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Christ crucified (1)

by on August 19, 2013


Over the coming days I want to consider a little two-word phrase used by the apostle Paul – a phrase that is far reaching it is in its meaning.

Let’s start by reading the verses were it is found:


For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to uswho are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,

and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

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? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

1 Corinthians 1: 18 – 25 (ESV).


Paul was writing to the Church of God in Corinth about how difficult it was for people to accept the message of the cross . It is important to grasp that God’s wisdom isn’t the same as the wisdom of the world. God’s way of bringing people back to Himself, of redeeming lost men and women, of purchasing them back from ruin (we might say bailing them out), of rescuing us, is far outside this world’s way of thinking, and far outside people’s concept of what a typical rescue plan might look like.

The phrase I want to unpack a little is Christ crucified. Two words that, by human way of thinking, should never be put together – and I can’t stress that strongly enough; we’ll thinking about why in a moment. Two words that sit very uncomfortably side by side, by our human standard of wisdom. But by God’s grace, they, and the truth that they represent, in the person of the crucified Christ, contain the explosive power to bring us out of the darkness of our sin and into the glorious light of God’s love and plan for us.

Christ crucified. Let’s think about what it means.

First of all, what does it mean that Jesus was the Christ? The Greek word that is translated as ‘Christ’ in our New Testament is Christos, which means ‘anointed’, or ‘chosen’. But a key to understanding the significance of what Paul was saying is the fact that the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament that would have been widely read by Christians and Jews at the time of Paul’s writing) translates the Hebrew word masiah, where we get our anglicised ‘messiah’, as christos. Why is that important? It means that the New Testament word translated as ‘Christ’ is the direct counterpart of the Hebrew Old Testament word translated as ‘Messiah’ (also meaning ‘anointed’ or ‘chosen’).

So, to say that Jesus is the Christ (as He is revealed to be in the New Testament) is to say that He is Messiah, and is to acknowledge that God made Him (His Son) to be the Christ. God the Son is God the Father’s chosen One.

Chosen for what? Tomorrow we’ll look at some Old Testament texts that will help us to answer that.

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