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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 1 - Verse 23
Verse 23. But we. We who are Christian preachers make Christ crucified the grand subject of our instructions and our aims, in contradistinction from the Jew and the Greek. They seek, the one miracles, the other wisdom; we glory only in the cross.
Christ crucified. The word Christ, the Anointed, is the same as the Hebrew name Messiah. The emphasis in this expression is on the word crucified. The Jews would make the Messiah whom they expected no less an object of glorifying than the apostles, but they spurned the doctrine that he was to be crucified. Yet in that the apostles boasted; proclaiming him crucified, or having been crucified, as the only hope of man. This must mean more than that Christ was distinguished for moral worth, more than that he died as a martyr; because, if that were all, no reason could be given why the cross should be made so prominent an object. It must mean that Christ was crucified for the sins of men, as an atoning sacrifice in the place of sinners. "We proclaim a crucified Messiah as the only Redeemer of lost men."
To the Jews a stumbling-block. The Word stumbling-block skandalon means, properly, anything in the way over which one may fall; then anything that gives offence, or that causes one to fall into sin, Here it means that, to the Jews, the doctrine that the Messiah was to be crucified gave great offence; excited, irritated, and exasperated them; that they could not endure the doctrine, and treated it with scorn. Comp. See Barnes "Ro 9:33 1 Pe 2:8.
It is well known that to the Jews no doctrine was more offensive than this, that the Messiah was to be put to death, and that there was to be salvation in no other way. It was so in the times of the apostles, and it has been so since. They have, therefore, usually called the Lord Jesus, by way of derision,
HEBREW, tolvi—the man that was hanged, that is, on a cross; and Christians they have usually denominated, for the same reason,
' "abdai tolvi—-servants of the man that was hanged. The reasons of this feeling are obvious.
(1.) They had looked for a magnificent temporal prince; but the doctrine that their Messiah was crucified dashed all their expectations. And they regarded it with contempt and scorn, just in proportion as their hopes had been elevated, and these high expectations cherished.
(2.) They had the common feelings of all men, the native feelings of pride and self-righteousness, by which they rejected the doctrine that we are dependent for salvation on one who was crucified.
(3.) They regarded Jesus as one given over by God for an enormous attempt at imposition, as having been justly put to death, and the object of the curse of the Almighty. Isa 53:4, "We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God? They endeavoured to convince themselves that he was the object of the Divine dereliction and abhorrence; and they, therefore, rejected the doctrine of the cross with the deepest feelings of detestation.
To the Greeks. To the Gentiles in general. So the Syriac, the Vulgate, the Arabic, and the AEthiopic versions all read it. The term Greek denotes all who were not Jews; thus the phrase, "the Jews and the Greeks," comprehended the whole human family, 1 Co 1:22.
They regarded it as folly,
(1.) because they esteemed the whole account a fable, and an imposition.
(2.) It did not accord with their own views of the way of elevating the condition of man.
(3.) They saw no efficacy in/he doctrine, no tendency in the statement, that a man of humble birth was put to death in an ignominious manner in Judea to make men better, or to receive pardon.
(4.) They had the common feelings of unrenewed human nature; blind to the beauty of the character of Christ, and blind to the design of his death; and they therefore regarded the.whole statement as folly. We may remark here, that the feelings of the Jews and of the Greeks on this subject, are the common feelings of men. Everywhere sinners have the same views of the cross; and everywhere the human heart, if left to itself, rejects it, as either a stumbling-block or as folly. But the doctrine should be preached, though it is an offence, and though it appears to be folly. It is the only hope of man; and by the preaching of the cross alone can sinners be saved.
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