Where do we get our opinions?
In contrast Paul asked, “Where is the wise man?” (1:20). They were not hard to find in Paul’s day. But by and large they were not a part of the Christian movement. Paul could legitimately ask why the Corinthians valued secular wisdom so much when the “wisest” individuals by those standards could not see the truth of Christianity. If such non-Christians were really the true measure of wisdom, then why were they not Christians?
We should be careful not to use verses like these as an excuse for ignorance. In the past some have argued these as an anti-educational agenda. We should remember how much worldly wisdom and secular training Paul himself brought to the table; he was no dullard. The very fact that he could read put him among the most educated of his day. Indeed, Acts 17:28 shows us Paul quoting secular philosophy, and he cites a Greek poet in 1 Cor. 15:33. Surely God can use our minds as well as our hearts and emotions.
But we should also remember that human “wisdom” has a way of coming and going. How many Stoic or Epicurean philosophers have you met recently? How many Platonists or Peripatetics? Belonging to groups like these was like having a PhD from Harvard or Yale today. But so many of the things they taught now seem ridiculous to us, even if some of their errors are still around today in groups from our own time. It is not that we cannot find gems of truth in the thinking of these ancient groups, but their schools have closed. Christianity has survived.
Given the incredible diversity of Christian groups, we must also suspect that a great deal of the “wisdom” we hear even in the church must be all too human. Just because a minister says something from a pulpit and mentions a few words from the Bible does not mean that he or she truly has the mind of God. If the Spirit of God inhabits the body of Christ, the church, then spiritual wisdom is more accurately heard the more we are in contact with the rest of God’s people.
Kenneth Schenck, 1 & 2 Corinthians: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2006), 47.