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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 2:1

 

 

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

Adam Clarke Commentary

When I came to you - Acting suitably to my mission, which was to preach the Gospel, but not with human eloquence, 1 Corinthians 1:17. I declared to you the testimony, the Gospel, of God, not with excellency of speech, not with arts of rhetoric, used by your own philosophers, where the excellence of the speech recommends the matter, and compensates for the want of solidity and truth: on the contrary, the testimony concerning Christ and his salvation is so supremely excellent, as to dignify any kind of language by which it may be conveyed. See the Introduction, Section 2.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

And I, brethren - Keeping up the tender and affectionate style of address.

When I came unto you - When I came at first to preach the gospel at Corinth. Acts 18:1 ff.

Came not with excellency of speech - Came not with graceful and attractive eloquence. The apostle here evidently alludes to that nice ant studied choice of language; to those gracefully formed sentences, and to that skill of arrangement in discourse and argument which was so much an object of regard with the Greek rhetoricians. It is probable that Paul was never much distinguished for these (compare 2 Corinthians 10:10), and it is certain he never made them an object of intense study and solicitude. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 2:13.

Or of wisdom - Of the wisdom of this world; of that kind of wisdom which was sought and cultivated in Greece.

The testimony of God - The testimony or the witnessing which God has borne to the gospel of Christ by miracles, and by attending it everywhere with his presence and blessing. In 1 Corinthians 2:6, the gospel is called “the testimony of Christ;” and here it may either mean the witness which the gospel bears to the true character and plans of God; or the witnessing which God had borne to the gospel by miracles, etc. The gospel contains the testimony of God in regard to his own character and plans; especially in regard to the great plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Several mss. instead of “testimony of God,” here read “the mystery of God.” This would accord well with the scope of the argument; but the present reading is probably the correct one. See Mill. The Syriac version has also “mystery.”


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

1 COR. 2

One of the problems in Corinth was related to the pretentious, empty philosophy of the Greeks who so highly regarded the eloquent speeches of the popular leaders of such sophistry; and Paul gave his reasons for not following the popular methods of oratory in his preaching of the word of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). However, fully mature Christians could look forward to an understanding of the true wisdom of God (as contrasted with the current sophistry); and the mystery of God, far more wonderful than the so-called mysteries of the Greeks, could be participated in by those of genuine spirituality (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). Throughout this chapter, Paul made it clear that the glory of the Christian faith is resident in the content of the gospel and not in the manner of its presentation.

And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1)

Paul had been educated at Tarsus which Strabo preferred as a school of learning above either Alexandria or Athens, and also had been schooled "at the feet of Gamaliel" (Acts 22:3), the famed scholar in Jerusalem. "Paul was a university man, the outstanding scholar of his generation."[1] Nevertheless, he despised the pedantry, superficiality and narrow conceit of those who were received as intellectuals. Paul rejected their methods because he was above them, not because he was inferior to them. Paul had a wide acquaintance with all the learning of his generation. He quoted Aratus (Acts 17:28), Epimenides (Titus 1:12), and Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33);[2] but he counted all such polite learning as mere dross, as compared with the gospel of Christ (Philippians 3:8).

Therefore, the meaning of this verse is that when Paul went to Corinth he renounced all of the tricks and devices of oratory, refused to accommodate the gospel to the style of the Greek philosophers, and did not try to adorn the truth with pagan wisdom. That Paul had the ability to do such things may not be doubted for a moment; but he wanted their faith to be in the power of God, not in the ability of human beings (1 Corinthians 2:5).

Excellency of speech ... "When the preaching itself is stressed to the degree that it obscures its own content, there is a case of excellency of speech."[3]

Testimony of God ... This means that the gospel is founded upon the word and the authority of God himself; and, by this word, as Macknight said,

The apostle insinuated that the credibility of the gospel depended neither on its conformity to the philosophy of the Greeks, nor on the eloquence of its preachers, but on the attestation of God, who confirmed it by miracles.[4]

[1] Henry H. Halley, Bible Handbook (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1927), p. 545.

[2] J. W. McGarvey, Commentary on 1Corinthians (Cincinnati: Standard Publishing Company, 1916), p. 58.

[3] F. W. Grosheide, The New International Commentary (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1953), p. 58.

[4] James Macknight, Apostolical Epistles and Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1959), p. 32.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-corinthians-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And I, brethren, when I came to you,.... This account the apostle gives of himself is occasioned, either by what he had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, concerning the choice God has made of the foolish, weak, base, and despicable things of the world, and of his calling them by his grace both to fellowship with the saints in common, and therefore he accommodated his ministry unto them, and in particular to the ministry of the word, of which he himself was a like instance and an example; or else by what he had declared in 1 Corinthians 1:17 of the same chapter, that he was sent to preach the Gospel,

not with wisdom of words; which he here reassumes, and affirms agreeably, that when he first came to Corinth, he

came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom; for though he was not only versed in Jewish learning, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel; but had also a good share of Grecian literature, and was capable, upon proper occasions, to cite the Greek poets, as he does Aratus, Acts 17:28 and Menander, Titus 1:12 and so could, had he thought fit, have adorned his discourses with pompous language, with the flowers of rhetoric, and the eloquence of the Grecians; yet he chose not such a high and florid style, and which savoured so much of human wisdom and art; for the subject he treated of required no such dress, nor any great swelling words of vanity, or a bombast style to set it off, and gain the applause and assent of men: for what he delivered were plain matters of fact, attested by God himself,

declaring unto you the testimony of God; that is, the Gospel, which bears a testimony to the love, grace, and mercy of God, his kindness and good will to the sons of men, in giving and sending his only begotten Son to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them; and in which God bears a testimony of his Son, of his sonship, deity, mediation, incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, of his resurrection, ascension to heaven, session at his right hand, intercession for his people, and his second coming to judgment, and of eternal life and salvation by him. All which being matter of fact, and depending upon the witness of God, which is greater than that of men, needed no art nor oratory of men to recommend it: it was enough in plain words, and easy language, to declare it, with the evidence by which it was supported. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "the mystery" of God: and so the Syriac version רזא דאלהא, "the mystery of God" one of Stephens's copies reads, "the mystery of Christ"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the testimony of Christ".


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And 1 I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the a testimony of God.

(1) He returns to (1 Corinthians 1:17), that is to say, to his own example: confessing that he did not use among them either excellency of words or enticing speech of man's wisdom, but with great simplicity of speech both knew and preached Jesus Christ crucified, humbled and abject, with regard to the flesh.

(a) The Gospel.


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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

1 Corinthians 2:1-16. Paul‘s subject of preaching, Christ crucified, not in worldly, but in heavenly, wisdom among the perfect.

And I — “So I” [Conybeare] as one of the “foolish, weak, and despised” instruments employed by God (1 Corinthians 1:27, 1 Corinthians 1:28); “glorying in the Lord,” not in man‘s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:31). Compare 1 Corinthians 1:23, “We.”

when I came — (Acts 18:1, etc.). Paul might, had he pleased, have used an ornate style, having studied secular learning at Tarsus of Cilicia, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens or Alexandria; here, doubtless, he read the Cilician Aratus‘ poems (which he quotes, Acts 17:28), and Epimenides (Titus 1:12), and Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33). Grecian intellectual development was an important element in preparing the way for the Gospel, but it failed to regenerate the world, showing that for this a superhuman power is needed. Hellenistic (Grecizing) Judaism at Tarsus and Alexandria was the connecting link between the schools of Athens and those of the Rabbis. No more fitting birthplace could there have been for the apostle of the Gentiles than Tarsus, free as it was from the warping influences of Rome, Alexandria, and Athens. He had at the same time Roman citizenship, which protected him from sudden violence. Again, he was reared in the Hebrew divine law at Jerusalem. Thus, as the three elements, Greek cultivation, Roman polity (Luke 2:1), and the divine law given to the Jews, combined just at Christ‘s time, to prepare the world for the Gospel, so the same three, by God‘s marvelous providence, met together in the apostle to the Gentiles [Conybeare and Howson].

testimony of God — “the testimony of Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:6); therefore Christ is God.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom (ου κατ υπεροχην λογου η σοπιαςou kath' huperochēn logou ē sophias). υπεροχηHuperochē is an old word from the verb υπερεχωhuperechō (Philemon 4:7) and means preeminence, rising above. In N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 2:2 of magistrates. It occurs in inscriptions of Pergamum for persons of position (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 255). Here it means excess or superfluity, “not in excellence of rhetorical display or of philosophical subtlety” (Lightfoot).

The mystery of God (το μυστηριον του τεουto mustērion tou theou). So Aleph A C Copt. like 1 Corinthians 2:7, but B D L P read μαρτυριονmarturion like 1 Corinthians 1:6. Probably mystery is correct. Christ crucified is the mystery of God (Colossians 2:2). Paul did not hesitate to appropriate this word in common use among the mystery religions, but he puts into it his ideas, not those in current use. It is an old word from μυεωmueō to close, to shut, to initiate (Philemon 4:12). This mystery was once hidden from the ages (Colossians 1:26), but is now made plain in Christ (1 Corinthians 2:7; Romans 16:25.). The papyri give many illustrations of the use of the word for secret doctrines known only to the initiated (Moulton and Milligan‘s Vocabulary).


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

With excellency ( καθ ὑπεροχὴν )

Lit., according to elevation or superiority. The noun occurs only here and 1 Timothy 2:2, where it is rendered authority. The phrase expresses the mode of his preaching. For similar adverbial phrases, see καθ ὑπερβολήν exceedinglyor according to excess, Romans 8:13; κατὰ κράτος mightilyor according to might, Acts 19:20. Construe with declaring.

Declaring ( καταγγέλλων )

Rev., proclaiming. See on 1 John 1:5; see on Acts 17:23. Authoritative proclamation is implied. The word is found only in the Acts and in Paul.

Testimony ( μαρτύριον )

Some of the best texts read μυστήριον mysterySo Rev. See on Romans 11:25.


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-corinthians-2.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

And I accordingly came to you, not with loftiness of speech or of wisdom - I did not affect either deep wisdom or eloquence.

Declaring the testimony of God — What God gave me to testify concerning his Son.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-2.html. 1765.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

When I came to you; meaning when he first, went, to Corinth, and commenced preaching the gospel there, as related Acts 18:1-10.


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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ain/1-corinthians-2.html. 1878.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

1.And I, when I came Paul having begun to speak of his own method of teaching, had straightway fallen into a discussion as to the nature of gospel preaching generally. Now again he returns to speak of himself, to show that nothing in him was despised but what belonged to the nature of the gospel itself, and did in a manner adhere to it. He allows therefore that he had not had any of the aids of human eloquence or wisdom to qualify him for producing any effect, but while he acknowledges himself to be destitute of such resources, he hints at the inference to be drawn from this — that the power of God shone the more illustriously in his ministry, from its standing in no need of such helps. This latter idea, however, he will be found bringing forward shortly afterwards. For the present he simply grants that he has nothing of human wisdom, and in the meantime reserves to himself this much — that he published the testimony of God Some interpreters, indeed, explain the testimony of God in a passive sense; but as for myself, I have no doubt that another interpretation is more in accordance with the Apostle’s design, so that the testimony of God is that which has come forth from God — the doctrine of the gospel, of which he is the author and witness. He now distinguishes between speech and wisdom ( λόγον ἀπὸ τὢς σοφίας.) Hence what I noticed before (103) is here confirmed — that hitherto he has not been speaking of mere empty prattling, but has included the entire training of human learning.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-2.html. 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes

Lord

Jehovah. Jeremiah 9:24


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Bibliography
Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/srn/1-corinthians-2.html. 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

 

Ver. 1. Not with excellency ] St Paul’s speech was neque lecta, neque neglecta, neither curious nor careless. Politian could say, that it is an ornament to an epistle to be without ornaments. And yet he had so little grace as to prefer Pindar’s Odes before David’s Psalms. Hosius also, the cardinal, thought David’s Psalms unlearned, applying that, Scribimus indocti doctique poemata passim. Os durum! We write unlearned teachings and poems everywhere. Harsh speech. The Holy Scriptures have a grave eloquence, but lack those pompous and painted words that carnal rhetoricians hunt after. There is difference between a pedantic style and a majestic. Non Oratorum filii sumus, sed Piscatorum, We are not sons of orators but of Picatus, said that great divine to Libanius the rhetorician, that tickled his hearers with tinkling terms, and delighted to wit-wanton it with lascivious phrases of oratory.

 


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Corinthians 2:1. And I, brethren, &c.— As a further argument to keep them from glorying in their leaders, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that, as the preachers of the Gospel, of God's choosing, were mean and illiterate men, so the Gospel was not to be propagated, nor men to be established in the faith, by human learning and eloquence; but by the evidence that it had from the revelation contained in the Old Testament, from the power of God accompanying and confirming it with miracles, and from the influences of the Spirit of God upon the heart, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

I came not with excellency of speech With the pomp of language. Doddridge. This may allude to the vain affectation of sublimity and subtilty so common among the Greeks of that age, and very remote from the true eloquence in which our Apostle did so remarkably excel. It has been asserted, that the Apostle laboured under a great impediment in his speech, from a stammering or a squeaking shrillness in his voice. Others choose to apply the words to his defect in oratory, and want of experience in the Greek language:both which may be looked upon as wide of the mark, and not the Apostle's meaning in this verse; which can be no other than that assigned in the beginning of the note. It hence appears, that he was far from taking advantage of a higher education, superior learning, and greater use of the world; and by this conduct put himself upon a level with the other Apostles. But an impostor, whose aim had been power, would have acted a contrary part; he would have availed himself of all those advantages; he would have extolled them as highly as possible; he would have set himself up, by virtue of them, as head of the sect to which he acceded, or at least of the proselytes made by himself. This is no more than was done by every philosopher who formed a school; much more was it natural in one who propagated a new religion. But as his conduct was the reverse, he shewed that he acted upon higher principles than any philosopher, and that same was no motive for his professing himself a Christian, and for endeavouring to make others Christians likewise. By the testimony of God is meant, "what God hath revealed and testified in the Old Testament." The Apostle declares, that, when he preached the Gospel to the Corinthians, he made use of no human science, no insinuations of eloquence, no speculations of philosophy, no embellishments of human learning; all his arguments were, as he tells them, 1 Corinthians 2:4 from the revelation of the Spirit of God, the predictions of the Old Testament, and the miracles which he himself did among them; that their faith might be owing entirely to the Spirit of God, and not to the abilities and wisdom of man. Instead of μαρτυριον, which we render testimony, several ancient manuscripts read μυστηριον, mystery. There may be something said in favour of this reading; for though the Apostle owns the doctrine of the Gospel, dictated by the Spirit of God, to be contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and built upon revelation; yet he every where teaches that it remained in some measure a secret there, not fully understood till they were led into the hidden evangelical meaning of those passages, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the assistance of the Spirit, in the times of the Messiah, and then published to the world by the preachers of the Gospel; and therefore he calls it, especially that part of it which relates to the Gentiles, almost every were μυστηριον, mystery. See particularly Romans 16:25-26. Locke, Wetstein, and Lord Lyttelton on St. Paul's Conversion.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1801-1803.

Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament

Our apostle had, in the foregoing chapter, declared how Christ had sent him to preach the gospel in the plainness and simplicity of it, not with the wisdom of words, ver. 17, that is, not in a pompous and flourishing way and manner of preaching, mingling the simplicity of the gospel with human wisdom: accordingly in this verse he tells them, that when, pursuant to his commission, he came and preached to them at Corinth, he came not with excellency of speech; that is, he studied not to gratify their curiosity with rhetorical strains or philosophical niceties, to please their wanton wits, but solidly to inform their judgments with the great and necessary duties of the gospel, and to furnish them with the strongest arguments and motives for a good life.

This is preaching: but had he come with human wisdom, this would have detracted,

1. From the excellency of the gospel, which, like the sun, shines best with its own beams, scripture eloquence is most piercing and demonstrative, and convinceth a man by its own evidence; human wisdom charms the ear, but this strikes the conscience.

2. It would have detracted from the glory of God, which is more honoured by the plainness and simplicity of the gospel, than by the luxuriance of wit, or the most admired oratory in the world; all human wisdom must be denied when it comes in competition with, or stands in opposition to, the doctrine of the gospel.

Observe farther, The title given to the gospel, which he preached amongst them in so much plainness and simplicity; he styles it the testimony of God.

Where note, That the testimony of the apostles concerning Christ's death, resurrection, and ascension, is called the testimony of God, because God testified and bare witness to the truth of these doctrines by signs and wonders, and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost.


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Bibliography
Burkitt, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Expository Notes with Practical Observations on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wbc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1700-1703.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

1.] I also (as one of the ἡμεῖς of ch. 1 Corinthians 1:23, and also with reference to the preceding verse, ὁ καυχ. ἐν κυρ. καυχάσθω) when I came to you, brethren, came, not with excellency of speech or wisdom announcing (pres. part., not fut.,—as in ref., and in Xen. Hell. ii. 1. 29, ἐς τὰς ἀθήνας ἔπλευσεν ἀγγέλλουσα τὰ γεγονότα. The time taken in the voyage is overlooked, and the announcement regarded as beginning when the voyage began) to you the testimony of (concerning) God.


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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-2.html. 1863-1878.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

The Apostle enters upon the Relation of his Ministry, which he had exercised among the Corinthians. He reminds them, that he passed by all human Eloquence in his Discourses before them, and had preached only Christ. He spews them how God the Spirit had confirmed his preaching, in their Hearts.


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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1828.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 2:1. κἀγώ] I too, as is the duty, in accordance with the previous explanation (1 Corinthians 1:17-31), of every preacher of the gospel. The construction is such, that καθʼ ὑπεροχὴν κ. τ. λ(314) belongs to καταγγ., as indicating the mode adopted in the καταγγέλλειν: I too, when I came to you, brethren, came proclaiming to you, not upon the footing of a pre-eminence of speech (eloquence) or wisdom (philosophy), the testimony of God. Against connecting the words it this way (which is done also by Castalio, Bengel, and others, Pott, Heydenreich, Schrader, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald), it is objected that ἐλθὼν ἦλθον gives an intolerable tautology. But this is of no weight (see the passages in Bernhardy, p. 475; Bornemann, a(315) Cyrop. v. 3. 2; Sauppe, a(316) Anab. iv. 2. 21 comp on Acts 7:34), and would, besides, apply to the construction ἦλθον οὐ σοφίας, καταγγέλλων (Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and others, including Flatt, Rückert, Hofmann); further, it is more natural and more in accordance with the sense to think in connection with καθʼ ὑπεροχὴν κ. τ. λ(318) of the manner of the preaching than of the manner of the coming. For that reason, too, ἦλθον is not placed after σοφίας. The preposition κατά, again, to express mode (Winer, p. 375 [E. T. 501]), is quite according to rule; comp καθʼ ὑπερβολήν, κατὰ κράτος, and the like.

As to ὑπεροχή, eminentia, comp 1 Timothy 2:2; Plat. Legg. iv. p. 711 D Def. 416; Arist. Pol. iv. 9. 5. Also κακῶν ὑπεροχή, 2 Maccabees 13:6.

καταγγέλλων] Paul might have used the future, but the present participle places the thing more vividly before us as already begun with the ἦλθον. So especially often ἀγγέλλων (Valck. a(321) Phoen. 1082); e.g. Xen. Hell. ii. 1. 29: ἐς τὰς ἀθήνας ἔπλευσεν, ἀγγέλλουσα τὰ γεγονότα, Plat. Phaed. p. 116 C, and Stallbaum in loc(322) See, in general, Winer, p. 320 f. [E. T. 429 f.]; Dissen, a(323) Pindar. Ol. vii. 14.

τὸ μαρτύρ. τοῦ θεοῦ] in substance not different from τ. μαρτ. τ. χριστοῦ, 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:8. For the preachers of the gospel give testimony of God, as to what He has done, namely, in Christ for the salvation of men. Comp 1 Corinthians 15:15. In accordance with 1 Corinthians 1:6, the genitive is not, with Calvin, Bengel, Osiander, and Hofmann, to be taken subjectively, as in 1 John 5:9 f.


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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 2:1. κᾀγω, and I) The apostle shows, that he was a suitable instrument in carrying out the counsel and election of God.— οὐ) This word is not construed with ἦλθον, but with the words that follow.— λόγου σοφίας, of speech or of wisdom) Speech follows wisdom, a sublime discourse [follows] a sublime subject.— καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μαρτύριον, declaring [announcing] unto you the testimony) Holy men do not so much testify, as declare the testimony, which God gives.— τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ θεοῦ, the testimony of God) in itself most wise and powerful. The correlative is, faith, 1 Corinthians 2:5.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-2.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul declareth that he used not human learning and

eloquence in preaching the gospel to his converts,

that their faith, being built on the testimony of the

Spirit, and on miracles, might be solely ascribed to God.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13 The gospel doth contain God’s wise, but secret,

counsel for bringing men to glory; which no natural

abilities could discover, but the Spirit of God only,

by which it was revealed to the apostles.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 Upon this account, both the doctrine and its teachers

are held in disesteem by the mere natural man, who is

not duly qualified to judge of and discern them.

It should seem by the apostle’s so often declaring against that vanity, that even that age much admired a style, and ministers in sacred things delivering their minds, not in a mere decent, but in a lofty, high-flown phrase; and that they vilified St. Paul, because his phrase did not so tickle their ears. The apostle had declared against this, 1 Corinthians 1:17; there he called it the wisdom of words; here he calls it an excellency of speech: 1 Corinthians 1:4, the enticing words of man’s wisdom: 1 Corinthians 4:19, the speech of them which are puffed up; puffed up with conceits of their own parts and abilities. St. Paul declares, that this was not his way of preaching, he came to declare to them the gospel, which he calleth the testimony of God: this needed no fine words, and excellent phrase and language, to set it forth.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Not with excellency of speech; that rhetorical refinement, or those subtle philosophical discussions which were admired by the Greeks.

The testimony of God; concerning Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through him.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-2.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

1. ὑπεροχήν. Excellence in the strict sense of the word—that which one man has above another. Here, however, it is applied to the high-flown style of eloquence admired at Corinth—Corinthia verba, as such language was proverbially called.

τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ θεοῦ. St Paul’s testimony concerning God; the witness he gave to His combined love and justice, manifested to the world in the Life and Death of Jesus Christ. See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 1:6.


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"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-corinthians-2.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1. And I—As in myself one of the nothings of 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.

Speech or of wisdom—The same intellectual or philosophical leadership rejected by me in 1 Corinthians 1:12-17, was refused by me when I first came to Corinth to preach the Gospel. Excellency of speech, does not mean oratorical excellence; nor does Paul, as some think, aim here or elsewhere any slants at Apollos’ rhetorical style or ability, the phrase really meaning, excellency of philosophical lecturing or discourse.

Or wisdomSophia, or philosophy; the invariable meaning of the word as used in 1 Corinthians 1:22.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-2.html. 1874-1909.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1. Indeed having come unto you, brethren, I came not unto you in the excellency of speech or wisdom, proclaiming unto you the testimony of God.” Paul was a double graduate, having graduated in the Greek colleges of Tarsus and the Hebrew universities of Jerusalem, a member of the Sanhedrin, standing at the front of the world, both literary and ecclesiastical. Yet he died to all the majesty and splendor of his former self, coming down to the level of the illiterate fishermen of Galilee. He appears before the people simply “proclaiming the testimony of God.”


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-corinthians-2.html.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Some early texts have "mystery" (Gr. mysterion) instead of "testimony" (martyrion). The difference is not very significant. The gospel was both the message that God had previously not revealed, which the apostles made known, and the message to which they bore witness. The apostle"s preaching in Corinth was "not in excellence of rhetorical display or of philosophical subtlety." [Note: J. B. Lightfoot, Notes on the Epistles of St Paul, p170.]

"When a speaker would first come to a city ( 1 Corinthians 2:1), he would advertise a meeting where he would declaim (normally praising the city); if he proved successful and attracted enough students, he would stay on in the city. Paul points out that he did not come to them like such sophists, pandering to popularity (see further 2 Corinthians 2:17)." [Note: Keener, p34. ]


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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-corinthians-2.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 2:1. And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech (as a rhetorician), or of wisdom (as a philosopher), proclaiming to you the testimony of God(1)—that concerns His Son.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-corinthians-2.html. 1879-90.

The Expositor's Greek Testament

1 Corinthians 2:1. κἀγὼ ἐλθὼνἦλθον: “And I at my coming … came”: the repeated vb(288) draws attention to Paul’s arrival,—to the circumstances and character of his original work at Cor(289) The emphasis of κἀγώ—“And I”—may lie in the correspondence between the message and the messenger—both “foolish” and “weak” (1 Corinthians 1:25 : so Ed(290)); but the form of the sentence rather suggests allusion to the nearer 1 Corinthians 1:26—“As it was with you, brothers, to whom I conveyed God’s call, so with myself who conveyed it; you were not wise nor mighty according to flesh, and I came to you as one without wisdom or strength”. Message, hearers, preacher matched each other for folly and feebleness! “I came not in the way of excellence— καθʼ ὑπεροχήν, cum eminentia (Bz(291))—of word or wisdom,”—not with the bearing of a man distinguished for these accomplishments, and relying upon them for his success: this clause is best attached to the emphatic ἦλθον, which requires a descriptive adjunct (so Or(292), Cv(293), Bz(294), Hf(295): cf. 1 Corinthians 2:3); others make it a qualification of καταγγέλλων. Paul’s humble mien and plain address presented a striking contrast to the pretensions usual in itinerant professors of wisdom, such as he was taken for at Athens.— ὑπεροχή, from ὑπερέχω (Philippians 2:3; Philippians 3:8; Philippians 4:7), to overtop, outdo. For λόγου σοφίας, see note on σοφία λόγου (1 Corinthians 1:17).

The manner of Paul’s preaching was determined by its matter; with such a commission he could not adopt the arts of a rhetorican nor the airs of a philosopher: “I came not like a man eminent in speech or wisdom, in proclaiming to you the testimony of God”.— τ. μαρτύριον τ. θεοῦ (subjective gen(296): cf. note on 1 Corinthians 1:6) = τ. εὐαγγέλιον τ. θεοῦ (Romans 1:2, 1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:13, etc.; cf. 1 John 5:9 f.), with the connotation of solemnly attested truth (cf. 2 Corinthians 1:18 f.); P. spoke as one through whom God was witnessing. κηρύσσω (1 Corinthians 1:23), denoting official declaration, gives place to καταγγέλλω, signifying full and clear proclamation (see parls.).— καταγγέλλων, pr(297) ptp(298), “in the course of preaching”; cf. 2 Corinthians 10:14.


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Bibliography
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/1-corinthians-2.html. 1897-1910.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

1 Corinthians 2:1. And I, brethren, &c. — As if he had said, I have been showing that God is wont to call and convert persons to himself by unlikely and contemptible means; and that his design in the gospel is of a very humbling nature, and admirably calculated to stain human pride, and bring men to glory in him alone; therefore, in perfect harmony with this wise and excellent scheme, when I came to you — To preach the gospel; I came not with excellency of speech, &c. — I did not affect either deep wisdom, or commanding eloquence; declaring the testimony of God — What God gave me to testify concerning his Son, namely, concerning his incarnation, his doctrine, his miracles, his life, his death, his resurrection and exaltation to be a Prince and a Saviour. This is called the testimony of God, 1 John 5:9, because God bore witness to the truth of these things by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 2:4. The expression implies that the evidence of the great facts of Christianity, and of the truth and importance of the doctrines of the gospel, is not founded on proofs drawn from human reason, but on the authority of God, who hath revealed them by his Spirit, and confirmed them by miracles, and by the extraordinary influence which they had on the hearts and lives of multitudes.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1857.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

"when I came unto you"-the first time (Acts 18:1 ff)

"excellency of speech"-Lit., according to elevation or superiority (Vincent p. 194) "Superiority of speech" (NASV) "Eloquent and persuasive oration after the fashion of the Greek orators." (Lenski p. 87) () "Not in such a way as to distinguish myself..those who seek wisdom may sound as if they are involved in a noble affair; in reality they are engaged in various forms of self-congratulatory..competition over "excellence" of speech.." (Fee p. 91)

"or of wisdom"-"or to philosophy" (Knox); "or learning" (Nor). This seems to refer to the "content" of the message. "Paul"s preaching did not depend upon superior rhetoric or an outstanding philosophy for its success. When the manner of preaching or the argumentation of the preacher is stressed to the point that Christ is obscured, one has come with excellency of speech or wisdom." (Willis p. 58)

"proclaiming to you the testimony of God"-i.e. preaching the gospel message.

Point to Note:

"Though Paul was educated at Tarsus, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens and Alexandria, yet he made no display of his learning..(He was a well-educated man- Acts 22:3)..He quotes from Aratus at Acts 17:28, and Epimenides at Titus 1:12, and Menander at 1 Corinthians 15:33.." [Note: _ McGarvey p. 58]


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-2.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

to = unto. App-104.

not. App-105.

with = according to. App-104.

excellency = pre-eminence. Greek. huperoche. Only here and 1 Timothy 2:2.

speech = word. App-121.

declaring. App-121.

unto = to.

testimony. Greek. marturion, as in 1 Corinthians 1:6.

God. App-98.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-2.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

And I - So I, I also, as one of the 'foolish, weak, and despised' instruments employed by God: 'glorying in the Lord,' not in man's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:27-31). My mode of speaking and acting accords with God's plan.

When I came (Acts 18:1, etc.) Paul might, had he pleased, have used an ornate style, having studied at Tarsus of Cilicia, famed for learning: here he read the Cilician Aratus' poems (which he quotes, Acts 17:28), and Epimenides (Titus 1:12), and Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33). Grecian intellect prepared the way for the Gospel, but failed to regenerate the world; for this a superhuman power is needed. Hellenistic (Grecizing) Judaism at Tarsus and Alexandria was the connecting link between the schools of Athens and those of the Rabbis. No more fitting birthplace could there have been for the apostle of the Gentiles than Tarsus. He had the Roman citizenship, which protected him from sudden violence. He was reared in the Hebrew divine law at Jerusalem. Thus, as the three elements, Greek cultivation, Roman polity (Luke 2:1), and the Jewish divine law, combined at Christ's time to prepare the world for the Gospel, so the same three met in the apostle to the Gentiles.

Testimony of God - "the testimony of Christ' (1 Corinthians 1:6): therefore Christ is God. So B D G f g, Vulgate. But 'Aleph (') A C read 'the mystery of Christ' (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7). The one thing that I determined to know among you was Jesus Christ (His person) and Him crucified (His office). Christ's crucifixion was not to be kept in the background, to avoid offending learned pagans and Jews. Nay, Paul judged it to be the central truth to know savingly, so as to speak effectively, everywhere (Philippians 3:10). Christ's person and Christ's office are the sum of the Gospel.


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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-2.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

When I came to you. In chapter 1, Paul showed that God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense and weak, to put to shame and to destroy what the world thinks is important. To the Corinthian Christians he says: (1) the gospel is no philosophy; (2) you are no philosophers. He returns to his starting point: that Christ sent him to tell the Good News - in contrast to men's wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17). [MUSTERION = something secret which has now been made known.] Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 2:7-10. Long words and great learning. He did not use these on the Areopagus either (see Acts 17:22-31). Paul's style of preaching was determined by the message. His emphasis was on the fact of God's act in Christ, not on eloquence and men's wisdom.


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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-2.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

II.

(1) And I.—The Apostle now proceeds to show how he personally, in both the matter and manner of his teaching at Corinth, had acted in accordance with those great principles which he has already explained as God’s method. “The testimony of God” is St. Paul’s testimony concerning God in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:8).


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
when
Acts 18:1-4
with
4,13; 1:17; Exodus 4:10; Jeremiah 1:6,7; Romans 16:18; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 11:6
the testimony
1:6; Isaiah 8:20; Acts 20:21; 22:18; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:8; 1 John 4:14; 5:11-13; Revelation 1:2,9; 19:10

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-2.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Continues his defense of his mode of preaching. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 he shows that he acted on the principles set forth in the preceding paragraph. In 1 Corinthians 2:6-9 he shows that the gospel is the true wisdom. The source of this knowledge, as externally revealed as a spiritually apprehended, is the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16.

Continuation of His Defense of His Mode of Preaching — 1 Corinthians

As God had determined to save men not by human wisdom but by the gospel, Paul, when he appeared in Corinth, came neither as an orator nor as a philosopher, but simply as a witness, 1 Corinthians 2:1, 1 Corinthians 2:2. He had no confidence in himself, but relied for success exclusively on the demonstration of the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:3, 1 Corinthians 2:4. The true foundation of faith is not reason, but the testimony of God, 1 Corinthians 2:5.

Though what he preached was not the wisdom of men, it was the wisdom of God, undiscoverable by human reason, 1 Corinthians 2:6-9. The revealer of this divine wisdom is the Holy Ghost, he alone being competent to make this revelation, because he only knows the secret purposes of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10-12. In communicating the knowledge thus derived from the Spirit, the apostle used words taught by the Spirit, 1 Corinthians 2:13. Though the knowledge communicated was divine, and although communicated in appropriate language, it was not with excellency of speech;' or with the word declaring, ‘I came not declaring with the spiritual,' 1 Corinthians 2:14-16.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

And I, i.e. accordingly I ‘In accordance with the clearly revealed purpose of God to reject the wisdom of the world and to make the cross the means of salvation.'

Excellency of speech or of wisdom. As speech and wisdom ( כן ́ דןע and ףןצי ́ ב) are here distinguished, the former probably refers to the manner or form, and the latter to the matter of his preaching. It was neither as a rhetorician nor as a philosopher that he appeared among them. This clause may be connected either with the word came, ‘I came not with excellency of speech;' or with the word declaring, ‘I came not declaring with excellency of speech, etc.' The former mode is generally preferred, not only because of the position of the words in the sentence, but also because of the sense. Paul does not mean to say merely that he did not declare the testimony of God in a rhetorical or philosophical manner; but that what he declared was not the wisdom of men, but the revelation of God.

The testimony of God may mean either the testimony which Paul bore concerning God, or God's own testimony which Paul bore concerning God, or God's own testimony, i.e. what God had revealed and testified to be true. "The testimony of God" is, in this sense, the gospel, as in 2 Timothy 1:8. The latter interpretation best suits the connection, as throughout these chapters Paul contrasts what reason teaches with what God teaches. He did not appear as a teacher of human wisdom, but as announcing what God had revealed.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-2.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

Paul"s Style of Preaching

1 Corinthians 2:1

Did the Apostle voluntarily deny himself the pleasure of being eloquent? Was he not an eloquent man? Not in the sense in which Apollos was eloquent, the fluent, ornate, dazzling style of eloquence, but rather suggestive, stimulating, audacious, and yet chastened with the sublimest spirit of devotion. Was Paul his very best intellectual self when he went to Corinth? He says he was not. In one sense, the Corinthians saw the poorest aspect of his manifold nature; and yet, if they had known it, they were in reality seeing the very best aspect of the man"s ministry. But they were sensuous, objective, looking out for spectacle and colour, and not listening with the inner ear, which alone can hear the true music of life and speech. The Apostle had a specific reason for not being verbally eloquent: he was talking to children; he would rebuke their intellectual vanity by presenting himself under aspects that were, apparently at least, humiliating. But the reason is deeper than a mere accommodation to Corinthian infancy; the reason is given in plain terms. The Apostle went to Corinth to declare the testimony of God. That was an all-explanatory reason; in the glory of that function the worker lost all his individuality. The Apostle recognised himself to be but a vessel, an instrument, a medium; he himself being as surprised as those who heard him at the music which God sounded through his voice. It is always so with great teaching and great speaking; the speaker is as surprised as the hearer. Why? Because he yields himself to the hands of God, and he knows not what tune will be played upon the instrument of his soul. Who ever found the Apostle Paul wondering what he should say, as to the substance, the pith, and the purport of his doctrine? The Apostle Paul was an errand-bearer; he had himself nothing to say to the world; he had a testimony to deliver, and his testimony was the testimony of God. That carries the whole purpose and thought of Christian ministry. The Apostle must fill his mind with Divine messages, he must read the prophets, and peruse the life of Christ, and study the ministry of the Cross, and only tell what he himself has been told. Preachers have nothing to say; they are unfaithful when they utter any word of their own, then they steal an honour, and arrest public attention with thoughts that are not worth taking out of the dust. The sermon is nothing, the text is everything: but were this theory proceeded upon, all Corinthian congregations would be dissolved. "Excellency of speech or of wisdom" has its subtle temptations. There is a profanity of sentence-making, there is a blasphemy of rhetoric. We do not want the vessel, we want the life-giving fluid which it holds. It is not the goblet that saves us, it is the blood. Has he time to think out of what vessel he drinks who is dying of thirst? Does he take up the goblet and ask questions as to its age, as to its decoration, as to its symbolism? He sees not the vessel, he lays hold of it and drains it, because he is conscious of a fatal thirst. But the Corinthians in all this have themselves to blame that so much attention is paid to the vessel. Their criticisms are flippant, superficial, profane. There are not wanting those who speak about a "finished style"; the heavens frown on them that they should talk such folly and madness within presence of the Cross. The Apostle Paul, therefore, comes before all Christian ages as the exemplar of Christian apostolicity and Christian ministry.

The strength of the temptation may be in some degree measured by the strength of the resolution with which Paul encountered it. Read: "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Men have to gird themselves for great occasions; sometimes men have to go into training for a long time, that they may strengthen muscle and fibre, and flesh and bone, so as to endure the conflict well, and come out of it triumphantly. No man can know how long the Apostle was in corning to this determination. His, indeed, was a swiftly acting mind; he did not hover about a subject, but fell upon it with energetic precision. Yet we have the Apostle here in various moods; trembling like a leaf wind-shaken, and standing like a rock. He was a manifold man. He cried in public, and in public he thundered. The one thing he determined to know was the all-inclusive thing. He was not content to know about Jesus Christ. Many persons are fascinated by that theme who are not Christians. There is nothing less acceptable to the Son of God than a compliment paid to his character, if the payment of that tribute be not followed by the imitation of his Spirit and the reproduction of his life. Many persons preach about Jesus Christ who never preach him. The whole difficulty lies in that word "about." They are within sight of him, they have a clear vision of his personality, his figure, his colour, his height, his bulk, his historical relations; they write learned essays about him, they paint verbal pictures of the Messiah, they turn his miracles and mighty signs and wonders into poesy, into idyllic incidents. They do not preach Christ. Sometimes they preach Christ best who never name him. Were a minister to preach upon the forgiveness of sins, he would be termed a moralist, a legalist; whereas, he is preaching the very agony of the Cross of Christ. No man can preach the forgiveness of a foe without preaching Christ, yet Christ"s name may not be mentioned. We are humiliated and disgraced by bigots, who call that preaching Christ which simply names the Name without penetrating to the inner meaning, thought, and purpose of the Son of God. You cannot reconcile two enemies without preaching Christ. He who does Christ"s work preaches Christ himself. Could we persuade the Church to accept this definition what charity would be developed, what nobleness, what consciousness of one man supplying what is lacking in the ministry of another, and what a grasp of the whole ministry we should secure! There must be some strong men willing to live on begged bread until they can drill this doctrine into the stony heart of a nominal but insufferable Church. Why was the Apostle not satisfied with knowing about Jesus Christ? Because Jesus Christ may be but a historical name, one of many, the brightest point in a series of brilliant points; what the Apostle would know was Jesus Christ "crucified," that word bearing all the emphasis of his meaning. Many persons fall short of the Cross; they can witness the performance of any number of miracles, and be appropriately amazed; they can listen to any number of discourses and say, "How wonderful!" All this amounts to nothing: unless a man be crucified with Christ, on Christ"s Cross, he is none of Christ"s. But this would cut down the Church by millions. All the proud people would have to go; all the self-satisfied people would be scattered, while all persons who have little theories and religious inventions and pious tricks of their own would have to be dispersed. Who is sufficient for these things? The man who thinks he has about him one rag of respectability would have to be driven forth, and Jesus Christ would be left with a few broken hearts, a few sinners having one only cry, "God be merciful unto me a sinner." Numerically, the Church would be small; energetically, spiritually, dynamically, it would be omnipotent. He who erases the word "crucified" erases the words "Jesus Christ."

How was the Apostle with the Corinthians? He explains his spirit and his attitude in pathetic terms:—"And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." What a various character was Paul! Hear him on one occasion when they tell him that bonds and imprisonment await him in every city; he says, "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I had received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the Gospel of the grace of God." Then you describe him as a mighty north wind tearing down the valleys of time, never to be resisted or turned back. At Corinth he was in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. This was not all bodily infirmity; there was a touch of another sensation in this mysterious experience. It would be curious to range on the one side all the heroic utterances of Paul, when he is giant conqueror, not a whit behind the chiefest of the Apostles; and then to put down on the opposite page all the times of his depression, when he needed cheering words from angels and from God himself; for no man so much needed cheering as the Apostle Paul. Peter had better spirits. Collate the passages in which God is obliged, so to say, by the constraint of love to come to Paul and say, "Fear not." Listen to Paul as he says: "There stood by me the angel of God, whose I Amos , and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul." To no man in the Church was that word so frequently addressed; yet at other times he seemed to carry the whole Church by his strength, to hold the whole flock of Christ within the fold of his heart. Poor is the life that has only one line in it! How stricken with the disease of monotony the soul that can only sing one tune! Sometimes the Apostle could only rebuke vanity by what might appear to be excessive humility on his own side. The Apostle had to create an atmosphere in which it was impossible for any man to speak above his breath, lest he should convict himself of ostentation and self-idolatry. The mystery wrought by this apostolic action ended in a consciousness on the part of the Corinthians that they must not display themselves, if Hebrews , the greatest, was so tremulous, so self-restrained, and so consciously and lovingly subject to the chastening of the Divine Spirit. The only way in which certain blatant persons can be put down is by the silence of the men who are attacked. Paul could only rebuke the vanity of the Church by exhibiting himself in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. For not one man amongst them did he care one iota, so far as that man"s intelligence or power was concerned. Every man in that Church acquired his quality and his value by his attachment to One greater than himself. This was a studied depreciation; this was a calculated abasement.

How does the Apostle describes his preaching? He says: "And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man"s wisdom": I never made a sermon: to make a sermon! why, that is to make an idol, a graven image, a shape in clay; and to breathe into its nostrils my own dying breath, why that were waste of life: I simply said, Thou Blessed One of the Cross, put into my heart what has to be uttered by my tongue; tell me thy word, and I will go and speak it, though every man be a lion, and every town a den of lions. "Enticing words of man"s wisdom:" small inventions of man"s mind; man"s answers to the puzzle of the universe; man"s renewed attempt to answer an unanswerable enigma; man"s profession of being able to arrange the little pieces of the universe so as to get the shape of the whole; man correcting himself to-day for what he said yesterday, and begging the pardon of an audience whilst he retracts an assertion and replaces it with another which is equally devoid of truth. What we want is the burning heart, the burning tongue, the self that has no self, the heroic egotism that in the very grandeur of its passion forgets the pettiness of its individuality.

How, then, did Paul preach? "In demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God." The converts might be few, but they should be good. No man should be able to say that his minister was not present, and therefore he could not defend his own religion; no one should be driven to say, If you want to know what I believe, consult my preacher: let every man have his own conviction wrought in him by God the Holy Ghost. Faith that stands in the wisdom of men may be overturned by the very energy that created it. Any man who accepts Christ as the result of controversial study may reject Christ tomorrow because some mightier controversialist has undertaken to teach a contrary doctrine. We must come to Christ through the heart. It is not the intellect that receives Christ, but when the heart lays hold upon him it takes another heart greater still to extract the infinite benediction. "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." It is because the heart is not touched that we have bigotry, sectarianism, separation one from another, so that one saith, It is Song of Solomon , and another saith, It is not so. Men cannot be reconciled in opinion; they can be one in the ocean of love. But would not this be mere emotion? I answer, No. We should be careful how we admit the existence of any such thing as mere emotion. There may be an animal emotion, but the emotion that is spoken of in connection with the Cross of Christ is a soul-melting passion, a fire that brings into one all the various elements of life, fusing them together, and representing them in outward action as a unity strong and indissoluble.

The Apostle gathers himself together, and says, "Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect." That is to say, we can be wiser than we appear to be: whilst I was in Corinth I taught the alphabet; I could have spoken a fluent literature that would have amazed and distressed you all; but wisdom is not to be spoken in the presence of children; we speak to children in children"s language; we speak the wisdom of God among them that are perfect, them that are strong, them that are spiritually-minded; men who can handle a mystery without taking the bloom off it; men who can see the meaning of a parable without being bewildered by its accidentals; men who see the spirit is greater than the word, the letter, the form. There be those clever people who examine the robe that has been brought out for the shoulders of the prodigal, and who take up his shoes and examine them, and take off the ring that they may look at it; and there be those who see no robe, nor shoes, nor ring, but join the infinite gladness because a soul has been raised from the dead. Do not waste the parables, the mysteries, the symbols of God; they teach some inner core-truth, some heart thought; seize them, and as for the drapery let it flow as it may, for God is often redundant in his gift of cloud and colour, flowers and music.

Paul is very ironical in the after parts of his discourse. It is a beautiful and profitable intellectual study to follow this man in all the gamut of his intellectual action. He looks at the Corinthians with a countenance charged with expressions they can never understand. He speaks "the wisdom of God in a mystery," in a parable, in a concealed way, in a way that is only half disclosed; "even the hidden Wisdom of Solomon ," the wisdom that rises, floats, passes, falls out of view, returns, shines with added glory, and then dissolves in added clouds and darkness. Then the Apostle says, "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of Prayer of Manasseh , the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Where is it so written? Some say in an Apocryphal book. But that is a poor answer; ten thousand other things may be written in Apocryphal books which we have never read. But it is written—where? Did any one try to find out whether this passage is inscribed in the Old Testament? We take it for granted it is written because Paul says it is written; there we are poor Papists, there we are miserable idolaters; Paul says it is written, and therefore we accept it, and never inquire where—the fact being it is not written. We should study Paul"s method of quoting the Bible. When Paul seeks to establish a given doctrinal point he will give you, as it were, chapter and verse; at other times he will give you, not chapter and verse, but the whole Bible. It is lawful so to quote the Bible as to lose all sense of chapter and verse. Chapter and verse are not Divine inventions, they are not human inventions—we will not press the inquiry farther. We have been ruined by chapter and verse. We may be biblical when we have no text to quote. "Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive." When did he say so? Never, and yet he never said anything else. If you ask for chapter and verse, then Jesus Christ never said these words; but if you ask for Jesus Christ"s teaching you cannot have a finer, more suggestive declaration of the doctrine and purpose of his life. So "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of Prayer of Manasseh , the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." You find an echo of this in Isaiah , in more places than one, but not in this connection, and not in this relation; and yet the whole Old Testament simply says this. When you have read through from Genesis to Malachi , you might say the whole is comprehended in one saying, namely, "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of Prayer of Manasseh , the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." Talk about the finality of the Book! it begins but never ends. Thus this is the teaching of Paul when he says: "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit." There is a continual spiritual communication going on between God and the believer. We know many things by the spirit we do not know by the letter. The ear of corn has outlived the seed out of which it sprang; the flower expresses the secret of the root, and the fragrance of the flower. What shall be said of that? always giving itself away, shaking out its blessing on the wind, so that, though rich men wall in their flower-gardens, the fragrance comes over the wall and blesses the humblest little child that plays on the road. Dear little child, sniff this gift of odour, by-and-by thou shalt have a whole paradise.

Have we the spirit of interpretation and sympathy, the spirit that sees afar off? If Song of Solomon , we are rich, and we are never alone.


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Bibliography
Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1885-95.

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