1 Corinthians 1:20

20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

1 Corinthians 1:20 in Other Translations

20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.
20 So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn't God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense?
20 Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom foolish?

1 Corinthians 1:20 Meaning and Commentary

1 Corinthians 1:20

Where is the wise? where is the Scribe?
&c.] These are the apostle's own words; though he may allude to ( Isaiah 33:18 ) where there are some phrases much like these, but the meaning is very different. Though they are interpreted by the Talmudists F7 in a sense pretty near the apostle's; for thus they remark upon them,

``where is the Scribe? he that counts all the letters which are in the law; "where is the receiver, or weigher?" who weighs all the light and heavy things in the law; "where is he that counted the towers?" he who counts, or teaches the three hundred traditions:''

so that they understand these of their Scribes and Misnic doctors, and such that are curious searchers into the hidden senses of Scripture. The apostle also seems to allude to a distinction that obtained among the Jews, of wise men, Scribes, and mystical interpreters of the word. They had their (ymkx) , "wise men", which was a general name for men of learning and knowledge; and their (yrpwo) , "Scribes", who interpreted the law in the literal and grammatical sense; and their (ynvrd) , "preachers, or disputers", who diligently searched into the hidden meaning of the Scriptures, and sought for and delivered out the mystical and allegorical sense of them, and who used to dispute about them in their schools. These three are sometimes to be met with together, and as distinct from each other. They say F8 that

``God showed to the first man every generation, (wyvrwdw) , "and its expounders, or disputers"; and every generation, (wymkxw) , "and its wise men"; and every generation, (wyrpwow) , "and its Scribes."''

And the apostle's sense is, "where is the wise?" the man that boasts of his superior wisdom and knowledge in the things of nature, whether among the Jews or Gentiles; "where is the Scribe?" the letter learned man, who takes upon him to give the literal sense of the law;

where is the disputer of this world?
the Jewish world, who pretends to the knowledge of the more abstruse and secret senses of Scripture; where are these men? they are not to be found among those that God employs in the ministration of the Gospel; he has laid them aside, and chosen others, where are they? what use have they been of to men? are men under their instructions the better, either in principle or practice? where are the thousands that have been turned to God by their wisdom, as can be shown by the faithful ministers of the Gospel? where are they? let them come and produce their cause, and bring forth their strong reasons against the Gospel they account foolishness, and try if these will stand before its superior power and wisdom; where are they? are they not fools, with all their wisdom and learning? The words may be rendered, "where is the searcher, or inquirer of this world?" and may design the same sort of persons whom the Jews call (rqxmh ymkx) , "the wise men of search, or inquiry" F9, and sometimes (rqxmh yvna) , "the men of search, or inquiry" F11; by whom they seem to intend such who search into the nature of things, who study natural philosophy.

Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
by bringing in the Gospel scheme, which the men of the world, the greatest wits in it, are not able to understand; by laying their wisdom aside as useless in the business of salvation; by showing it to be vain and empty, and of no service in things spiritual and divine; by detecting, through the ministration of the Gospel, the sophisms of men, and showing that the schemes both Jews and Gentiles give into abound with folly, with stupid notions, and are full of gross errors and fatal mistakes.


F7 T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 106. 2. & Chagiga, fol. 15. 2.
F8 Bereshit Rabba Parash. 24. fol. 21. 1. Vid. T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 5. 1. & Sanhedrin, fol. 38. 2.
F9 Kimchi in Sopher Shorashim, rad. (hhb) , & in Psal. cii. 26.
F11 Aben Ezra in Psal. civ. 29.

1 Corinthians 1:20 In-Context

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 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.
22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

Cross References 3

  • 1. Isaiah 19:11,12
  • 2. 1 Corinthians 2:6,8; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4
  • 3. ver 27; Job 12:17; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah 8:9; Romans 1:22; 1 Corinthians 3:18,19
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