Monday in the Twenty-First Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Neither by Human Wisdom or Rhetoric, but by the Power of God

Paul continues speaking of wisdom—human wisdom, that is.  I should now bring up the point that I have heretofore left out, and that is that in speaking of wisdom and knowledge, the Apostle is carefully admonishing these Corinthians who thought themselves full of both.  For example, Paul writes, “If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise” (3:18), and “If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know” (8:2).  “Knowledge” (Greek, γνωσις or gnosis) was a big deal in the Greek world, and some Corinthians (who were indeed Greeks), may have thought that Christianity was a means of attaining some higher, secret knowledge, known only to a few—which was a popular idea among the Greek cults or “mystery religions” of that day.  Yes, the Corinthians were quite proud of themselves, and that was a problem Paul would deal with in his letters.

And so Paul expresses to this church, which he founded and under whose ministry many came to saving faith, that when he was among them, he was quite timid.  He did not come to them as some famous philosopher or orator (oratory was another highly respected asset in the Ancient world), but has the humility to admit that he came in “weakness and in fear and much trembling.”  Please note: If you ever feel afraid or awkward sharing the gospel, so did one of the greatest evangelists of all time.  Paul had just arrived from Athens where the gospel was not received but by a few.  He had been beaten at Philippi, and run out of Thessalonica and Berea prior to that (Acts 16:11-18:1).  Maybe he was a little broken.  But whatever the case, Paul makes it clear that the gospel, which he calls “the testimony of God,” does not rest on “lofty speech or wisdom.”  The gospel is about Christ crucified, and it needs no help from man in the way of “plausible words of wisdom” to do its work.  Why is this?  Because the gospel works on people’s hearts by the Holy Spirit and power. 

No doubt, we Christians sometimes get in the way of our own presentation of the gospel.  To say that the gospel does not depend on soaring rhetoric or worldly wisdom is not to say that Christians should be ignorant or express themselves poorly.  But we should be mindful that the gospel itself has power to save because the power of God is behind it.  We need neither to dress it up nor dress it down; we need only present it clearly and coherently.  So let us trust the Holy Spirit to do the work that only he can do, while we go about in faith and humility sharing the gospel where we are able.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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