Saturday, 5 April 2014
And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 1 Corinthians 2:1
Paul begins chapter 2 with a comparison of himself to what he had just given concerning the called in Christ. In 1:26-31, he showed that God chose the foolish, the weak, the base, and the despised as opposed to the high and lofty, mighty, noble, and etc. And the reason He did this was so that “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” This is the basis for his words “And I…”
Instead of having come as a great orator, or a captivating persona, he reminds them of the type of person he is and was. “And I, brethren” then makes a double comparison. First is the “And I” which is the comparison to his previous words, and “brethren” is his way of demonstrating that he is just like they – brethren. They are not subjects or otherwise lesser in some way.
After so presenting himself he reminds them of “when I came to you.” Paul is now in Ephesus and is calling to memory the manner in which he presented himself to the Corinthians. With his arrival, he “did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom” to declare to them “the testimony of God.” The Greek word for “excellence” indicates elevation or superiority. His speech wasn’t in such a self-authoritative manner. Instead, it was of the authority of the cross and the resurrection. Paul directed his listeners not to himself, but to the One he proclaimed. The Greek word for “declaring” implies an authoritative proclamation. In other words, the substance of his words, not the manner in which they were presented, was where the authority rested.
Unfortunately, the substance of the message had been forgotten, at least in part, as we will continue to see throughout the epistle. And unfortunately, it continues to be forgotten or disregarded in the world today. Congregations follow after exactly the opposite of what Paul states in this verse. Rather than the authority of the gospel, congregants look to the presentation of the messenger. Instead of the power of the message of cross, the eloquence of the preacher is of paramount importance. This is truly sad – that after 2000 years of holding the Bible open in churches for eyes to see and perceive, the preacher is valued more than the message.
Life application: Better a dispassionate speaker with the message of Christ, than the greatest orator with something else…
Heavenly Father, guide me to preachers and teachers who are right in their theology regardless of how well they present their message. I would rather sit and be instructed by the drone of bees than the calming sound of butterflies if the bees preach the truth of Your word. How I cherish Your message and how I long after right instruction. Hear me Lord, and direct me to those whose doctrine is sound. Amen.