|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:17-25 Paul had been bred up in Jewish learning; but the plain preaching of a crucified Jesus, was more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of the heathen world. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our hopes, the fountain of all our joys. And by his death we live. The preaching of salvation for lost sinners by the sufferings and death of the Son of God, if explained and faithfully applied, appears foolishness to those in the way to destruction. The sensual, the covetous, the proud, and ambitious, alike see that the gospel opposes their favourite pursuits. But those who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, see more of God's wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified, than in all his other works. God left a great part of the world to follow the dictates of man's boasted reason, and the event has shown that human wisdom is folly, and is unable to find or retain the knowledge of God as the Creator. It pleased him, by the foolishness of preaching, to save them that believe. By the foolishness of preaching; not by what could justly be called foolish preaching. But the thing preached was foolishness to wordly-wise men. The gospel ever was, and ever will be, foolishness to all in the road to destruction. The message of Christ, plainly delivered, ever has been a sure touchstone by which men may learn what road they are travelling. But the despised doctrine of salvation by faith in a crucified Saviour, God in human nature, purchasing the church with his own blood, to save multitudes, even all that believe, from ignorance, delusion, and vice, has been blessed in every age. And the weakest instruments God uses, are stronger in their effects, than the strongest men can use. Not that there is foolishness or weakness in God, but what men consider as such, overcomes all their admired wisdom and strength.
Verse 17. - Sent me not to baptize, but; that is, according to Semitic idiom, "not so much to baptize, as" (Matthew 28:19). The word "sent" (apesteilen) involves the meaning "made me an apostle" (apostolos). The primary function of the apostles was "to bear witness" (Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8, etc.). To preach the gospel. St. Paul again "goes off" at this word, and dwells for eight verses on the character of his preaching. Not in wisdom of words; not, that is, in a philosophic and oratorical style. The simplicity of the style and teaching of the apostles awoke the sneers of philosophers like Celsus and Porphyry. The cross of Christ. The central doctrine of Christianity, the preaching of a crucified Redeemer. Should be made void. The rendering of the Authorized Version is too strong; the cross cannot "be made of none effect." The word means "should be emptied" (comp. 1 Corinthians 9:15; 2 Corinthians 9:3; Philippians 2:7; Romans 4:14); made void of its special and independent power. The words, "the cross of Christ," form the emphatic end of the sentence in the Greek.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For Christ sent me not to baptize,.... Some think the apostle refers to his particular mission from Christ, Acts 26:16 in which no mention is made of his administering the ordinance of baptism; but no doubt he had the same mission the rest of the apostles had, which was to baptize as well as preach; and indeed, if he had not been sent at all to baptize, it would have been unlawful for him to have administered baptism to any person whatever; but his sense is, that baptism was not the chief and principal business he was sent about; this was to be done mostly by those preachers of the word who travelled with him, or followed after him: he was not sent so much about this work,
but to preach the Gospel; for which he was most eminently qualified, had peculiar gifts for the discharge of it, and was greatly useful in it. This was what he was rather sent to do than the other, and this "not with wisdom of words". Scholastic divinity, or the art of disputation, is by the (f) Karaites, a sect among the Jews, called , "wisdom of words": this the apostle seems to refer to, and signifies he was not sent with, or to preach, with words of man's wisdom, with human eloquence and oratory, with great swelling words of vanity, but in a plain, humble, modest manner; on which account the false teachers despised him, and endeavoured to bring his ministry into contempt with others: but this way and manner of preaching he chose for this reason,
lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect; that is, either lest men's ears and fancies should be so tickled and pleased with the eloquence of speech, the elegancy of diction, and accuracy of expression, the cadency of words, and beauty of the oration, with the manner, and not with the matter of preaching, and so the true use, end, and design of the doctrine of a crucified Christ be defeated; or lest the success of the ministry should be attributed to the force of enticing words, and the strength and persuasion of oratory, and not to the energy of divine power attending the doctrine of the cross,
(f) Sepher Cosri Orat. 5. Sign. 15, 16. fol. 277. 2. 278. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
17. Paul says this not to depreciate baptism; for he exalts it most highly (Ro 6:3). He baptized some first converts; and would have baptized more, but that his and the apostles' peculiar work was to preach the Gospel, to found by their autoptic testimony particular churches, and then to superintend the churches in general.
sent me—literally, "as an apostle."
not to baptize—even in Christ's name, much less in my own.
not with wisdom of words—or speech; philosophical reasoning set off with oratorical language and secular learning, which the Corinthians set so undue a value upon (1Co 1:5; 2:1, 4) in Apollos, and the want of which in Paul they were dissatisfied with (2Co 10:10).
cross of Christ—the sum and substance of the Gospel (1Co 1:23; 2:2), Christ crucified.
be made of none effect—literally, "be made void" (Ro 4:14); namely, by men thinking more of the human reasonings and eloquence in which the Gospel was set forth, than of the Gospel itself of Christ crucified, the sinner's only remedy, and God's highest exhibition of love.
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