Main point summary
Paul did everything in his Corinthian ministry so that the church would rely on the power of God (and the crucified Christ).
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
And I, when I came to you, brothers, 1 x did not come proclaiming to you y the testimony 2 of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
Κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί,
And when I came to you, brothers,
ἦλθον οὐ καθʼ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας
I did not come with superiority of speech or wisdom
καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μυστήριον τοῦ θεοῦ.
while preaching the mystery of God to you.
For I decided to know nothing among you except z Jesus Christ and him crucified.
οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινά τι εἰδέναι ἐν ὑμῖν
For Ι decided against knowing anything among you
εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστὸν
except [to know only] Jesus Christ
καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον.
and [to know] [Christ] crucified.
And a I was with you b in weakness and in fear and much trembling,
κἀγὼ ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ
And I in weakness
καὶ ἐν φόβῳ
and in fear
καὶ ἐν τρόμῳ πολλῷ
and with intense trembling
ἐγενόμην πρὸς ὑμᾶς,
[it was in that state that] I came to you,
and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of c the Spirit and of power,
καὶ ὁ λόγος μου καὶ τὸ κήρυγμά μου οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ[ς] σοφίας [λόγοις]
and my message and my proclamation were not in persuasive words of wisdom
ἀλλʼ ἐν ἀποδείξει πνεύματος καὶ δυνάμεως,
but they were in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men 1 but d in the power of God.
ἵνα ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν μὴ ᾖ ἐν σοφίᾳ ἀνθρώπων
in order that your faith might not be in the wisdom of man,
ἀλλʼ ἐν δυνάμει θεοῦ.
but [so that your faith would instead be] in the power of God.
A Brotherly Call to Trust Fully in the Cross The content of Paul's message (v. 1–2) Against worldly wisdom (v. 1) God-oriented (the mystery of God) (v. 1) Dependent fully on Jesus Christ and him crucified (v. 2) The form of Paul the preacher (v. 3–4) Defined by human weakness and inadequacy before God (v. 3) Spoke in plain speech (v. 4) Depended fully on the Spirit and the power of God (v. 4) Why was Paul the preacher so plain? And why was the content of Paul so "boring"—in worldly terms (v. 5)? Because Paul did NOT want the Corinthians to trust in him or any other smooth talkers (v. 5) Because what Paul really wanted was for the Corinthians to put their faith in the " power of God " (v. 5) What is the " the power of God "? 1 Corinthians 1:19: Ὁ λόγος γὰρ ὁ τοῦ σταυροῦ τοῖς μὲν ἀπολλυμένοις μωρία ἐστίν, τοῖς δὲ σῳζομένοις ἡμῖν δύναμις θεοῦ ἐστιν. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God . How can this passage help inform our future ministries? For those who are being saved, the cross is the power of God. Christ and him crucified [i.e. the cross] was the content of Paul's ministry to the Corinthians. For him the cross was enough to rely on for everything. "For Paul, Christ crucified is more than just the means of forgiveness and salvation; rather, it informs his total vision of the Christian life and ministry" (Ciampa and Rosner, Pillar, 114). We do not need to sound "smart" or always be "exciting"—but we do need to let the cross shape the entirety of our ministry; both the theology we teach and the humility we have when we teach it. Paul taught in such a way that would point attention away from himself and to God. This is a warning to all teachers and preachers—we can let ourselves get in the way of the message. Be careful lest your congregation have faith in you and not the power of God.