Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 2:4

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And my speech - Ὁ λογος μου, My doctrine; the matter of my preaching.

And my preaching - Το κηρυγμα μου, My proclamation, my manner of recommending the grand but simple truths of the Gospel.

Was not with enticing words of man's wisdom - Ενπειθοις ανθρωπινης σοφιας λογοις, With persuasive doctrines of human wisdom: in every case I left man out, that God might become the more evident. I used none of the means of which great orators avail themselves in order to become popular, and thereby to gain fame.

But in demonstration of the Spirit - Αποδειξει, In the manifestation; or, as two ancient MSS. have it, αποκαλυψει, in the revelation of the Spirit. The doctrine that he preached was revealed by the Spirit: that it was a revelation of the Spirit, the holiness, purity, and usefulness of the doctrine rendered manifest: and the overthrow of idolatry, and the conversion of souls, by the power and energy of the preaching, were the demonstration that all was Divine. The greater part of the best MSS., versions, and fathers, leave out the adjective ανθρωπινης, man's, before σοφιας, wisdom: it is possible that the word may be a gloss, but it is necessarily implied in the clause. Not with the persuasive discourses, or doctrines of wisdom; i.e. of human philosophy.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 apodeixeior 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 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 127

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 128.1

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 270

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 270.3

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Ellen G. White
The Ministry of Healing, 214-5

The experience of the apostle Paul in meeting the philosophers of Athens has a lesson for us. In presenting the gospel before the court of the Areopagus, Paul met logic with logic, science with science, philosophy with philosophy. The wisest of his hearers were astonished and silenced. His words could not be controverted. But the effort bore little fruit. Few were led to accept the gospel. Henceforth Paul adopted a different manner of labor. He avoided elaborate arguments and discussion of theories, and in simplicity pointed men and women to Christ as the Saviour of sinners. Writing to the Corinthians of his work among them, he said: MH 214.1

“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 anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.... My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. MH 214.2

Again, in his letter to the Romans, he says: MH 215.1

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