The Greek philosopher Socrates once observed, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” While Corinth had a rich philosophical heritage and a long tradition of public speaking, this legacy had become a liability. Too many in the church were more impressed with style and personality than truth.
Aware of this weakness, the apostle refused to rely upon eloquence or human wisdom when proclaiming truth to the Corinthians (vv. 1–2). He did not preach the kind of message they were used to hearing, nor did he cater to their demand for a Corinthianized style. Instead, Paul relied on the Holy Spirit to empower his preaching (v. 4).
It would be wrong to think that Paul had no interest in wisdom. Just the opposite. He had high regard for God’s wisdom, which is not the result of philosophical speculation but a matter of revelation. When Paul describes this wisdom as “mystery” in v. 7, he is not talking about something that is hard to fathom but about a previously hidden truth that God had now revealed. Because this truth has its origin in God’s Spirit, only those who possess the Spirit can accept it. There is more to grasping Christian truth than merely knowing information. Christian doctrine requires spiritual as well as cognitive understanding. Good teaching, then, is not primarily a matter of style but the proclamation of revealed truth.
Paul was not trying to impress the Corinthians with his speaking ability or his advanced learning. He was not trying to become a Christian celebrity with a large following. His only ambition was to be a faithful messenger of God.
There is more to faith than content. God’s Spirit must open up our heart as well as our mind before we can accept His truth. How do you know if you are understanding by the power of the Spirit? Romans 8:9 says everyone who belongs to Christ has the Spirit!
We praise You, Lord, for the gift of Your Holy Spirit who opens our minds and hearts to receive the truth. Heighten our sensitivity to Your prompting so that we not only acknowledge but also live by Your truth.