Where is the wise - the scribe - the disputer of this world? - These words most manifestly refer to the Jews; as the places ( Isaiah 29:14; Isaiah 33:18; Isaiah 44:25;) to which he refers cannot be understood of any but the Jews.
The wise man σοφος, of the apostle, is the חכם chakam ; whose office it was to teach others.
The scribe, γραμματευς, of the apostle, is the ספר sopher ; this signifies any man of learning, as distinguished from the common people, especially any master of the traditions.
The disputer, συζητητης, answers to the דרש derosh, or דרשן darshan, the propounder of questions; the seeker of allegorical, mystical, and cabalistical senses from the Holy Scriptures. Now as all these are characters well known among the Jews, and as the words αιωνος τουτου, of this world are a simple translation of הזה עולם olam hazzeh, which is repeatedly used to designate the Jewish republic, there is no doubt that the apostle has the Jews immediately in view. This wisdom of theirs induced them to seek out of the sacred oracles any sense but the true one; and they made the word of God of none effect by their traditions. After them, and precisely on their model, the schoolmen arose; and they rendered the doctrine of the Gospel of no effect by their hypercritical questions, and endless distinctions without differences. By the preaching of Christ crucified God made foolish the wisdom of the Jewish wise men; and, after that the pure religion of Christ had been corrupted by a Church that was of this world, God rendered the wisdom and disputing of the schoolmen foolishness, by the revival of pure Christianity at the Reformation. The Jews themselves allow that nothing is wise, nothing strong, nothing rich, without God.
"Our rabbins teach that there were two wise men in this world; one was an Israelite, Achitophel, the other was a Gentile, Balaam; but both were miserable in this world."
"There were also two strong men in the world; one an Israelite, Samson, the other a Gentile, Goliah; but they were both miserable in this world."
"There were two rich men in the world; one an Israelite, Korah, the other a Gentile, Haman; but both these were miserable in this world. And why? Because their gifts came not from God." See Schoettgen.
In truth the world has derived very little, if any, moral good, either from the Jewish rabbins or the Gentile philosophers.