1 Corinthians 2:1
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
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(1) And I.—The Apostle now proceeds to show how he personally, in both the matter and manner of his teaching at Corinth, had acted in accordance with those great principles which he has already explained as God’s method. “The testimony of God” is St. Paul’s testimony concerning God in Christ (1Corinthians 1:6; 2Timothy 1:8).

1 Corinthians 2:1. And I, brethren, &c. — As if he had said, I have been showing that God is wont to call and convert persons to himself by unlikely and contemptible means; and that his design in the gospel is of a very humbling nature, and admirably calculated to stain human pride, and bring men to glory in him alone; therefore, in perfect harmony with this wise and excellent scheme, when I came to you — To preach the gospel; I came not with excellency of speech, &c. — I did not affect either deep wisdom, or commanding eloquence; declaring the testimony of God — What God gave me to testify concerning his Son, namely, concerning his incarnation, his doctrine, his miracles, his life, his death, his resurrection and exaltation to be a Prince and a Saviour. This is called the testimony of God, 1 John 5:9, because God bore witness to the truth of these things by signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and distributions of the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 2:4. The expression implies that the evidence of the great facts of Christianity, and of the truth and importance of the doctrines of the gospel, is not founded on proofs drawn from human reason, but on the authority of God, who hath revealed them by his Spirit, and confirmed them by miracles, and by the extraordinary influence which they had on the hearts and lives of multitudes.

2:1-5 Christ, in his person, and offices, and sufferings, is the sum and substance of the gospel, and ought to be the great subject of a gospel minister's preaching, but not so as to leave out other parts of God's revealed truth and will. Paul preached the whole counsel of God. Few know the fear and trembling of faithful ministers, from a deep sense of their own weakness They know how insufficient they are, and are fearful for themselves. When nothing but Christ crucified is plainly preached, the success must be entirely from Divine power accompanying the word, and thus men are brought to believe, to the salvation of their souls.And I, brethren - Keeping up the tender and affectionate style of address.

When I came unto you - When I came at first to preach the gospel at Corinth. Act 18:1ff.

Came not with excellency of speech - Came not with graceful and attractive eloquence. The apostle here evidently alludes to that nice ant studied choice of language; to those gracefully formed sentences, and to that skill of arrangement in discourse and argument which was so much an object of regard with the Greek rhetoricians. It is probable that Paul was never much distinguished for these (compare 2 Corinthians 10:10), and it is certain he never made them an object of intense study and solicitude. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:4, 1 Corinthians 2:13.

Or of wisdom - Of the wisdom of this world; of that kind of wisdom which was sought and cultivated in Greece.

The testimony of God - The testimony or the witnessing which God has borne to the gospel of Christ by miracles, and by attending it everywhere with his presence and blessing. In 1 Corinthians 2:6, the gospel is called "the testimony of Christ;" and here it may either mean the witness which the gospel bears to the true character and plans of God; or the witnessing which God had borne to the gospel by miracles, etc. The gospel contains the testimony of God in regard to his own character and plans; especially in regard to the great plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Several mss. instead of "testimony of God," here read "the mystery of God." This would accord well with the scope of the argument; but the present reading is probably the correct one. See Mill. The Syriac version has also "mystery."


1Co 2:1-16. Paul's Subject of Preaching, Christ Crucified, Not in Worldly, but in Heavenly, Wisdom among the Perfect.

1. And I—"So I" [Conybeare] as one of the "foolish, weak, and despised" instruments employed by God (1Co 1:27, 28); "glorying in the Lord," not in man's wisdom (1Co 1:31). Compare 1Co 1:23, "We."

when I came—(Ac 18:1, &c.). Paul might, had he pleased, have used an ornate style, having studied secular learning at Tarsus of Cilicia, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens or Alexandria; here, doubtless, he read the Cilician Aratus' poems (which he quotes, Ac 17:28), and Epimenides (Tit 1:12), and Menander (1Co 15:33). Grecian intellectual development was an important element in preparing the way for the Gospel, but it failed to regenerate the world, showing that for this a superhuman power is needed. Hellenistic (Grecizing) Judaism at Tarsus and Alexandria was the connecting link between the schools of Athens and those of the Rabbis. No more fitting birthplace could there have been for the apostle of the Gentiles than Tarsus, free as it was from the warping influences of Rome, Alexandria, and Athens. He had at the same time Roman citizenship, which protected him from sudden violence. Again, he was reared in the Hebrew divine law at Jerusalem. Thus, as the three elements, Greek cultivation, Roman polity (Lu 2:1), and the divine law given to the Jews, combined just at Christ's time, to prepare the world for the Gospel, so the same three, by God's marvellous providence, met together in the apostle to the Gentiles [Conybeare and Howson].

testimony of God—"the testimony of Christ" (1Co 1:6); therefore Christ is God.1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul declareth that he used not human learning and

eloquence in preaching the gospel to his converts,

that their faith, being built on the testimony of the

Spirit, and on miracles, might be solely ascribed to God.

1 Corinthians 2:6-13 The gospel doth contain God’s wise, but secret,

counsel for bringing men to glory; which no natural

abilities could discover, but the Spirit of God only,

by which it was revealed to the apostles.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 Upon this account, both the doctrine and its teachers

are held in disesteem by the mere natural man, who is

not duly qualified to judge of and discern them.

It should seem by the apostle’s so often declaring against that vanity, that even that age much admired a style, and ministers in sacred things delivering their minds, not in a mere decent, but in a lofty, high-flown phrase; and that they vilified St. Paul, because his phrase did not so tickle their ears. The apostle had declared against this, 1 Corinthians 1:17; there he called it the wisdom of words; here he calls it an excellency of speech: 1 Corinthians 1:4, the enticing words of man’s wisdom: 1 Corinthians 4:19, the speech of them which are puffed up; puffed up with conceits of their own parts and abilities. St. Paul declares, that this was not his way of preaching, he came to declare to them the gospel, which he calleth the testimony of God: this needed no fine words, and excellent phrase and language, to set it forth.

And I, brethren, when I came to you,.... This account the apostle gives of himself is occasioned, either by what he had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, concerning the choice God has made of the foolish, weak, base, and despicable things of the world, and of his calling them by his grace both to fellowship with the saints in common, and therefore he accommodated his ministry unto them, and in particular to the ministry of the word, of which he himself was a like instance and an example; or else by what he had declared in 1 Corinthians 1:17 of the same chapter, that he was sent to preach the Gospel,

not with wisdom of words; which he here reassumes, and affirms agreeably, that when he first came to Corinth, he

came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom; for though he was not only versed in Jewish learning, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel; but had also a good share of Grecian literature, and was capable, upon proper occasions, to cite the Greek poets, as he does Aratus, Acts 17:28 and Menander, Titus 1:12 and so could, had he thought fit, have adorned his discourses with pompous language, with the flowers of rhetoric, and the eloquence of the Grecians; yet he chose not such a high and florid style, and which savoured so much of human wisdom and art; for the subject he treated of required no such dress, nor any great swelling words of vanity, or a bombast style to set it off, and gain the applause and assent of men: for what he delivered were plain matters of fact, attested by God himself,

declaring unto you the testimony of God; that is, the Gospel, which bears a testimony to the love, grace, and mercy of God, his kindness and good will to the sons of men, in giving and sending his only begotten Son to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them; and in which God bears a testimony of his Son, of his sonship, deity, mediation, incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, of his resurrection, ascension to heaven, session at his right hand, intercession for his people, and his second coming to judgment, and of eternal life and salvation by him. All which being matter of fact, and depending upon the witness of God, which is greater than that of men, needed no art nor oratory of men to recommend it: it was enough in plain words, and easy language, to declare it, with the evidence by which it was supported. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "the mystery" of God: and so the Syriac version , "the mystery of God" one of Stephens's copies reads, "the mystery of Christ"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the testimony of Christ".

And {1} I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the {a} testimony of God.

(1) He returns to 1Co 1:17, that is to say, to his own example: confessing that he did not use among them either excellency of words or enticing speech of man's wisdom, but with great simplicity of speech both knew and preached Jesus Christ crucified, humbled and abject, with regard to the flesh.

(a) The Gospel.

1 Corinthians 2:1. Κἀγώ] I too, as is the duty, in accordance with the previous explanation (1 Corinthians 1:17-31), of every preacher of the gospel. The construction is such, that καθʼ ὑπεροχὴν κ.τ.λ[314] belongs to ΚΑΤΑΓΓ., as indicating the mode adopted in the ΚΑΤΑΓΓΈΛΛΕΙΝ: I too, when I came to you, brethren, came proclaiming to you, not upon the footing of a pre-eminence of speech (eloquence) or wisdom (philosophy), the testimony of God. Against connecting the words it this way (which is done also by Castalio, Bengel, and others, Pott, Heydenreich, Schrader, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald), it is objected that ἐλθὼν ἦλθον gives an intolerable tautology. But this is of no weight (see the passages in Bernhardy, p. 475; Bornemann, a[315] Cyrop. v. 3. 2; Sauppe, a[316] Anab. iv. 2. 21 comp on Acts 7:34), and would, besides, apply to the construction ἮΛΘΟΝ ΟὐΣΟΦΊΑς, ΚΑΤΑΓΓΈΛΛΩΝ (Luther, Erasmus, Calvin, Grotius, and others, including Flatt, Rückert, Hofmann); further, it is more natural and more in accordance with the sense to think in connection with ΚΑΘʼ ὙΠΕΡΟΧῊΝ Κ.Τ.Λ[318] of the manner of the preaching than of the manner of the coming. For that reason, too, ἦλθον is not placed after σοφίας. The preposition κατά, again, to express mode (Winer, p. 375 [E. T. 501]), is quite according to rule; comp καθʼ ὑπερβολήν, κατὰ κράτος, and the like.

As to ὑπεροχή, eminentia, comp 1 Timothy 2:2; Plat. Legg. iv. p. 711 D; Def. 416; Arist. Pol. iv. 9. 5. Also κακῶν ὑπεροχή, 2Ma 13:6.

καταγγέλλων] Paul might have used the future, but the present participle places the thing more vividly before us as already begun with the ἦλθον. So especially often ἀγγέλλων (Valck. a[321] Phoen. 1082); e.g. Xen. Hell. ii. 1. 29: ἐς τὰς Ἀθήνας ἔπλευσεν, ἀγγέλλουσα τὰ γεγονότα, Plat. Phaed. p. 116 C, and Stallbaum in loc[322] See, in general, Winer, p. 320 f. [E. T. 429 f.]; Dissen, a[323] Pindar. Ol. vii. 14.

τὸ μαρτύρ. τοῦ Θεοῦ] in substance not different from τ. μαρτ. τ. Χριστοῦ, 1 Corinthians 1:6; 2 Timothy 1:8. For the preachers of the gospel give testimony of God, as to what He has done, namely, in Christ for the salvation of men. Comp 1 Corinthians 15:15. In accordance with 1 Corinthians 1:6, the genitive is not, with Calvin, Bengel, Osiander, and Hofmann, to be taken subjectively, as in 1 John 5:9 f.

[314] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[315] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[316] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[318] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[321] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[322] n loc. refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

[323] d refers to the note of the commentator or editor named on the particular passage.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Application of the foregoing section (1 Corinthians 1:17-31) to the manner in which Paul had come forward as a teacher in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5. § 6. PAUL’S CORINTHIAN MISSION, Paul has justified his refusing to preach ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου on two grounds: (1) the nature of the Gospel, (2) the constituency of the Church of Cor[287]; it was no philosophy, and they were no philosophers. This refusal he continues to make, in pursuance of the course adopted from the outset. So he returns to his starting-point, viz., that “Christ sent” him “to bring good tidings,” such as neither required nor admitted of “wisdom of word” (1 Corinthians 1:17).

[287] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

Ch. 2. The wisdom of the Gospel discernible by the spiritual faculties alone

1. And I, brethren, when I came to you] The Apostle now begins to justify his preaching. It was not that of one skilled in the fashionable argumentation of the day, and that for the reasons already set forth.

the testimony of God] St Paul’s testimony concerning God; the witness he gave to His combined love and justice, manifested to the world in the Life and Death of Jesus Christ. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:6.

1 Corinthians 2:1. Κᾀγω, and I) The apostle shows, that he was a suitable instrument in carrying out the counsel and election of God.—οὐ) This word is not construed with ἦλθον, but with the words that follow.—λόγου ἢ σοφίας, of speech or of wisdom) Speech follows wisdom, a sublime discourse [follows] a sublime subject.—καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μαρτύριον, declaring [announcing] unto you the testimony) Holy men do not so much testify, as declare the testimony, which God gives.—τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Θεοῦ, the testimony of God) in itself most wise and powerful. The correlative is, faith, 1 Corinthians 2:5.

Verses 1-5. - St. Paul's own method. Verse 1. - And I; "I too;" I in accordance with God's method. When I came to you. The date of his first visit was in A.D. , and he had stayed a year and a half (Acts 18:11). He had since been (roughly speaking) "three years" (τριετίαν, Acts 20:31) at Ephesus. Of speech or of wisdom. I spoke to you neither oratorically nor philosophically. Hence the Apollos party, fond of the brilliant rhetoric of the young Alexandrian, spoke of Paul's speech as "contemptible" (2 Corinthians 10:10). The testimony of God; that is, the witness borne to Christ by the Father (1 John 5:10, 11). 1 Corinthians 2:1With excellency (καθ ὑπεροχὴν)

Lit., according to elevation or superiority. The noun occurs only here and 1 Timothy 2:2, where it is rendered authority. The phrase expresses the mode of his preaching. For similar adverbial phrases, see καθ ὑπερβολήν exceedingly or according to excess, Romans 8:13; κατὰ κράτος mightily or according to might, Acts 19:20. Construe with declaring.

Declaring (καταγγέλλων)

Rev., proclaiming. See on 1 John 1:5; see on Acts 17:23. Authoritative proclamation is implied. The word is found only in the Acts and in Paul.

Testimony (μαρτύριον)

Some of the best texts read μυστήριον mystery. So Rev. See on Romans 11:25.

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