Paul knew the power of the gospel and he made it his business to proclaim it.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power (1 Corinthians 1.17).
There are three questions that need to be answered to further our understanding of this verse.
(1) What is the gospel?
(2) What does Paul mean by “eloquent” wisdom?
(3) What is the “power” of the gospel?
What is the gospel?
The gospel is literally the “good news.”
We will examine Paul’s description of the “good news” in more detail when we get to 1 Corinthians 15. The words below are a summary of the proclamation of the gospel.
— 1 Corinthians 15.3-8 – For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,
And that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures,
And that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.
Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me.
The gospel or good news is the message of the death, burial, resurrection, and appearance of the risen Jesus.
The gospel is not some new plan of God but was pre-figured in the Jewish sacrificial system.
It is good news because it is God’s method to forgive the sins of humans. When we trust our lives to Jesus, he will forgive our sins and give us new life.
What does Paul mean by “eloquent wisdom”?
Wisdom teachers spoke in the Roman forum. They were the city’s superstar performers. They were well paid for their services and had an extremely high status among the public.
The problem with the wisdom teacher was that they focused more on how they spoke, rather than the content of their speech. Eloquence and entertainment were more important than truth and genuine wisdom.
Paul was determined to not use the popular techniques of the wisdom teachers. It appears, however, that Apollos was willing to use their methods.
Many in the church turned to Apollos because he was more like the popular wisdom teachers of the forum.
Paul and Apollos were partners in the ministry. Nevertheless, the church was divided over how the two spoke.
Paul preached the gospel of the cross. Tomorrow’s scripture passage and blog article point out how Greek and Jewish persons did not respect the message of the cross.
What is the “power” of the gospel?
Paul knew the power of the gospel. He wrote about the gospel’s power to the church in Rome.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Romans 1.16).
Paul experienced the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. That experience changed the course of his life, filling him with love for Jesus and all people.
In 1967, I heard the good news preached and responded to it by faith. In an instant, my life was changed. That experience began life with my best friend, Jesus Christ, and has allowed me to live over 50 years in the joy of the Lord.
I have seen many people from all walks of life experience what Paul and I have found to be true. When people hear the good news of God’s love through Jesus, and when they receive it by faith, God is able to radically bless their lives.
What will we do with the good news?
In 2 Corinthians, Paul highlighted our role that includes being God’s ambassadors.
— 2 Corinthians 5.17-20 – So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
We will cover this passage in detail when we study it in a few weeks. For now, please take time to prayerfully read it and ask God what it means for you to be an “ambassador for Christ.”
I have covered only one verse in today’s article because Rudy Ross and I had a lot to say about this on YouTube. Please take a few minutes to listen to our conversation on the Bob Spradling channel.
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