World English Bible translation
2:1When I came to you, brothers, I didn't come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 2:4 My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 2:5 that your faith wouldn't stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Paul has written to the Corinthians that he did not come to them with the wisdom of words. He reminded them that God uses the foolish things of the world to rebuke the wise. He uses the weak things to shame the strong and the lowly to bring down the mighty. But so far, Paul has mostly coached his argument in the negative. In Today's Scripture Paul gives us the positive side. Today he tells us what he did use as opposed to what he didn't.
"For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Here is a very powerful statement by Paul. He has already said something similar in chapter 1 verse 23: "but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks." Paul repeats his thought here, and repetition is very important with Paul. What Paul repeats, Paul wants emphasized!
We can say the crucified Christ is the center of the Christian experience. Paul would push us even further. The crucified Christ is the totality of the Christian experience. There is nothing else. Everything we believe, ever blessing we receive from God, emanates from the crucified Christ.
And the converse is true. Every error of doctrine and every erroneous belief begins when something else attempts to supplant Christ as our life. No belief or doctrine can become larger or more central than Christ. Jesus was crucified. God accepted his death as a sacrifice of atonement for our sin. Through His death we are invited into everlasting life. Christ was raised from the dead and lives among us and in us and through us. Everything we have and everything we are flows from this one thought.
So to Paul it is very important that the Corinthians not be swayed or convinced by the persuasiveness of his speech. He wants them to believe in the power that God expressed in the world through Jesus Christ, not in what Paul is doing. That's why Paul tells them that his preaching was a demonstration of the power of the Spirit of God. Paul wanted their faith to be in God, not in the messenger that God sent.
Paul goes into such an elaborate argument because this goes to the heart to the problem in Corinth. The Corinthians have put many things before Christ crucified. The Corinthians are still working under the Greek philosophy that wisdom is the highest goal. The Corinthians want to be thought of as wise and intelligent. When they divide up into groups, one group following Paul and another group following Apollos for example, each group thinks they are wiser than the other. Each group wants to be right and so they become further entrenched in their philosophies. The disputes, the differences, become the focal point of their lives. In this way, Christ crucified is supplanted with something much less, something that has no power to save.
And we do the same thing today. Every day we fill up our lives with things other than Christ. Sometimes it is church, sometimes it is family and sometimes it is a more personal aspect of our lives that may even be self-destructive. In any case, anytime something becomes more important to our lives than Christ crucified, we are off the track. Anytime Christ is not everything, we are less than God has meant us to be. Only when we know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, do we live as God means us to live.
How has Jesus Christ affected your life today?
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