Thursday, 26 November 2015
Even though I am untrained in speech, yet I am not in knowledge. But we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things. 2 Corinthians 11:6
In the previous verse, he said that he was “not at all inferior to the most eminent apostles.” This was a jab at those false apostles, not the real ones. From this verse, we can deduce that they were those who came and spoke with great eloquence. On the contrary, Paul admits that he is “untrained in speech.” The word for “untrained” is idiótés. It is a word which has morphed into our own language as “idiot.” However, at the time and according to Helps Word Studies, it meant “properly, of one’s own self; used of a person who conspicuously lacks education or status – hence, easily misunderstood as being uninstructed (unrefined, ‘unlettered in speech’).”
Paul admits that his speech is lacking the grace of those who came to woo the Corinthians away from him. He was born and raised in Tarsus and it may be that the Greek he learned was less refined than it could have been. Or it could be that he simply lacked eloquence through a stutter or a slow mental process which was more concerned about precision than oration. Whatever the reason, he notes that though this might be the case with his speech, “yet I am not in knowledge.”
Paul was well trained in the law, having studied under Gamaliel. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees and had all of the knowledge of the law to be considered the most schooled of Jews. Further, he had personal revelation from Jesus Christ concerning the church and the calling of the Gentiles. In no way was his knowledge lacking. It is a point which was of far more value than a highly eloquent and polished tongue.
From this verse, we can see that these false apostles were of the same breed as those who stood and listened to Peter and John speak in Acts 4. A similar thought is mentioned about them –
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
History has borne this assessment of Paul out. Studying his writings seems to show that His Greek was less-cultured than one might expect of such a great mind. As Albert Barnes notes –
“Critics profoundly acquainted with the Greek language remark, that while there is great energy of thought and of diction in the writings of Paul; while he chooses or coins most expressive words, yet that there is everywhere a lack of Attic elegance of manner, and of the smoothness and beauty which were so grateful to a Grecian ear.”
Regardless of this lack of smoothness and beauty, it is the substance behind his words which truly matters. With his great knowledge he notes that “we have been thoroughly manifested among you in all things.” Those in Corinth had received Christ through him and his fellow apostles. They had received training in Christ after that. The questions which had been raised had been fully answered. In all ways, the effort and work of Paul was made manifest to the fullest measure in them. The humble tent maker sewed more into his disciples than he did into linen or leather.
Life application: A lack of eloquence doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of knowledge. In fact, one who has precision of thought may actually lack in smooth speech, being more concerned about being correct than being graceful to the ear.
Lord God Almighty, You have fashioned each one of us according to Your wisdom. It is true that we can learn and grow as individuals, but the basic structure of who we are came from You. So why should we worry about our limitations or failings in one area or another? You have given us strengths according to Your plan and so help us to be content with them. We exist as we are because of You! Thank You for Your infinitely wise hand which has so carefully fashioned us. Amen.