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1 Corinthians 1:22

ESV For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,
NIV Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,
NASB For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
CSB For the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks seek wisdom,
NLT It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.
KJV For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

What does 1 Corinthians 1:22 mean?

Paul is presenting an idea that would have been startling to some people: Faith in Christ and His death on the cross for human sin cannot be arrived at by human intellect, human wisdom, or human logic. It must be believed by simple faith in the foolish-sounding revelation of God's Word. "Knowledge" is not the same thing as "trust," and merely understanding facts does not lead a person to salvation (James 2:19).

Paul now points to the characteristics of the two primary cultures of his day that make this simple faith so difficult. He writes that the Jews demand signs. By this, Paul says that the Jewish people of his era wanted to be convinced by miracles and not by faith. They want the tangible evidence experienced by their forefathers in the parting of the Red Sea and the collapse of Jericho's walls. Christ's death on the cross offers no visible evidence of anything other than a man dying on a cross. Paul will discuss the miracle of the resurrection later in this letter.

While the Jews demand signs, Paul writes that the Greeks seek wisdom. As Paul has shown in the previous verses, this seeking is not for wisdom from the revealed Word of God. The Greeks placed enormous value both on human wisdom and a life dedicated to looking for it. They prided themselves for the conclusions human philosophy could generate.

None of those conclusions, however, could lead them to faith in Christ's death on the cross for human sinfulness. Evidence and philosophy can lead a person to understand the truth, but it does not force them to accept it (Romans 1:18–23). Truth must be accepted, through trust, believed after hearing the "foolish" preaching of the gospel.
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