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.
(a) Superiority of speech or of wisdom. The Greeks valued philosophy and the Jews valued wisdom, but Paul preached the simple gospel of Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2).
Paul had spent much time talking to philosophers and rabbis. He had come to Corinth from Athens (Acts 18:1) where his brilliant speech to the intellectuals of the Areopagus had born little fruit (Acts 18:22). He understood that the truth of the gospel dawns by revelation rather than debate.
(b) The testimony of God. People may question your beliefs, but no one can question your testimony. What has God done for you? Who is Jesus to you? These questions frame your testimony and every believer has one.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
Jesus Christ, and him crucified. We have all been called to preach the gospel, but what is the gospel? The gospel is not the law or a set of principles to live by. The gospel reveals Jesus, who he is and what he has done.
Further reading: “How to teach the gospel of grace”
1 Corinthians 2:3
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,
In weakness and in fear. Paul was a mighty man of faith, yet he came to Corinth in fear and in much trembling. Although he was a great letter writer, he was less impressive as a speaker – or so thought the Corinthians (2 Cor. 10:10). Often his preaching would lead to violent beatings and imprisonment, so Paul’s fear was perfectly understandable. In fact, Paul was so fearful during his time in Corinth that God had to tell him, “do not be afraid” (Acts 18:9).
Stepping out in faith is sometimes scary because faith is risky. How do you think Abraham felt as he was about to plunge the knife into Isaac? Or Rahab when she welcomed the spies of Israel into her home? Or Moses when he stood up to Pharaoh? For as long as we walk by faith, there will be fear. This is why we are encouraged to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (see entry for Php. 2:12). The rewards of faith far outweigh the temporary fears that may distract us.
1 Corinthians 2:5
so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
(a) Your faith. Faith comes from hearing about the love of God revealed in Jesus (see entry for Rom. 10:17).
(b) Not rest on the wisdom of men. We don’t get faith from hearing a good sermon; we get it from hearing the good news of Jesus (Acts 15:7, 28:24).
(c) The power of God. The gospel of grace comes prepacked with supernatural power that activates our faith and inspires us to believe. Our faith is based on the revelation that Jesus died for our sins and was raised for our justification (1 Cor. 15:14, 17).
1 Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
Freely given. The original word (charizomai) means to show favor or kindness. It’s closely related to the word that means grace (charis). All of God’s gifts come to us freely by grace. See entry for Grace of God.
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