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Paul’s Frustration |Corinth

Commentary on Paul’s Letters to the Corinthian Church

ARC Guide Level 1
Ideal for those getting acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Photo by Ivan Samkov

And I, when I came to you, brothers,[a] did not come proclaiming to you the testimony[b] of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men[c] but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

Paul asserts that when he came to Corinth to proclaim the testimony (some manuscripts say, ‘mystery,’) of God, he allowed it to be a mystery and didn’t really express it in the format of a traditional oration; a well prepared and even better delivered speech. What he proclaimed was the fact that the Christ had come and was crucified. Keep in mind that it was always Paul’s habit to come into the synagogues first and so this message would not have reached the gentile believers until afterwards. We already know from 1:14-17 that Paul did not make it his mission to make many converts and baptise them as he did not consider it his mandate from the spirit; only to communicate the simple message that the Christ had come and was crucified. Paul also says that he made no effort to put on a show of physical prowess as he was sick and weak at the time when he came to them as well as trembling and afraid. His work was done rather out of his weakness in the demonstration of the Spirit (read: Paul’s manifestation of the Spirit through the fruit of the Spirit in his life) and of power, presumably the power of the gospel as previously stated in chapter one but also likely in miracles.

Further Thoughts

We don’t really know what to do with the fact that Paul did not present a succinct five point gospel message with an alter call and a baptismal pool ready to hand. We know his reasoning; that the people of Corinth would not put their faith in his wisdom but in the power of God to save; that is, in Christ. Paul’s frustration is that when the Corinthian believer’s encountered the wisdom of Peter and Apollos, meant for the spiritual digestion of more mature believers, they went ahead and placed their faith in human wisdom anyway. If we take anything from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians perhaps it should be that all truth is revealed truth that takes a certain tolerance to adjust to. If and when we are exposed to a concentration of truth that is higher than our tolerance we tend to think that it originated with the author or speaker and attribute to them the things of God and so slide into the slippery slope of leader worship which Paul was warning against.

The message of the gospel is special revelation from God to everyone who receives it. There are some who say that if special revelation is not saying anything new then we don’t need to hear it. That it would be like a special report flashing across a news screen about old news everyone already knows. But if we applied the principle of “If it’s not new we don’t need it,” to the Bible then we could cut out the majority of the Bible as most of it is God repeating Himself ad nauseum to generation after generation after generation of people who are the recipients of special revelation from God even though he told someone else that one time–in fact, we could cut out most of the New Testament as He isn’t saying anything new there that isn’t deeply rooted in the Old Testament! The mystery of the Gospel is that God reveals Himself afresh to each one who receives it so that we do not place our faith in a leader’s wisdom or a culture’s wisdom or an ethnic wisdom that would exclude anyone who proclaims Christ and Him Crucified.

Ammi Ruhama Community Christian Union


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