“Christ . . . the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:24b). We cannot read Paul’s remark to the believers living in Corinth without noting the unusual syntax and pausing to consider the nature of the profound truth Paul expresses. In the first place, we would expect to read a linking verb: Christ is the wisdom of God. Secondly, it strikes us as odd that “wisdom of God” is in apposition to “Christ.” We might expect wisdom to describe Christ, as in Christ is wise, or Christ is all-wise, but to make wisdom synonymous with Christ seems peculiar to us. Paul seems to be turning language on its head in order to make the point that all wisdom begins and ends with Jesus Christ, that without Him we might be able learn some facts, but we would be unable to grasp the significance of those facts or experience the power inherent in them.
Wisdom in scriptural usage involves much more than mental knowledge of facts; the word describes truth that is eminently practical. In fact, not only does it go beyond knowledge of facts but also beyond even a comprehension of the value of those facts and how to use them correctly. True wisdom actually uses the facts it has harnessed, and does so properly. So if Christ is [excuse the verb] the wisdom of God, what truth is Paul expressing? He is saying that when God wishes to manifest His attributes, we see them in the Person of Christ. He is saying that when God acts (remember, wisdom is practical) it is in and through the Person of Christ. He is saying that who Christ is and what He has done is the perfect expression of deity.
The attributes of God. Whether holiness, righteousness, and justice or love, mercy, and grace—the character of God may be seen most fully and clearly in the Person of Christ. In the life of Christ, God’s attributes cease to be only concepts we define by consulting a dictionary; rather, they come alive, they live and breathe, in the behavior and actions of the Lord. Wisdom works. So we view the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God, for example, in Christ’s denunciation of the Pharisees, in His wrathful cleansing of the temple, and in His various rebukes of Peter and the other disciples. But we also see the love, mercy, and grace of God in Christ’s many miracles on behalf of those who would ultimately reject Him, His forgiveness of those who crucified Him, and His promise of salvation to the repentant thief on the cross.
The writer of Hebrews was describing the Wisdom of God (Christ), when he wrote that Christ “is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (1:3a). Similarly, John testified: “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you” (I John 1:1-3a). Or as he had written earlier in his gospel: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is Wisdom.
The works of God. Not only is Christ the practical expression of the attributes of God, He is also the One through whom God acts. God’s two greatest acts—creation and redemption—are both said to be the work of Christ. Creation: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:3). Redemption: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:8b, 9).
Man cannot understand the universe, he cannot understand God or His works, he cannot understand or receive salvation apart from Christ. Christ reveals the abject foolishness of the wisdom and understanding of man apart from Himself. And in His perfections and work, by faith, we come to understand who God is and what we are, as well as what God has done in providing not just the perfect but the only possible means of salvation, and we begin to appreciate the glories of His character and the wonders of eternity. “Christ . . . the wisdom of God.” Do you know and love Him? That is true wisdom.
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