Study Sheet for I Corinthians 2:1-10a (click here for Study Notes)
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
We do however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written:
"No eye has seen, no ear has hear, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" -but God has
revealed it to us by his Spirit.. (I Cor. 2:1-10a) (NIV)
1. Paul reiterates that when he first came and preached to the Corinthians, he did not come as an orator using persuasive speech or big words. He simply proclaimed "the testimony about God", and he "resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." What do you think Paul meant by knowing "nothingexcept Jesus Christ and him crucified"? (see Gal. 6:14) What was significant about Paul specifying that he would preach about Jesus "and him crucified?" Why was it important for him to mention the crucifixion specifically and not just to say he would "know nothing except Jesus Christ"?
2. Paul admits to being afraid when he first preached in Corinth. He knew he was addressing sophisticated people in a cosmopolitan setting who were used to Greek philosophy and brilliant oration. He deliberately did not address them with impressive words; he allowed himself to be open to God so his speaking would be a "demonstration of the Spirit's power." (see Romans 15:13) Why did he not appeal to their minds in the way he knew they were used to being addressed? To what did his talk appeal? Why was it important to Paul that the Corinthians not believe in Jesus because of his own words and logical arguments? Could "God's power" be demonstrated to the Corinthians without Paul's speaking? Explain.
3. Paul continues by saying that he does "speak a message of wisdom among the mature." (see Eph. 4:13) The wisdom, however, is not human wisdom that reflects human philosophies and values. It is "God's secret wisdom" that "has been hidden" and that God "destined for our glory before time began." What is this wisdom? (see Ephesians 1:9-10; 3:3-6, 9; Col.1:25-27; I Tim 3:16) Why does Paul only preach this wisdom to the mature? How is this wisdom opposed to human wisdom? Why was this wisdom-which was in place before creation-hidden until Jesus came? How is this wisdom "for our glory"?
4. None of the world rulers understood God's secret wisdom, Paul says, or they would not have crucified Jesus, and he quotes Isaiah 64:4 to illustrate that no human can conceive of what "God has prepared for those who love him." He continues by making the startling statement that "God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." What is Paul saying the Spirit has revealed to us? (see Matt. 13:11-12) How does the revelation of the mystery of God's wisdom change our view of reality?
5. Is it difficult or embarrassing for you to talk to people about Jesus and the cross? Why do you think many people want to stress God's love and downplay the centrality of Jesus' death on the cross? Is "God's secret wisdom" accessible to us if we sanitize the gospel by stressing the "character of God" and his love over the centrality of the cross? Why or why not?
6. Under what circumstances is it hardest for you to talk about Jesus "and him crucified"? Do you feel intimidated by other people's education or intellectual prowess? Do you fear sounding foolish? What fear or timidity do you need to relinquish to Jesus, asking him to replace it with the authority of the Holy Spirit?
7. How has "Jesus Christ and him crucified" affected your life? What praise do you want to offer him?
8. Do you have points of resistance to knowing "God's secret wisdom"?
What areas of control or fear do you need to offer to Christ so you can
have a heart open to the ministry and revelation of the Holy Spirit?
All contents copyright (c) 1999-2000 Graphics
Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.