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Paradigm for Pentecostal Preaching

In a footnote, Fee points out that:

[Paul’s] letters, which at times have all the character of speech, are in fact powerful examples of rhetoric and persuasion. Nonetheless Paul can confidently assert before those who have come to care about such things that his preaching was not of this kind. This seems to make certain that it is not rhetoric in general, but rhetoric of a very specific and well-known kind, that he is disavowing.”41

Maybe Paul refers to those orators whose motives were suspect and whose design was to impress and to gain a personal following for the purpose of financial exploitation.

Fee concludes this section in 1 Corinthians as follows:

What he [Paul] is rejecting is not preaching, not even persuasive preaching; rather, it is the real danger in all preaching—self-reliance. The danger always lies in letting the form and content get in the way of what should be the single concern: the gospel proclaimed thorough human weakness but accompanied by the powerful work of the Spirit so that lives are changed through a divine-human encounter.”42

Interestingly, Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” made little impact when he first preached it to his own congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts. But when he preached the same message at Enfield, sinners shrieked in the aisles under the conviction of sin. And new converts wept for joy. What made the difference? Edwards himself concluded that it was the move of the Holy Spirit. “‘The wind blows wherever it pleases’” (John 3:8).43

The Means for Pentecostal Preaching Comes From the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:6-16)

Christ serves as the wisdom of God in two ways: 1) as a Mediator of redemption from sin; and 2) as a Mediator of intercession in prayer.44 But this wisdom is now communicated to believers through the agency of the Spirit. For instance, the Spirit inspires a number of means to make effective preaching possible: wisdom, Scripture, knowledge, discernment, and a Christ-like mind. Again, I will endeavor to state each of these five principles. Afterwards, I will explain, illustrate, and apply each principle.

Principle 1: Wisdom—Spirit-Inspired Wisdom Empowers Pentecostal Preaching (1 Cor. 2:6-8).

The contemporaries of Jesus noted the wisdom with which He spoke (Matthew 13:54; Mark 6:2). Christ even promised His followers a similar wisdom when they faced persecution after His ascension into heaven (Luke 21:15).

In the Book of Acts, the adversaries of Stephen could not compete with his wisdom (Acts 6:10). Stephen serves as a figure of Christ in that both spoke with wisdom, were innocent of any wrongdoing, and prayed for God to forgive their enemies at the time of their executions (Acts 7:60). Likewise as Stephen points out in his defense before the Sanhedrin, the Lord gave Joseph wisdom and saw to it that Moses “was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” (Acts. 7:10, 22).

Maximilian Zerwick states, “The particle δε nearly always implies some sort of contrast” (1 Cor. 2:6).45 Therefore, the wisdom Paul refers to in this verse differs from that of the world. This wisdom represents the type that Christ Himself possesses and distributes to mature believers.

C. K. Barrett explains the meaning of the ‘secret’ or ‘hidden’ wisdom, in this way: “The preaching of the cross is … hidden in the sense that it has only been disclosed at the turning of the ages, in the recent historical event of Christ crucified; hidden also in that it has nothing to do with persuasive words of wisdom” (emphasis his).46 Obviously then, this wisdom is no longer kept secret or hidden.

In contrast to godly wisdom, “Worldly wisdom which [sic] rejects the cross, whether in its Jewish or Greek variety, is objectively proved to be that which it always was: foolishness, i.e. rebellion against God, in the form of human self-exaltation and boasting.”47 George Eldon Ladd explains the meaning of the cross and why many consider it foolishness:

God in his wisdom has used the depth of humiliation and degradation as the means of salvation. This is the meaning of the cross, decreed by God ages ago (1 Cor. 2:7), hidden in God’s mind and heart, but now revealed in the proclamation of the gospel message. This redemptive meaning of the cross, although openly proclaimed (1 Cor. 1:17, 23), is, from a purely human perspective, such foolishness that people unaided by the Spirit cannot accept it or acknowledge its truthfulness” (emphasis his).48

The cross was the last means first century peoples ever thought God would use to save the lost. And today, many wonder how the crucifixion of someone so long ago can atone for the sins of humanity.

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Category: Ministry, Pneuma Review, Spring 2010

About the Author: Steve D. Eutsler, D.Min. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), M.Div. (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), M.A. Biblical Literature (Assemblies of God Theological Seminary), B.A. Bible (Central Bible College), is professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Global University in Springfield, Missouri. He has extensive experience as a pastor, evangelist, and educator and is the author of numerous articles and books. Email

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