“Demonstration Of The Spirit And Of Power”—1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

Paul argues that the Gospel is to be proclaimed void of human wisdom. The preacher is not to impress his audience with his oratory skills i.e. how well he talks or vain philosophies (which was common practice amongst the Greeks).

When Paul first preached at Corinth (Acts 18:1), he didn’t come with deep philosophical arguments. Vs. 1 says, “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.” The phrase “excellence of speech” translates the Greek “hyperochēn logou” (ὑπεροχὴν λόγου), which means superior speaking or fine speech. The word “hyperochēn” (ὑπεροχὴν) was used in ancient Greek times to describe how nobles talk i.e. fancy communication, a good choice of grammar.

Now, Paul was VERY learned. He had studied under Gamaliel, one of the best Jewish rabbis in Israel (see Acts 22:3). Paul was also versed in secular Greek literature. In Acts 17:28, he quotes Aratus in the Phenomena. In Titus 1:12, he quotes Epimenides of Gnossus. So think not that Paul was illiterate. He wasn’t. He read WIDELY and was skilled in both religious & secular texts. But Paul chose not to use his literacy to wow the Corinthians; to leave them spellbound. The Gospel (the testimony of God) did not require philosophical adornments (i.e. human logic or wisdom). Oratory skills were not necessary.

Paul made a resolution, not to engage in or give attention to any other thing, except the Gospel. Vs. 2 says, “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” His focus was not on the traditions of the Jews nor the philosophies of the Greek, but on “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (that is, the message of the crucified Christ).

Paul calls this the message of the cross of Christ in 1 Corinthians 1:17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to PREACH THE GOSPEL, not with wisdom of words, lest THE CROSS OF CHRIST (i.e. the preaching of it) should be made of no effect.” Similiarly, he says in vs. 23, “But WE PREACH CHRIST CRUCIFIED, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.” Paul’s focus in ministry was the message of the Cross (the sacrifice of Christ for sins). He says in Galatians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should boast EXCEPT IN THE CROSS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

Paul tells the Corinthians that, “I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling” (vs. 3), speaking of his humility amd reverence amongst them. Paul did not go to Corinth in pride and hubris, or with an inflated sense of self. He did not depend on his intellect to save the lost.

Vs. 4 says, “And my speech (Grk. logos—message) and my preaching (Grk. kerygma—proclamation of the Gospel) were NOT WITH PERSUASIVE WORDS OF HUMAN WISDOM, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.

The phrase “persuasive words” translates the Greek “peithois logois” (πειθοῖς λόγοις) which means enticing words. The Apostle Paul did not depend on human logic to entice the Corinthians. He did not need human logic to authenticate his message because he ALREADY had the Spirit’s authentication—that authentication was MIRACLES, signs and wonders! Paul calls this the “demonstration of the Spirit and of power.” The word “demonstration” translates the Greek “apodeixis” (ἀπόδειξις) which refers to a showing forth, manifestation or proof.

The Spirit of Christ worked together WITH Paul to confirm his preaching. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 1:5, “For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but ALSO IN POWER, and IN THE HOLY SPIRIT and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

As Paul preached, miracles were happening both within and without the unbeliever; his heart was been convinced by the Spirit of God (within), and miracles and signs were being wrought to convince him (without). The Spirit of Christ works on the heart of the unbeliever as we preach the Gospel. Acts 6:10 says of Stephen that, “…they were not able to resist THE WISDOM AND THE SPIRIT by which he spoke.

The Word of God is able to prick a man’s heart and stimulate his conscience towards repentance. This is what happened in Acts 2, after Peter preached. Acts 2:37 records that, “…when they (i.e. those preached to) heard this (i.e. Peter’s preaching), THEY WERE CUT TO THE HEART, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren, what shall we do?’

So Paul depended on the Gospel and the power of the Spirit to convict the sinner unto repentance. This is what Paul did at Corinth (1 Corinthians 2:4). The “demonstration of the Spirit and of power” is sound preaching, accompanied by irrefutable miracles! Paul did this so that the Corinthians’ faith “should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (vs. 5).

The faith of the sinner ought to rest on God’s power, and God’s power ALONE. When a preacher tries to entice the sinner by his oratory skills (philosophical speaking), the faith of the sinner would rest on his words, not the Gospel. He becomes a false convert. If Paul had persuaded the Corinthians using the wisdom of this world, then his missionary work at Corinth would have perished eventually, not being able to stand the test of time.


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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