Sophia is to be embraced. Sophia is the woman James describes. Sophia is unimpeachable. Sophia is Christ in the flesh redeeming mankind.

Facts which I trust were established in part 1 of this article.

Paints2

 ARTIST: Paul paints what Lloyd Harkness calls an "Archibald Prize"-winning portrait of sophia in the New Testament. PICTURE: Daria Schulte/www.freeimages.com

"Paul gives Sophia a more fleshed out image then James. His portrait of Sophia is in the first letter to Corinthians, 1:17 to 2:7, is his canvas. In 21 verses, he drops Sophia’s name 15 times and the root word sophos (wise) from which sophia (wisdom) is derived is mentioned four times."

Paul gives Sophia a more fleshed out image than James. His portrait of Sophia is in the first letter to Corinthians, 1:17 to 2:7, is his canvas. In 21 verses, he drops Sophia’s name 15 times and the root word sophos (wise) from which sophia (wisdom) is derived is mentioned four times.

The brush strokes across this canvas are brilliant.

There are four parts to the construction of the painting.

They are:
1. the place of sophia in Paul’s ministry style.
2. Sophia is revealed through a summary of God’s salvation in Jesus.
3. The majority of Corinth’s Christians did not measure up to society’s portrayal of sophia. 
4. A return to Paul’s starting point on his public speaking not lining up with current portraits of sophia.

In terms of a painting we could think of 2 as the central figure and 1, 3 and 4 as background referencing the central figure.

It is quite a portrait. An Archibald Prize-winning portrait.

Paul’s starting point is how he has sought to introduce Christ to people. He has never relied on clever wording or persuasive techniques. Jesus is not wrapped in a cloak of rhetoric. He does not want his words or cleverness getting between Jesus and a person’s opportunity to ‘meet’ and respond to Jesus invitation to follow Him.

Paul was concerned that if the Corinthians were looking for a Sophist style presentation of the Gospel they could end up with a distorted image of Christ. Salesmanship and appeals to emotions can bring people up short of ever knowing Jesus.

The packaging fails to reflect the package.

Paul wanted substance before style which, judging via the lens of current thinking and presentation of ideas, did and does not bring people to the place of knowing Christ.

Paul now adds some further brush strokes to frame his central figure.

He states people who do not accept Jesus for who He is only see foolishness. Their faulty lens produces a faulty image and Paul with the eye of an artist is determined to reflect the real Jesus.

The sophia of God in sending Jesus to redeem humanity is outside any accumulated experience or knowledge the Corinthians may have amassed in their lives thus far.

A footnote in the NIV Bible on verse 19 states: "…on every street in Corinth one met a so-called wise man, who had his own solutions to the world’s problems".

In this cacophony of voices Paul wants more than just an idea of The Christ bounced around, peeled back and hotly debated.

All the great intellects of his day, the scholars and philosophers, had no understanding when it came to God and how He had chosen to reveal Himself through His Son. Hence they saw only foolishness in a crucified saviour.

Yet this was the sophia of God at work. Man’s sophia is put aside and God’s sophia and power is activated in the cross Jesus bore for humanity.

Paul is frank with what he is dealing with. Jesus fails the Jewish standard of 'sign exhibitor' and he fails the Gentile standard of sophia. The problem with holding up this form of standard to which God must comply, standards derived from religious expectation and a collective of sophia, is we are painting a picture backwards.

It is not our place to establish a set of criteria by which we will pass judgement on God.

That sounds like we think we can go a round or two with God in the ring when He is the world’s heavyweight champion and we have not even qualified to enter the ring.

It is a nonsense to say God you have to do things my way before I will believe.

We are to see Jesus for who He is and this is what Paul is capturing in his portrait.

Sophia is used extensively throughout these verses but so too is foolishness as a point of contrast within the portrait.

A redeemer who saves through a martyr’s substitute death is foolishness to those who do not believe. They see a criminal punished. They see a Jewish peasant who had no formal education. They see a troublemaker punished by the iron fist of Rome.

"Paul’s portrait of Sophia displays deft strokes of God’s and man’s wisdom, a keen eye for the Gospel and its all-important messenger, and the nobility of character James captured in his letter."

Paul paints an image devoid of self-proclaimed sophia. The depth of the eyes, the cut of the chin and the smile lines capture Jesus living and ministering in an unexpected manner to bring redemption to all who choose Him.

Something of a mystery is unveiled with this painting.

With the central figure framed Paul tells the Corinthians to take another look at themselves, particularly in the light of God’s sophia. Very few came from the ranks of philosophers and scholars, of nobility and those with political clout. Don’t be bedazzled by the world’s sophia, by the power of oratory, by a word uttered and obeyed as a command.

Instead, just as Jesus was the Father’s sophia so He would have you become his sophia to shame the world’s sophia.

There is no place for boasting or an undue sense of self-importance when it comes to sophia.

God does things His way. That cuts us out of the picture and so our only boast is Him.

Paul avoided eloquence and oratory and intellectualism as ends in themselves. Everything he ever did in Corinth relied on the Holy Spirit and the proofs the Holy Spirit demonstrated to make known Christ to others.

This, too, is God’s sophia.

Paul’s portrait of Sophia displays deft strokes of God’s and man’s wisdom, a keen eye for the Gospel and its all-important messenger, and the nobility of character James captured in his letter.

Lady Sophia, God’s sophia, is the Mona Lisa of the Louvre. Gaze upon her beauty, embrace her with an open heart and allow the experience to change your life.