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ANF02. Fathers of the Second Century: Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria (Entire)
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Chapter XVIII.—He Illustrates the Apostle’s Saying, “I Will Destroy the Wisdom of the Wise.”

And of such it is said, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise: I will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” The apostle accordingly adds, “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world?” setting in contradistinction to the scribes, the disputers19961996    Or, “inquirers.” of this world, the philosophers of the Gentiles. “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”19971997    1 Cor. i. 19, 20. which is equivalent to, showed it to be foolish, and not true, as they thought. And if you ask the cause of their seeming wisdom, he will say, “because of the blindness of their heart;” since “in the wisdom of God,” that is, as proclaimed by the prophets, “the world knew not,” in the wisdom “which spake by the prophets,” “Him,”19981998    1 Cor. i. 21–24; where the reading is Θεόν not Αὐτόν. that is, God,—“it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching”—what seemed to the Greeks foolishness—“to save them that believe. For the Jews require signs,” in order to faith; “and the Greeks seek after wisdom,” plainly those reasonings styled “irresistible,” and those others, namely, syllogisms. “But we preach Jesus Christ crucified; to the Jews a stumbling-block,” because, though knowing prophecy, they did not believe the event: “to the Greeks, foolishness;” for those who in their own estimation are wise, consider it fabulous that the Son of God should speak by man and that God should have a Son, and especially that that Son should have suffered. Whence their preconceived idea inclines them to disbelieve. For the advent of the Saviour did not make people foolish, and hard of heart, and unbelieving, but made them understanding, amenable to persuasion, and believing. But those that would not believe, by separating themselves from the voluntary adherence of those who obeyed, were proved to be without understanding, unbelievers and fools. “But to them who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Should we not understand (as is better) the words rendered, “Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” negatively: “God hath not made foolish the wisdom of the world?”—so that the cause of their hardness of heart may not appear to have proceeded from God, “making foolish the wisdom of the world.” For on all accounts, being wise, they incur greater blame in not believing the proclamation. For the preference and choice of truth is voluntary. But that declaration, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,” declares Him to have sent forth light, by bringing forth in opposition the despised and contemned barbarian philosophy; as the lamp, when shone upon by the sun, is said to be extinguished, on account of its not then exerting the same power. All having been therefore called, those who are willing to obey have been named19991999    [He thus expounds the Ecclesia.] “called.” For there is no unrighteousness with God. Those of either race who have believed, are “a peculiar people.”20002000    Tit. ii. 14. And in the Acts of the Apostles you will find this, word for word, “Those then who received his word were baptized;”20012001    Acts ii. 41. but those who would not obey kept themselves aloof. To these prophecy says, “If ye be willing and hear me, ye shall eat the good things of the land;”20022002    Isa. i. 19. proving that choice or refusal depends on ourselves. The apostle designates the doctrine which is according to the Lord, “the wisdom of God,” in order to show that the true philosophy has been communicated by the Son. Further, he, who has a show of wisdom, has certain exhortations enjoined on him by the apostle: “That ye put on the new man, which after God is renewed in righteousness and true holiness. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth. Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole, steal no more; but rather let him labour, working that which is good” (and to work is to labour in seeking the truth; for it is accompanied with rational well-doing), “that ye may have to give to him that has need,”20032003    Eph. iv. 24, 25, 27–29. both of worldly wealth and of divine wisdom. For he wishes both that the word be taught, and that the money be put into the bank, accurately tested, to accumulate interest. Whence he adds, “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,”—that is “corrupt communication” which proceeds out of conceit,—“but that which is good for the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers.” And the word of the good God must needs be good. And how is it possible that he who saves shall not be good?


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