Human pride is that malady that makes much of the creature and little of the Creator. It disproportionately attaches value to self and turns what is good and beautiful into a hideous reality. Paul continues his thought from chapter one and offers personal biography that’s focused on intent:
“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” (Vvs.1-5)
When a crowd is gifted, knowledgeable, and proud, if we were able, many of us would be tempted to show our intellectual prowess in order to spar with the opposition.
To possess intellectual gifts and have a facility with theological and philosophical ideas and their requisite analysis has an appropriate place in gospel persuasion. Certainly Paul could do this but when it came to the proclamation of the gospel, his strategy for persuasion is one of simplicity and substance. This surely mocks human pride and showcases its emptiness.
Paul neither comes with rhetoric nor this world’s wisdom when he proclaims the testimony of God, but instead focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ and Calvary’s cross. His purpose for doing this was so that believers would not trust in the creature’s mere words, but in the demonstrable power of the God/Man.
The incarnation of Christ (i.e., God became a fully functioning human being without any sin) is not one of the many critical aspects of the gospel, but the absolute heart of it. In Jesus of Nazareth, God took on human flesh (while not at all compromising the perfections of His being of: aseity, simplicity, omniscience, omnipresence, omnisapience, omnibenevolence, etc.) which to the Jew was impossible (and a stumbling block) and to the Greeks (foolishness) but to the called it’s both the wisdom and power of God.
Now this demonstration of the Spirit’s power had to include signs, wonders, healings, etc. Something other worldly followed Paul’s proclamation, but the greatest evidence was the church which had regenerated souls who once were dead in trespasses and sins. This can’t be overstated but too often is misconstrued. New birth truly is a miracle, where human will adds nothing to that reality according to Paul (something many believers have difficulty reconciling between the order of salvation: does faith precede new birth or does new birth precede faith).
Today, many false conversions obtain in America specifically because of a doctrine of salvation that says “by faith alone” I’m saved. True, but that faith is “never alone”, it produces the evidence of new life in how a professing believer lives.
This state of affairs generally results from a functional illiteracy of the gospel of Christ, and a relativistic understanding of “faith” that is neither able to be verified or falsified, is not understood to be in the realm of knowledge, and is thus relegated to the private, subjective and personal sphere. That’s not good news, but rather an indictment on church leadership that has forsaken the eternal, inerrant, infallible word of God and exchanged it for the temporal, errant, fallible word of men.
If one of us can’t “believe” in this book called Holy Scripture, the Bible, because men wrote it, then there’s a problem with consistency. Daily men are trying to persuade us to their views of: politics, science, philosophy, history, theology, ethics, etc. through their writings. Why do we choose to believe their views? Are we to seriously discard everything they say because they wrote it? There’s more going on here than meets the eye friends.
For Paul and those wanting to be faithful to gospel of Christ, the way to minister to knowledgeable, gifted and proud people is to keep it simple without being simplistic. Because the gospel of Christ while being simple is exceedingly profound, and it is therefore the duty of every teacher to do their due diligence in order to not be derelicts with the treasure of God’s word.