1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
a. For it is written: In this quotation from Isa_29:14, Paul shows that in spiritual matters, God opposes the wisdom of man. He will destroy the wisdom of the wise, not bow down before it.
b. Where is the wise? Paul is saying, “In light of what God says in Isa_29:14, now where is your ‘wise’ man? Where is your scribe? Where is your disputer of this age? God has made them all foolish through His wisdom. He has destroyed the wisdom of the wise, just as He said He would.”
The disputer of this age “was the man who wanted to dispute every issue and solve it by human reason.”
The point is plain: There is no wise man, no scribe, and no debater who can do what Jesus Christ has done.
c. The world through wisdom did not know God: There is a constant tendency to think that the smartest and wisest humans will know the most about God. But God cannot be found through human wisdom, but only through the message of the cross. The pursuit of human wisdom may bring an earthly contentment or happiness (though this is rare), but in itself, it can never bring the true knowledge of the true God.
It is significant that often the most educated people have the least regard for God. This is not always the case; some of the most brilliant men of history have been Christians. But largely, the “smarter” one sees themselves as, the less regard they have for God. Human “wisdom” is constantly rejecting God and opposing Him, and ultimately showing itself foolish and perishing in doing so!
One day, students in one of Albert Einstein’s classes were saying they had decided that there was no God. Einstein asked them, how much of all the knowledge in the world they had among themselves collectively, as a class. The students discussed it for a while and decided they had 5% of all human knowledge among themselves. Einstein thought that their estimate was a little generous, but he replied: “Is it possible that God exists in the 95% that you don’t know?”
d. Through the foolishness of the message: The Corinthians wanted to believe that the gospel itself was a sublime form of wisdom, as the Greeks considered wisdom (sophia). Paul replies, ‘how foolish can you get? What is there ‘wise’ (in the Greek sense of wisdom) about a crucified Messiah?”
The phrases foolishness of the message and foolishness of God do not mean Paul actually considered the message and God foolish. He is describing them as they appear to the perishing man, the “wise” man of this age.
God’s wisdom is not man’s wisdom multiplied to the highest degree; it is wisdom of a different order altogether. For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa_55:8-9)
Paul isn’t condemning all learning or education here; he is merely saying that they are, in themselves, useless for obtaining spiritual wisdom.
“It is certain that a blind man is no judge of colours, a deaf man is no judge of sound, and a man who has never been quickened into spiritual life can have no judgment as to spiritual things.” (Spurgeon)
God takes pleasure in accomplishing our salvation in a way no one would have expected. He is happy to do it in this way which offends the height of human wisdom.
The Base Things
Not many wise men after the flesh. Paul now shows the weakness of the human instrumentality chosen to convert the world; not those the world called wise, not the mighty, not the noble, yet the work was moving on with wonderful power.
But God hath chosen the foolish things. Men whom the world would call foolish, with a gospel that it called foolishness; yet these "confounded the wise" and upturned the world's philosophies.
Paul came to Corinth from Athens, where he had sought to win his hearers by a studied and philosophical discourse as best adapted to their needs. But as he entered Corinth, he appears to have deliberately determined that his theme would be the crucified Lord, and expressed in the simplest phrases. When we speak the truth as it is in Jesus, the Spirit is ever at hand to enforce our testimony by His demonstration and power. F.B. Meyer