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1 Corinthians 2:1

ESV And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
NIV And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
NASB And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come as someone superior in speaking ability or wisdom, as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God.
CSB When I came to you, brothers and sisters, announcing the mystery of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom.
NLT When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan.
KJV And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

What does 1 Corinthians 2:1 mean?

Paul seems to return to his train of thought from the middle of the previous chapter, where he said that Christ did not send him to preach the gospel with words of eloquent wisdom, which would risk emptying the cross of Christ of its power (1 Corinthians 1:17). He is also continuing to make the case for why the Corinthian Christians should not swear their allegiance to a teacher or preacher (1 Corinthians 1:12–13), but to Christ alone.

Paul now reminds them of when he first came to Corinth and began proclaiming the testimony of God. Paul spent over a year and a half in Corinth leading people to faith in Christ and helping to establish the church there. Many of his readers would remember well when he first showed up. Paul's arrival marked a significant change in their lives as they began a relationship with God.

Paul wants them to remember that he did not preach the gospel to them as if he were performing. The Corinthians would have been very familiar with ancient speakers who amazed their audiences with lofty speech and displays of their own wisdom. Such speeches were part of the entertainment and wisdom culture of Greek and Roman society. Skilled orators would travel from place to place to entertain crowds in this way.

Paul did not present himself or the gospel in this way, however. He did not wrap the great truth of Christ's crucifixion for human sin in a fancy package to impress the Corinthians. Paul did not perform the gospel—he was not focused on making it entertaining or spectacular. Instead, he presented it to them as plain truth.
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