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Paradigm for Pentecostal Preaching

Morris explains the searching of the things of God by the Spirit as “a way of saying that He penetrates into all things” (emphasis his).66 The Spirit knows everything. The perfect tense of γινώσκω (ginōskō) in this 1 Cor. 2:11 shows that the Holy Spirit knew the ‘things of God’ in the past and continues to know up to the present time.67

“The spirit of the world” means “the spirit which animates the world” (1 Cor. 2:12).68 By his use of the first person, plural personal pronoun, “we,” Paul emphasizes that believers have not received ‘the spirit of the world.’ Then the apostle indicates that the Spirit the Corinthians received came from God as a source (i.e., ̉εκ του θεου). The purpose for the bestowal of the Spirit is so believers might know and understand the things God has freely given to them.

Paul uses the continuous tense of the verb to show that he habitually speaks in terms taught by the Spirit not human wisdom (1 Cor. 2:13). He has learned this terminology primarily by comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.69 (The noun in the accusative case serves as the direct object of the verb, while the noun in the dative case provides the indirect object. I account for the differences in the endings of these two occurrences of the same noun in this way.) Morris prefers the translation, “‘Combining spiritual things (the words spoken) with spiritual things (the truths expressed)’ … (Paul is explaining that Christian preachers use words taught by the Spirit).”70 By way of application, Pentecostal preachers should not use words taught by ‘human wisdom’ (i.e., a subjective genitive).71 The words of human wisdom originate in the human intellect, take shape by the laws of rhetoric, and expand through philosophical reasoning.72

The story has been told of a man who went to see a doctor. He told the doctor, “You have to help me. I’m dying. Everywhere I touch it hurts. I touch my head and it hurts. I touch my leg and it hurts. I touch my stomach and it hurts. I touch my chest and it hurts. You have to help me, Doc, everything hurts.” After the physician examined him, he said to Mr. Smith, “I have good news and bad news for you. The good news is you are not dying. The bad news is you have a broken finger.”73 Only the Holy Spirit really knows the needs of any particular human heart and what God wants to do for that person. People may think they know the will of God for their lives, but too often the instruments (i.e., human wisdom, etc.) they use to determine the will of God are broken.

Principle 4: Discernment—Spirit-Inspired Discernment Empowers Pentecostal Preaching (1 Cor. 2:14-15).

In spite of the baptism in the Spirit, Pentecostal preachers are never omniscient, of course. The Greek word for ‘things’ in 1 Cor. 2:14 has the definite article. This grammatical construction specifies that believers understand the things concerning Christ, the cross, and the Spirit. However, Spirit-filled ministers and believers do see things from a different perspective than non-Christians see things, i.e., they have a heavenly rather than an earthly viewpoint.74

The Spirit reveals the gospel of Christ. Humans unaided can never understand the good news or fully appreciate it. The Spirit’s assistance is mandatory. No one can plumb the ‘depths of God’ without His help. The Spirit initiates the search for God as well as satisfies it. No one can comprehend the gospel without the Spirit enabling them.75

The ‘things’ that belong to the Spirit of God are always spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).76 This spiritual discernment does not suggest that the Holy Spirit cannot enable unbelievers to understand the gospel message in the Bible. However, it does suggest that unbelievers and believers alike, for that matter, cannot comprehend the message by their own unaided efforts.77 On one hand, we are not able to understand and appreciate that Jesus Christ died for our sins, without the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The responsibility for this lack of reception of spiritual things lies with the ‘natural’ person who does not ‘receive’ them.78 And on the other hand, Paul places emphasis on the impossibility of unbelievers discerning spiritual persons with his addition of the first person singular pronoun to the verb of the main clause (1 Cor. 2:15).

Even E. Earle Ellis, a Baptist scholar, concedes that 1 Cor. 2:12-14 refers to “certain believers [that] have inspired speech and discernment. They are called pneumatics and, broadly speaking, they exercise the role of prophets.”79 This observation corresponds with the traditional Pentecostal understanding of the preacher.

At a pastors’ viewing of The Passion of the Christ, David Neff heard Mel Gibson explain why he used a veiled woman to represent evil in his film. “[Evil] takes on the form of beauty… It is almost beautiful. It is the great aper of God. But the mask is askew; there is always something wrong. Evil masquerades, but if your antennae are up, you’ll detect it.”80 Because spiritual things are not always clearly black and white, Pentecostal preachers require discernment to be effective. It is simply impossible without the Holy Spirit to discern spiritual things or truths.

Principle 5: Minds—Spirit-Inspired Minds Empower Pentecostal Preaching (1 Cor. 2:16).

The quote in 1 Cor. 2:16 comes from Isa. 40:13. In its Old Testament context, the prophet proclaims the incomparable greatness of the Lord. Nevertheless, Paul adds to this proclamation the fact that all believers share in the mind of Christ by the addition of the first person personal pronoun, ‘we.’ Walter Bauer maintains that Paul uses νους (nous, “mind”) ‎interchangeably with πνευμα (pneuma, “spirit”) in 1 Cor. 2:14, 16. This correspondence is possible because Paul’s mind was filled with the Spirit.81 To be more specific, Paul may equate ‘the mind of the Lord’ with ‘the mind of Christ.’ Or he might imply that the mind of Christ is as close as we can come to the mind of God. Dunn concludes, “The mind of Christ gives a clearer insight into the mind of God than otherwise would be possible (cf. Phil 2:5).”82 When believers think with the mind of Christ, they think the thoughts of God.

All scholars agree that believers have the mind of Christ, at least to some extent. However, Calvin suggests that it might be possible for ministers of the gospel to be given an added portion, so that they might better understand the gospel and preach it more courageously.83

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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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