In a previous post, it was established that despite being a very intellectual person, Apostle Paul was not a very polished speaker. But this did not anyway impede his ministry as he was as effective as he could ever be.
It is far better to be plain in speech, yet walking openly and consistently with the gospel, than to be admired by thousands, and be lifted up in pride… (Matthew Henry)
But how can we be so sure that the great Apostle Paul was not a man imbued with so much eloquence? The scriptures bear record of it as we shall see shortly.
In this post, we will consider three reasons confirming that Paul was not as gifted in oratory as he was in knowledge.
1) Apostle Paul humbly admitted he wasn’t a polished speaker
Even though Paul never exalted his credentials above the grace of God upon his life, he always listed his shining qualifications whenever an opportunity presented itself. So he wouldn’t have failed to list the power of oratory as one of his skills he if he had it.
Not only that, in 2 Corinthians 11:6, Paul categorically admitted in his own words that he was not a skilled speaker.
I may be unskilled as a speaker, but I’m not lacking in knowledge. We have made this clear to you in every possible way.
You might say that Paul was being humble by openly admitting that he was not a polished speaker. Agreed. But I think that the humility comes more from him pointing out a perceived weakness in him and not trying to cover it up with his strengths than from merely owning up to a skill he didn’t possess.
2) Eloquence was not part of Apostle Paul’s ministry strategy
Paul had a good understanding of what God sent him to do and what He didn’t send him to do. And in accomplishing what he was sent to do, his strategy was to depend on the power of God so that His name alone is gloried as the value of the Cross is made known.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with eloquent words of wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1Cor1:17
Unlike Apollos whom we were clearly told was very eloquent in speeches while ministering (Acts 18:24), Paul stated that it was not part of his ministry strategy to display eloquence in speeches as he delivered the gospel messages he was sent to preach. Doing so, according to him, would have undermined the power in the Cross of Christ which he was commissioned to proclaim.
3) The people spoke about Apostle Paul’s speeches not being at the highest levels
Apart from the fact that Apostle admitted that he was not so eloquent in speeches, the people who heard him speak at various times and places also observed it and spoke about it to his hearing. Their observation bothered particularly on his body-frame and speech power.
For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is unimpressive, and his speaking is of no account.” 1Cor 10:10
Paul must have been so diminutive a man some people in Corinth refered to him as a man with “unimpressive physical appearance.” Besides having a seemingly weak appearance, the people also observed that Paul’s “manner of speaking is of no account.” And Paul was fully aware of this uncomplementary notion the people had about him.
However, it has to be mentioned that the people recognised that Paul wrote powerful letters even though his speeches appeared less impressive. It seemed to me that what he lacked in speaking skills was fully compensated by his writing prowess.
Base on the foregoing, you might say Paul’s speeches were not at the highest levels as he wasn’t outstandingly eloquent as some other speakers in his time might have been. But in no way did the gospel suffer as a result of this perceived lack of oratorial skills. Rather it made it more obvious that the power of Christ was at work in Him.
What do you think?
©Copyright 2017 | Victor Uyanwanne