew, who still could not be conquered, but resolved that his gospel should conquer men, finding entrance by a main stair to a meaner upper room, where the slave set free for an hour by his master, or the wharfinger escaping from loading and unloading his ship, or, the porter seeking relief from his weary burden by day, met with their small offerings to hear the preacher, great, in spite of his meanness, in dignity and in power. Had Peter gone to Corinth, Peter would have preached and hardly known, and less cared, how people thought and what they felt; but the keen, creative spirit of Paul could insert itself into the brain of the Roman, and look through his eyes; into the intellect of the Greek, and judge with his cynicism; into the imagination of the Hebrew, and feel with his heart, dream with his fancy.

2. Here you have the reminiscence of the older time, and that reminiscence comes out in three series of antitheses.(1) There are three typical persons — the Jew, the Greek, the Christian.(2) The three typical persons have three characteristic quests. The Jew requires a sign, the Greek wisdom, the Christian preaches Christ.(3) There are three typical attitudes of the one subject. Christ is to the Jew a stumbling-block, to the Greek foolishness, to the Christian the power and the wisdom of God. What the Jew demanded was a vision of power; what the Greek sought was a source of wisdom; what the Christian found `was power and wisdom in one. Look, then, at these three persons, with their characteristic quests and attitudes. They are old, they are new; they belong to nineteen centuries distant, they live to-day.

I. THE JEW. Illustrious was his ancestry, and he could feel that he was in the face of people that were of yesterday and of earth, while he was of eternity and of God. His founder was Abraham, friend of God, greatest of faithful men; his lawgiver was Moses, author of a law straight come from God. The literature of Greece and Rome was of the earth; his was a book God made. Nay, they worshipped idols; he worshipped the one Creator. And so, proud man was the Jew, proudest for this reason — he owned God rather than God owned him. He so owned God, that he determined the very terms on which God was to be held and known by other men. And so he said, when he stood before the new gospel, "Show me a sign": but by the very terms no miracle was possible. The Jew said, "I am God's great work; a greater than I is not in the world: I am the sign; show me a greater."

2. Ah, Jew! if thou hadst been able to see the Christ, thou hadst seen a greater. Think of Him; child He is of thine own proud race, yet lowly in heart, giving rest unto the soul, Thou hast cause for pride, O Jew! yet greater still for humiliation. Out of thy loins He sprung; yet for Him thou only hadst the Cross. See how He "broke His birth's invidious bar"; see how, breaking it, He became no local, narrow Jew, but Son of Man, yet Son of God. See how, through Him, God became the new Being for man — Father. He stands manifest God, witness to this — that man's sin is God's sorrow, man's saving God's suffering. From millions the cry has risen for the Father. Out of heaven the Father stoops to seek the sons. Here, through His Son, he comes to create a great family of God, and a Greek and Jew become brothers; Roman forgets empire and Hindoo colour; male ceases to be man, female ceases to be woman — all become one in Christ. Miracle ye claim and seek, O Jew! to you a miracle I bring!

II. THE GREEK.

1. He, too, had his illustrious ancestry. He made this great discovery: freedom, manhood through freedom. Read the inscriptions of Assyrian kings that tell you how they vanquished empires, but tell you not of the armies they lost and the armies they destroyed without pity or regret. Read the records of Egyptian monuments, and they will tell how a great king, to preserve his very dust, builds a mighty pyramid, throwing thousands of men away in the building of it. The Greek, in creating a free state, created the very idea of manhood. Man free is man reasonable, ordered, a social, joyous, complete life. He, too, discovered for all time art and beauty. Take those colossal figures standing by the Nile — cold, impassive; take those great Assyrian monarchs — massive, insensible to pity, sensible only of power; or look at the Hindoo, with his god — many-headed, many-armed, many-breasted, hideous symbol of a race without beauty; take the Greek discovering the human form is Divine. Can you tell hew much the good man owes to the race that discovered beauty in men? Look at poetry. Pithy speech for deepest emotion. Think, too, what philosophy means — the passion for the true, the search for the good. We owe that to the Greek; but when you spoke to him of Christ, he turned away and said, "Where is the wisdom? He is a barbarian, and uses speech that cannot with grace or truth be called language. Think of Him, too, as your later artist pictured Him, crowned with thorns. We love the gracious and we love the great; we love not this."

2. But, O Greek! hast thou thought of the meaning of that Christ? You love freedom — you made it; but see how you bind man still in passion that makes him a very slave. This Christ can take the man bound in the bondage of sin, make him a free man who loves the law of God and loves to obey it, and make him a citizen of an eternal kingdom. You made art; hut think of the beauty that is in Christ — how radiant the goodness that makes Him alone "the altogether lovely." He creates the rarer art of holy being, of holy living. You think your poetry is great; but, see, He has made all time, all the universe — nay, the very eternity itself, poetical. Has He not filled every life that is lived with poetic meaning, by bringing Deity into humanity, by lifting humanity into Deity. And is it thy wisdom, O Greek! that thou lovest? See, then, in this Christ is the great mystery of being — God that made the world, the end to which God made it, the means by which He is to reach His end, the glorious method by which the scattered and multitudinous creatures who have estranged themselves from Him may yet, through holy concord, and beautiful love, and perfect devotion, be brought into a saved society in Him. O Greek! in Him are all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge; in Him thou hast all things.

III. THE CHRISTIAN. It is said, "If thou wouldst know a poet, go and live in the poet's land." So, if you would know Christ, make your appeal to Christian experience. Two things are in Him — power, casual, creative; wisdom, adaptive, constructive. Christ brings to the re-making of men power that can take the lost and re-make it until it becomes the holiest; wisdom to take what He has re-made, and shape, develop, guide it, until its early promise becomes richest performance. There is power in Christ, for He is able to save to the uttermost; there is wisdom in Christ, for Christ can sanctify what He has saved. Now you are face to face with the evil and the need of men; what other way can you cure it? You may call to your aid philosophy. Philosophy will make a select and cultured class, scornful of the multitude, and growing cynical through the sense of its own pre-eminence. Call in social theory, that argues that new conditions must be created that men may be made happy and. perfect. You may invoke the Act of Parliament; and yet all these together fail to do that which Christ has achieved.

(A. M. Fairbairn, D. D.)

1. It comes in the form of preaching, and offers its blessings only to faith.

2. It describes the crucified Jesus as the power and wisdom of God.

3. It pronounces all this, which seems to men to be folly and weakness, to be wiser and stronger than all the wisdom and power of the world.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. THE JEWISH CRAVING FOR —

1. The ostentatious.

2. The miraculous.

II. THE GENTILE LOVE FOR —

1. The intellectual.

2. The aesthetic.

III. IN BOTH THE PRIDE that will not submit to the simplicity of faith.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

Observe —

I. THE GREAT HINDRANCES OF THE GOSPEL IN APOSTOLIC TIMES.

1. Jewish prejudice.

2. Gentile philosophy.

II. THESE ARE GENERAL TYPES OF HUMAN ERROR — e.g., Pharisaism and Sadduceeism; Epicureanism and Stoicism; Ritualism and Rationalism; self-righteousness and self-conceit.

III. THEIR UTTER INCOMPATIBILITY WITH THE GOSPEL.

1. The gospel requires humility; these are the offspring of pride.

2. The gospel insists on faith. These demand demonstration.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. ITS THEME. Christ crucified. His Divinity, sacrifice, offices, redeeming power, universal government.

II. ITS DIFFICULTIES.

1. Jewish prejudice.

2. Gentile wisdom.

III. ITS TRIUMPHS IN THEM WHICH ARE CALLED,

1. Christ the power of God —

(1)Surmounting difficulties.

(2)Providing means — His Atonement, Word, Spirit.

(3)Determining conditions.

(4)Counteracting human depravity.

(5)Choosing instruments.

(6)Exposing error and sin.

2. Christ the power of God in —

(1)The Incarnation.

(2)The application of the gospel.

(3)Its successes.

(4)Its results.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

In this verse the apostle illustrates and confirms that expression which had passed from him in the verse before, concerning the foolishness of preaching. First, in the demand of the Jews; and secondly in the pursuit of the Gentiles. The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom. First, we will speak of them jointly, as they agree in one notion, and then severally in what is proper to each. First, jointly, where we must know thus much, the demand of the Jews, "The Jews require a sign." Here was an error in both, as concerning their receiving the gospel of Christ: whence we may observe in general then, first this: that the corruption of nature does act and improve itself differently in different ranks and conditions of persons. Here are Jews and Gentiles both, people of a several temper and frame, yet both of them have their censure; the one in the requiring of a sign, and the other in the seeking after wisdom; both of them in a several kind of nature had their weaknesses and failings. This various working of corruption according to the subject wherein it is, may be variously accounted unto us as proceeding from various causes. As first, sometimes from the difference of age and constitution of body: there are some sins which are more proper to one age and temper, and others which are more proper to another. Again, secondly, sometimes it proceeds from a difference of assault and temptation; as there are several tempers and constitutions in regard of men themselves, so there are several drawing out of these constitutions in regard of Satan's improving of them. Thirdly, it proceeds from a difference of employment and education, and particular calling, wherein men are set. First, that we should not from hence at any time be secure and presumptuous in ourselves from our freedom from any particular sin or infirmity whatsoever; though thou art not guilty of such a sin, yet it may be thou mayest be guilty of another, which in its kind may be as bad. Again, secondly, observe this: that all men by nature have some quarrel or exception or other against the Word of God, and some pretence to put it off from them. "The Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom"; neither of them were every way right, and so as they should be. This is that which has always been in all ages and times of the Church. Thirdly, observe in general this: that it is a great matter for the entertainment of any ministry what people have been formerly used and accustomed unto; that has commonly a great sway with them. For see here in this present Scripture how it was now with these two sorts of people, the Jews and the Gentiles. The Jews, they had been used to signs heretofore under Moses and the prophets, and therefore nothing would serve their turn now but signs still. And the Gentiles, they had been used to their philosophy and rhetoric. This shows us what cause we have therefore, as to be careful of what principles we admit at any time of ourselves, so to bless God that He has any time in His providence heretofore so well ordered it to us. I come now to them more distinctly in particular, to look upon them in their several propositions, to wit, the demand of the Jews by itself, and the pursuit of the Gentiles again by itself. First, for the demand of the Jews — "The Jews require a sign." This the apostle speaks of as some kind of weakness and viciousness in them: and so indeed it was, as may appear in these particulars. First, it does denote unto us that sottishness and stupidity which was in them. A sign it is a thing which is accommodated to the outward sense, and ordained for the teaching of those which are of low understandings, and which cannot attain to the spirituality of Divine mysteries; now thus it was here with these Jews. And this is the disposition of most men else by nature to be thus affected in themselves. Thus it was with the apostle Thomas at Christ's resurrection (John 20:25). That the more carnal any people are, the more they are carried away after such matters, and do not rest themselves satisfied in that evidence which the Scripture holds out unto them; and it proceeds from hence, because they have not their senses exercised to discern of things that differ. Secondly, here was also their infidelity and unbelief, that is likewise implied in this, that they asked a sign. Signs, says the apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 14:22) they are not for them that believe, but for them which believe not; and accordingly they have been still used (as we shall find) upon such occasions as these are, either to begin faith where it has been wanting, or to strengthen it where it has been weak; they are an argument of unbelief where they are given, but especially they are so where they are required. Whilst the Jews demand a sign, they show their infidelity indeed, that they are as yet in a state of unbelieving (John 1:11), "He came to His own, and His own received Him not." Thus it was with this people: and if we would know whence it came to be so, the apostle tells us, "Because the god of this world had blinded their eyes, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ should shine unto them" (2 Corinthians 4:3, 4). Well, let it teach us all for our particulars to take heed "lest there be in any of us an heart of unbelief to depart from the living God"; yea, let us take heed of admitting any scruples and doubts in the main points of Christianity; for if we begin once, we shall never have done. And that is the second evil in this demand of the Jews in asking for a sign, to wit, their infidelity. The third is their hypocrisy; there was a great deal of false-heartedness and double-dealing in this request of theirs; for why, they intended no such thing as to receive the truth. This is the manner of hypocrites to pretend an unsatisfiableness in the means when they do not relish the thing; when they favour not the conclusion, they call in question the argument. Fourthly, here was their insolency and unworthy behaviour in the laying of this demand; and that as expressing itself also in sundry particulars, which we may briefly take notice of. As first, here was their preposterousness and presumption, in that they would prescribe and limit God to a way of their own — they ask a sign. But here was the miscarriage in these Jews, that they would teach God, and set Him a rule, and point which they would determine Him unto; that when as He would have it done by preaching, they would have it done by miracle. And when the apostles brought them a sermon, they would needs have a sign. This is a sure rule — that in the things of God especially, as in all other things, we must be ruled by God Himself. To ask a sign was here a presumption. Again, as there may be a fault in asking one, so there may be a fault likewise in refusing one, when God offers one to us: observe that this was the miscarriage of Ahaz (Isaiah 7:11). But now where God sets up a sign, there they pull the sign, down. As for example now in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Here they throw the sign away. Thus those which are so much for signs at another time, as with the Jews themselves, to require them when themselves please; here, when God offers one to them, they will not have one. Secondly, here was their peremptoriness and importunity, they require a sign; that is, there is no remedy, but have one they must in all haste. If they had asked it modestly and soberly, though they had asked it, there might not perhaps have been so much in it: there have been those of the servants of God which have asked signs, and they have not been blamed for it; Gideon asked one and had it in his wet and dry fleece (Judges 6:37). Hezekiah, again, asked one (2 Kings 20:8, 9). Thirdly, here was their malice and perverseness, "they require a sign," as if hitherto they had never had any. The Jews had signs of Christ exhibited unto them, both by Himself in His own particular Person, and likewise in His servants the apostles; they had wonders in heaven above, and they had signs in the earth beneath; as it is in Acts 2:19, and in ver. 22 of the same chapter — "Ye men of Israel hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles, wonders and signs which God did by Him in the midst of you," &c. And again (ver. 43), "Many wonders and signs were done by the apostles." And (Mark 16:20), "The Lord confirmed the Word by signs following." So we see then they wanted not signs, and yet as if they had been altogether destitute, they here require them; this was now an horrible perverseness and maliciousness in them, and a slighting both of the power and goodness of God Himself. The second is the inquiry or pursuit of the Gentiles, "The Greeks seek after wisdom." By Greeks here we are to understand all other nations besides the Jews. Now the great learning and eloquence of the Greeks was occasionally and accidently through their corruption, not in the nature of the thing itself, a great hindrance to them for their embracing of the saving knowledge of Christ; they were so taken with the conceits and apprehensions of their own wit and excellent parts, that the preaching of the Cross it seemed no better than foolishness to them; they would believe nothing now in religion without an argument and a demonstration. In brief, there are two things especially which are here by this passage of the apostles prohibited to us. First, a restraining of the truths and doctrines of religion to the apprehensions of carnal reason, the wisdom of the flesh. This was the fault of these Greeks, and we are to take heed it be not ours. And the reason of it is this, because indeed religion is a mystery, and the things which are propounded in the gospel they are above the reach of human wit. Why but then must we lay aside all kind of reason in matters of religion? is Christianity an unreasonable business? and does the gospel deprive us of our wits and ordinary understandings? No, no such matter; religion it is not against reason but it is above it. The sum of all is this, that reason it may be improved in religion, but religion is not to be limited to reason; faith and right reason do not cross, though indeed they do not always meet; nay, indeed, religion is upon the point the greatest reason and wisdom of all, because it is the reason and wisdom of God Himself, who is the highest intelligence. And that is the first thing which was here taxed in these Greeks in the text, their seeking after wisdom, namely, the wisdom of the flesh, in restraining religion to reason, which is a thing here prohibited to us. The second is, the wisdom of words in adulterating the ordinance of preaching with the affectation of human eloquence; this is not to be done by us neither, either in preachers or hearers. This was another thing in these Greeks seeking after wisdom, they refused the doctrine of Christ, because it was not brought to them with the excellency of speech and human wisdom, which the Apostle Paul did of purpose decline, as he tells us (1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1). For the right understanding of this point, that we may not be mistaken, we do not here prohibit all use of human learning or eloquence in reference to preaching; but — First, that this be not the chief business which is intended by us: we may use these things by the by, but this is not the main to be looked after by us, like children that more regard the cover of the book than they do that which is contained in it. Secondly, we must consider the nature of this eloquence and wisdom, what it is; there is a comeliness of expression suitable to the nature of the matter and argument which is spoken unto, which may very well become a preacher of the gospel; but strong lines and bombast is such as is very uncomely and improper. Thirdly, for the measure of doing it, it must be done very sparingly and moderately; I mean the mixture of wit and human learning in preaching; as sauce, but not as meat. Lastly, a regard is to be had to the nature of the auditory itself, which we have to deal withal, that they be such as are capable of it, and where it may serve as an advantage to the conveyance of the doctrine itself. With these and the like explications there may be a good use of human eloquence and speech; but otherwise in the excess and failing in the manner of it, it is very dangerous and inconvenient. And that especially, as first, it oftentimes takes off the efficacy of the ordinances and makes the Word of God of none effect. Secondly, besides this, it is that which is not so acceptable for the most part to a spiritual heart. Thirdly, God Himself does not commonly so work by them — "By the foolishness of preaching He saves them that believe."

(Thomas Horton, D. D.)

Evil exists, is the result of sin, which is a want of affection for God, and its cure is by Christ crucified. God is limited in His mode of cure by the capacities and endowments of human nature.

I. THE GOSPEL CANNOT BE A SYSTEM OF FORCE. It must be one of motive.

II. LOVE CANNOT BE TRANSFERRED AT WILL FROM ONE OBJECT TO ANOTHER. God must become man to secure man's affection.

III. HATE IN THE HUMAN HEART CAN ONLY BE CONQUERED AND OVERCOME BY MANIFESTED SELF-DENYING LOVE. God's first work is to teach men their sinfulness and need of salvation. Without faith it is impossible to please God. There is no other avenue to the human heart than that which God has tried.

IV. THE DUTIES AND PROHIBITIONS OF THE GOSPEL ARE DEMANDED BY OUR NATURES. Social scientists admit this. Prayer, praise, worship, are as necessary to soul-growth as food, exercise, and rest for bodily powers.

V. THE REWARDS AND PENALTIES OF THE GOSPEL ARE IN ACCORDANCE WITH NATURE, with reason, with those principles upon which we act in daily life. This wisdom of God is perfectly adapted to man's wants, and meets man's necessities.

(Bp. Fellowes.)

But we preach Christ crucified.
I. THE LEANING THEME OF PAUL'S MINISTRY.

1. The Person declared in his ministry. Christ, not the patriarchs, prophets, &c. Men of renown in history must not supplant Jesus.

2. The atonement proclaimed in his ministry. We have to speak to the masses — not science, philosophy, &c., but a crucified Lord.

II. THE GREAT DIFFICULTIES IN PAUL'S MINISTRY.

1. The superstition of the Jews. They spurned the gospel because it appealed to their spiritual nature. They did not want a suffering Messiah. If we are seeking signs, we are superstitious. We are rejecting the tidings of "Christ crucified."

2. The scepticism of the Greeks. A crucified Christ appeared to them a fable. Many in spirit are still doing the same.

III. THE DIVINE CHARACTER OF PAUL'S MINISTRY.

1. The universality of the gospel. The glorious gospel is for all mankind.

2. The powerfulness of the gospel. The death of the Cross is the greatest manifestation of the power of God.

3. The knowledge of the gospel. Christ displays God's highest wisdom. None can instruct us aright but Christ, and we shall never learn the wisdom of God unless we sit at the foot of the Cross.Conclusion:

1. There is no other way of salvation but what is revealed in the gospel of a crucified Saviour.

2. May we never be of the class who reject and despise God's method of redemption.

3. Between the conflict of power and wisdom, Christ is the living embodiment of the greatest force in the world.

4. We must believe the gospel before we can experience its saving influence.

(A. Buckley.)

I. ITS GREAT SUBJECT. Christ crucified. We —

1. Declare the nature of His death.

2. Exhibit its benefits.

3. Persuade men to seek an interest in it.

II. ITS RECEPTION.

1. Some reject it with contempt.

2. Some receive it with respect and advantage.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. WHAT ST. PAUL PREACHED. "Christ crucified" — i.e., not so much the sufferings of Christ on the Cross as the doctrines connected with the Cross and all the benefits which are secured to us by it. He preached —

1. The dignity of Him who suffered.

2. His humiliation.

3. His willingness.

4. The shamefulness of His death.

5. The intensity of His sufferings. His death was lingering, not sudden. He suffered from men, from devils, from God.

II. SOME REASONS FOR HIS SO PREACHING. There were —

1. Personal reasons. A dispensation was committed unto him. St. Paul preached thus because he was commanded. "Woe is unto me," &c.

2. Doctrinal reasons. He preached Christ crucified because by the Cross —(I) God's wrath is appeased. God was willing to be appeased; but God's justice could not be appeased except by the death of Christ.(2) God's law is silenced. For every breach of its commands the law thunders forth against us, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." But Christ has undergone all the curses of the broken law in our behalf. "He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us." "There is now no condemnation," &c.(3) Our guilt is removed. If God's law, which we have broken, has been satisfied by Christ, then must necessarily follow the removal of our guilt.(4) The devil's power is subdued.(5) Holiness is promoted Dr. Chalmers tells us that, so long as he preached only moral duties, he saw no results of his labours. All the vehemence of his powerful oratory had not the weight of a feather in making the drunkard sober, and the unchaste man clean. But when he began to preach the atonement, he saw in rich abundance the precious fruits of holiness; and so John Berridge tells us that for six years he preached morality to his parishioners at Stapleford till there was hardly a moral man left in the parish; but when he was taught by God's Spirit to lift up Christ, the people came flocking to the sanctuary in deep concern about their souls.(6) Heaven is opened.Conclusion: We hence see the duty of ministers, viz., to walk in the steps of Paul.

1. He was emphatically a preacher. We, too, who are ministers, should aim to be preachers. Our Lord's commission ran, "Go ye into all the world and preach." "Christ sent me," says Paul, "not to baptize, but to preach the gospel." Others, uninspired men, have said the same. Latimer said, "Take away preaching, take away salvation." St. affirms, "My whole priesthood is to teach and preach the gospel. This is my sacrifice."

2. But what are we to preach? Christ crucified. The preach Christ, but only as a bright example, not as a vacarious sacrifice. But we, like St. Paul, preach Christ crucified, because we know that this is the only preaching which God the Holy Ghost will honour. As Cecil says, "A philosopher may philosophise his hearers, but the preaching of Christ will alone convert them. Men may preach Christ ignorantly, blunderingly, absurdly, yet God will give that preaching efficacy, because He is determined to magnify His own ordinance."

(C. Clayton, M. A.)

I. ITS MATTER. The apostle opposes his theme, on the one hand, to Judaising teachers, who taught converts that they must be circumcised, and keep the laws of Moses; and, on the other hand, to Gentile philosophers, who spent much time in eloquently haranguing on the beauty of virtue and the deformity of vice; but who, with all their arts of rhetoric, never could guide one soul to heaven.

II. ITS MANNER They exhibited the Cross of Christ —

1. As the end of the law for righteousness.

2. As the only foundation of a secure hope of acceptance with God.

3. As the only legitimate object of a Christian's glory.

4. As the most powerful incentive to obedience.Conclusion: Let me ask —

1. What think you of Christ?

2. What influence has the subject had on you?

(J. Hooper.)

I. ITS GRAND SUBJECT. The apostles set forth —

1. The dignity of our Saviour's person as the true Messiah of God.

2. The perfection of His atonement. Having laid the foundation in His Divinity, this naturally followed.

3. The plenitude of His redemption. Christ died for all men, and we are therefore enabled to offer salvation to every man. This is a blessing which leads to all others.

II. THE RECEPTION WHICH THIS DOCTRINE MET WITH.

1. "To the Jews it was a stumbling-block."

2. To the Greeks it was foolishness.

3. "Unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." These perfections are admirably discovered if we consider —(1) The method that God took to make known to the lapsed posterity of man His merciful designs.(2) The men whom God selected to carry the message of salvation to the world.(3) The easy terms which the Lord hath fixed upon in order to be benefited by the redemption.(4) The great effects which have been produced by this doctrine.

(E. Oakes.)

I. THE GREAT THEME OF APOSTOLIC PREACHING. The crucifixion of our Lord was the great centre of their preaching, but its range was much wider. They preached Christ in —

1. The Divinity of His person.

2. The perfection of His atonement.

3. The variety of His offices.

4. The blessings of His redemption.

5. The universality of His government.

II. THE DIVERSITY OF THE EFFECTS WHICH ATTEND THE PUBLICATION OF THIS GOSPEL.

1. To the Jews it was a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness; "to them that are called" —(1) The wisdom of God. This wisdom is displayed in —(a) The wonderful method by which the difficulties were removed which stood in the way of the restoration of fallen man.(b) The perfect adaptation of the means which it. supplies for the attainment of human salvation. First, the sacrifice of Christ. Second, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit.(c) Its direct tendency to counteract one of the most evident manifestations of human depravity — viz., pride.(d) In the selection of the instruments who were ordained to propagate it.(e) The period appointed for its proclamation.(f) The facility of those terms on which the benefits are conferred.(2) The power of God is displayed in —(a) The various acts by which the stupendous scheme was accomplished.(b) The Divine influence which attended the publication of this doctrine.(c) The triumphant progress which the gospel has made against every opposition.(d) Its influence on man's present and eternal destinies.

(J. Bowers.)

1. Preaching is an agency previously unknown, which Christianity has created for itself, and just as the gospel has been truly apprehended has it sought; expression purely through this form. Rationslise it into a philosophy, and the pulpit becomes a tribune to lecture from; mistake it for a magical mystery, and the pulpit is deserted for the altar. But Christianity is neither "a wisdom" for "Greeks," nor "a sign" for "Jews"; it is a Divine message for which preaching must ever be the appropriate vehicle.

2. When we set our modern pulpit alongside that of apostolic men there is a pretty wide divergence. Theirs was simple, direct, historic; built itself up on a few facts which clung around a central Person. Ours is elaborate, discursive, theoretical. To some extent such difference is not only natural, but proper. For the apostles were missionary preachers, addressing men to whom everything was new. We who minister among a people moulded by the truths which we preach must traverse an ampler field and cannot decline to use what the Christian past has brought to illustrate or confirm the old message. In accessory helps the pulpit grows yearly richer; yet through this very embarrassing wealth, the preacher is in danger of being beguiled too far from his appointed work.

I. THE GREAT PULPIT THEME.

1. The gospel offers itself as a plan of restoration; and opens with an event which lifts the scheme above parallel — the descent into our race of God Himself. At no other point does creation touch Divinity in such strange fellowship.

2. If we estimate the singular moment of this fact we shall not wonder to find the whole course both of nature and of providence looking towards it.(1) Thus there were laid in the constitution of nature materials for that rich symbolism which in the light of Holy Scripture it is our business to read. When, e.g., the light diffused through space received a home for us in the sun, there seems to have been present to the thought of God the ultimate gathering up of His omnipresent glory in Christ as the spiritual light of the world. And when, under laws of organic life in animal or plant, many parts were knit together and sustained in corporate action by a force undiscoverable, resident in one part, yet penetrating the whole, He meant to foreshadow the mysterious conjunction of believing souls into one, even Jesus, through the life-giving Spirit who proceedeth from Him.(2) So also with providence. Those strangely diverging lines which history traces have a reassembling point in the advent of Jesus Christ. To prepare the nations for it in the fulness of time, and to work out its fruits since, must be the key for the intricate movements of providence in all time.

3. If the Christian scheme of salvation through incarnate God is thus the world's centre of gravity, then its own centre of gravity is the Cross. Modern thought is strong because it recognises the Incarnation; but it is weak because it fails to see the necessary issue of the Advent in the Cross. The event of Golgotha came to complete and to explain the event of Bethlehem. Christ took our nature in order to redeem our souls; was born that He might die. Thus we reach the heart of Christianity. That is a nerveless gospel which glozes over the fact of atonement with vague phrases; that which ignores or denies it is another gospel altogether.

4. But on these facts what is the message which rests? Not merely that the man Jesus was actually the Son of God and become one of our own race; nor that He many centuries ago suffered generously, and for our sakes died; but that the God-Man, who did once at Jerusalem cancel guilt and win deliverance, is here, and able, therefore, to save all who trust Him. He has a pardon which He won as man, yet bestows as God. This acting Christ with His direct access to and contact with men, we must preach. We preach a Christ who, because He was crucified once, is dead no more; but is even now and always breathing power and life into human hearts; and from this central power of Christ to give the Holy Ghost as the fruit of His bitter tree, there branch spiritual works manifold as the miracles of His earthly ministry.

II. THE CONSIDERATIONS WHICH OUGHT TO REGULATE ITS DELIVERY FROM EVERY PULPIT. Pentecost gave tongues to the disciples. That was the birthday of preaching. The new message brought new utterance; and times of religious awakening have been signalised by a fresh development of preaching gifts. So it was at the revival of the thirteenth century, of the fifteenth, of the eighteenth. What, then, is this novel voice which Christ's gospel has found for itself?

1. As to matter, nothing which is quite foreign can be admitted, and everything which is cognate has a right to be here only in so far as it can serve the preacher's main drift, and illustrate or commend his message. This is no rule of narrow exclusion; for there is hardly a department of human thought or knowledge out of connection with Jesus Christ. But the rule is of constant value nevertheless. What ponderous piles of sacred learning have sometimes buried the simple message! What wire-spun theological niceties have perplexed the hearer! The gospel has been more often discussed than preached. Nothing has any right to be in a sermon except because it contributes to the clearness and effect of the message about Christ.

2. As to the form of the message, it must be in the main declarative. If true to its nature it cannot be anything else. It admits, indeed, of embodiment in a creed; it has given to philosophy its richest, deepest principles; before it there goes out the only law of ethics: yet these are none of them the gospel. In its naked essence it is a salvation offered in the person of a Saviour. As such it is to be published. This declarative form implies two subordinate elements. We found wrapped up in the object of preaching two things, a person and a fact. Now these should give to preaching at once a historical and a personal complexion. That Christianity is rooted in the past, and had a birthplace which ties it to one spot of history. All that concerns the life of Christ, with its foreshadowings, its self-manifestations, and each recorded step which conducted to the achievement of redemption — must be prominent in the Christian pulpit. Yet the historical is to be blended with the personal element; and that ministry is best which leads straight to the living helping Saviour.

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

First, the apostle's carriage, as concerning the ordering of his ministry; and secondly, the apostle's doctrine, as concerning the nature of those points and truths which were delivered in it. First, for his carriage; this is very much hinted unto us in the adversative particle "but," where there are these things further considerable: first, his contrariety of spirit; we see plainly that Paul and the rest of the apostles with him went a quite contrary way to that which was both required by Jews and Gentiles; the one required a sign, and the other sought after wisdom; but they accommodated neither, but instead they preach Christ crucified. What do we learn from hence? That it is the duty and wisdom of a minister to cross men's carnal humours; when people shall affect such kind of preaching as is unprofitable for them, especially to make them fail of their expectation. Physicians, when their patients are immoderate in thirsting after drink, keep it from them the rather. And the reason of it is this, because satisfying of such humours feeds them, and adds strength unto them. This then meets with all such whose carriage is quite contrary hereunto, who make not their hearers' necessities, but their affections, to be the rule of their teaching; and if there be any crotchet or humour more than other, which does prevail and abound in them, they will be sure to apply themselves to that in the course of their ministry. Secondly, we have here in this passage the apostle's humility and self-denial, in that he did here lay aside those things wherein he might otherwise have gloried and set out himself; he here denied his own wisdom, and learning, and eloquence, and such accomplishments as these are, that so he might the better advance the gospel of Christ. Paul had been caught up into paradise, and been made partaker of such admirable mysteries as were there revealed unto him, that he now should condescend to the preaching of such familiar points, and that after such a familiar manner, as he does here intimate unto us. This I say was a business which was very much to be taken notice of in him. "We preach Christ crucified." There was a great matter in that, for such poor creatures as we are. What does this now teach us but this much, that plain and familiar kind of teaching and laying down the mysteries of religion in an easy and perspicuous manner, is that which may well become the greatest and learnedest that are; it is no shame nor disparagement for any teacher. And truly why not, if indeed we consider all? for first, there is a great deal more of art and skill sometimes in it, than otherwise; to preach Christ crucified, and such fundamental truths of religion as these are, and in that manner as they ought to be preached, requires a great deal more of wisdom as belonging unto it than many other points besides, which it may be to some vain kind of minds seem far above them. It is an easier matter to preach fancies and notions, than it is to preach solid truths; it is an easier matter to preach in the enticing words of man's wisdom, than to preach in the powerful evidence and demonstration of the Spirit of God. Secondly, as there is more skill in it, so there is likewise more modesty, and less temptation and danger of miscarriage; the venting of strange speculations, and the preaching plausibly to men's humours and affections in this respect, is not without some hazard of pride and self-applause in those that shall do it. Thirdly, there is also profit and advantage hereby to our hearers, as concerning the good of their souls. Besides, if we speak of human learning and eloquence itself, we must know that this does not cross nor contradict plain kind of preaching. There may be a great deal of learning sometimes in a plain sermon, and in the opening of a plain truth in that sermon. Thirdly, here is his faithfulness and impartiality to either part in the indefiniteness of the subjects which this his doctrine extends unto, to Jew and Gentile both alike; he preaches Christ crucified to either, as a doctrine which might well fit them both. And in particular not only the Jews, which were a people of more low capacities, but likewise as well to the Greeks, which were a people of more raised apprehensions. And a minister does not wrong his hearers with such points whosoever they are. First, because they are such points which are indeed of a very deep reach in religion. Secondly, the wisest and learnedest that are, such points as these may very well become them, forasmuch as they are necessary points, and such as tend to salvation itself. If wise men will be saved they must be glad to hear of saving truths: there being but one way to salvation for them, and all others besides. Those who have the greatest skill in physic, they are glad to take the same potions for their health which others take. Thirdly, again, there is this besides considerable in it, that there is an infinite depth in these matters, which we can never sufficiently reach, or dive into, and those that knew never so much of them, yet they are still capable of knowing more. Besides, further, that we need affections even there where we need not information. This is a special ground for the preaching of plain truths to great wits, thereby to work upon their hearts, and to draw their love and affection to them. Let us not disdain the common doctrines of religion, nor think them too low for us; which as no man is too good to preach of, so no man is too good to hear, nor to have imparted and communicated unto them. Fourthly, there is here one thing more in his practice, and that is this, namely, his wisdom and discretion in the course which he here took for the curing and removing of the distempers of these Jews and Gentiles in reference to preaching; and that is by the very exercise of preaching itself. They counted it the foolishness of preaching. Well, how does the apostle now go about to free them from this mistake? why, he does it no other way than indeed by preaching to them. And this there is good cause for: first, because a great occasion of people's prejudice against preaching is because indeed they are unacquainted with it. Secondly, because there is an authority in preaching, and an efficacy which goes along with it, which does command respect unto it. But so much of the first particular, viz., the apostle's carriage as concerning the ordering of his ministry, which we have seen in four several instances. The second is the apostle's doctrine for the points delivered by him, and that is Christ crucified. This was the string which the apostle here harped upon, and the lesson which he principally taught; from whence we may observe this much, that Christ crucified is the main object and matter of our preaching. But why Christ crucified, rather than Christ exhibited in some other consideration? why not rather Christ incarnate, forasmuch as that was the first news of Him? or why not Christ risen again, or Christ ascended, which was a great deal more glorious? Surely there is very good reason to be given for it: first, because he would give them the worst of Christ at first, that he might show he was not ashamed of Him, nor of that gospel which made Him known, but that hereby he might the better prepare them for other truths, and make them the welcomer to them. Christ's Cross is the first letter of all in a Christian's alphabet. God's beginnings with us are commonly most tedious. His conclusions and closings are for the most part very sweet and comfortable. Secondly, because Christ crucified, it is virtually and implicitly all the rest; for why was Christ incarnate? it was for this end that He might be crucified. Thirdly, this was that mystery which did most concern us for the good and benefit which comes by it; His death was that which pacified God's wrath, and paid the debt which was due for our sins. Lastly, Christ crucified, because this was that which these people had a particular hand in as instrumental hereunto; they had been active in the crucifying of Christ themselves. Therefore accordingly we shall find that this was the practice of the apostles in the whole course and way of their ministry. And so it is that which is the chief work of ours, it is the doctrine which is to be chiefly preached by us; and that upon these following considerations. First, as it is a doctrine of the greatest humiliation, it is an humbling and convincing doctrine. If we ask how this is done, I answer by an act of reflection and special consideration to this purpose, namely, as from hence taking notice of this grievous and odious nature of sin; those which make nothing of sin, they may here see what it is now, in the price which was paid for it, and the pain which was endured to expiate it in Christ crucified. This doctrine of Christ's Passion, it is thus in this way of proceeding a doctrine of humiliation, and therefore fittest to be urged in the course of our ministry. And that because this is a main part of our ministry, to humble men and convince them of sin. Secondly, this doctrine of Christ crucified, as it has cause to be the chief work of our ministry, forasmuch as it is an humbling doctrine; so it has cause likewise to be so too, because it is a comforting doctrine, and a doctrine of the greatest comfort that can be. First, as Christ's death keeps us from the wrath of God and purchases peace to us with God the Father; for that it does, as we may see in Colossians 1:19, 20. Secondly, it obtains to us peace with angels, and all other creatures besides, whether in heaven or earth. Thirdly, it frees us from the power and dominion of sin. Fourthly, it frees us from the power and tyranny of Satan (Colossians 2:15). Fifthly, from bondage and thraldom to the ceremonial law, Christ crucified flees us from hence (Colossians 2:14). Sixthly, it frees us from the inordinate fears of death and final dissolution (1 Corinthians 15:55; Hebrews 2:14). Now this doctrine containing so much sweetness and comfortableness in it, what does from hence follow, but that accordingly it should be a principal part of our ministry to dispense it. Thirdly, as it is a doctrine of the richest and most abundant grace; for it contains in it the exceeding love of God towards mankind, and the height of His mercy towards us. In Christ crucified there is a combination of all the riches and mysteries of the gospel: it was His love to be incarnate, to be tempted, to be persecuted for us; yea, but His Passion it was the accomplishment and perfection of all the rest (John 15:13). What is it then to preach Christ crucified? For answer hereunto, we must know thus much, that the meaning hereof is not this, that we should preach of no other subject but only of the death of Christ; for there are many other points besides which it is necessary for a minister to speak of, and for a Christian likewise to hear of. First, for the matter of our preaching, that we are to preach this principally, and to make people sensible of this point more especially above any other, because the hinge of the gospel turns upon this point, and we are ministers of the gospel. Secondly, for the order of our preaching, to do all in reference to this; then we preach Christ crucified, not only when we discourse of this argument for the particular subject of it, but likewise when we preach of such points as are introductive and preparatory hereunto, or which are superstructed and founded hereupon. Thirdly, for the manner of our preaching, we then preach Christ crucified, when we preach Christ and the doctrine of Christ in a grave and sober fashion; this is clear by the opposition which the apostle Paul himself there sets (1 Corinthians 2:2), where he sets this preaching of Christ crucified as opposite to the excellency of human speech.

(Thomas Horton, D. D.)

The expression means —

I. To preach HIS DOCTRINES. If I say that Newton is taught in our universities, I mean his doctrines are taught; and to preach Christ crucified is to preach His doctrines (Acts 15:21). For example, the world says, Resent an injury; Christ says, Forgive your enemies. If, therefore, we preach forgiveness, are we not thereby preaching Christ, even though no distinct mention may be made of His Divinity, or of the doctrine of the Atonement? The world says, Indulge your inclinations; Christ says, Be pure in the last recesses of your mind. He, then, who lives a pure life is teaching Christ, even though he may not on every occasion name Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Epistle of St. James, there is not one word respecting the Atonement; hut if we work out the truths contained in them we preach Christ.

II. Preaching TRUTH IN CONNECTION WITH A PERSON; it is not merely purity, but the Pure One; not merely goodness, but the Good One, that we worship. Observe the advantages of this mode of preaching.

1. It makes religion practical.

2. It gives us something to adore, for we can adore a person, but we cannot adore principles.

III. Preaching SURRENDER TO THE WILL OF GOD. St. Paul would not preach Christ the conqueror, but Christ the crucified, Christ the humble. You may know a man when once you know what it is he worships.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Archbishop Leighton was once publicly reprimanded for not "preaching up the times." "Who," he asked, "does preach up the times?" It was answered that all the brethren did. "Then," he rejoined, "if all of you preach up the times, you may surely allow one poor brother to preach up Christ and eternity."

(Principal Edwards.)

We have here —

I. A GOSPEL REJECTED.

1. By the Jew. A respectable man the Jew was in his day; all formal religion was concentrated in his person. To him the fact that Jesus was the carpenter of Nazareth was proof positive that He was not the Messiah. He bow to the Nazarine! Accordingly, he turned a deaf ear to Paul. Farewell, old Jew. Alas! that Christ who was thy stumbling block shall be thy Judge. But I am going to find out the Jew here. You, too, have a religion which you love — so far as the outside goes. When I tell you that all your going to the house of God, your singing and praying, all pass for nothing if your heart is not right with God, the Cross becomes a stumbling block. Another specimen of the Jew is thoroughly orthodox; he thinks nothing of forms and ceremonies. Here, up in this dark attic of the head, his religion has taken up its abode; he has a best parlour down in his heart, but his religion never goes there. He has money in there, worldliness, self-love, pride; and accordingly when once you begin to strike home, and let him see what he is by nature, and what he must become by grace, the man cannot stand that.

2. By the Greek. He is a person of quite a different exterior to the Jew. He does not care for the forms of religion. He appreciates eloquence; He admires a smart saying; he likes to read the last new book; and to him the gospel is foolishness. He is thoroughly wise. Ask him anything, and he knows it. If you are a Mahomedan he will hear you very patiently. But if you talk to him of Christ, "Stop your cant," he says, "I don't want to hear anything about that." This Greek gentleman believes all philosophy except the true one; he studies all wisdom except the wisdom of God. Once when I saw him, he told me he did not believe in any religion at all; and that it was best to live as nature dictated. Another time he spoke welt of all religions, and believed they were all right in their place; and that if a man were sincere, he would be all right at last. I told him I did not think so, and he said I was a bigot. Another time I discussed with him a little about faith. He said, "Right; that is true Protestant doctrine." But presently I hinted something about free grace; but that was to him foolishness. Ah, wise man, thy wisdom will stand thee here, but what wilt thou do in the swellings of Jordan?

II. THE GOSPEL TRIUMPHANT. "Unto us who are called" &c. Yonder man rejects the gospel, despises grace, and laughs at it as a delusion. Here is another who laughed at it too; but God brought him to his knees. The Jew and the Greek shall never depopulate heaven. The choirs of glory shall not lose a single songster by all the opposition of Jews and Greeks. John Bunyan says, "The hen has two calls, the common cluck, which she gives hourly, and the special one which she means for her little chickens." So there is a general call to every man; the other is the children's call. You know how the bell sounds over the workshop to call the men to work — that is a general call. The father goes to the door and calls out, "John, it is dinner-time!" — that is the special call. The call which saves, is like that of Jesus, when He said, "Mary," and she said unto Him, "Rabboni"; when He said, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" and "Zaccheus, come down." I cannot give the special call; God alone can give it, and I leave it with Him.

III. THE GOSPEL ADMIRED; unto us who are called of God, it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God. This must be a matter of pure experience. If you are called of God this morning, you will know it. I do not understand how a man can be killed and then made alive again and not know it.

1. The gospel is to the true believer a thing of power. What is it that makes the young man devote himself as a missionary to the cause of God? What is it that constrains yonder minister, in the midst of the cholera, to stand by the bed of one who has that dire disease? And what emboldens that timid female to go through that den of thieves? It is the power of the gospel. But I behold another scene. A martyr is hurried to the stake; the flame is lighted up. What makes him stand unmoved in the flames? The power of the Cross. Behold another scene. There is no crowd there; it is a silent room. There is a poor pallet, and a young girl lying on it, her face blanched by consumption. Joan of Are was not half so mighty as that girl. Hear her sing: "Jesus! lover of my soul," &c., as she shuts her eye on earth, and opens it in heaven. What enables her to die like that? The power of Jesus crucified.

2. To a believer the gospel is the perfection of wisdom, and if it appear not so to the ungodly, it is because of the perversion of their judgment. It has been the custom to talk of infidels as men of great intellect. But this is a mistake; for the gospel is the sum of wisdom; a treasure-house of truth. Our meditation upon it enlarges the mind. It confers wisdom on its students. A man who is a lover of the truth, as it is in Jesus, is in a right place to follow with advantage any other branch of science. Once when I read books, I put all my knowledge together in confusion; but ever since I put Christ in the centre, each science has revolved round it.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The Cross is the preacher's theme. In all ages and lands this theme of the apostle has lent to the preacher's voice the most thrilling tones, and to his spirit the deepest earnestness. Preaching is man's wisdom as well as God's. It is the simplest, wisest, most natural, and most effectual way of lodging our beliefs in the hearts and consciences of men. But among all preachers in all ages the preachers of the Cross stand pre-eminent. The Cross stirs the heart, chains the spirit, as no other theme in this universe can do.

I. "THE JEWS REQUIRE A SIGN, AND THE GREEKS SEEK AFTER WISDOM." "Jews and Greeks." These are not names of the past. The world still divides itself thus in its moral aspects.

1. The Jews require a sign. Two thoughts were ever clashing in the Jewish mind. The earlier splendours of their national history, and their present bondage and shame. The restorer of the kingdom of Israel was the national description of the expected deliverer; but when they saw that the only empire Christ cared for was over the hearts and consciences of men — that there was no chance of a national restoration, they turned from Him. But He knew how little earth would be helped by the establishment of such a society as the Jews were dreaming of. There is many a man in a popular tumult who will throw up his cap and shout "Liberty!" whose notion of liberty is the grossest licentiousness or the sternest tyranny. And many a Jew would attend a triumphal progress, and rend the air with Hosannas, who, when he heard of an inward moral reformation as the first act of obedience, would change his cry to "Crucify Him!" I take the Jewish "seeking for a sign" as the representative of that seeking for an outward regeneration of society which has lived in the hearts of the men of this world in all ages. Socialism is its most modern manifestation. The hope that if society were rearranged, property redivided, and a fair start given to all, man would be blessed. "The difficulty lies not there," say the preachers of the gospel: "your hearts need the cure, not your circumstances." The Jews "sought a sign," a hint even, that Jesus was anything like what their fancies pictured; and when He gave no sign but His shameful Cross, they shouted, "Better Caesar than He." And the world is full of sign-seekers. Men looking for redemption, but misconceiving utterly its nature. French republics, New Jerusalems, all mean the same thing. Men expect that God will begin from without instead of from within.

2. The Greeks seek after wisdom. The Greeks represent those who try by searching to find out God. Greek intellect was hopelessly baffled in the search. Blank atheism was the result of it in all the philosophic schools. An altar to the unknown God kept up the memory of the effort in the mind of the populace; but every thinker on earth had been brought, in the absence of revelation, to the bewildered question of Pilate "What is truth?" Some said, "There is such a thing, but man can have no hope of finding it." Some said, "Tush! there is no such thing in the universe at all." That a tale of a crucified man in an obscure and dishonoured country should be what they had been fruitlessly seeking for ages was an insult to their understandings. In them was the same radical indisposition to accept a gospel which demanded an inward and spiritual change. It was only after long battles that intellect, with broken wing, fell bleeding on the bosom of revelation, and healed her wounds and renewed her life at the once hated symbol of the Cross. But intellect is essentially restless. In every age the battle is renewed, and has to be fought out with varying success. And in this age the wisdom-seekers are rampant, proclaiming that not from God, but from man must be asked the question, "What must I do?" — that our own nature, honestly treated, will supply all that is needful; that the Cross is an insult to the wisdom and benignity of the Father; that Jesus is the first of men — an admirable pattern, but that they dream who say, "He is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption." Far easier, far pleasanter to the eye is it, to seek after wisdom than to seek after holiness.

II. WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Read Romans 3:21; Romans 5:1-11; Romans 6:3-11; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:9-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; 1 Corinthians 15:45-57. In Christ crucified the following facts are set forth as the gospel —

1. The love of the Father in the sacrifice of the Son. Philip had a much deeper meaning than he was perhaps conscious of when he said, "Show us the Father." None of the gods of heathendom contented heathendom, for they could not show the Father, they did not know what fatherhood meant; but those men had a mighty gospel who could say, "God so loved the world," &c. We tell you not what God ought to be or do, or may be expected to do, but what God has done. "Behold Christ Jesus and Him crucified!" There God unveils His character — reveals His heart. "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." Jew seeking after a sign, Greek groping after wisdom, turn hither — "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us." Is this truth folly or wisdom? Is it weakness or power? Is life worth less to the man who knows that the Father loveth him, or is it worth more? And the world, is it better or worse for the belief that God loves it, and will, by love's sure purpose, redeem it to Himself? Get that belief into the heart of the world, your dream is fulfilled — your golden age is restored!

2. The redemption wrought by the work of the Son. The picture of humanity which God beholds is that of bondsmen, bound to an alien and usurping power. The evidence of this condition, it meets us everywhere. Sin had entered into the world, sin had mastered it; God entered into it to break the bonds of sin and restore the world to itself and to Him. Is it nothing that the preachers of this gospel should cry to souls hopeless of victory, Liberty! a man has conquered, a man has lived free from sin; a man whose spirit can so chain your spirit by its living attraction as to ensure to you the victory too? The public justice of the universe is satisfied, its law illustrated and magnified, and the sinner, conscience-stricken, but beginning to cherish the hope of restoration, is satisfied that a God of holiness, of justice, will still be honoured, while he, the guilty, is saved! Men laughed, and called it folly; but hell trembled, Satan cowered, for they understood the attraction of the Cross. Satan's Conqueror cried out, "It is finished," and committed to such hands as Paul's the standard of the Cross, who cried, "I preach Christ crucified," &c.

3. The glory won by the suffering and Cross of Jesus, which is to illumine heaven eternally (Philippians 2:6-11). The sun is the centre of the world of nature; the Cross, of the world of spirit. But here is a strange contradiction. The sun is the most glorious object in creation, it fills all heaven with its splendour; but the Cross is to all men naturally an object of dread and aversion, and is associated with shame, agony, and death. But just as the sun has for ages proved itself the centre of our world of nature, the Cross has proved itself the centre of the world of spirit, has chained the most mighty and onward spirits to its orbit (Revelation 5:6-10). Here, mark you, is the most splendid picture of heaven which is anywhere painted; yet this must mean that the Cross, far from fading from sight when the veil falls over earth's sad history, remains the object of interest, the centre of attraction through eternity. That this must be so will appear to us if we consider —

1. The Cross must remain for ever the manifestation of the depth, the tenderness, the mightiness of the love of God.

2. While the Cross shall be to the saints for ever the bond of fellowship with their risen and glorified Lord, the Lord Himself, while He remembers the Cross as the instrument of His agony, beholds it as the fountain of glory and of bliss.

(J. Baldwin Brown, B. A.)

I. THE DOCTRINE. Christ crucified.

1. The light.

2. The hope.

3. The law of the world.

II. ITS OFFENSIVENESS.

1. A stumbling block.

2. Foolishness.

III. ITS TRIUMPHS — in them that believe.

1. The power of God.

2. The wisdom of God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

It is a very strange conjunction of words — the Anointed of God crucified. Yet for this very purpose He was anointed, and our preaching is the preaching of "Christ," that is the glory of His Person; but it is "Christ crucified" that is in the ignominy and shame of His suffering. In dividing the text we will take each word.

I. A WORD OF POSITION — "But."

1. It is not everybody that does this; others have other things to do.

2. The "but" seems to suggest opposition, viz., the contentions which prevailed at Corinth. What are we to do when we find people quarrelling? If we are wise we shall let them alone, and say through it all, "But we preach Christ crucified." I have known a Church divided into as many divisions as there were members, and there has come a warm-hearted Christian man who has just preached Christ crucified, and somehow before they knew it the members melted into one.

3. The "but" seems to me, however, to have reference to the very wise people to whom the Cross was foolishness. They were "abreast of the times," they "kept pace with progress," so they preached Christ so improved that it was no longer the gospel, but "another gospel." I like Paul's grand way of teaching the Gnostics, or the knowers; he joined the "know-nothings," for he says, "I determined not to know anything among you save Christ and Him crucified." "Let these Gnostics preach what they like, but we preach Christ crucified."

4. We know some brethren whose religion consists always in mending the religion of others. You may be preaching niceties of doctrine, of theories, of prophecy, &c., while what is wanted is the cure for the souls of men who are perishing for lack of knowledge, and the knowledge that they want is wrapped up in these two words, "Christ crucified."

5. And had Paul been here he would have made some remark about the superstitions of this age, for there be some that seem to think God is best honoured by buildings of gorgeous architecture, and by sumptuous services. Our friend has built a reredos, has decorated a holy table, has prepared the chancel, and thinks he has brought back mediaeval Christianity; but we preach Christ crucified.

II. A WORD OF PERSONALITY — "We." Why do we do it? Because —

1. He saved us. We cannot help preaching this, because every day it is the rest and refuge, the joy and the delight of our souls.

2. He inspires us. We preach Christ crucified, because years ago He laid His hand upon us, and said, "Go, preach My gospel."

3. It seems the masterpiece of God. Heaven and earth are full of His majesty, and both in nature and providence we learn to adore the ever-present and eternal One. But in Immanuel, God with us, there is most of God.

4. We are fools, as the enemy says.(1) Any fool can say that which is uppermost; and truly, brethren, I am myself a great fool in that respect, for uppermost with me is Christ crucified.(2) Fools can always say what they are told. They are not great at invention. There are some that carry with them a touchstone, by which they judge inspiration itself — their inner consciousness, and the general tone of public opinion. Paul, of course, did not know much about that, because he was "crucified to the world," and the world to him, and he did not care much about public opinion.(3) Fools generally talk when they are wonder-struck, and we confess that we have been astounded at the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.(4) Fools can generally speak if they are forced, and we do confess that that is exactly one point that accounts for our folly. "Woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel." We cannot take any credit when we preach Christ crucified, because it lies within us like fire, and we cannot help but speak of it.(5) And surely men may speak when there is a great danger. If there were a house on fire, and a poor soul needed to be delivered, I do not suppose that before a man wheeled the fire-escape up to a window you would stop him to see whether he could pass an examination at Oxford. And so we must be permitted while men are perishing to preach to them that alone which will save them — namely, Christ crucified.(6) We are determined, as any other sensible fools would do, to stop by what we know till we learn something better. In the State of Massachusetts there was a resolution passed that the State should be guided and governed by the laws of God till they had time to make some better; and we have determined that we will preach Christ crucified till we find something better.

III. A WORD OF ACTION "We preach," or proclaim as heralds. We are trumpeters for Christ, we go before Him to prepare His way. Hence, some have said the preacher ought to preach principally the second Advent. Undoubtedly; but first he should be able to say, "we preach Christ crucified," not "we preach Christ glorified." Because to preach means to proclaim, therefore we proclaim Christ as King. Submit yourselves unto Him. It is not a matter of choice with you. It is not "Will you elect some king?" but "He is King; submit to Him." Neither are we called upon to adorn Christ crucified. I think we are getting into great mistakes about sermons sometimes. Gild gold, and lay your colours on the lily, but let Christ alone, and if you cannot do anything but just tell simply the story of the love of God in providing an atonement, do tell it and leave those fine words at home.

IV. THE TWO LAST WORDS — "Christ crucified."

1. Preach all of Christ. When Paul says, "We preach Christ crucified," he seems to me to say, "We preach the most objectionable part of Christ." I like a Christian man that preaches all he believes. "Now, Paul, this is very unwise of you. There is a Jewish gentleman, a man of large means; if we could get him into the Church he might very likely build a chapel, and you preached Christ. And then there was a Greek gentleman. Now, why did you not preach Christ in His glory, or say little about Him? We cannot expect to get these Jewish and Greek friends converted to us, if we will stiffly remain by the old orthodoxy. The whole current of thought leads you to believe that there is a great deal in Mahomedanism and Brahminism, and it is a great pity to push these distinctive points so very far." I fancy I hear anybody saying that to Paul! Did we come here to please men? I charge you never needlessly offend anybody; but if the truth offend anybody, let them be offended; for it is much better to offend all the world than to offend your Master.

2. As we preach all of Christ, so this is all. But we have some other doctrines. Yes; but they are all relating to this. When you have said that, you have said everything.

3. We preach Him as all. That is all. If you are converted, all your salvation lies in Christ crucified. "Oh, but I want a new heart." Go to Him for it. "Oh, but I want to feel my need." He gives you this, as well as all the rest.

4. We will all preach Christ. "But we are not all ministers," saith one. I hope you all preach Christ, you that are not ministers. A minister once said, "Now all of you must teach Jesus, and try to bring others to Christ; you must all tell what you know." There was a black man in the gallery called out, "Dat will I do." But his minister stopped, for Sam was the most ignorant member of the Church, and he said, "Sam, I do not mean you; because you do not know more than your A B C." "Dat's right, sar," said he; "dere be some niggers don't know A B C — Sam teach them dat." You young converts that do not know much about Christ, you know something other sinners do not know. Go and tell that, and each bit you get go and tell them. You will learn it all the better by teaching it yourself.

5. We preach Christ crucified to all.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. WE PREACH, i.e., proclaim, herald. Commonly, however, in the N.T., voice, in contradistinction to other agencies, is usually intended. "Faith cometh by hearing." There are additional instrumentalities which have been greatly honoured. For instance, the gospel is printed. The press is a mighty power for good. Again, the gospel may be painted. Sermons have proceeded from studios as well as from studies, and the picture-gallery has illustrated impressively the glorious work of grace. Zinzendorf traced back his deepest convictions to the effect produced upon him by a representation of the crucified Saviour. And this is not marvellous. Look at the "Last Supper" of Leonardo; the "Transfiguration" of Raphael; or, the "Light of the World" by Holman Hunt. Are you unmoved by them? Nevertheless, it is chiefly by speech that the mind is reached and the heart touched. "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe." An experienced missionary has remarked, "I have never seen a Chinaman weep over a book; but I have seen a Chinaman weep under a sermon." We have the sermons of George Whitfield and the orations of Edward Irving, and the reason why you are not affected as others were is because they heard, whereas you only read.

II. WE PREACH CHRIST — Paul habitually called the attention of his hearers to a Person. "We preach Christ": Christ as He was, the one perfect and finished offering for human sin: Christ as He is, the Mediator between God and man; Christ as He will be, the Judge of every creature. In adopting such a course the apostles followed the Master Himself. Christ preached Christ. "I say," "I am," "I do," "I will": how often did these words fall from His lips! No prophet dared to speak as He spoke. The power of this Christian ministry is in the presentation, not simply of great truths, but of the truth as it is in Christ Jesus.

III. WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED. Because —

1. Christ crucified reveals God. "Hereby perceive we the love of God." Write the biography of Columbus and say nothing of America, speak of Caxton and be silent about printing, allude to Wyckliffe and ignore the Reformation, then may we preach Christ and forget Christ crucified.

2. Christ crucified restores man. So Paul found. He spoke from experience. A North-American Indian was asked the means by which he and his brethren became Christians. The answer was: "A preacher came once, and desiring to instruct us, began by proving that there was a God. On which we said to him, 'Well! and dost thou think that we are ignorant of that? Now go again whence thou earnest.' Another preacher appeared and said, 'Ye must not steal, ye must not lie,' &c. We answered him, 'Dost thou think that we do not know that? Go and learn it first thyself, and teach the people that thou belongest to not to do these things.' Some time after this, Christian Henry, one of the brethren, came to me in my hut, and sat down by me and said: 'I come to thee in the name of the Lord of heaven and earth. He acquaints thee that He would gladly save thee, and rescue thee from the miserable state in which thou liest. To this end He became Man, hath given His life for mankind, and shed His blood for them!' Upon this he lay down on a board in my hut, and fell asleep, being fatigued with his journey. I thought what manner of man is this? There he lies and sleeps so sweetly. I might kill him immediately, and throw him out into the forest, and who would care for it? But he is unconcerned. However, I could not get rid of his words; and though I went to sleep I dreamed of the blood which Christ had shed for us. Thus, through the grace of God, the awakening among us took place." What a lesson to all Christian workers! Behold the secret of power. Christ crucified is the world's hope.

(T. R. Stevenson.)

I. WAS MOST BITTER AND PAINFUL.

II. WAS MOST VILE AND SHAMEFUL. Never by the Romans legally inflicted upon freemen, but only upon slaves. There is in man's nature an abhorrency of disgraceful abuse no less strong than are the little antipathies to pain. Whence it is not marvellous that as a transcendently good man, Christ was affected by those occurrences so mightily, according to that ejaculation in the Greek liturgies — "By Thy unknown sufferings, O Christ, have mercy on us."

III. HAD IN IT SOME PARTICULAR ADVANTAGES CONDUCING TO THE ACCOMPLISHMENT OF OUR LORD'S PRINCIPAL DESIGN.

1. Its being very notorious and lasting a competent time. For if He had been privately made away, or suddenly despatched, no such great notice would have been taken of it, nor would it have been so fully proved to the confirmation of our faith and conviction of infidelity; nor would His excellent deportment under such affliction have so illustriously shone forth; wherefore Divine providence did so manage, that as the course of His life, so also the manner of His death should be most conspicuous and remarkable.

2. By this kind of suffering the nature of that kingdom which He intended to erect was evidently signified — a kingdom purely spiritual, consisting in she government of men's hearts. No other kingdom could He be presumed to design, who submitted to this way of suffering.

3. By such a death God's special providence was discovered, and His glory illustrated in the propagation of the gospel. Thereby "the excellency" of Divine power and wisdom was much glorified: by so impotent and improbable means, accomplishing so great effects.

4. This kind of suffering to the devout fathers did seem in many ways significant, or full of instructive and admonitive emblems.(1) His posture on the Cross might represent unto us that large and comprehensive charity which He bare in His heart toward us, stretching forth His arms of kindness, pity, and mercy, with them, as it were, to embrace the world.(2) His ascent to the Cross might set forth His discharging that high office of universal High Priest for all ages and all people, the Cross being an altar.

IV. CORRESPONDED TO THE PROPHECIES AND TYPES FORESHADOWING IT.

V. AS APPLICABLE TO OUR PRACTICE. No contemplation is more efficacious towards the sanctification of our hearts and lives than this; for what good affection may not the meditation on it kindle? what virtue may it not breed and cherish in us?

(1)Love.

(2)Gratitude.

(3)Hope.

(4)Obedience.

(5)Penitence.

(6)Fear.

(7)Deterrence from wilful commission of sin.

(8)Joy in contemplation.

(9)Charity toward our neighbour.

(10)Disregard of this world.

(11)The willing inspection and the cheerful sustenance of the Cross.Since there he such excellent uses and fruits of the Cross borne by our blessed Saviour, we can have no reason to be offended at it or ashamed of it.

(I. Barrow, D. D.)

Note —

I. ITS SIMPLICITY.

1. It was characteristic of the Jews to demand signs or portents. The especial sign which they sought was that of some manifestation of the Shekinah to encompass the Messiah. But the tendency was more general: it was the craving for the marvellous which still characterises Oriental nations, which appears in the licence of Arabian invention and credulity, and which among the Jews reached its highest pitch in the extravagant fictions of Rabbinical writers. The proverb "Credat Judaeus" shows the character which they had obtained amongst the Romans for readiness to accept the wildest absurdities; and this disposition to seek for signs is expressly commended in the Mishna. To a certain extent this tendency is met by the gospel miracles (John 2:11; Acts 2:22). Yet on the whole it was discouraged (Matthew 16:4; John 4:48). And what is thus intimated in the Gospels is here followed out by the apostle. In answer to the demand for signs, he produced the least dazzling, the least miraculous part of Christ's career. The more ample we suppose the evidence for the Gospel miracles, or the more portentous their nature, so much more striking is the testimony of Christ and His apostles to the truth that it is not on them that the main structure is to be built.

2. This simplicity was also a rebuke to the intellectual demands of the Greek. The subtlety of discussion which had appeared in the numerous schools of Greek speculation, and which appeared afterwards in the theological divisions of the fourth and fifth centuries, needed not now, as in the time of Socrates, to be put down by a truer philosophy, but by something which should give men fact instead of speculation, flesh and blood instead of words and theories. Such a new starting point was provided by the apostle's constant representation of the crucifixion. Its outward form was familiar to them; it was for them now to discover its inward application to themselves.

II. ITS HUMILIATION. In order to enter into the force of this, we must picture a state of feeling which, in part from the effect produced on the world by this very passage and the spirit which it describes, is entirely removed from our present experience. Not only is the outward symbol of the Cross glorified in our eyes by the truth of the religion which it represents, but the very fact of the connection between Christianity and humiliation is one of the proofs of its Divine excellence. But at its first propagation, as now in parts of the world external to Christendom, it was far otherwise. The crucifixion was and is a "scandal" to the Jews as a dishonour to the Messiah. Christ has been called by them in derision "Toldi," "the man who was hanged"; and Christians, "the servants of him who was hanged." And in the Koran, the supposed ignominy of the crucifixion is evaded by the story that the Jews, in a judicial blindness, crucified Judas instead of Christ, who ascended from their hands into heaven. The same objection was felt by the educated Greeks and Romans; encumbered as Christianity then was in their eyes with associations so low. Nothing shows the confidence of the apostle more strongly than the prominence he gives to a teaching so unpopular. Philippians 2:5-8 contains the prophecy of the triumph of Christianity not only in spite, but by means of this great obstacle. And now the Cross is enshrined in our most famous works of art, in our greatest historical recollections, in our deepest feelings of devotion. The society which consisted almost exclusively in the first instance of the lower orders, has now embraced within it all the civilisation of the world.

(Dean Stanley.)

There is a want in the human mind which nothing but the Atonement can satisfy, though it may he a stumbling block to the Jew, and foolishness to the Greek. In the words of Henry Rogers: "It is adapted to human nature, as a hitter medicine may be to a patient. Those who have taken it, tried its efficacy, and recovered spiritual health, gladly proclaim its value. But to those who have not, and will not try it, it is an unpalatable potion still."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The foolishness of God? The weakness of God? Can God be weak? Can God be foolish? No, says St. Paul. For so strong is God that His very weakness, if He seems weak, is stronger than all mankind. So wise is God, that His very foolishness, if He seems foolish, is wiser than all mankind. Why, then, talk of the weakness of God, of the foolishness of God, if He be neither weak nor foolish? St. Paul did not say these ugly words for himself. The Jews, who sought after a sign, the Greeks, who sought after wisdom, said them. There are men who say them now. Now, how is this?

I. THE JEWS REQUIRED A SIGN; a sign from heaven; a sign of God's power. Thunder and earthquakes, armies of angels, taking vengeance on the heathen; these were the signs of Christ which they expected. And all that St. Paul gave them was a sign of Christ's weakness. Then said the Jews — This is no Christ for us. Then answered St. Paul — Weak? I tell you that what seems to you weakness is the very power of God. Weak, shamed, despised, dying, He is still Conqueror; and He will at last draw all men to Himself. What seems to you weakness is the very power of God;" the power of suffering all things, that He may do good: and that that will conquer the world, when riches and glory, and armies, aye, the very thunder and the earthquake, have failed utterly.

II. THE GREEKS SOUGHT AFTER WISDOM. They expected Paul to argue with them on cunning points of philosophy; and all he gave them seemed mere foolishness. He could have argued with these Greeks, for he was a great scholar and a true philosopher, but he would not. What you need, and what they need, is not philosophy, but a new heart and a right spirit. Then know this, that God so loved you that He condescended to become man, and to give Himself up to death, even the death of the Cross, that He might save you from your sins. And to that, those proud Greeks answered — The cross? Tell your tale to slaves, not to us. To give Himself up to the death of the cross is foolishness, and not the wisdom which we want. Then answered St. Paul, True, the cross is a slave's and a wretch's death; and therefore slaves and wretches will hear me, though you will not (vers. 26-31). You Greeks, with all your philosophy, have been trying for hundreds of years to find out the laws of heaven and earth, and to set the world right by them; and you have not done it. You have not even set your own hearts and lives right. But what your seeming wisdom cannot do, the seeming foolishness of Christ on His Cross will do. That what seems to you foolishness is the very wisdom of God. Know, that when all your arguments and philosophies have failed to teach men what they ought to do, one earnest, penitent look at Christ upon His Cross will teach them. And out of them shall spring that Church of Christ, which shall reign over all the world, when you and your philosophies have crumbled into dust. Conclusion:

1. Let us learn —(1) That self-sacrificing love which Christ showed on His Cross is stronger than all pomp and might, all armies, riches, governments; aye, that it is the very power of God, by which all things consist, which holds together heaven and earth and all there is therein.(2) That that love is wiser than all arguments, doctrines, philosophies, whether they be true or false.

2. Do you wish to be powerful? Then look at Christ upon His Cross; at what seems to men His weakness; and learn from Him how to be strong. Do you wish to be wise? Then look at Christ upon the Cross; and at what seemed to men His folly; and learn from Him how to be wise. For sooner or later, I hope and trust, you will find that true which St. Buonaventura (wise and strong himself) used to say, That all the learning in the world had never taught.him so much as the sight of Christ upon the Cross.

(G. Kingsley, M. A.)

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