In this class we will discuss 1 Corinthians 1:17 thru 1 Corinthians 2:5 and examine the following: Paul underscores the centrality of the message of the cross and the simplicity of his preaching. He downplays human wisdom and eloquence, focusing on the power of God's Spirit. Paul expresses the need for faith to rest on God's power rather than human wisdom, ultimately highlighting that the Christian faith is not about persuasive words but a demonstration of the Spirit's power.
[Steve Myers] We left off last time in 1st Corinthians. We were in the middle of the first chapter.
1 Corinthians 1:17 He says, "Not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect."
Why would he emphasize this to Corinth in that way? “I didn't preach the gospel with the wisdom of words.” Of course, think back to where this is. This is in the area of ancient Greece now, the Roman Empire. They were into the wisdom of words. They were into philosophy, they were into debate. They were into all of those types of things. And so, in a way, what he's saying here, the gospel that he was preaching was not about entertainment. That's not what it was about. It wasn't about intellectualism.
And he says, "That was not the case lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect." Did the gospel need some type of artificial package, you know, special way that it was presented so that he could make it understandable or make it, I don't know, palatable? No, he's saying, no, that's not it at all. That means that the substance of the message wouldn't be that important or that the gospel wouldn't stand on its own. You've got to wrap it up in this pretty little package or this kind of entertainment or this type of discussion in order to make it useful. And Paul says, no, that was not the case at all.
And so he says, "If that had been the case, it would've been useless." It would've been absolutely useless. Hey, we got lights. All right. Our lights have come on. Now we have bright light. In fact, he's going to talk about light here in just a moment with the lights coming on. When you think about this specific thing, he says, "The cross of Christ should be of no effect." Now, why would he use that terminology, the cross of Christ? And what is he implying here when he uses that term, the cross of Christ? Well, he's using it as a metaphor, isn't he? The cross of Christ, well, what was the cross of Christ? It was an instrument of crucifixion. It was an instrument of death. This is how Christ was killed by crucifixion.
And so he's using this idea of the cross of Christ is representative of what? Well, he says the gospel. It's representative of the gospel to preach the gospel lest the cross of Christ. So he is connecting those two things. In fact, in verse 18, he says, “the message of the cross,” the message of the cross, another type of metaphor that's pointing to the gospel. What's the gospel all about? Well, it's the message of the cross. It's about the cross of Christ. What happened at the cross of Christ? He was crucified, he was killed, he was murdered. He was sacrificed. He was sacrificed for us. And so the cross of Christ, the message of the cross, reminds us that Christ was sacrificed for us.
The message of the gospel is that we have hope that our sins can be paid for by the sacrifice of Christ, by His blood. By our faith in the blood of Christ, we can have hope. And so he's wrapping this all around that very idea of the cross of Christ and the message of the cross is the gospel. It is the fact of what God is doing. What is His plan? What is His purpose? Well, it's to bring a spiritual family about. To create a spiritual family, how is he going to do that? By having us as His sons and daughters in His family. But the only way that's possible is through the sacrifice of Christ. And so he makes this very clear, this idea of this is the plan of God, the message of the cross.
Now, it's also interesting when he talks about the cross of Christ, this word for cross that he uses here is the Greek word, stauros. Stauros. Sometimes it doesn't even have this O in here. Star-, they have U here, there it is. Staurosis the word here for cross. In fact, it's the word that's used throughout the New Testament for the word cross. And of course, in English, when we think of cross, we might think of a letter T like a cross. But literally this word in Greek means a stake or an upright pole. And stauros was a means of execution. When it came to Roman crucifixion, that was a way that they crucified individuals on a stauros, on a stake.
And so you can Google different versions of Roman crucifixion and on a stake, they would've put their hands above their head and their feet below as they nailed an individual to sometimes they call it a tree, to a stauros, to a pole. And so Church of God, we take exception to the idea that Christ was crucified, you know, on a different type of a method, like a crux simplex they call it. This stauros is a simplex. It was just a pole, a simple means of execution.
Of course, the Romans did use other methods. Doesn't seem to be the indication here since it's the stauros of Christ, that upright simple pole that he was crucified on. The Romans also used a method that would kind of look like a capital T in English. That was another method that the Romans used. They call this commissa. The commissa or a tau crucifixion that looked like a T. There was also the crucifixion method that looked more like t, probably the one you most see in Catholicism or Protestantism, you know, pictured in that way. That was the crux immissa, the crux immissa that was called. Yeah, the Romans did use that method, but it's never referred to that in scripture, never referred to commissa, the tau or the immissa, the t.
There was also the crux decussata. And that was a different method. That was crucifying an individual in the shape of an X, where the crucifixion was in that regard. And so the Romans used a number of different methods of crucifixion. But the one that's referred to in scripture is this stauros, this stake, this upright pole, which would be also the crux simplex, just an upright pole.
And so Paul uses that metaphor to describe the purpose of God, to describe His plan. And of course, you can kind of see, well, why wouldn't we as Christians wear crosses? I mean, many people out there do. That was the method of crucifixion. It's a method of death. Why would you want to wear something like that, that is representative of death and destruction, as an ornament? Just doesn't seem to make sense.
And so here, Paul emphasizes the importance of the message of God and what was ultimately the purpose of the crucifixion, to be a sacrifice for us. Then he begins to talk about how people perceive this message. You know, was everyone in Corinth converted once he preached about the plan of God? Well, of course not. No, not at all. In fact, it was taken in a number of different ways. And he mentions that here in verse 18.
1 Corinthians 1:18 He says, "The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."
Yeah, there are those that are perishing. They don't understand the truth. Death is ultimately on the horizon because they're in that process of death. You know, it's appointed for man to die once, all of us are appointed to death. Those that don't have anything to do with God, with the message of the cross, with the gospel, he says they're seeing it as foolishness. And so why would they see it as foolish? Why do people today see the message of God as being the foolish?
Well, I think a lot of times, you know, you take a look at this book, what do people think about the Bible today? A lot of them think it is foolishness. They think the Bible's antiquated. They think it written by man. It's just this old book that's not very relevant to me today. And so they just consider it as Paul says here, as foolishness. I mean, there are those out there that mock it and despise it. Those that are out there that will say, "Well, if you believe the Bible, you know, you're ignorant, you're uneducated, you don't know anything." And so they deemed the Bible as just being unimportant. And so there's a basic lack of understanding and wisdom, and so people count the message of the Bible, count the Bible itself as foolish.
Of course, probably a number of other reasons. Why would people say the message of the Bible is foolishness? "Well, I'm too important. I'm too well off to have to rely on the Bible. Why would I need God?" You know, are those that are self-sufficient, concerned about what the Bible might have to say? Yeah. When you consider it that way, what is, well, really, most of the world's focus? Mostly on themselves, mostly on what they have. Ecclesiastes talks about the fact that all is vanity. It's all useless, and yet people miss it.
Also, John talked about things that get in the way, like the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life. Yeah, people count this as foolish because they don't want to try to understand. They're pretty self-sufficient on their own, which I think kind of ties into another aspect of why people view the Bible as foolish, is the fact they're very prideful. Why do I want to do that? Why would I want to bend the knee to a savior or to a God? And so, in a sense, they're not going to allow themselves to have that perspective.
And I think part of it, even as Paul's talking about, as he talks about this being foolishness to those that are perishing, as he said, the gospel wasn't preached with wisdom of words. Yeah, they want entertainment. They want to be, you know, enthralled by this word rather than what the message is all about. And so people are misled. People are misled by philosophy. The Greeks certainly were, the Romans followed. Even today, people are caught up in all kinds of other ideas and other thoughts. And the Bible talks about it being philosophy and empty deceit. You read that in the Book of Colossians, where it points that very thing out.
And so oftentimes then God is just simply rejected. They're rejected. Especially if you put yourself back at this timeframe, imagine the foolishness that the Greeks overall would've felt that, you know, you are worshiping a dead carpenter. Why would you want to do that? That doesn't make any sense. And so for them, it just didn't compute for worshiping a dead man. And that's primarily the Jewish community kind of felt a similar type of thing. They weren't going to acknowledge the fact that Jesus was Messiah, that he was savior, that you're going to worship someone that was executed like a common criminal? You know, the shame of being hung on a tree was certainly something, you know, in Jewish thinking that would've been an affront in that regard. And so they had a hard time taking on this idea that he could actually be alive from the dead. And of course, to the Greeks, that idea would've been ridiculous to them as well.
And so he contrasts this idea of what about the gospel? What does it mean for us? And what should it mean? And so, as he goes on, let's take a look at verse 19, then.
1 Corinthians 1:19 He says, "It is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
So he begins by saying, Christianity is not about human intelligence. It's not about your reasoning abilities. It's not about your SAT score. It's not about scientific inquiry. It's not about those kinds of things. He says in verse 20.
1 Corinthians 1:20 "Where is the wise? Where's the scribe? Where's the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"
Who's contrasting the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of the world? What does mankind see as important? Well, here he's pointing out, all right, are the wise what's most important? Are they the ones that are going to understand the gospel and be called to God's way of life? Is that's what it's all about, if you have wisdom, then you can understand the truth? He says, "Where are they? What about scribes?" Who were the scribes? Those are the ones that would've understood the religious law. Those were the ones that would've worked with the religious leaders of the day, the scribes.
Oftentimes in scripture, you'll find them listed with the Pharisees and the scribes and the Sadducees altogether as leaders. Those who are really into that aspect of religious law, the scribes. The disputers of this age, where are they? That seems to be pointing to the civil side of things. You had the religious side of things with the scribes. The disputers, well, those are the ones that were standing up in court arguing different things. So that you know, we call them lawyers today. Where are the lawyers? Where are they? Well, whether it's religious or civil, their kind of knowledge isn't what makes the gospel understandable. He says, "Hasn't God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" God doesn't have to prove himself through these types of individuals. And so he says in verse 21.
1 Corinthians 1:21 "For since in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom didn't know God."
So if you are wise, does that mean you'll automatically understand God and His purpose and His plan? He says, "Nope, that's not the case at all." No, you could be the smartest guy in the room. That doesn't mean you're going to get it. Doesn't mean you're going to understand the gospel. You're going to understand God's way. In fact, he says “it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.”
So he's contrasting this idea of human understanding, human understanding versus the calling of God. I mean, wouldn't it be really kind of ridiculous if the only way you could come to God is if you have great knowledge and human understanding? He's saying that would be crazy. That would not work. And so then only those that had wisdom could be a part of God's way. But that's not how God works. That's not how God works. And so he contrasts the people themselves and their different perspectives. And he was talking about the Jews and then the Greeks as well from their different perspectives. And then he says in verse 22, kind of summing that up.
1 Corinthians 1:22 "The Jews request a sign and the Greeks seek after wisdom."
Yeah, if you could do something, if you did miraculous things, that would be evidence that God's with you. You're a servant of God because you've done these great things. And if you haven't, no. Nope. Well, Paul says, that's not the way it was. If you couldn't show the Jews a clear sign, they felt you couldn't prove God was with you. But Paul says, "Nope, that's what they want. But that's not what God does." And then the Greeks on the other hand, it says, "They seek after wisdom." What was their approach? Well, the Greeks, everything had to be logical. Everything had to make sense. Other things, inspiration, guidance that doesn't really matter. If it wasn't logical then for the Greeks, yeah, this other stuff doesn't really matter that much. And so Paul gets to the point then.
1 Corinthians 1:23 He says, "We preach Christ crucified to the Jews' stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness."
So Paul's preaching the Messiah that was put to death. To the Jews, that would be ridiculous. What did the Jews feel the Messiah was going to do when he appeared? Get rid of the Romans, right? They were going to get rid of the Romans. They're going to overtake them. They're going to kick out the Romans, and they're going to set up a godly government. That's what a Messiah was supposed to do. That was their thinking. But Christ came and he was crucified. He was put to death. So yeah, no wonder it was a stumbling block. And to the Greeks, it just didn't make sense, didn't make sense. So it was foolishness to them. But he says in verse 24.
1 Corinthians 1:24 "Those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks," he says, "Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God."
Yeah, the epitome of godly power is the fact that, yes, Christ was crucified, but was that the end of the story? You see, so many of the Jews didn't even believe in the resurrection. These Sadducees, they didn't even believe in the resurrection, but the power of God, that Christ was resurrected from death, the epitome of power and, of course, the wisdom of God's perfect plan, not just for the Jews, it was for everybody, for all mankind.
And so when you consider that those who understand, they recognize God's power and His wisdom in this message, in His plan, in His purpose, that it's not just about me, it's about all mankind and everyone having an opportunity to be a part of the family of God. And so Paul emphasizes that very fact. It is a perfect plan, an amazing plan, one that wasn't just relegated to a specific individual or just a certain race of people. It's for all mankind. And so he says in verse 25.
1 Corinthians 1:25 "The foolishness of God is wiser than men." Now, he's not saying God is foolish in any way. He's just making this overstatement here. God's not foolish. And in fact, if God was foolish, that'd be wiser than any man could possibly be. Then he says, "The weakness of God is stronger than men."
Well, does God have any weakness? Of course not. He is almighty. He is all powerful. And so He has no weakness. He has no foolishness, but he is emphasizing how far short we fall from the attributes of God. That's what he's saying.
1 Corinthians 1:26 So he says, "For you see your calling, brethren, not many wise, according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called."
Does that bring any melodies to mind? Not many wise men now are called, right? Not many noble brethren, right? Yeah, exactly. And so he's saying that very thing that's song is taken from there. Now, he doesn't say there are none. That's also, I think, an important point. He just says, not many wise men. No, there are some that are wise. Not very many that are noble, I don't know any kings or princes or princesses or queens as a part of the church. It doesn't mean there weren't ever any, but he just says not many. In other words, there may be just a few.
And so what's interesting about this is he's emphasizing this fact because some would say, well, look how silly that is. Why would God use people that are basically nothing, just your average, you know, individuals? Why wouldn't he use you? You see, that's the perspective of our world, the powerful people, the special people. Hollywood, the beautiful people, right? Those are the ones that are most important. God says, no, that's not it.
1 Corinthians 1:27 He describes the why behind it. "God has chosen the foolish things of the world."
Now, that's important, foolish things of the world. They're not foolish things. We are not foolish. No, that's not the case. God is not labeling us as that. This is the way the world looks at it this way, that we are foolish. Yeah, you're pretty ignorant if you believe in God. You know, we are nothing, we're not mighty powerful individuals. Yeah, the world looks at us as foolish, but he says, God's chosen those foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.
And so we see this choosing is an important thing that's highlighted here. God chose. God is the one that does the choosing. God's opened our minds to His truth. He's chosen us out of all these people, he's set us apart. God does the choosing. And he says, "It puts to shame the wise." It puts to shame those that are mighty. And so when we recognize that, who ultimately gets the credit? Well, do I get the credit because I'm so smart and I'm so talented? No, that's not it at all. Not at all. He makes this point. He says, the base things of the world, those are the things that were chosen, the things which are despised, the things that the world doesn't value, God has chosen, and the things which are not to bring to nothing the things that are.
And so here we see the things that aren't evident. The things that aren't, things that can't be seen, God does some awesome. Things things that, you know, people look at us and, yeah, we're insignificant, we're nothing, people would overlook us, and yet here what we see is God can use us to make a powerful point that's not about those things. Ultimately, the point verse 29.
1 Corinthians 1:29 "That no flesh should glory in His presence."
You see, if God used just the noble, if He used just the strong, if He used just the wise, those that are powerful and mighty, they'd think they get the credit. Well, no wonder God called me. Well, here he says no, no one, he's saying, no one should ever think that you earned your way, that somehow God owes you to be a part of His plan or God should put me in His family because after all, look how smart I am. You know, look how brilliant, or look at my genealogy. No, none of those kinds of things.
No one should ever think they've earned a place with God, or that you've earned God's blessings, or God called you because you had so many wonderful gifts and talents and abilities to contribute. He says no, nope. We're the foolish of the world. The way the world looks at us, we're nothing. And so God gets all the credit, and that's what it comes down to. God gets the credit. None of us, there's no flesh, no physical beings, no human beings should glory in His presence. So God gets the glory, God gets the credit.
And so I think that's an important perspective that we all need to have. Whatever good I can do, is that because of my talents? You know, any helpfulness, any of those? No, he ties that into the fact that God is the one that should receive all the glory, all the credit for these things. And so it helps frame who we are and who we rely on. We rely on the resurrected Christ. That's our reliance. And so we recognize without that sacrifice, we wouldn't be a part of God's plan. And God's opened our minds so that we can understand it and recognize those things. And so verse 30, he frames it this way.
1 Corinthians 1:30 He says, "But of him, you are in Christ Jesus who became for us wisdom from God and righteousness and sanctification and redemption."
So before we get too carried away saying, oh, we are the foolish of the world and we're nothing, he says, "Well, hang on a second. We have wisdom that others do not have. We have a wisdom that's greater than the world's wisdom, right? What they count as valuable, what they count as wise, okay? We don't have that, but we have something that's greater than that. We have a way of life that they don't understand. And that's in contrast to the way the world lives. And so we truly are set apart from the rest of mankind." That's that word for sanctification.
We're set apart. We have wisdom. Where is that wisdom found? Well, what's it say? You are in Christ who became, for us wisdom. His sacrifice has been given to us. And so he's making all of this come down to this very point. It's not because of us, it's because of Christ. The sacrifice has been given to us. And there is where we find wisdom. That's where we find value. And so that's what sets us apart from the rest of the world, that we can be sanctified, set apart. We can be righteous because Christ is in us. We can be redeemed. We have redemption, that we don't have to be lost. We don't have to have our sins hanging over our head. We can be forgiven, we can have our sins removed, we can be redeemed, in other words. And so it all is through Christ. So you are in Christ Jesus.
1 Corinthians 1:31 And then he says, "That it is written, he who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
And so he uses this quotation. In fact, if you want to hold your place here, you could go back to Jeremiah 9. Here's where Paul takes this thought from as he goes back to Jeremiah. Jeremiah 9:23 is where he takes this thought from. Take a look at what he tells us in Jeremiah 9:23.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 He says, "Thus says the Lord, let not the wise man glory in his wisdom." Okay because you got to get this idea. Oh, this is where he's taking the thoughts for this little section of 1st Corinthians from, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom. Let not the mighty man glory in his might nor let the rich man glory in his riches, but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord exercising loving kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth for in these I delight, says the Lord."
And so Paul takes this whole concept right here from Jeremiah 9, and he emphasizes that even more, doesn't he? That if we are going to have these attributes of what he's mentioned here, loving kindness and judgment and righteousness, where does that come from? From my own good, from my own character? No, it comes through Christ. So you want to be proud of something, you want to be boastful about something? Well, recognize the supremacy of God in your life. He says, he understands and knows me. He understands and knows me. Does the world know God? Nope. Not at all.
And so he gets right down to that very point that no flesh should glory in His presence, but we recognize we are of Christ and God has called us to give us His wisdom, to give us His perspective. And so he says, yeah, we can glory. Yeah, we can take heart in certain things. Absolutely. What is it? That God is God and He's called us to be a part of His way. And in that calling, who gets all the credit? Paul comes to the conclusion, God does. God gets all the credit, which kind of, you know, informs us of something else, why would he be writing that to the Corinthians? Why do you think he would emphasize that as he, I mean, we just started the letter, we're just finishing chapter one.
So if you want to go back to 1st Corinthians, you can head back that direction again. We're just finishing chapter one. And he makes this very strong point about God gets all the credit. God gets all the credit for anything spiritual that we do. Really, ultimately, He's keeping us alive physically as well. He's the one that sustains us, sustains every human being. Why emphasize that to the Corinthians? What we said the other day, they were a very gifted congregation. They had many talents, many abilities. You know, they live in this big metropolis of merchandise. You know, they seem to be, you know, so important, at least in their own eyes.
And so he emphasizes this fact because, you think this was an issue in Corinth? Yeah, probably they were trusting on their own abilities much more than they should have. And so he starts here to help them to recognize you can't let your own self-satisfaction take you in the wrong direction. You can't value yourself being so wise and so wonderful and so wealthy, that that's going to solve all your problems. See, that's the problem. Yeah. Do we have that problem in America today as well? Yeah, I think we do. I think we do. And so he emphasizes that to Corinth, and of course, by extension to us as well, you know, count on God, don't count on your own talents and abilities.
All right, that brings us then to Chapter 2.
1 Corinthians 2:1 He emphasizes that fact again when he says, "Brethren, when I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God."
Now, this ties us back into Acts 18, when he came to them. If you remember the scenario, where did Paul come from? Well, he was on his journey. Our map shows the various journeys that he took. On this particular journey, he had just left Athens. Well, Athens, where they were so steeped in idolatry and paganism, idols all over the entire city. What happened at Athens? Well, he talked to them, reasoned with them. But does the Bible record any big spiritual growth in Athens?
No, nothing. Doesn't seem like much of anything happened there at all. And so not much happened in Athens. So he comes to Corinth then next, which had this reputation of immorality and self-satisfaction, merchandising, riches, all of those kinds of things. What do you think Paul thought when he was coming into Corinth? I don't know, humanly speaking, I think, Corinth, God's not going to do anything here. This city is so wasted, and nothing could possibly happen here in Corinth. But God tells him, "Hey, hang out here in Corinth. Preach boldly. You know, preach my word."
And what happens? I mean, I think you could say a major congregation forms at least a major one during the first century, it comes into existence, which is pretty startling, probably. And especially from Paul's perspective, because the Greeks prized, you know, the ability to speak eloquently and to debate and to philosophize and go out in the town square and, you know, do all these great presentations. And evidently, Paul didn't really have the greatest abilities to do that very thing.
But that pointed out the fact that it wasn't about that. It wasn't about how great a sermon that you could give that would bring people to conversion. That means they'd be following a man instead of following the message. And is that a problem even today? That, "Wow, this guy's such a great speaker, I think we'll follow him." You know? And so this idea that people choose their church affiliation based on how great somebody speaks, that shouldn't be the case at all. What are they talking about? What is the real message? That's really what it's about. And so Paul says, it wasn't about how great a speaker I was or how wise I was sounding. No, that wasn't it at all.
1 Corinthians 2:2 In fact, he says, "I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
You want to know the point of the matter? What was the focus of the message? Well, he says, "Jesus Christ," the identity of Christ, the life of Christ, the sacrifice of Christ, him crucified, that we need a sacrifice. That fact that he died and gave His life for us, gives us an opportunity for forgiveness. How can our sins be forgiven if Christ didn't die on our behalf? What gives us hope?
And so he really gets down to the heart and core of the message of the gospel. The heart and core of the gospel is Jesus Christ. Without Christ, we have no hope. We have to understand what Christ was all about. What was His life? It was a perfect life, a sin-free life. He sacrificed that life on our behalf. And so Paul emphasizes that right here. Now, it doesn't mean that all Paul taught was just about Christ's life and death, and that's the only thing that matters. Well, no, that wouldn't be the... But how does it apply? How does it apply to me? How does the life and death and then the resurrection of Christ apply to me? You see, that's what's most important. And so he focused on that core understanding that Christ as Emmanuel, God with us. You know, God in the flesh died on our behalf. And so he emphasizes that very fact, not how great he portrayed that message, not how wise he sounded. And so, even in verse 3, look at the contrast here.
1 Corinthians 2:3 He says, "I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling."
Boy, isn't that the kind of message you want to hear? Oh, you read that and you go, wow, was he just a wimp or something? Or what is that all about? I think in a way he's probably over-emphasizing that a little bit to contrast the idea of not many wise, not many noble, right, not many mighty. You know, was Paul presenting himself as anything special? Not by saying that. No. No.
And I think at the same time, yeah. Is he showing, he's just a guy? He's a thinking, breathing, everyday human being, that we all go through things like this at times. Are there times that, yeah, we're not very strong? Are there times that we're upset, the times that we fear? Yeah, absolutely. He's showing, you know, some of what we all face. Humanly speaking, we all have our weaknesses, right? We all have our challenges. Were there times when he was worried? Yeah. Were there times? Yeah. I mean, for a man who stood up for the truth and was beaten and was scorched, was stoned, Paul went through all of those things. You don't think there's a little worry or a little fear in some of that at times? Yeah, I think so.
Yeah. There were times that people were threatening him. He had to put His trust and faith in God. No doubt about that. But he's showing as individuals, as human beings, in spite of our failings, in spite of Paul's shortcomings that didn't hamper the message, that didn't hamper what God was doing. And so I think that's important in spite of Paul's failings and shortcomings, you think he was still an inspiring example? Yeah, I think so. Yeah. And I think the shows, you know, just the personal connection that he made with the people of Corinth as well, you know.
When we recognize that, we all have strengths, we all have weaknesses. You know, when it comes to the ministries, some we connect better with than others. But I think what Paul really is emphasizing here is don't confuse the messenger with the message. And that's tough in our world today because we like something that's, you know, clear and concise and succinct and presented in an entertaining way. Yeah, that's what we like. But wait a second. What are the words? What's the message about?
So Paul emphasizes that fact, our world gets it wrong all the time because they fall for the messenger because it looks good and it seems good, and it sounds good and looks great. But wait a second, he's saying it's about the message. That's what it's about. And so he talks about this message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. He's talking about the gospel message, the message of the cross, the cross of Christ, what God's plan and what His purpose is all about. That's what's most important. And so he says, verse 4.
1 Corinthians 2:4 "My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human understanding."
It wasn't about wisdom is the word there. Human understanding, the wisdom word here is the word Sophia, the Greek word for wisdom. It wasn't about...now, he doesn't say it wasn't about wisdom because God's way is wise. Anybody doubt that? No God's way is wise, but he frames it, persuasive words of human wisdom, right? Is it about human Sophia? Is that what really counts? He says, no, that's not the way I spoke, but instead, demonstration of the spirit and of power, demonstration of power. So you, you could probably imagine the contrast. You know, if you went down, you know, to the center of town, you could hear the debaters, you could hear the philosophers, you could hear the orators. Was Paul the most polished speaker, you know, the best orator in his style and presentation? He's saying, no, I wasn't. That's not what it was about.
And so instead he's saying those that God was calling, those that God is working with, they're going to hear, they're going to understand the message because it's through God Inspiration through the spirit of God, through the demonstration of the Spirit. Now, that's not saying that Paul was performing miracles, and they could see all the demonstrations in that regard. That word doesn't really mean that kind of a demonstration. It's more of the idea of a manifestation of the power. That the power of the word of God was manifested before him. Why? What impact does God's word have on you?
I mean, if God calls you, you begin to understand the truth of God. It's transformational. The word of God is transformational. There is transformational power that changes people's lives. That's what it's about. And so the fact that the lives of the Corinthians that God was calling totally turned around, totally changed. They had a new way of life compared to what their old perspective was, what they were living before Paul arrived, before God opened their mind. And so it was manifested through the Holy Spirit. And it's a spirit of power. The spirit of power. That power word is dunamis, is the base word. Dunamis is the word. Power, that's where we get our word dynamite from this word, dunamis.
Yes, it was evident in power. It was manifested because these people were one thing before. And as God opened their minds to His truth, they were changed. And that is a powerful transformational change that God made. No human wisdom can bring that about. And so he says, "Yeah, that's what changed people's perspective."
1 Corinthians 2:5 And so he said, "Your face should not be in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God."
Yeah. If it's only about this, you know, wonderful message that's presented in such a clever way, how's that going to get you through anything? Might be entertaining for the moment. It might be interesting for a little while. Is that going to get you through the tough times? Is that going to give you a perspective on life? Is that going to change the way you see things? I think that's part of the challenge here.
The Greeks many times were just kind of caught up in the speech, caught up in the emotions, caught up in all of that kind of momentum of the eloquence of the speakers. But here he's saying, no, a faith that's based on the manifestation of God's power working in your life, that changes everything. That kind of faith is a faith that grows, that kind of faith is a faith that can help you to endure in the difficult times. And so it's a powerful faith. And so he's showing here it's not just about speaking, it's not just about great messages. In fact, it's not even just about physical miracles that the Jews were looking for. He's talking about here changed lives. That's what it's about, and that's the wisdom of God versus the wisdom of men.