What does 1 Corinthians 1:21 mean?
ESV: For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.
NIV: For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.
NASB: For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
CSB: For since, in God's wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of what is preached.
NLT: Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.
KJV: For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is declaring a powerful truth: The reason so many fail to believe in Christ's death on the cross as the way to be forgiven from their own sin is not because the idea is too hard to understand. It's because it is too easy. It is foolishness for simpletons, as an unbeliever sees it.

Humanity at large has failed to come to know God through human wisdom. The language Paul uses suggests that God, in His wisdom, did not allow human wisdom to bring them to Him. Instead, it pleased Him to save those who believe through the folly of what Paul and the other apostles preach.

In other words, Paul understands that his message, the gospel, looks and sounds foolish to most of the world. People trusting their own wisdom or the wisdom of others will miss it. The gospel is not something that can be worked out by logic and philosophy. Evidence can lead us towards the truth (Romans 1:18–20; Psalm 19:1; Matthew 7:7–8), but that truth ultimately has to be accepted as revelation from God.

Does this mean Paul discourages the use of the mind or logical arguments? Based on his writings in Scripture, he clearly does not. He was an intelligent, well-educated man who routinely used powerful arguments in his ministry (Philippians 3:4–8; Acts 17:17). His point is that human wisdom, knowledge, and logic cannot bring someone to faith in the Christ who died for their sin on the cross.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 1:18–31 describes the foolishness of the gospel in the world's eyes. Both Jews and Greeks rejected the idea of Christ crucified. Any god who would die on a Roman cross, especially as a sacrifice for human sinfulness, would be seen by worldly eyes as a weak and foolish deity. God, though, will shame the wise and strong by giving the ability to believe in the cross of Christ mostly to the weak and foolish of the world, in human terms. In the end, nobody will boast before him of their own strength and wisdom.
Chapter Summary:
Paul's letter to the Christians in Corinth begins with thanks for the great and powerful gifts God has given to them by His grace and through their faith in Christ. They will stand blameless before God in the end. Right now, though, they must stop dividing themselves according to which Christian teacher they follow and become unified in and around Christ. The gospel message of Christ's death on the cross is weak and foolish to the world, but God has given faith in Christ to those who believe it and find God's power and wisdom.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 1 begins Paul's letter to the Christians in Corinth, a big, bustling city on a major trade route. Paul knows them well, having spent a year and a half leading people to Christ and establishing the church there. He writes from Ephesus to correct some of their wrong attitudes and behaviors and to answer some of their questions. First, though, he thanks God for His grace to the Corinthians, knowing they will stand blameless before Him on the day of the Lord. Still, they must stop being divided and unite in and around Christ.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 4/18/2024 6:49:48 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com