3 Main Reasons That Confirmed Apostle Paul Wasn’t A Polished Speaker

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.

Was apostle Paul a polished speaker?

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

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41 thoughts on “3 Main Reasons That Confirmed Apostle Paul Wasn’t A Polished Speaker

  1. dettinger47 15/09/2017 / 11:23 pm

    Excellent study (both posts) on a great man. You made the very important point that Paul depended on God for his strength, not his physical attributes. Well done, Victor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • VictorsCorner 16/09/2017 / 2:10 pm

      Thank you David for the validation. I think Paul’s case is a good example for all of us: irrespective of our obvious or not-so-obvious weaknesses or perceived strengths, God can still use us to show forth the value of the Cross to the people around us – if we let Him.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. gadolelohai 16/09/2017 / 3:20 pm

    The Corinthians are quite right in what they perceived of proud and argumentative and dividing Paul who later suffered incurable Satan’s thorns…After reading Letters of Barnabas,,,i found out that Paul indeed was cheap in both speaking and writing…I remember a young man falling asleep and dying while he was teaching…He fell from window…Yet Mr Paul was unaware somebody was falling asleep due to boring speech..and later somehow he was raised to life…also reminds me of Old tastement Saul later tormented by incurable spirit with his quite parallel to NT Saul…offcourse People of that time were confused whether Saul was Prophet, like in NT testament there is still confusion whether Paul is among the apostles as he claims to be….i also doubt his claims towards call for gentiles as other Apostles too spent their life time spreading the gospels to gentiles all the way to India much farther than Greece or Syria reached by Paul…Paul’s claim of him for the gentiles and Peter for Jews again is a complete mess as Paul goes out of context,,Jesus had said to Peter and other 10 apostles to go and preach to whole creations, nations…Peter has preach to gentile Cornelious and baptised with Holy Spirit even before paul ever preached gospel to gentiles…and Yes Peter and other apostles had a possible church for gentile in Antioch even before Paul was somehow converted..i feel sorry for Paul’s misunderstanding and his claims…i am also baffled to read his disobedience to Prophets who spoke repeatedly in the inspiration of Holy Spirit to not make journey towards Israel in Acts 21 .but he wouldn’t listen as in the chapter Acts 20 he claims to be have inspiration of Spirit to go to Jerusalemn……he bore the consequence..i feel sorry for Paul…I believe the daughters of Philip and other one had the Spirit too in Acts 21….

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  3. VictorsCorner 16/09/2017 / 4:53 pm

    Hello Gadol, your comment on the post is appreciated. But I wouldn’t want us to mix up issues or misunderstand ourselves by bringing in too many extraneous things into this singular discourse.

    As you might have realised, the purpose of the post was not to demean Apostle Paul in any way. But it was meant to highlight the fact that he was humble enough to acknowledge that he was not a good speaker, despite his being vast in knowledge, which was pretty obvious in the N.T. records.

    Of course, I agree with you that what the Corinthian church observed about Paul not being so eloquent was correct. But then you introduced many other things about him that I’m sure many of my readers may not agree with you completely.

    Paul was ‘proud’ of his enormous achievements in life but at no point did he esteemed them above the cross of Christ which he was called to bear.

    Naturally speaking, Paul had every good reason to be proud of who he was before he encountered the Lord on his way to Damascus. But like you may have read about him, he laid everything aside to pursue his spiritual calling, vigorously.

    Recall his immortal words to the Philippians (in 3:8) concerning all his wonder achievements in life, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” This doesn’t like some one unforgivably proud and pompous as you suggested.

    Also, that Paul was an Apostle to gentiles is a very known fact. So you would not have sufficient basis to disprove that!

    Even from the beginning of his calling, the Lord himself defined who Paul was being call to reach. Perhaps you will need to read Acts 4:9 again, which clearly says:

    “But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is my chosen instrument to take my message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel.” (The referenced Saul is our Paul here).

    No one can doubt that Paul was sent to the gentiles after reading that passage, except of course the person doesn’t esteem the words of the Lord Himself.

    Time will fail me to begin to comment on each of the other issues you brought in. Suffice to say that Paul was a great Apostle any how you look at it. Thank you.

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  4. Nehemiah Project 17/09/2017 / 4:55 am

    No, oral eloquence was not Paul’s strength. It seems that being a long term guest in Felix’s house gave him plenty of time to write. Writing was his mode of communication. Of course, we benefit from some of his letters, to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • VictorsCorner 17/09/2017 / 9:48 am

      Thanks for the validation. Like it was observed in the post, it seemed that his not-so-eloquent speeches were fully compensated by his writing skills. To which I would agree with you continues to be of great benefit to the modern day church. I would also agree that his time in custody afforded him the opportunity of writing his many epistles.

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  5. SLIMJIM 17/09/2017 / 7:58 am

    Very good case from your three line of reasoning; I’m convinced. As application it reminded me of how we are weak but He is strong, and it is His Word more than our personality that is being used to save and sanctify people. Thank you for this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • VictorsCorner 17/09/2017 / 9:51 am

      You are welcome and thank you for reading and commenting.
      I agree with you that just like in Apostle Paul’s case, the efficacy of the Gospel we preach is not a result of the eloquence of our speeches but by the power of God in us.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Arkenaten 17/09/2017 / 3:58 pm

    I always find it odd that, as Saul of Tarsus never met the character Jesus the Nazarene, has no apparent interest in him as a human being, and that many of his epistles are forgeries that any serious credence can be afforded this character for whom there is no non-biblical or independent evidence.

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    • VictorsCorner 17/09/2017 / 4:36 pm

      Saul of Tarsus, who became Apostle of whom we referred to in the post did not meet Jesus in the sense as other Apostles met Him and walked with Him. But Paul still met Jesus in the encounter on the way to Damascus. The story is recorded in the Bible in Acts 9:1-9. You may check it out if you care.

      Of course, after the encounter, Paul had serious interest in Jesus and against all odds, followed Him for the rest of his life.

      It is laughable to think that Paul’s Epistles are forgeries as you suggested. We the followers of Jesus Christ, know better. You too can get to know better than your claim here, if you are genuinely interested. Thank you.

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      • Arkenaten 17/09/2017 / 6:28 pm

        Acts is not considered reliable history and much of it is fallacious.
        I am sure you are aware of the current scholarly view in this regard.

        Every renowned biblical scholar in the world recognizes that many of Paul’s epistles are forgeries.
        I can offer you several links if you are in the least interested?
        However, may I ask on what grounds do you dispute some of the best scholars in the world?

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        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 6:24 am

          I don’t wish to engage in further argument with u on this.To be honest, we (those who are led by the Spirit of God) know better. Any claim of Paul’s Epistles being forgeries is malicious. If you don’t want to accept that, it is better we leave it that way. Okay?

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 1:03 pm

          So you do not accept the view of top christian scholars such as NT Wright for example?

          Are you a Young Earth Creationist by any chance?

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 6:54 pm

          How could someone be a top christian scholar who doesn’t validate the claims of the Bible, like the Epistles written by Apostle Paul?
          Of course I do not doubt that God is the creator of the Earth.

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 6:59 pm

          I truly am amazed that you are so blinkered regarding biblical scholarship.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles#Authenticity

          And of course if you are going to turn your nose up to the Wiki link then I am sure we can match the list with numerous other sites in including Encyclopedia Britannica

          Seven letters (with consensus dates)[5] considered genuine by most scholars:
          First Thessalonians (c. 50 AD)
          Galatians (c. 53)
          First Corinthians (c. 53–54)
          Philippians (c. 55)
          Philemon (c. 55)
          Second Corinthians (c. 55–56)
          Romans (c. 57)
          The letters on which scholars are about evenly divided:[6]
          Colossians
          Second Thessalonians
          The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by about 80% of scholars:[6]
          Ephesians
          First Timothy
          Second Timothy
          Titus

          Of course I do not doubt that God is the creator of the Earth.

          The question I asked was whether you are a Young Earth Creationist?
          Are you?

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        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 7:06 pm

          You accusation of narrow mindedness doesn’t not apply. I think you are seriously missing the point.
          Doesn’t it occur to you that if you could disagree with someone’s view point, someone else is also at liberty to disagree with yours if need be?

          As per your question of being a young creationist, I believe my earlier answer is very clear enough.

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 7:13 pm

          Disagreement is fine. Denying evidence-based scholarly consensus is simply silly.

          Your answer to YEC seems vague.
          All Christians believe Yahweh is responsible for creation.
          Young Earth Creationists consider the earth to be no more than 10,000 years old.

          So, are you a Young Earth Creationist?

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 7:25 pm

          I do not deny Biblical evidence. But I do not imagine that because some concocted ideas sound so scholarly then it qualifies as truth. God’s word is truth. Any knowledge that doesn’t draw from it or denies it cannot be trusted.

          I wonder what you are driving at with your reoccurring YEC questions. It doesn’t change anything for me if we could at least agree that God is the creator of the Earth.

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 8:06 pm

          It changes a lot, as it means you deny evolution for one thing.
          Are you a Young Earth Creationist?
          Why are you reluctant to answer such a simple straightforward question?

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 8:20 pm

          So you really think you know what would change or fail to change things I for me? Don’t be so preposterous!

          If you must know, the theory of evolution is laughable to me and countless others. It lacks complete in empiricism, the hallmark of genuine science. But I can’t be drawn into such argument here now.

          I have assured myself in the past that there was no use engaging in a back and forth online exchanges with faceless individuals. I feel that if you are sure and proud of your ideas, you would be comfortable showing your identity. But that is clearly not the case with you! And that’s not polite!

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 8:30 pm

          So you really think you know what would change or fail to change things I for me? Don’t be so preposterous!

          Not in the least.
          You can believe whatever you like.
          It won’t change the evidence.
          So I am going to go out on a limb and say you ARE an YEC.

          Would you care to explain how humans and dinosaurs co-existed?

          I like the Arkenaten gravitar.
          My name is plain as day on my blog.
          Maybe you would enjoy my book?

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 9:52 pm

          Is that your real name? You know I have my doubts about that. But how about showing your real picture and not some sphinx like many of your kind do?

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 9:58 pm

          What name do you have doubts about?

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 10:37 pm

          My real name is printed on the cover f my book.
          Did you not see it? Go look again.

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 10:50 pm

          I haven’t seen your book yet. Why are your real name and picture not on your blog? Like I mentioned, it’s not really cool chatting with faceless individuals on WordPress.

          Like

        • Arkenaten 18/09/2017 / 10:55 pm

          Because I like the Avatar Arkenaten and I have used it for some time.
          If you prefer to address me by my given name, feel free.

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 11:14 pm

          You haven’t said anything about using sphinx instead of your real picture

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 19/09/2017 / 7:04 am

          Referring to your gravatar/WP display image.

          Like

        • Arkenaten 19/09/2017 / 11:28 am

          It is not a Sphinx, but a bust of Ahkenaten

          Like

        • VictorsCorner 18/09/2017 / 6:31 am

          Anyone or any body who considers Acts of the Apostles as unreliable and fallacious is seriously mistaken, irrespective of whatever titles such one bears. The evidences in Acts to confirm its veracity are just too compelling to dispute.

          Who are the so-called scholars? How can someone be a renown Bible scholar who doesn’t not believe in the Acts of the Apostles or God of the Bible? Sincerely, some claims don’t add up.
          You may provide the links if you wish.

          Like

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