When I came to you - Acting suitably to my mission, which was to preach the Gospel, but not with human eloquence, 1 Corinthians 1:17. I declared to you the testimony, the Gospel, of God, not with excellency of speech, not with arts of rhetoric, used by your own philosophers, where the excellence of the speech recommends the matter, and compensates for the want of solidity and truth: on the contrary, the testimony concerning Christ and his salvation is so supremely excellent, as to dignify any kind of language by which it may be conveyed. See the Introduction, Section 2.
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. Acts 18:1 ff.
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.”
The Jewish Temple was built of hewn stones quarried out of the mountains, and every stone was fitted for its place in the Temple, hewed, polished and tested, before it was brought to Jerusalem. And when all were brought to the ground, the building went together without the sound of an ax or hammer. This building represents God's spiritual temple, which is composed of material gathered out of every nation and tongue and people, of all grades, high and low, rich and poor, learned and ignorant. These are not dead substances, to be fitted by hammer and chisel. They are living stones quarried out from the world by the truth, and the great Master Builder, the Lord of the temple, is now hewing and polishing them and fitting them for their respective places in the spiritual temple. When completed, this temple will be perfect in all its parts, the admiration of angels and of men, for its builder and maker is God. Truly, those who are to compose this glorious building are “called to be saints.”32 TMK 151.5Read in context »
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling” [1 Corinthians 2:1-3]. VSS 323.1Read in context »
As he pondered these things in his heart, Paul understood more and more clearly the meaning of his call “to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:1. His call had come, “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” Galatians 1:1. The greatness of the work before him led him to give much study to the Holy Scriptures, in order that he might preach the gospel “not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect,” “but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” that the faith of all who heard “should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:17; 2:4, 5. AA 127.1
As Paul searched the Scriptures, he learned that throughout the ages “not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. And so, viewing the wisdom of the world in the light of the cross, Paul “determined not to know anything, ... save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2. AA 127.2
Throughout his later ministry, Paul never lost sight of the Source of his wisdom and strength. Hear him, years afterward, still declaring, “For to me to live is Christ.” Philippians 1:21. And again: “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, ... that I may win Christ, and be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings.” Philippians 3:8-10. AA 128.1Read in context »
While in Ephesus, Apollos “began to speak boldly in the synagogue.” Among his hearers were Aquila and Priscilla, who, perceiving that he had not yet received the full light of the gospel, “took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.” Through their teaching he obtained a clearer understanding of the Scriptures and became one of the ablest advocates of the Christian faith. AA 270.1
Apollos was desirous of going on into Achaia, and the brethren at Ephesus “wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him” as a teacher in full harmony with the church of Christ. He went to Corinth, where, in public labor and from house to house, “he mightily convinced the Jews, ... showing by the Scriptures that Jesus was Christ.” Paul had planted the seed of truth; Apollos now watered it. The success that attended Apollos in preaching the gospel led some of the believers to exalt his labors above those of Paul. This comparison of man with man brought into the church a party spirit that threatened to hinder greatly the progress of the gospel. AA 270.2
During the year and a half that Paul had spent in Corinth, he had purposely presented the gospel in its simplicity. “Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom” had he come to the Corinthians; but with fear and trembling, and “in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,” had he declared “the testimony of God,” that their “faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4, 5. AA 270.3Read in context »