1 Corinthians 2:1-8

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.
Excellency - Superiority
The Corinthians as Greeks were used to people coming to them with worldly wisdom but Paul would not come to them that way, thus keeping the message of the cross simple. If one reads philosophy books, you will find a plethora of large words which only someone with a graduate degree would understand. You will also find words which are peculiar to certain disciplines. This type of superior speech makes the person who can interpret them, some type of extraordinary individual with a great mind. Once they have that moniker, they become an icon. Even in Christianity, there are those who use such large words to elevate their status above others. Paul is saying here that he will not use that type of speech nor will he come with any kind of wisdom of this world to try and convey the Gospel. He chooses to use plain speech so anyone can understand it. Those who exalt themselves with a high vocabulary ought to shame themselves because they are hiding the Gospel from the unlearned and that is nothing but pride. (Prov 17:27 KJV) He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:2
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Determined = “Krino” Judge
All the wisdom of the sages of Greece could not add one bit to the salvation plan of God nor could their philosophical theories bring them to Christ. Man comes to know Christ only through revelation. (Luke 10:22 KJV) All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him. Even the most eloquent preachers today cannot add anything to the Gospel message. (Gal 2:5-6 KJV) To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. {6} But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: The message of the Gospel needs to be in plain and understandable language. It does no good for either the preacher or the hearer to speak with words that are not understood. Once the preacher gets passed the language barrier, he needs to trim his message by keeping it Christ centered. Too many sermons do an end around run from biblical truth, but we expect that from the blind and the dead preachers. Paul wants those who bring the Gospel to have a message that is Christ centered and must contain the elements of the sacrifice of Christ, so those hearing will realize that it is only through Christ and what He did on Calvary will bring a person to salvation. Paul wanted to eclipse any idea of people thinking that Christianity was another philosophy. Philosophy was of the mind of man, while salvation was from the act of God. (Jonah 2:9 KJV) But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.
1 Corinthians 2:3
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
Weakness - Weak or in need probably
Trembling - quivering as one who feared failure
The weakness that Paul was mentioning may have been saying that he was inadequate in himself for such a task. This is the reality that if God calls us to do a job, He will empower us and we will never have to worry about tackling the job alone. Paul probably felt weak and he also feared as one may fear of failing in his mission. He was also trembling in this assignment, probably with the knowledge that he had many enemies as well as the needs of the church being placed upon him. Paul had a love for the churches and regardless of how many threats he received, he knew that God was with him. Yet in his humanity, he had fears as all of us do. We as Christians believe but our fears indicate temporary pockets of unbelief, which does not necessarily rule our life on a steady basis. (Mark 9:24 KJV) And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
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:
Speech - Word
Enticing - persuasive as if selling or marketing a product
Man’s wisdom - worldly reasoning
Demonstration - Greek word used only once in NT meaning proof or pointing out
Paul is telling his hearers that he did not dress up his presentation to impress anyone. He did not use any enticing words as if he was trying to sell some product. He also did not use any of the worldly wisdom which would have been prevalent in that time since Greek Philosophy would have been very familiar to his hearers. This is why Paul was emphasizing the fact of language, because language usage was very important. In philosophy language usage could engender more questions and more dead ends in understanding. Paul is noting the fact that his speech was plain and that there was no misunderstanding as to the essence of the Gospel. It was not shrouded in worldly wisdom. The plainness of speech also showed that the words were from the Holy Spirit and the power of God was behind those words which allowed those who were Elect to be able to understand. (Luke 24:45 KJV) Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, It is the Holy Spirit who opens up the understanding of His people. The proof of Paul’s message was those who were Elect understood in clarity while those who were still steeped in worldly ways were confused by all the philosophical rhetoric. When we present the Gospel to others, we are never to mimic the world’s ways of speech. We are to present the Gospel in the simplest terms possible. No amount of enticing speech will ever bring anyone into the Kingdom, it is only by the Grace of God that someone enters and that Grace is applied only to the Elect.
1 Corinthians 2:5
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
If the faith of Christians stood on something worldly like philosophy or reason, then there would be no solid foundation. All the works of man whether religion or philosophy, are all built upon sand. The word “stand” may also be understood as “might be.” Paul is counseling these Christians that their faith might not be in the wisdom of men. Unfortunately, that situation exists widely today. Many place their faith in what pastors or theologians say. In a place like Corinth which was a busy seaport, there would have been many different religions and philosophies which would sound solid enough to rest one’s faith on. Paul is making sure that these Christians would be able to discern between the failed worldly philosophies which have no ability to save and maintain a person, and the grace and power of God which has the ability to both save and keep the Christian. The Bible teaches very plainly that we cannot build any type of lasting foundation on anything worldly. (1 Cor 3:11 KJV) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only foundation which the Christian eternally builds on. (Psa 11:3 KJV) If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? The Lord Jesus can never be destroyed but it is possible to take the teachings about Him so watered down, that it can make Him look like just another religious leader with a religion to offer superstitious man. Normally the teachings about Christ are watered down through worldly teachings which utilize the failed art of intellectualism to neuter the truth of Scripture. Unfortunately this is happening at an alarming rate. Religion is the wisdom of man combined with a respectable element of evil.
1 Corinthians 2:6
Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
Perfect - Mature or complete
Paul is continuing his thought from verse five, saying that even though there are those at Corinth who still refuse to build upon the spiritual truths of Scripture and who are not walking in the Spirit because they choose to remain babes, he is going to speak the wisdom to those who are saved and to those who have shown a growth in the faith. Paul is not focusing on those who choose not to grow, he focuses on those with the propensity for growth. One of the problems we face in secular society is that billions of dollars are poured into programs to help the indolent poor and those who are habitual drug users. If these people choose to throw their lives away, let them, why don’t we spend some of those billions on people who don’t use drugs and who have the propensity to learn and make something out of their life? Wouldn’t that be a better investment than giving money to people who spend it on drugs and alcohol? This is the principle Paul is laying down. If there are those in your church who show no desire to grow, bypass them, and focus on those who have a sincere desire to grow in the faith because these are the people who will be the leaders in the next generation. I remember many years ago when I was an Elder at the Hungarian Reformed Church. We had a meeting and the subject was brought up on how to get people to come to church. A few names were brought up and the suggestion was made to make some of the absentee people Elders. Can you imagine, to take a person who does not come to church and promote them to the Biblical office of Elder?
Paul once again reiterates that he is not speaking to these Christians with the wisdom of the world but he is speaking to them of the wisdom of God. Many probably did not understand what was being said because they were babes and chose to remain that way. He states plainly that the wisdom of this world, even of those who are in authority, on which many people rely, will come to nothing. The words “come to nought” carries with it the meaning of “abolish or destroyed.” The wisdom of this world is a doomed wisdom.
1 Corinthians 2:7
(A) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, (B) even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained (C) before the world unto our glory:
A. In the first part of this verse, we see that it is something only for Christians. The words “in a mystery” is a mystery to those who are unsaved. The 1537 Matthews Edition states it this way “which is in secret.” A mystery is anything which is hidden or unrevealed. The great mystery of the Gospel has been hidden in ages past and will continue to be hidden from the unbelievers until the last day. God has revealed that great mystery to those whom He has saved.
(Luke 10:22 KJV) All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.
(Gal 1:15-16 KJV) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, {16} To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
(Eph 3:8-9 KJV) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; {9} And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
In Ephesians 3:9 we see that God is going to show the mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ to all His elect. That verse is not teaching that every human being is going to see the mystery, only the Elect of God whom He reveals it to. In Ephesians 3:9, the words “make see” carries with it the meaning of “reveal or bring to light.” Only those whom God saves will have the light of the Gospel revealed to them.
B. In the second part of the verse, the first part is well confirmed. The word “ordained” is the Greek word for “predestinate” which is a biblical doctrine within salvation. God predestinates those whom He is going to save and simultaneously, He also predestinates the wisdom that those same Christians are going to receive. So we plainly see that anybody, anywhere at anytime cannot just “accept the Lord” based on revealed wisdom intellectually assessed. As God predestines people to salvation, He opens their mind with the predestinated wisdom which is freely given to His Elect and hidden from the world.
C. In the third part of this verse we learn when God ordained that wisdom. He ordained this wisdom before the foundations of the world, the same time that He predestined the Believer who was to be the recipient of that hidden wisdom. He ordained the gospel to predestinate His elect before the foundations of the world. What a powerful biblical truth is revealed to us here.
(Eph 1:4 KJV) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
(2 Tim 1:9 KJV) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,
(Titus 1:2 KJV) In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;
1 Corinthians 2:8
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Known - Understanding or comprehension
Lord of Glory - Psalm 24:7-10
Man’s lack of divine understanding which was exchanged for human understanding led to the hatred and crucifixion of Christ.
(Rom 1:22 KJV) Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, (Rom 1:25 KJV) Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
This is an interesting verse which shows us that if God had revealed to everyone the hidden truths of Scripture, as He does to His Elect, then those rulers in Jerusalem would have received that knowledge and would have known that Christ was who He said He was. Since these men were denied divine truth, they leaned on their own human understanding and saw Christ as a threat to their now extinct kingdoms and acting upon that worldly knowledge of greed and jealousy, they crucified Christ according to the plan of God. They meant it for evil but God meant it for good. (Gen 50:20 KJV) But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Isn’t it something, how way back in Genesis, God already prophesied the attitude of the religious leaders which Christ faced by the attitude that Joseph encountered from his brothers. Through human understanding they crucified Christ and that same human understanding continues today with continued attacks on Christianity. If the unbeliever truly knew who they were challenging, they would repent of it at once.