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1 Corinthians 1:21

    1 Corinthians 1:21 Translations

    King James Version (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.

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    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.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For because, by the purpose of God, the world, with all its wisdom, had not the knowledge of God, it was God's pleasure, by so foolish a thing as preaching, to give salvation to those who had faith in him.

    Webster's Revision

    For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.

    World English Bible

    For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn't know God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God's good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe.

    Definitions for 1 Corinthians 1:21

    Save - Except; besides.

    Clarke's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:21

    For after that in the wisdom of God - Dr. Lightfoot observes, "That σοφια του Θεου, the wisdom of God, is not to be understood of that wisdom which had God for its author, but that wisdom which had God for its object. There was, among the heathen, σοφια της φυσεως, wisdom about natural things, that is, philosophy; and σοφια του Θεου, wisdom about God; that is, divinity. But the world in its divinity could not, by wisdom, know God." The plain meaning of this verse is, that the wise men of the world, especially the Greek philosophers, who possessed every advantage that human nature could have, independently of a Divine revelation, and who had cultivated their minds to the uttermost, could never, by their learning, wisdom, and industry, find out God; nor had the most refined philosophers among them just and correct views of the Divine nature, nor of that in which human happiness consists. The work of Lucretius, De Natura Rerum, and the work of Cicero, De Natura Deorum, are incontestable proofs of this. Even the writings of Plato and Aristotle have contributed little to remove the veil which clouded the understanding of men. No wisdom but that which came from God could ever penetrate and illuminate the human mind.

    By the foolishness of preaching - By the preaching of Christ crucified, which the Gentiles termed μωρια, foolishness, in opposition to their own doctrines, which they termed σοφια, wisdom. It was not by the foolishness of preaching, literally, nor by the foolish preaching, that God saved the world; but by that Gospel which they called μωρια, foolishness; which was, in fact, the wisdom of God, and also the power of God to the salvation of them that believed.

    Barnes' Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:21

    For after that - ἐπειδὴ epeidē. Since, or seeing that it is true that the world by wisdom knew not God. After all the experience of the world it was ascertained that human beings would never by their own wisdom come to the true knowledge of God, and it pleased him to devise another plan for salvation.

    In the wisdom of God - This phrase is susceptible of two interpretations:

    (1) The first makes it refer to "the wisdom of God" evinced in the works of creation - the demonstration of his existence and attributes found there, and, according to that, the apostle means to say, that the world by a survey of the works of God did not know him; or were, notwithstanding those works, in deep darkness. This interpretation is adopted by most commentators - by Lightfoot, Rosenmuller, Grotius, Calvin, etc. According to this interpretation, the word ἐν en (in) is to be translated "by" or "through."

    (2) a second interpretation makes it refer to the wise arrangement or government of God, by which this was permitted. "For when, by the wise arrangement or government of God; after a full and fair trial of the native, unaided powers of man, it was ascertained that the true knowledge of God would not be arrived at by man, it pleased him," etc. This appears to be the correct interpretation, because it is the most obvious one, and because it suits the connection best. It is, according to this, a reason why God introduced a new method of saving people. This may be said to have been accomplished by a plan of God, which was wise, because:

    (1) It was desirable that the powers of man should be fully tried before the new plan was introduced, in order to show that it was not dependent on human wisdom, that it was not originated by man, and that there was really need of such an interposition.

    (2) because sufficient time had been furnished to make the experiment. An opportunity had been given for four thousand years, and still it had failed.

    (3) because the experiment had been made in the most favorable circumstances. The human faculties had had time to ripen and expand; one generation had had an opportunity of profiting by the observation of its predecessor; and the most mighty minds had been brought to boar on the subject. If the sages of the east, and the profound philosophers of the west, had not been able to come to the true knowledge of God, it was in vain to hope that more profound minds could be brought to bear on it, or that more careful investigation would be bestowed on it. The experiment had been fairly made, and the result was before the world; see the notes at Romans 1.

    The world - The people of the world; particularly the philosophers of the world.

    By wisdom - By their own wisdom, or by the united investigations of the works of nature.

    Knew not God - Obtained not a true knowledge of him. Some denied his existence; some represented him under the false and abominable forms of idol worship; some ascribed to him horrid attributes; all showed that they had no true acquaintance with a God of purity, with a God who could pardon sin, or whose worship conduced to holiness of life; see the notes at Romans 1.

    It pleased God - God was disposed, or well pleased. The plan of salvation originated in his good pleasure, and was such as his wisdom approved. God chose this plan, so unlike all the plans of human beings.

    By the foolishness of preaching - Not "by foolish preaching," but by the preaching of the cross, which was regarded as foolish and absurd by the people of the world. The plan is wise, but it has been esteemed by the mass of people, and was particularly so esteemed by the Greek philosophers, to be egregiously foolish and ridiculous; see the note at 1 Corinthians 1:18.

    To save them that believe - That believe in the Lord Jesus Christ; see the note at Mark 16:16. This was the speciality and essence of the plan of God, and this has appeared to the mass of people to be a plan devoid of wisdom and unworthy of God. The preaching of the cross which is thus esteemed foolishness, is made the means of saving them, because it sets forth God's only plan of mercy, and states the way in which lost sinners may become reconciled to God.

    Wesley's Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:21

    1:21 For since in the wisdom of God - According to his wise disposals, leaving them to make the trial. The world - Whether Jewish or gentile, by all its boasted wisdom knew not God - Though the whole creation declared its Creator, and though he declared himself by all the prophets; it pleased God, by a way which those who perish count mere foolishness, to save them that believe.