1 Corinthians 2:3 MEANING

1 Corinthians 2:3
(3) And I was with you.--To show that the real force of his teaching lay in its subject-matter, and not in any power with which he may have proclaimed the gospel, the Apostle now dwells upon his own physical weakness. The "weakness and fear and trembling" of which St. Paul speaks here had in it probably a large element of that self-distrust which so noble and sensitive a nature would feel in the fulfilment of such an exalted mission as the preaching of the Cross. I cannot think, however, the allusion is only to that. There is, I believe, a reference also to what we may call a physical apprehension of danger. The bravest are not those who do not experience any sensation of fear, but rather those who keenly appreciate danger, who have an instinctive shrinking from it, and yet eventually by their moral might conquer this dread. There are traces of this element in St. Paul's character to be found in several places, as, for example, in Acts 18:9, when the Lord encourages him when labouring at Corinth with the hopeful words, "Be not afraid;" again in Acts 23:11, when the terrible scene before Ananias had depressed him, the Lord is with him to strengthen him, "Be of good cheer, Paul;" and in Acts 27:24, when the angel of the Lord appears to him amid the storm and shipwreck, "Fear not, Paul."

Verse 3. - I was with you; literally, I became or proved myself, towards you, as in 1 Corinthians 16:10. In weakness. St. Paul was physically weak and liable also to nervous weakness and depression (1 Corinthians 4:7-12; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 10:1, 10; 2 Corinthians 12:7, 10). He shows an occasional self distrust rising from the consciousness of personal infirmities. This enhances our sense of his heroic courage and endurance. Doubtless this physical weakness and nervous depression were connected with his "stake in the flesh," which seems to have been an acute and distressing form of ophthalmia, accompanied with cerebral disturbance (see my 'Life of St. Paul,' 1:215-221). In fear, and in much trembling. Probably the words are even literally true, though they are a common phrase (2 Corinthians 7:15; Philippians 2:12, 13; Ephesians 6:5). It must be remembered that in his first visit to Corinth St. Paul had gone through stormy and troubled days (Acts 18:1-12).

2:1-5 Christ, in his person, and offices, and sufferings, is the sum and substance of the gospel, and ought to be the great subject of a gospel minister's preaching, but not so as to leave out other parts of God's revealed truth and will. Paul preached the whole counsel of God. Few know the fear and trembling of faithful ministers, from a deep sense of their own weakness They know how insufficient they are, and are fearful for themselves. When nothing but Christ crucified is plainly preached, the success must be entirely from Divine power accompanying the word, and thus men are brought to believe, to the salvation of their souls.And I was with you in weakness,.... Meaning either the weakness of his bodily presence, the contemptibleness of his voice, and the mean figure he made as a preacher among them, both with respect to the matter and manner of his ministry in the eyes of many; or his lowly and humble deportment among them, not exerting the power and authority Christ had given him as an apostle; but choosing rather to work with his own hands, as he did at Corinth, to minister to his own necessities, and those of others; or the many persecutions which he endured there for the sake of preaching a crucified Christ; and which he sometimes calls "infirmities"; see 2 Corinthians 12:9 wherefore it is added,

and in fear, and in much trembling: not only on account of the greatness and awfulness of the work in which he was engaged, and lest the souls he ministered unto should be drawn aside from the truth, and into a sinful compliance; but because of the violence of men against him, threatening his life, and lying in wait for it: hence, the Lord, to encourage him, spake in a vision to him, and bid him not be afraid, but boldly preach his Gospel, and not be silent; assuring him of his presence, and that no man should set on him to hurt him, for he had many chosen vessels there to call by his grace through his ministry, Acts 18:9 which no doubt greatly served to remove the fears and tremor that attended him.

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