Father Rickaby’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Posted by Dim Bulb on February 8, 2014
Text in red are my additions.
1 Cor 2:1 AND I, brethren, when I came to you, came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of Christ.
It seems likely that the Apostle came from Athens to Corinth much mortified and abashed; and that his addresses to the Corinthians were delivered in a tone and style unusually subdued and simple, like the speech of a man heavy with recent disappointment and apprehensive of further failure. We must beware therefore how we take these verses to indicate St. Paul’s normal manner of preaching. By nature and by education, as his writings show, the Apostle of the Gentiles must have been a great orator, subject doubtless to those fits of depression which frequently beset genius. Cf. note on Gal. 4:13.
Here is what Father Rickaby wrote in Galatians 4:13~Through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel to you heretofore, He preached then δι ασθενειαν της σαρκος (di astheneian tes sarkos), per infirmitatem carnis is how it is rendered in the Vulgate, or as St. Jerome rightly has it, propter infirmitatem carnis, i.e. by reason of infirmity of the flesh, not in infirmity, which would be δι ἀσθένεις (di astheneias), a distinction which is maintained no less in Hellenistic than in classical Greek, as examination of the uses of διά (“through”) in the Old and New Testament proves. The plain meaning of the words then is that it was some illness, not mentioned by St. Luke, that detained St. Paul in his first passage through Galatia, and led to his preaching where he would otherwise have simply traveled through to what seemed more promising ground. See the passage, Acts 16:6.
1 Cor 2:2 For I judged not myself to know anything among you, but Jesus Christ: and him crucified.
The cross is honourable in our eyes; but in the first century of the Church it required considerable enthusiasm in a preacher of the gospel, to avow and set in a strong light the fact that his Master and his God had recently died the death of a slave.
1 Cor 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.
1 Cor 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom. but in shewing of the Spirit and power:
In weakness. The phrase εν ασθενεια (en astheneia) may mean in lowly estate, and allude to his working as a tent-maker, Acts 18:3.
In fear and in much trembling. “What sayest thou? did Paul actually fear dangers? Yes, he did fear and was very much afraid: for he was human, though he was Paul. This is no charge against Paul, but a weakness of nature, and a commendation of his resolve, in that, for all his fear of death and stripes, he did nothing unseemly through that fear. They who say that he had no fear of stripes, not only do not elevate his character, but detract much from his praises. For if he had no fear, what constancy or what philosophy was there in his braving dangers? It is for this that I admire him, that fearing, aye even trembling as he did at dangers, he everywhere ran his race victoriously” (St. John Chrysostom).
If then at Corinth (a0 the believers were generally mean and illiterate people (1 Cor 1:26); (b) the preacher and founder of the church there was a man who made a poor show to human eyes (1 Cor 2:3, 4); (c) the truth preached and believed in was Christ crucified, to human intelligence a scandal and a folly (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2); then Christianity at Corinth was of no human creation; it was created by the power and inward motion of the Holy Ghost, working in the hearts of them that believed. The final conclusion is that the Corinthians had no matter for self-glorification, no matter for despising their neighbour, no matter for contention and strife, in any gift that Christianity had brought to them.
1 Cor 2:5 That your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
The power of God shone forth by the miraculous gifts enumerated in 1 Cor 12.