Biblical Case Studies

“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22).

I’ve heard this verse spoken about many times. Generally the context is how dumb signs are and signs miss the point completely. A point I don’t necessarily disagree with, but it always strikes me that us Gentiles skip the part of the verse directed at us!

Gentiles, particularly those of the Western mind we in America find ourselves surrounded by, are obsessed with knowledge and wisdom. We want to know stuff.

When we take this into a religious realm, we find an obsession with doctrine and theology, parsing verbs and diagraming sentences, arguing about large words with Latin origins.

I’m not completely opposed to these things, but there is a danger. We can get so wisdomly minded that we miss the point.

One of the reasons people today don’t know their Old Testament is because there are not doctrinally thick passages in it like there are in the NT. We like to stew over Pauline sentences about justification, yet it’s been awhile since we’ve read 1 Samuel.

Yet reading the life of Samuel, Saul, Jonathan and David is highly instructional. The Bible is giving us insight into human nature. They are fascinating case studies.

That’s right, my point is that we should also look for wisdom in the pictures and types of the OT, not just Pauline passages. We are Gentiles after all, this is what we do.

2 thoughts on “Biblical Case Studies”

  1. I agree with you, and I think that your observation that we Gentiles miss the part that actually applies to us most directly shows great insight on your part. And by “shows great insight,” what I actually mean is, “hey, why didn’t I think of that.”

    However, this verse and, in fact, the whole chapter really brings out how essential context is. Standing on it’s own, as it is so often compelled to do, this little verse simply cannot convey the fullness of scripture’s teaching about either signs or wisdom. If it did, then Jews and Gentiles alike could start redacting half of the book of Proverbs, and other sections of scripture.

    Further, this post reminds me of one of my favorite pet peeves about modern pastors, namely, that they are either afraid of or are otherwise unequipped to preach/teach their way through the whole of the Corinthian letters (both, or either). Even teaching the Book of Revelation is easier because you can always hedge your bets by quoting end-time “experts”, waxing metaphorical, or just pleading ignorance, and get away scot-free (whatever that means). Not so with the letters to Corinth. If you go chapter by chapter, you can’t avoid some really hardcore stuff in there that pastors don’t want to say out loud and for sure don’t want to have to try to explain. But that’s okay, because congregations likely don’t want to hear it, either. So, those books usually just get plundered for pithy tidbits on love, or gifts, or signs or whatever the topic du jour is.

    I’m not negative, though, except about that one thing. Just that one thing. And who is Pauline, anyway?

  2. Barry, I hear ya. I was merely using the verse as a springboard to make my point about our OT illiterateness. So, yeah, I was taking a verse out of context a tad to make my point. Proof texting.

    I, however, am not afraid of 1 or 2 COrinthians and look forward to the day when I will preach through it. I am currently preaching through the Bible. I started in Genesis about 8 years ago now and I am in Jeremiah. One of the best things about expository preaching is that you can’t skip stuff!

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