In 1 Corinthians 1, the apostle Paul addresses a problem that has plagued the Lord’s church since its beginning in the first century. The problem is in relation to competing ideas. There are three competing ideologies in the chapter, especially in verses 18-31. Those competing ideas are the gospel of Jesus Christ, the philosophy of this world, and a godly religion commandeered by fallen man.
The gospel of Jesus Christ stands without peer. The other two ideologies, however, will not let that go unchallenged. The gospel, of course, is God’s good news as revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to this earth to redeem man, and as He lived on this earth, He lived a perfect, sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). He fulfilled he law’s demands and all prophecies relating to His coming.
The wisdom of this world, as represented by Greek philosophical idea, is an ideology that looks upon what the Lord did as sophistically inadequate, too simplistic, and surely too naïve in today’s world. Yet, this same philosophy, or any idea that replaces it, is empty of spiritual and emotional substance that gives man answers to a chaotic world. All it really does is give answers and hope the hearer/receiver will be satisfied with that. That might be fine, but what good will that do for one when life is over?
The competing religious ideas, as represented in Judaism, are ideas that seek to grab the heart of man, teaching him that there is indeed something beyond this world. Not only is Judaism like this, but Islam also. In both cases they are false religions. Islam was false from its very start, but Judaism got its start with God on Mount Sinai. The Lord wanted the nation of Israel to obey, and when they obeyed, they were blessed. Unfortunately, as a nation, Israel took a path that was their destruction; after their national redemption they still failed to understand properly the Law’s intent (cf. Romans 9:33-10:3).
Paul understood the challenge, so he preached. “And my message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, in order that your faith might not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:4-5, English Majority Text).