Summary: Preach


A young minister in a college town was embarrassed by the thought of criticism from his cultured congregation. He sought counsel from his father, a wise old minister, saying, ¡§Dad, I am handicapped in my ministry in the pulpit I am now serving. (I can¡¦t say anything) If I cite anything from geology, there is Prof. A, teacher of this science, right before me. If I use an illustration from Roman mythology, there is Prof. B ready to trip me up for any little inaccuracy. If I mention something in English literature that pleases me, I am cowered by the presence of the learned man that teaches that branch. What shall I do?¡¨

The sagacious old man replied, ¡§Do not be discouraged; preach the gospel. They probably know very little of that.¡¨ (from Illustrations of Bible Truths # 533)

The early church in Corinth bore the brunt of the spirit of the age at its full blast and stood the test. Corinth was renowned as a Roman colony, and for her sea harbor and temple prostitution. According to International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia, the city was apparently the wealthiest and most important city in Greece at one time and her believers consisted principally of non-Jews (1 Cor 12:2). No wonder new ideas invaded the church and caused havoc, so that the people there were proud, immoral, and confident to the core. One the things city people are proud of is their learning and logic. Paul had his hands full trying to persuade the congregation not to bring their trendy thought into the church, to reverse their secular ways, wisdom and words.

What is our attitude in learning? What does intellectualism lead to? What kind of church pleases our Lord? How are we to build our church?

Discern the Message of Christ

1 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power. (1 Cor 2:1-5)

Xanthus, the philosopher, once told his servant that the next day he was going to have some friends for dinner and that he should get the best thing he could find in the market. The philosopher and his guests sat down the next day at the table. They had nothing but tongue¡Xfour or five courses of tongue ¡Xtongue cooked in this way, and tongue cooked in that way. The philosopher finally lost his patience §Ôand said to his servant, ¡§Didn¡¦t I tell you to get the best thing in the market?¡¨

The servant said, ¡§I did get the best thing in the market. Isn¡¦t the tongue the organ of sociability, the organ of eloquence, the organ of kindness, the organ of worship?¡¨

Then Xanthus the philosopher said, ¡§Tomorrow I want you to get the worst thing in the market.¡¨ And on the morrow the philosopher sat at the table, and there was nothing there but tongue¡Xfour or five courses of tongue¡Xtongue in this shape and tongue in that shape. The philosopher again lost his patience and said, ¡§Didn¡¦t I tell you to get the worst thing in the market?¡¨

The servant replied, ¡§I did; for isn¡¦t the tongue the organ of blasphemy, the organ of defamation, the organ of lying?¡¨ (from Illustrations of Bible Truths # 819)

The spirit of the age in Corinth was to rely on one¡¦s tongue and mind. The emphasis of verse 1 is ¡§I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom.¡¨ Eloquence (v 1) is ¡§excellency of speech¡¨ in KJV (huperoche + logou); ¡§excellency¡¨ occurs for the first time in the Bible (1 Cor 2:1). It means above having, whether is an exalted, superior or prominent position. With all his advantage in education under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), Paul did not compare himself with others or the Corinthians. There was no boasting, exaggerating or showboating in his upbringing and training.

Wisdom (sophia) is a prominent noun in this epistle, occurring altogether 17 times in the epistle, more than any book in the Bible, eight times in chapter 1 (vv 17, 19, 20, 21*2, 22, 24, 30) and seven times in chapter 2 (vv 1, 4, 5, 6*2, 7, 13). It is no surprise that philosophy, or love of wisdom, is derived from the same word wisdom. So is the word ¡§sophisticated,¡¨ the change that results from knowledge. The Greek world not only prides itself on their love of wisdom but her most famous ones, such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Wikipedia has a whole list of them.

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