Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:27 AM

Paul the Preacher

Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:27 AM
Sunday, January 25, 2015 4:27 AM

In Corinth there was a great emphasis on public oratory, it was such part of life that young men were trained in oratory and there were those that traveled from city to city making a living speaking. The Apostle Paul chose to be different; Paul relied on the power of Christ’s word and not in his own power to proclaim the word. The following quote places us in Corinth with Paul and we can see his thinking behind the words that he wrote in Corinthians.

 Paul explained why he had renounced in his method of preaching all formal conventions whereby a foreign rhetoric established his credentials when he first came to a city (1Cor2:1–5). He tells why he would not proclaim the gospel using the superior presentation of rhetoric or wisdom (1Cor2:1). While rhetoric’s sought topics from their audience on which to declaim in order to demonstrate their prowess in oratory, Paul was concerned only to proclaim Jesus, the crucified Messiah (1Cor2:2).

 Orators used three accepted proofs to persuade their audience: ethos, acting out a character; pathos, manipulating his audience’s feeling; and demonstration, arguments. Paul uses none of these. He came “in weakness, and in fear and in much trembling” (1Cor2:3)—the absolute antithesis to the powerful and commanding presence of the virtuoso rhetoric. His speech and his preaching did not make use of “persuasive rhetoric.” It was a demonstration, not of rhetorical proofs, but of the Spirit and power (1Cor2:4). It was a radical and costly step on the part of Paul to refuse to use the much admired rhetoric of his day in preaching. His renunciation was motivated by the desire that his converts’ faith must not rest on human wisdom but on the power of God ( Cor2:5).[1]


[1] Hawthorne, G. F., Martin, R. P., & Reid, D. G. (1993). Dictionary of Paul and his letters (821). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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