1 Corinthians 2:4
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
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(4) And my speech.—The result which necessarily followed from this weakness and trembling was that neither his “speech” (i.e., the style of his teaching), nor his “preaching” (i.e., the subject-matter of his teaching) were of such a kind as to appeal to the natural tastes of the Corinthians.

Demonstration of the Spirit.—The Apostle’s demonstration of the truth of the gospel was the result of no human art or skill, but came from the Spirit and power of God, and therefore the Corinthians could glory in no human teacher, but only in the power of God, which was the true source of the success of the gospel amongst them.

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 my speech - The word "speech" here - if it is to be distinguished from "preaching" - refers, perhaps, to his more private reasonings; his preaching to his public discourses.

Not with enticing words - Not with the persuasive reasonings (πειθοῖς λόγοις peithois logois) of the wisdom of men. Not with that kind of oratory that was adapted to captivate and charm; and which the Greeks so much esteemed.

But in demonstration - In the showing ἀποδείξει apodeixei; or in the testimony or evidence which the Spirit produced. The meaning is, that the Spirit furnished the evidence of the divine origin of the religion which he preached, and that it did not depend for its proof on his own reasonings or eloquence. The proof, the demonstration which the Spirit furnished was, undoubtedly, the miracles which were performed; the gift of tongues; and the remarkable conversions which attended the gospel - The word "Spirit" here refers, doubtless, to the Holy Spirit; and Paul says that this Spirit had furnished demonstration of the divine origin and nature of the gospel. This had been by the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 1:5-7. Compare 1 Corinthians 14), and by the effects of his agency in renewing and sanctifying the heart.

And of power - That is, of the power of God 1 Corinthians 2:5; the divine power and efficacy which attended the preaching of the gospel there. Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:5 - The effect of the gospel is the evidence to which the apostle appeals for its truth. That effect was seen:

(1) In the conversion of sinners to God of all classes, ages, and conditions, when all human means of reforming them was vain.

(2) in its giving them peace, joy, and happiness; and in its transforming their lives.

(3) in making them different people - in making the drunkard sober; the thief honest; the licentious pure; the profane reverent; the indolent industrious; the harsh and unkind, gentle and kind; and the wretched happy.

(4) in its diffusing a mild and pure influence over the laws and customs of society; and in promoting human happiness everywhere - And in regard to this evidence to which the apostle appeals, we may observe:

(1) That is a kind of evidence which anyone may examine, and which no one can deny. It does not need labored, abstruse argumentation, but it is everywhere in society. Every man has witnessed the effects of the gospel in reforming the vicious, and no one can deny that it has this power.

(2) it is a mighty display of the power of God. There is no more striking exhibition of his power over mind than in a revival of religion. There is no where more manifest demonstration of his presence than when, in such a revival, the proud are humbled, the profane are awed, the blasphemer is silenced, and the profligate, the abandoned, and the moral are converted unto God, and are led as lost sinners to the same cross, and find the same peace.

(3) the gospel has thus evidenced from age to age that it is from God. Every converted sinner furnishes such a demonstration; and every instance where it produces peace, hope, joy, shows that it is from heaven.

4. my speech—in private.

preaching—in public [Bengel]. Alford explains it, My discourse on doctrines, and my preaching or announcement of facts.

enticing—rather, "persuasive."

man's wisdom—man's is omitted in the oldest authorities. Still "wisdom" does refer to "man's" wisdom.

in demonstration of … Spirit, &c.—Persuasion is man's means of moving his fellow man. God's means is demonstration, leaving no doubt, and inspiring implicit faith, by the powerful working of the Spirit (then exhibited both outwardly by miracles, and inwardly by working on the heart, now in the latter and the more important way only, Mt 7:29; Ac 6:10; Heb 4:12; compare also Ro 15:19). The same simple power accompanies divine truth now, producing certain persuasion and conversion, when the Spirit demonstrates by it.

Either here Paul’s speech and preaching signify the same thing, (expressed by two words), or else speech referreth to his more private conferences and discourses with them, and preaching signifieth the more public acts of his ministry; neither of them was

with the persuasive or enticing words of man’s wisdom. What these persuasive words of man’s wisdom are, will quickly appear to any that considers there are but two human arts that pretend to any thing of persuading; rhetoric, and logic, or the art of reasoning. Rhetoric persuadeth more weakly, working more upon the affections than upon the understanding and judgment. Logic, or the art of reasoning, more strongly, working upon the understanding and judgment, and teaching men to conclude from connate natural principles. Now, saith Paul, my preaching was neither of these ways, I neither studied neat and fine words and phrases, nor did I make it my work to demonstrate gospel propositions to you from principles of natural reason.

Object. Ought not then ministers now to use such words?

Answer. A learned popish writer saith, that "at that time it was the will of God that his ministers should use plain speech; but it is otherwise now; the using of words studiously composed and ordered, being now the ordinary way to persuade others." But:

1. After this rate any thing of the will of God may be evaded; it is but saying, that it was the will of God indeed then, but not now.

2. The thing is false. It was then, as much as now, the ordinary way of persuading to use rhetorical phrases and rational demonstrations.

3. Although now this be the ordinary method of persuading men of learning and capacities, yet for the generality of people it is not so.

4. The apostle’s reason holds now as much as ever. It is the way to make Christians’ faith stand in the wisdom of men, not in the power of God.

Object. Ought then ministers to use no study, but talk whatever comes at their tongue’s end, and to use no reason to prove what they say?

Answer. By no means.

1. It is one thing to study matter, another thing to study words.

2. Nay, it is one thing to study a decency in words, another to study a gaudery of phrase. It is an old and true saying, Verba sequuntur res: Words will follow matter, if the preacher be but of ordinary parts. In the study of words we have but two things to attend:

(1) That we speak intelligibly, so as all the people may understand.

(2) That we speak gravely and decently. All other study of words and phrases in a divine is but folly and vanity.

3. We ought to use our reason in our preaching; but reason works two ways:

(1) Either making conclusions from natural and philosophical principles;

(2) Or, from Scriptural principles. We ought to study to conclude as strongly as we can what we say from principles of revelation, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, but not from all natural and philosophical principles; for so we shall conclude, there is no Trinity in the Unity of the Divine Being, because, according to natural principles, three cannot be one, nor one three; and against the resurrection, because there can be no regress from a privation to a habit, &c.

4. Again, it is one thing to use our natural reason, ex abundanti, as an auxiliary help to illustrate and confirm what is first confirmed by Divine revelation; another thing to use it as a foundation upon which we build a spiritual conclusion, or as the main proof of it. Paul’s preaching was in words intelligible to his hearers, and decent enough, and with reason enough, but not concluding upon natural principles, nor making any proofs of that nature the foundation upon which he built his gospel conclusions.

But in demonstration of the Spirit; by which Grotius and some others understand miracles, by which the doctrine of the gospel was at first confirmed; but Vorstius and many others better understand by it the Holy Ghost’s powerful and inward persuasion of men’s minds, of the truth of what was preached by Paul. All ministers’ preaching makes propositions of gospel truth appear no more than probable; the Spirit only demonstrates them, working in souls such a persuasion and confirmation of the truth of them, as the soul can no longer deny or dispute, or withstand the conviction of them.

And of power: by this term also some understand the power of working miracles; but it is much better by others interpreted of that authority, which the word of God preached by Paul had, and preached by faithful ministers still hath, upon the souls and consciences of those that hear it. As it is said, Matthew 7:29, Christ taught them as one having authority. And it is said of Stephen, Acts 6:10, They were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. So the gospel preached by Paul came to people, not in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance, 1 Thessalonians 1:5: and was quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, Hebrews 4:12. And thus every faithful minister, with whose labours God goeth along in the conversion of souls, yet preacheth in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Nor indeed call those miracles, by which Christ and his apostles confirmed the truth of the doctrine of the gospel, though they were a mighty proof, be, in any propriety of speech, called a demonstration; which, properly, is a proof in which the mind fully acquiesceth, so that it no longer denieth or disputeth the thing so proved, but gives a firm and full assent to it: the miracles wrought by Christ himself never had that effect; the Pharisees and the generality of the Jews believed not that Christ was the true Messiah and the Son of God, not withstanding his miracles. Nothing but the inward powerful impression of the Spirit of God, persuading the heart of the truth of gospel principles, can possibly amount to a demonstration, bringing the minds of men, though never so judicious and prepared, to a certainty of the thing revealed, and a rest, so as they can no longer deny, resist, dispute, or contradict it. With this Paul’s preaching was attended, not to every individual person to whom he preached, but to many, even as many as should be saved: he delivered the doctrine of the gospel freely, plainly, and boldly, not resting upon the force of his rhetoric and persuasive words, nor yet upon the natural force of his reasoning and argumentation; but leaving the demonstration and evidencing of the truth of what he said to the powerful internal impression and persuasion of the holy and blessed Spirit of God, who worketh powerfully.

And my speech, and my preaching,.... As he determined, so he acted. As the subject matter of his ministry was not any of the liberal arts and sciences, or the philosophy and dry morality of the Gentiles, but salvation by a crucified Christ; so his style, his diction, his language used in preaching,

was not with enticing words of man's wisdom; with technical words, words of art, contrived by human wisdom to captivate the affections; and with bare probable arguments only, a show of reason to persuade the mind to an assent, when nothing solid and substantial is advanced, only a run of words artfully put together, without any strength of argument in them; a method used by the false teachers, and which the apostle here strikes at, and tacitly condemns:

but in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power; partly by making use of solid proofs out of the writings of the Old Testament, indited by the Spirit of God, and which amounted to a demonstration of the truths he delivered; and partly by signs, and wonders, and miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, those extraordinary instances of divine power, which greatly confirmed the doctrines he preached: and besides all these, the Spirit of God wonderfully assisted him in his work, both as to words and matter; directing him, what to say, and in what form, in words, not which human wisdom taught, but which the Holy Ghost taught; and accompanying his ministry with his power, to the conversion, comfort, edification, and salvation of many.

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, {2} but in {d} demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

(2) He turns now to the commendation of his ministry, which he had granted to his adversaries: for his strength and power, which they knew well enough, was so much the more excellent because it had no worldly help behind it.

(d) By demonstration he means such a proof as is made by reasons both certain and necessary.

1 Corinthians 2:4. “And my word and my message:” λόγος recalls 1 Corinthians 1:18; κήρυγμα, 1 Corinthians 1:21; 1 Corinthians 1:23 (see notes). The former includes all that Paul says in proclaiming the Gospel, the latter the specific announcement of God’s will and call therein.

οὐκ ἐκ πιθοῖς σοφίας λόγοις, “not in persuasive words of wisdom”: the adj[308] πιθός (= πιθανός, see txtl. note), from πείθομαι, analogous to φιδός from φείδομαι. “Words of wisdom,” substantially = “wisdom of word” (1 Corinthians 1:17); that expression accentuating the matter, this the manner of teaching—“exquisita eloquutio, quæ artificio magis quam veritate nitatur et pugnet” (Cv[309]). For the unfavourable nuance of πιθός, see Colossians 2:4 (πιθανολογία), also Galatians 1:10, Matthew 28:14. Eusebius excellently paraphrases (Praep. Ev[310], i., 3), τὰς μὲν ἀπατη λὰς κ. σοφιστικὰς πιθανολογίας παραιτούμενος). “With a contemptuous touch of irony that reminds one of Socrates in the Gorgias and Apology [cf. Ev[311], as previously cited, on τὶ εἰδέναι, he disclaims all skill in rhetoric, the spurious art of persuading without instructing, held nevertheless in high repute in Cor[312] But when the Ap. speaks of the demonstration of the Spirit, he soars into a region of which Socrates knew nothing. Socr. sets σοφία against πειθώ; the Ap. regards both as being on well-nigh a common level, from the higher altitude of the Spirit” (Ed[313]); since the time of Socrates, however, Philosophy had sunk into a πιθανολογία.—ἀπόδειξις, “the technical term for a proof drawn from facts or documents, as opposed to theoretical reasoning; in common use with the Stoics in this sense” (Hn[314]); see Plato, Theæt., 162 E, and Arist., Eth. Nic., i., 1; ii., 4, for the like antithesis (Ed[315]).

[308] adjective.

[309] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[310] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[311] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[312] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[313] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

[314] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[315] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

ἀποδ. πνεύματος καὶ σοφίας gathers up the force of the δύναμιν Θεοῦ of 1 Corinthians 1:24, and ἐγένετο σοφία f1κ.τ.λ. of 1 Corinthians 1:30 (see notes); the proof of the Gospel at Cor[316] was experimental and ethical, found in the new consciousness and changed lives that attended its proclamation: cf. 1 Corinthians 6:11, 1 Corinthians 9:1, 2 Corinthians 3:1 ff., 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (λόγος Θεοῦ, ὃς κ. ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τ. πιστεύουσιν).—πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως are not objective gen[317] (in ostendendo Spiritum, etc.), but subjective: the Spirit, with His power, gives the demonstration (similarly in 1 Corinthians 12:7, see note); cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:12, 2 Corinthians 3:3-18, Romans 8:16; Romans 15:19, for Paul’s thoughts on the testimonium Spiritus sancti; also John 15:26, 1 John 5:6 f.—Δύναμις, specially associated with Πνεῦμα after Luke 24:49 (see reff. for P.), is certainly the spiritual power that operates as implied in 1 Corinthians 1:30, 1 Corinthians 6:11, but not to the exclusion of the supernatural physical “powers” which accompanied Apostolic preaching (see note on ἐβεβαιώθη, 1 Corinthians 1:6; also 1 Corinthians 12:1; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, And the combination of Romans 15:17 ff.): “latius accipio, nempe pro manu Dei potente omnibus modis per apostolum se exserente” (Cv[318]). The art[319] is wanting with πνεύματος, though personal, after the anarthrous ἀποδείξει, according to “the law of correlation” (Wr[320], p. 175: contrast this with 1 Corinthians 12:7, also the double art[321] of 1 with the anarthrous phrase of 1 Corinthians 1:18). The prpl[322] clause affirms not the agency by which, but the sphere of action in which, Paul’s word operated.

[316] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[317] genitive case.

[318] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[319] grammatical article.

[320] Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[321] grammatical article.

[322]rpl. prepositional.

Supply to this verse ἐγένετο from the ἐγενόμην of 1 Corinthians 2:3.

4. in demonstration of the Spirit and of power] Not persuasive (πειθοῖς) arguments, but appeals to the conscience and to the influence of a higher power. It is doubtful whether we should translate ‘the Spirit’ here, as though the Holy Spirit were meant, and more than doubtful whether we should interpret ‘power’ of miracles as generally understood. The Apostle is perhaps rather referring to that conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment (St John 16:8), which the Spirit of God produces in the spirit of man, and of the power to produce a change of heart and life which is the leading characteristic of the gospel. This view seems confirmed by the next verse, in which St Paul says that the ground of our faith is not the wisdom of men, but the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4. Λόγος, speech) in private.—κήρυγμα, preaching) in public.—πειθοῖς) enticing, a very appropriate term, to which the antithesis is in demonstration. Didymus quotes this passage, Lib. 2 de Spir. S. Jerome translates πειθοῖς λόγοις, with persuasions,[18] so that there should be an apposition, πειθοῖς λόγοις [πειθοῖς being regarded as a noun]. It comes in this view from πειθὼ, to which πειθή is a kindred form. Hesychius has πειθή, πεισμονὴ, πίστις.—σοφίας, of wisdom) He explains in the following verses, what the wisdom is, of which the speeches and arguments are to be set aside.

[18] Cod. Amiat. of Vulg. reads “persuasione verbi.” Other old MSS. “persuasibilibus verbis.”—ED.

Verse 4. - My speech and my preaching; the form and matter of my discourse. He would not attempt to use the keen sword of philosophical dialectics or human eloquence, but would only use the weapon of the cross. Was not with enticing words of man's wisdom; rather, with persuasive words of wisdom (the word anthropines is a gloss). This simplicity was the more remarkable because "Corinthian words" was a proverb for choice, elaborate, and glittering phrases (Wetstein). It is not improbable that the almost total and deeply discouraging want of success of St. Paul in preaching at Athens had impressed him mere strongly with the uselessness of attempting to fight Greek philosophers with their own blunt and imperfect weapons. In demonstration of the Spirit and of power. So he says to the Thessalonians," Our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance." The plain facts, so repellent to the natural intellect, were driven home with matchless force by spiritual conviction. The only heathen critic who has mentioned St. Paul's method is Longinus, the author of the treatise on 'The Sublime and Beautiful,' who calls him "a master of unproved dogma," meaning apparently that his force lay in the irresistible statement of the facts which he came to preach. 1 Corinthians 2:4In demonstration (ἐν ἀποδείξει)

Only here in the New Testament. Lit., a showing forth.

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