God is Everything

1 Cor 2: 1-5

As Paul opens the second chapter of the letter, he continues to exhort the Corinthian believers regarding God’s centrality in his work and teachings. In v 1 he says “…I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.”

For those who knew Paul before he became a Christian, they might be confused. They knew that Paul had a strong Jewish heritage. He was born of the “purest Jewish blood, the son of a Pharisee” and was “cradled in orthodox Judaism.”

At around 13, he was sent to Jerusalem to study. He was under the famous Gamaliel, and was “a superior, zealous student.”

When he was first mentioned in Acts, Paul was already an “acknowledged leader in Judaism” and was actively opposing Christianity and persecuting Christians. “He was convinced that Christians were heretics and that the honor of the Lord demanded their extermination.”

So, for him to say that he “did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom” seems a bit off. However, the key is in the latter part of the verse. Yes, Paul is gifted with speech as seen in his address before the Areopagus (Acts 17:22-31) and wisdom under the tutelage of Gamaliel. But he was not proclaiming any ordinary human truth or wisdom. He was proclaiming the “testimony about God.”

Thus, we see that when Paul said it is not eloquence or superior wisdom that he brings with him, he was in fact saying that the power, authority and value of what he was teaching are drawn from God alone. This had been Paul’s theme since verse 18 of chapter 1. God is above everything. His wisdom totally eclipses humanity’s imagined wisdom.

God delights in the things that seem nothing, and use them to show to the world that the things that are not draw strength only from the source of everything—God himself.

In verse 2, he names Jesus Christ and the power of the cross. He did this after proclaiming that he was preaching a testimony about God. This shows that in the conviction of the apostles, and in Paul particularly, Jesus is God. He is the testimony about God for He revealed God.

Paul resolved, determined, he decided to know only Jesus Christ and the power of His cross. We see that Paul chose to focus only on Jesus. His determination was empowered by the Holy Spirit. But what we need to see here is Paul’s willingness and his obedience. He wanted to know more about Jesus, so he focused on Him alone. May this be our attitude too.

Verses three and four substantiate verse 1. Paul was very detailed in explaining how he felt, what his condition was everytime he preached to the people about Jesus. He said he was weak, afraid and even trembling. And he reiterated that it’s not with wise and persuasive words that he went and preached. Then, he reveals that everything was a “demonstration of the Spirit’s power…”

It is by the Holy Spirit that Paul became a powerful evangelist. The Holy Spirit, who is God himself (Matthew 28:19), is the one who convicts people to believe in what Paul was saying. This is the reason why there are those who accept and there are those who do not. It is not in the speaker but the message. The message is the message.
Finally, Paul shows that his nothingness and weakness in the things that he preached were, in fact, for the benefit of all who believe because they strip him of the credit and ascribe everything to God. Paul reminded them of his nothingness “so that [their] faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”

He ends the passage showing that God’s power is the reliable basis of faith. God is the basis of faith, never on man’s wisdom or abilities. This is a reminder that whatever we achieve in evangelism, in the ministry and in our spiritual walk, we bring back to God for He worked and we were but His instruments.

To God be the glory! Amen.
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