1 Corinthians 2:3 - 5
NKJV - 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.
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At the beginning of Chapter 2 of his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is elaborating or expanding on a theme that he had touched on in Chapter 1. The Christian congregation at Corinth had received the preaching of several prominent early messengers of the Gospel whom Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 1:12, including Apollos, Cephas (Peter), and Paul himself. Members of the congregation who had been especially influenced by the words and actions of one of these preachers had then apparently become devoted to that particular individual as a favorite, even to the extent of considering him superior to the other evangelists, or considering themselves to be followers primarily of the preacher, rather than of Christ -- the One whom the preachers had been proclaiming, and who should have been the center of the Corinthians' faith and devotion. Paul reminds the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 1:13 that Christ (not Paul) was the One who had been crucified for them, and in whose name they had been baptized, and that they should all be united in Christ, rather than divided among the preachers who were spreading the Gospel. Paul also notes in 1 Corinthians 1: 17-31 that God does not rely on human eloquence or wisdom, or on people of noble birth, in the dissemination of His word, but primarily uses people who are humble and unpretentious to preach (as well as to receive) the Gospel, in order to put the focus on the Gospel itself, and to demonstrate more clearly its life-changing power. Paul then continues with this theme at the beginning of Chapter 2 (in the passage being asked about). He emphasizes that he is not worthy of the personal devotion that some members of the Corinthian congregation are giving him. In fact, in his preaching of the Gospel to them, he had gone about his task with weakness, fear, and trembling -- not because of any uncertainty or hesitancy on Paul's own part with regard to the power and accuracy of the message that he was preaching, or to the Corinthians' need to hear it and how they would receive it, but out of Paul's conscious concern that he deliver the Gospel in such a way that his own assurance and eloquence would not make a greater impression upon his listeners than the Gospel itself, and that it would be clear that any success in converting his listeners to Christ would be as a result of the working of the Holy Spirit, rather than from his own efforts. Paul's sense of "fear and trembling" could also certainly have been amplified by the knowledge of his own unworthiness to be a minister of the Gospel because of his former actions as a persecutor of Christians, and his awareness that it was only by God's grace and mercy that he himself had been saved and called to preach.
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