What does 1 Corinthians 2:4 mean?
ESV: and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
NIV: My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
NASB: and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
CSB: My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
NLT: And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.
KJV: And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
NKJV: And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
Verse Commentary:
Paul continues to describe how he presented the gospel about Jesus Christ and the cross to the Corinthians when he first arrived in town. He did not put on an impressive display of speech and human wisdom, as some traveling teachers of their day were known to do. In fact, Paul wrote in the previous verse that his time with them was marked by weakness, fear, and trembling.

Now he emphasizes once more that his presentation and the message itself were not delivered with persuasive words of wisdom. In other words, he did not dazzle them with impressive arguments in order to convince them to believe in Jesus. Instead, he brought the simple message of Christ and the crucifixion with a demonstration of the Holy Spirit's power.

What was this demonstration of power? What did the Corinthians experience that helped them to believe the message of the gospel? That is not explicitly revealed here, but it was how God showed the Corinthians that Paul's teaching was backed by His undeniable power. The fact that this did not come as a result of some emotional, theatrical display was further proof that Paul's message was true, and not merely a cleverly-crafted sales pitch.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 2:1–5 begins with Paul asking the Corinthians to remember what he was like with them when he first came to Corinth. He did not tell them about Christ with impressive speaking skills and displays of knowledge. In fact, he was weak, fearful, and trembling. That was a deliberate tactic on Paul's part, for their good, so their faith would be based on God's power and not on any amount of impressive human wisdom.
Chapter Summary:
When Paul first came to Corinth, he did not present the gospel to them with lofty speech and impressive arguments. He presented the truth as simply as he could so their faith would be based on God's power and not human wisdom. Only those with God's Spirit can understand the truths revealed by God, including Christ crucified for human sinfulness. Those without God's Spirit are limited to what can be observed and worked out with human reason. God's Spirit makes it possible for us to understand and believe spiritual things.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 2 picks up Paul's train of thought from the middle of the previous chapter. He reminds the Corinthians that he did not make an impressive display of his own speaking skills or knowledge when he first came to them. He wanted their faith to be in God's power, not human wisdom. God's ultimate wisdom can only be understood spiritually, revealed to human beings through God's Spirit. Those without God's Spirit cannot understand spiritual things. As a result, they reject the idea of Christ crucified for human sin as foolish. Through the Spirit, spiritual people have the mind of Christ.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 5/20/2024 8:11:30 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com