The Folly of the Cross

Don E. Green | May 19, 2010

First Cor 1:23 indicates that both Jews and Gentiles refused to believe Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified. They rejected the message in part because of the cultural connotations of crucifixion in the first century. Crucifixion was a vulgar, common execution that the Romans imposed on notorious criminals, prisoners of war, and rebellious slaves. Its harsh brutality symbolized the supremacy of the Roman government over the victim. Gentiles thus viewed crucifixion as a sure sign of the victim’s defeat. Jews, on the other hand, held crucified men in even greater contempt because to them crucifixion was a sign of God’s curse on the victim. Paul’s preaching of Christ crucified thus cut deeply against the grain of his culture. Jews rejected the idea that the Messiah could be crucified (and thus cursed) and looked for signs instead. Gentiles rejected as foolishness the notion that a crucified man could be the only Savior of mankind and sought eloquent rhetoric in its place. Paul’s example challenges today’s Christian leader to confront the culture with the same message of Christ crucified and not to cater to the latest fads in marketing the gospel to the passing whims of unbelievers.

Vol. 15, no. 1 (Spring 2004)

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Green, Don E.. "The Folly of the Cross." The Master's Seminary Journal 15, no. 1 (Spring 2004): 59-69.