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Paradigm for Pentecostal Preaching

This wisdom was not only the apostle Paul’s means of preaching the gospel. The other apostles made use of the same resource. Morris points out, “The plural we links Paul’s teaching with that of other Christian leaders. There was no division among them” (emphasis his).49 All Pentecostal preachers then and now who preach with divine wisdom are following in the footsteps of the apostles.

Conversation does not change people; the cross changes people. As Godet so eloquently says, “It is not the light which rays from the cross which changes the heart, it is the cross itself.”50 The contents of our preaching, not our delivery, convicts and converts sinners.

E. W. Bullinger explains the meaning of ‘mature’ in 1 Cor. 2:6, NIV. “The word τελείος‎ (teleios) receives its true meaning, initiated, from the Greek mysteries, where it was used of one who had been initiated into them.”51 The mature, then, are the ones who are members of the body of Christ, i.e. the church. C. F. D. Moule suggests that the Greek prepositional phrase εν μυστηρίω perhaps means, “consisting of a mystery.”52 Paul says he speaks the wisdom of God in (or consisting of) a mystery which has been hidden (1 Cor. 2:7). The latter phrase is an articular participle. Dana and Mantey explain the significance: “When a participle has the article, it is thereby attached to the noun as a qualifying phrase, as a sort of attribute.”53 In other words, the wisdom of God is a mystery, having been hidden, until the present time. Paul places θεου [“of God”] before the noun σοφίαν [“wisdom”] to emphasize that the wisdom he speaks comes from God or is about God, not anyone or anything else.54

Verse 8 contains a second class “contrary to fact’ conditional sentence with ει ‎and the indicative in the protasis and ’αυ with the indicative in the apodosis. Consequently if the rulers of this world had known (but of course they clearly did not), they would not have crucified Jesus.55 Wallace believes that the conditional sentence in 1 Cor. 2:8 sets forth the protasis as the cause and the apodosis as the effect.56 Although this verse suggests an ‘unreal’ condition, the reality is that “knowledge (of wisdom of God) would have caused the rulers of this world not to crucify the Lord of glory.”57

Twice Paul refers to “the rulers of this” age (‎αιωνος) (1 Cor. 2:6, 8). The difference between the world (κοσμος, cosmos) and age is significant. The world encompasses space. The age incorporates time.58 The rulers of this age refer to human leaders not demonic forces. In the context, Paul contrasts divine and human wisdom, not divine and demonic wisdom. And the rulers who crucified Christ were human and ignorant. Besides, demons are spirits that believe in Christ and even tremble in His presence (Mark 1:24, 34; James 2:19). The same Greek word used for ‘rulers’ is found in Acts 3:17, which clearly designates the Jewish and Roman authorities.59 Paul says elsewhere that the Jewish religious leaders did not recognize Jesus as their long awaited Messiah (Acts 13:27). In contrast upon the return of the 72, Jesus praised the Father with these words, “‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things [acts of divine power over Satan] from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children’” (Luke 10:21).

Søren Kierkegaard writes along these lines: “When one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, ‘Away with that man, he does not deserve to live,’ know that this is the Christianity of the New Testament. Capital punishment is the penalty for preaching Christianity as it truly is.”60 The wisdom of God in the gospel of Christ humbles human pride. If people do not repent, they usually respond by spurting out wrath upon the source of their humiliation (i.e., the Messenger, or His messengers).

Principle 2: Scripture—Spirit-Inspired Scripture Empowers Pentecostal Preaching (1 Cor. 2:9-10a).

The quote in 1 Cor. 2:9 may have come from Isa. 64:4 with a possible allusion to Isa. 52:15 and 65:16 (cf. Jer. 3:16). The statement, “‘No eye has seen,’” means no one has seen. Paul uses the eye to refer to a person’s vision mentally or physically.61 The quotation from Isa. 64:4 does not pertain to heavenly glories but to present realities.62 This verse reminds believers of their need for the illumination of the Spirit to understand the Scriptures. As Jesus explained the Old Testament Scriptures to His followers, the Holy Spirit provides the same service for the contemporary Christian (1 Cor. 2:10; cf. Luke 24:45; Acts 15:28).63 All preachers need this illumination before they attempt to instruct others.

Gordon MacDonald tells about one of his experiences as a frequent flyer. He was sitting in an aisle seat near an exit. But before take-off, the flight attendant asked him if he had read the instruction card that explained how to open the exit door. He ‘fudged’ the truth a little and said, “Yes.” But she came back, “In case of an emergency, would you know how to open that door? The lives of a lot of people on this plane will depend upon you. Are you certain you know what that card says?” By then she had his full attention.64

Many people in this world depend upon us to know the Scriptures well enough to explain to them how to escape safely from this world and enter the heavenly one to come. The information in the Bible explains to preachers and people alike how to open the door of eternal life.

Principle 3: Knowledge—Spirit-Inspired Knowledge Empowers Pentecostal Preaching (1 Cor. 2:10b-13).

“The Spirit searches all things” does not mean that there are things “that He does not know, but that He may make others know.”65 He searches out all things for the believer’s sake. Grammarians refer to this as an example of anthropopatheia, the ascription of human characteristics to God.

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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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