For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
Paul wrote his letter to the Corinthian church because they had so many problems. The Corinthian believers were very worldly to say the least. Moreover, they lived in one of the most worldly and pagan Gentile cities. They misused their spiritual gifts in order to gain attention and recognition. They sued each other in secular court, had affairs with one another and followed after false teachers. There were so many problems that the Apostle Paul and others (whom Paul had sent) had to correct, that Paul wrote a total of three letters to the church that we know about. However, the first letter was lost to history. In addition, there was a mixture of cultures within the church, primarily Jews and Gentiles. Jewish believers had a hard time letting go of the Mosaic Law. And the Gentile believers had a hard time of letting go of pagan practices and worshiping idols. And if all of this was not enough to deal with, the city itself was famous for immoral behavior and debauchery. The city itself had become so debased in its behavior, the name of the city had become synonymous with deep immorality.
If a person was caught behaving in a crude and immoral way, people would say that the person was “corinthianizing.” Paul and others corrected these problems by proper teaching of the word of God. In this passage the term Greeks refer to both Greek and Roman culture. In other words, Gentiles or non-Jewish people. In the Greek culture a man’s display of wisdom and debating were highly prized, in addition in the Jewish culture legalism and self-righteousness was the mainstay. As a result clashes, arguments and grandstanding to display spiritual gifts were not only common, but encouraged by the society at large. Paul dealt with both cultures the same way, and the message he taught was that true wisdom lay in God’s power to save mankind from eternal destruction, through His grace. Moreover, the eternal life and wisdom given by God is from Jesus Christ our Lord and not from ourselves. It’s only the knowledge of Jesus Christ and Him crucified, which brings true wisdom and eternal life to mankind. And it’s only by our knowledge of who Jesus is and what He has done for us, that we can have a clear understanding of God’s word, the Bible.