Summary: From all indications Paul was a brilliant scholar and could have overwhelmed his listeners with intellectual arguments, but he shared the simple message of Jesus Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his words.
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
One man who was on the path of true simplicity was, according to the Talmud, a certain Rabbi Zusya. He once said, “In the coming world, they will not ask me: “Why were you not Moses?” They will ask me, “Why were you not Zusya?” (Reader’s Digest, March, 1980).
In this passage Paul reminds the Corinthians of three things as it pertains to sharing the Gospel.
1. Our approach needs to be to glorify God and not our self (vv. 1-2).
2. Our attitude needs to be dependence on the Holy Spirit and not our ability (vv. 3-4).
3. Our aim needs to be to present the message and not the messenger (v. 5).
A certain church had a beautiful stained glass window behind the pulpit which depicted Jesus Christ on the Cross. The story is told that one Sunday there was a guest minister who was much smaller than the regular pastor. A little girl listened to the guest for a time, then turned to her mother and asked. “Where is the man who usually stands there so we can’t see Jesus?”
From all indications Paul was a brilliant scholar and could have overwhelmed his listeners with intellectual arguments, but he shared the simple message of Jesus Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his words. Paul never tried to gather followers by using fancy words to tickle the intellectual ears of those listening to him. He was determined "not to know anything save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified"(v. 2). Of course Paul is not saying here that certain fields of human knowledge are not useful in their proper place. Instead he is determined to center his preaching around the important theme of the person and works of Jesus Christ. Some people have tried to use these verses as an excuse for not studying or preparing. Effective preaching needs much preparation but with reliance on the Holy Spirit (v. 5).
In presenting the Gospel I always want to keep the message of God’s saving grace simple and not make it complicated. If a lost person stumbles over Jesus and the cross, that is their responsibility, but if they stumble over the things I may have added, it is my responsibility.