This week I began reading 1 Corinthians for my morning studies, and I came across this passage, which I think EVERY pastor should review:
“When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power." 1 Cor. 2:1-5, HCSB.
In the course of my Bible reading, I have been using William MacDonald’s “Believer’s Bible Commentary.” MacDonald has some good stuff to say about this passage:
2:1 The apostle now reminds the saints of his ministry among them and how he sought to glorify God and not himself. He came to them proclaiming the testimony of God, not with excellence of speech or of wisdom. He was not at all interested in showing himself off as an orator or philosopher. This shows that the Apostle Paul recognized the difference between ministry that is soulish and that which is spiritual. By soulish ministry, we mean that which amuses, entertains, or generally appeals to man’s emotions. Spiritual ministry, on the other hand, presents the truth of God’s word in such a way as to glorify Christ and to reach the heart and conscience of the hearers.
2:2 The content of Paul’s message was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Jesus Christ refers to His Person, while Him crucified refers to His work. The Person and work of the Lord Jesus form the substance of the Christian evangel.
2:3 Paul further emphasizes that his personal demeanor was neither impressive nor attractive. He was with the Corinthians in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. The treasure of the gospel was contained in an earthen vessel that the excellence of the power might be of God and not of Paul. He himself was an example of how God uses weak things to confound the mighty.
2:4 Neither Paul’s speech nor his preaching were in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Some suggest that his speech refers to the material he presented and his preaching to the manner of its presentation. Others define his speech as his witness to individuals and his preaching as his messages to groups. According to the standards of this world, the apostle might never have won an oratorical contest. In spite of this, the Spirit of God used the message to produce conviction of sin and conversion to God.
2:5 Paul knew that there was the utmost danger that his hearers might be interested in himself or in his own personality rather than in the living Lord. Conscious of his own inability to bless or to save, he determined that he would lead men to trust in God alone rather than in the wisdom of men. All who proclaim the gospel message or teach the word of God should make this their constant aim.
Can you imagine the church today if all of our pastors emulated Paul in their preaching? What a difference it would make!