Dr. Couch, I have two questions on 1 Corinthians 2:1-4: Do we have the same power and wisdom Paul spoke of in these verses? Paul said that he did not go to the Corinthians with persuasive human wisdom but with the power of the Spirit and of God. Is the "we" in verse 6 all and any believer who went to Corinth with Paul, or is he referring to the other apostles as well? Do all believers have apostolic wisdom or is this only for the apostles?
ANSWER: All believers can have wisdom but apostolic authority and wisdom is something else.
Many argue that we today, have that same Spirit guided wisdom and can give revelation just as the apostles did, as well as Paul. But the inspiration of Scripture comes from the writings of the apostles, including Paul, and not the average believer, though the Spirit is certainly working with us in giving forth truth, but we have to be careful, we are not writing-inspired apostles. Spiritual revelation was only given to the apostles and not us today.
The Corinthian church knew that Paul was referring to the other apostles. We can show verses that substantiate this.
Paul asks the Corinthians were they the first to receive the word of God, or had it come to them only? (14:16). It went to many people before it arrived in the Corinthian church. Anyone who does not recognize that Paul was giving to them "the Lord's commandment" (v. 37) is not recognized by the Lord (v. 38). He has an apostolic mission as a writing disciple—something that others do not have.
Because Paul was a late-comer he says that he was "the least of an apostle" since he had persecuted the church of the Lord (15:9). But the Lord still appeared unto him as one with authority (v. 8). By God's grace "he is what he is" (v. 10a). In fact, he labored even more than the other apostles and disciples (v. 10). With God-given authority, "the grace of God was given to him" to be a writing apostle (v. 10b). He adds, "Whether then it was I (alone) or they (the other apostles), we preach[ed] and so you believed" (v. 11). They believed because Paul was using his authority and giving them what the Lord wished him to say!
By putting himself forward, and boasting, Paul had "become foolish" being compelled by the Corinthians to defend his position (2 Cor. 12:11a). He was not "inferior to the most eminent apostles, even though "he was a nobody" (v. 11b). The signs of a true apostle were performed before the Corinthians through Paul "with all patience, by signs and wonders and miracles" (v. 12). The "true apostles" were the big apostles; this is not referring to us!
Paul had made three trips to the Corinthian church (13:1a) and others confirmed his authority, "Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witness" (v. 1b). It was Christ who was speaking in Paul (13:3). Paul was weak in his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians but "mighty" in helping them grow up (v. 3b). God's power, was directed toward the Corinthians, through Paul (v. 4b). Paul was writing to the Corinthians, though absent from them, "in accordance with the authority which the Lord gave him, for building up [the church] and not for tearing [it] down" (v. 10).
Thanks for asking,
Dr. Mal Couch (1/11)