1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Paul begins the second chapter on the issue of wisdom. There are two types of “wisdom” he
talks about. There is the conventional human wisdom, and then there is the wisdom of God. By
the conventional human wisdom, Paul admits he did not share with the people. Everybody likes
the idea of people sharing quick one-liners as a tidbit of wisdom. We open the fortune cookies at
the Chinese restaurants and have our daily calendars that remind us of some wise saying. Most
of these sayings may be helpful to an extent. We take it in, ponder it for a second, and feel
better or somehow a little smarter. Then we go on with our lives.
Rather, Paul preaches “Jesus Christ and him Crucified” (v2). This is no quip saying. It looks like
an absurdity, but not until the message has been given that the real wisdom can be perceived,
hidden in the message of suffering. He does not use “wise argumentation” (v4). To Paul, the
“wise argumentation” does not go far enough. It is not that human wisdom is evil, but God’s
wisdom is above the earthly wisdom. In many ways, they seem contradictory. But after careful
reflection, we see wisdom in the ironies between the clashing of these two “wisdoms.”
Paul uses the wisdom of God, but there is logic in human thinking to make his point. Because
Paul relies on the wisdom of God, he discovers, as do his listeners, the “convincing power of the
Spirit” (4). The result of this is that the reason for their faith is built upon the Power of God rather
than mere human intelligence (v5). This is so important to understand. We can reason our way
into faith, but if that is our sole foundation, it can only go so far. It can convince a people to be
more just and to do good things; however, it cannot save. Salvation is not found in being nice
people. Our faith must be in Jesus Christ. Without the reality of Jesus dying on the cross for us,
there would be no salvation, no hope.
Paul makes the distinction between these wisdoms in greater detail in verse 6, “There is to be
sure a certain wisdom which we express among the spiritually mature.” For these people, one-
liners are not good enough. Mature people do not rely on the “wisdom of this age… nor of the
rulers of this age, who are men headed for destruction” (6). Why are they heading for
destruction? Human wisdom cannot lead to salvation. The nature of humanity and humanity’s
wisdom is according to what the human nature can produce. The wisdom of heaven is
according to the nature of heaven and produces what is of its nature: grace, salvation and
perfect beatitude for all eternity. Human relies on what it sees, but divine wisdom seeks the
hidden reality that God reveals. It reveals “what eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it
so much as dawned on man,” so that man may enjoy “what God has prepared for those who
love him” (v9). We could never fathom the mind of God, let alone His graciousness.
Human thinking can never comprehend God because He sees all things that are and all things
that are possible. He knows what goes on in our minds and hearts that are not even acted on.
There is no way we can understand all of this, we are finite and God is infinite. “Yet God has
revealed this wisdom to us through the Spirit” (10). God has revealed His wisdom to the Church
and those who are open to hearing the message of faith and truth according to the Holy Spirt.
The Holy Spirit has been given to the Catholic Church and despite our sins, He works through
us. His power is not limited by human weakness, but rather, the power of God shines through
our fragile state. That is why it is so important to form our lives according to the Spirit and truth.
That God may do His work in us and “we may have the mind of Christ” (v16).