This Week's Focus Passage

This Week’s Focus Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18

This Week’s Focus Passage: 1 Corinthians 1:18

‘For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.’

  The entire verse, as it is found in 1 Corinthians 1:18, extends far beyond this initial concept about those who perish, but extends unto those who are saved. For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God; forms the entirety of the thought that is here expressed. And what a remarkable thought it is that we find expressed by Paul, the great apostle. He has gleaned this from the wonderful words of Jehovah, spoken through the prophet Isaiah; an O.T. book many writers have referred to as, the “Gospel of Isaiah.” Surely, it would be extremely difficult to contend against such a title for such a book, especially considering the magnitude of the references in Isaiah 53, concerning the Christ and His suffering for His people being clearly written of in stark language.

thing that many human authors of the Bible have set before them again and again. This is, to put it simply, the distinction made over and over between those sinners that are lost and those that are not, beginning early, as seen between the first-born sons of Adam and Eve, Abel and Cain. While we read of Cain, in Genesis 4:16, that he went out from the presence of Jehovah, this being after he had murdered his brother, and Jehovah had pronounced a curse upon him, saying, And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened its mouth to receive thy brothers blood from thy hand. Whereas, it may be read of Abel, in Hebrews 11:4, By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous. This is why Abel is added to the list of Hebrews, chapter eleven, that famous list of those having faith in God.

    To this may be added another set of twins [if, as some think, Abel and Cain were twins], namely Jacob and Esau. The Scriptures demonstrate that these two were distinguished by Jehovah, the one from the other. We may read, Paul, in Romans 9:13, citing Malachi 1:2-3, when God the Holy Spirit, said through the prophet, in the final book of the Older Testament, 

I have loved you, saith Jehovah. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? Saith Jehovah: yet I loved Jacob; but Esau I hated, and made his mountains a desolation, and gave his heritage to the jackals of the wilderness. 

And, yes, it is true that Esau sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob. And, yes, it is equally true that Jacob and his mother, Rebekah did deceive the blind Isaac so that he pronounced the blessing of the covenant upon Jacob, who was disguised to resemble Esau, so that Jacob indeed received the covenant blessing. You say, perhaps, that this was a subterfuge of man; yes, it was, but was it not of Jehovah? Was not the plot of the Jews to see the Christ hanged upon a Roman cross, subterfuge? Yet we read the words of Peter, in Acts 2, him [Christ] being delivered up by the determinative counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye by the hand of lawless men did crucify and slay. The Romans crucified the Christ, the Jews plotted that it would come to pass, yet it was all according to the determinative counsel and foreknowledge of God. Was not the deception of Jacob and his mother also according to the determinative counsel of Jehovah God? Yea, is there anything in heaven or upon earth that is not of the determinative counsel and foreknowledge of God. He is Lord over all, is He not? And was it not because Jehovah had chosen Jacob over Esau, that this foolish man would despise his birth-right, and sell it to his brother for a mess of pottage? Was it not because it was the determinative counsel of God, that Rebekah contrived her deception against her own husband, Isaac, to transpose the blessing from Esau unto Jacob? And was she not still responsible for her actions? Of course she was, even as Esau remained responsible himself for having sold his birthright to his brother, Jacob. 

    Do we not, in these instances, see the distinction between the foolishness of man, and the power of God. And is this not the same, in principle between the two referred to by Paul in our focus passage? While the word of the cross is foolishness to them that perish, it is the power of God unto those that are saved. Did Esau not deem his birthright to be foolishness? How could he sell it otherwise? We read:

A profane person, as Esau, who for one mess of meat, sold his own birthright. For ye know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for a change of mind in his father, though he sought it diligently with tears.—Hebrews 12:16-17.

Esau was a foolish person, even as his birthright was to him who lost it foolishness, even as those who treat the word of the cross, the gospel of salvation from sin by the blood of the Lamb of God, to be foolishness. Yea, these individuals are frequently treated in the Scriptures; as fools, while those coming to Christ are spoken of as being wise. Recall the parable of Christ about the five wise virgins and the five who were foolish. Recall the words of David, The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Who is it that says that there is no God? The fool hath said this in his heart; he believes that the gospel, the preaching of the cross of Jesus Christ is foolishness. He is thus, in the language of our focus passage from Paul, one of them that perish.

    We see these distinctions recorded by the writer of the book of Proverbs, who declared them to be, The proverbs of Solomon, the son of David, king of Israel, who famously wrote, The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge; but the foolish despise wisdom and instruction, yes, even including the Gospel of the Christ. And this writer repeatedly gives to his readers sound knowledge and instruction. He well distinguishes between the wise and the foolish; such guidance he gives the wise;  

Walk with wise men, and thou shalt be wise; But the companion of fools shall smart for it. Evil pursueth sinners; but the righteous shall be recompensed with good.—Proverbs 13:20-21. 

Here, among numerous passages of the Word of God, wisdom is being equated with righteousness, while evil is equated with foolishness. How might we walk with wise men? May we not walk with wise men when we are reading the Word of God? Are we not then walking with the saints of old, when we are reading, as Jesus on the road to Emmaus, beginning from Moses and from all the prophets?


David Farmer, elder

Fellowship Bible Church


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