October 13, 2019

Paul’s Choice

I believe that 1 Corinthians 2.1-5 is Paul’s statement about submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leadership in the Kingdom of God. He summarizes in verses 4 & 5: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (NKJV).

Verses 1 & 2 state his alternative methods. The Amplified Bible (2015 Edition) note to the word “know” in verse 2 reveals how Paul might have responded: “In reality, Paul was a highly-trained student of the Old Testament writings, Jewish law, and of logic and rhetoric; and evidently he was conversant in Roman law as well.” Paul’s comment (verses 4 & 5) is a continuation of 1 Corinthians 1.23: “For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom.” He might have continued that Romans demand power. Paul would, even, use his knowledge of Greek philosophy, later, with the philosophers at Mars Hill, Athens, Greece (Acts 17.22-34). His used many methods!

However, Paul chose “to forego philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions” to focus his readers’ attention on the superiority of Jesus Christ’s life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection (Amplified Bible, 2015, 1 Corinthians 2.2). He writes a similar, strong statement of impact in Colossians 2.8-10.

Consequently, Paul reminds the Corinthians that he was trembling with fear and in weakness when he came to them (1 Corinthians 2.3). Why? Because he was not in control. He was not controlling his vast knowledge, weaving his superior logic and phrasing his eloquent rhetoric (ibid, verse 1). Rather, he chose to be submissive to the Holy Spirit, as he would similarly reflect in 2 Corinthians 12.9-10.

When did Paul learn to let the Holy Spirit control his use of his methods for enlightening and equipping? Is the result of Paul’s reflection the listing of Spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12.1-31? Different methods. Choosing the Holy Spirit’s control prepared the way for Him to use Paul to introduce His individual gifts for individual persons.

During Paul’s three years in the Arabian Desert (Galatians 1.17-18), I suspect that Jesus took Paul through the same ‘training manual’ He had used with the other Apostles, which may explain Paul’s comment about being “untimely born” (1 Corinthians 15.7-9, AMP). Matthew 10.1-42 names the Twelve Apostles and records Jesus’ ‘on-boarding’ them. Verses 16-23 might, even, explain why Paul went from city to city throughout his ministry career. Verses 19-20 taught Paul to depend upon the Holy Spirit wherever He might take him (John 3.8).

Learning the Holy Spirit’s voice and releasing control to Him can bring trembling fear and weakness! This becomes easier with experience.

Paul probably experienced this when he returned to Tarsus to evangelize his family and friends (Acts 9.30). There, he found Jews seeking signs and Greeks seeking wisdom, but these became confounded by Paul’s presentation of Jesus Christ’s life, substitutionary death, and bodily resurrection (1 Corinthians 1.22-24).

This is where Barnabas finds Paul and recruits him for service to believers in Antioch (Acts 11.25-26). Followers of the ‘Way’ (John 14.6) had scattered there after Stephen was martyred (Acts 7). Antioch was on the Orontes River in Syria, about 16 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. “It ranked third, after Rome and Alexandria, in point of importance, of the cities of the Roman empire. It was called the ‘first city of the East’” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

Antioch was an important city for commerce and government. This fact may reveal the importance of Antioch being where believers were first called “Christian” (Acts 11.26). This name was “given by the Greeks or Romans, probably in reproach to the followers of Jesus.” Thereafter, it became the title given to believers. “Christian” is only used again in Acts 26.28 and 1 Peter 4.16 (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

Thus, by “signs and wonders” (Hebrews 2.1-4; Mark 16.20), even Greeks and Romans acknowledged that Jesus was “Anointed” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, g5547); His follower were pronouncing the ‘Kingdom of God’ and proving it (Matthew 10.7-8; Psalm 107.20; Luke 10.17)! Disciples were imitating Jesus, as Luke records in Acts 10.38: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (my emphasis). The Holy Spirit was anointing the followers of the Way in Antioch in the same way (John 17.18; Mark 16.15-20; John 3.1-8, explaining 2.23; Luke 10.19).

Paul seems to reflect upon his deeper learning about the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2.6-16. Notice his conclusion, that Christians’ minds are “anointed” by Jesus! That is, the Holy Spirit makes known to us Jesus’ knowledge, logic, and rhetoric for every situation (John 16.13-15; Ephesians 4.13). Additionally, Paul, the OT scholar, may have been reflecting upon Zechariah 4.6: “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.”

So, is it your ‘choice’ to depend upon the Holy Spirit for superior knowledge, logic, and rhetoric from Jesus in every place the Holy Spirit leads you? He will prove that the Kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 10.7-8). This will be demonstrated by your faith expressing through your deeds (1 Corinthians 2.4-5) the power of the Name ‘Jesus’, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4.20: “For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.”

Let me give you the illustration the Holy Spirit gave me about the power of faith and the name “Jesus”. Nuclear fission bombs were dropped on Japan to end the Pacific Theater of World War II, causing horrific destruction. Today, nuclear fission is used as the trigger to release the multiplied-greater destructive energy of nuclear fusion bombs!

Just so, said the Holy Spirit: faith is the fission that releases the enormous power from within the Name ‘Jesus’! Jesus spoke of this in Matthew 28.18, that He has been given “all” authority on earth. In Luke 10.19, He states that He gives His followers this authority: “‘Listen carefully: I have given you  authority [that you now possess] to tread on serpents and scorpions, and [the ability to exercise authority] over all the power of the enemy (Satan); and nothing will [in any way] harm you’” (Amplified Bible, 2015). Jesus reminds us: “‘Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full’” (John 16.24, NKJV). Acts 3.16 and 4.12 illustrate. The healed man probably shouted the psalmist’s words in Psalm 119.162: “I rejoice at Your word, as one who finds great treasure.”

Remember that Jesus is the “Source of all human knowledge”, the “Epistemological Logos” of God (The Word of God and The Mind of Man, Nash, p. 67). We were meant to iterate our knowledge of our careers by continually walking with and learning from the Holy Spirit (John 1.9; John 14.26). Even so, the Holy Spirit works through us to bring the Kingdom of God into every context where He leads us (1 Corinthians 2.6-16; John 3.8). Consider Jesus’ example in Matthew 11.2-6 (Luke 7.20-22).

This is the reality of John 14.26 operating in Matthew 6.33. This is far better than man’s wisdom, as the psalmist reminds in Psalm 118.8: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man” (NASB). This was Paul’s choice: “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2.4-5, NKJV).

Which is your choice?

Paul’s Choice 191006 (* = 191013 update)
Praise God!!! Copyright © by Maurice L. Painter, 2019. www.sozoclass.com.

 

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