For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
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The Jews seek signs because they do not reject the possibility that things like this can happen. What they want to know is whether it has actually occurred, like Aaron’s rod, which sprouted and bore fruit, and Jonah who spent three days and nights in the belly of the whale before being spewed out alive. But the Greeks seek wisdom, refusing to believe anything which does not accord with human reason. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
Why, then, you will ask, did you think it fit that such an arrangement should be adopted in your memoranda? Because there is great danger in divulging the secret of the true philosophy to those, whose delight it is unsparingly to speak against everything, not justly; and who shout forth all kinds of names and words indecorously, deceiving themselves and beguiling those who adhere to them. "For the Hebrews seek signs "as the apostle says, "and the Greeks seek after wisdom."
For the Jews require a sign . . . but we preach Christ crucified. A Theban, when asked what he thought of the Romans , said that "the Romans boasted themselves in their spears, the Greeks on their eloquence, the Thebans in their virtues." But the Apostle says that he and other Christians boast themselves in Christ crucified. This is our spear, our eloquence, and our virtue.
"Because the Jews require a sign, and the Creeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews indeed a stumbling-block, and to the Gentiles foolishness; but to them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."
The Jews, in the mean time, ask for miracles, such as God formerly wrought in their favour, and the Greeks, or the Gentiles, to be converted, expect from us, what they would look upon as the highest points of human wisdom and knowledge; for that which appeareth the foolishness of God, is wiser than men, and able to confound the highest human wisdom; and that which appeareth weakness of God, is stronger than men, who cannot hinder God from converting the world, by means and methods, that seem so disproportioned to this his design. (Witham)
Foolishness. That is to say, what appears foolish to the world in the ways of God, is indeed more wise: and what appears weakness, is indeed above all the strength and comprehension of man. (Challoner)
Vast is the import of the things here spoken! For he means to say how by contraries God has overcome, and how the Gospel is not of man. What he says is something of this sort. When, says he, we say unto the Jews, Believe; they answer, Raise the dead, Heal the demoniacs, Show unto us signs. But instead thereof what say we? That He was crucified, and died, who is preached. And this is enough, not only to fail in drawing over the unwilling, but even to drive away those even who are willing. Nevertheless, it drives not away, but attracts and holds fast and overcomes.
Again; the Greeks demand of us a rhetorical style, and the acuteness of sophistry. But preach we to these also the Cross: and that which, in the case of the Jews seemed to be weakness, this in the case of the Greeks is foolishness. Wherefore, when we not only fail in producing what they demand, but also produce the very opposites of their demand; (for the Cross has not merely no appearance of being a sign sought out by reas...