In Fear and In Confidence

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2:1-15

Sometimes the way people look at us, how they expect us to think or act, or how they judge us by their standards, gives us tremendous pressure. We know it does not have to, but we still feel the stress. At times the pressure can be so great that we yield to it and start to act, speak, behave, or make decisions based on others’ value system and end up making wrong moves.

Writing to the Church in Corinth, Apostle Paul recalled how he felt when he arrived in the city: “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling (2:3). We can read the events surrounding his arrival in Corinth (Acts 18:1-18) to try to understand his fear. In fact many explanations have been given, but it is hard to confirm the exact reason as he did not say it explicitly (he was writing to the Church in Corinth, so both he and his readers knew the reason; unfortunately we don’t).

But the immediate context shows that there was a struggle between plainly preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (v. 2) and debating against the philosophers in Corinth using eloquent words and human wisdom (v. 1). Perhaps it is hard for us to understand the pressure because we are 2000 years away from the event and do not live in Corinth.

From Paul’s writing, however, we can detect that a plain proclamation of the gospel would be considered foolish and unsophisticated compared to the Greek philosophy which prevailed in Corinth and surrounding cities (v. 14). On one hand, Paul risked looking foolish and losing audience. On the other hand, he risked getting into sophisticated arguments but missed proclaiming the gospel of Christ plainly.

So Paul had to make a decision, and he did. Today we can still learn a great deal from his decision:

  • Have confidence in God. Paul had great confidence in
    • the gospel itself (v. 2)
    • the power of the Holy Spirit (vv. 4, 5)
    • the wisdom of God (v. 7),
    • the revelation of God (v. 10)
    • the illumination of the Holy Spirit for people to understand (vv. 14-15)
  • Do right things. With confidence in God, Paul decided to
    • simply preach the message of Jesus Christ and his crucifixion (v. 2)
    • explain spiritual realities with proper spiritual words (v. 13)

Today we live in a world very different from Paul’s, and we are facing stresses and pressures different from his, but the principles we can apply are still the same: have confidence in God and do right things. It takes some maturity to truly understand what is right before God, however, so proper reading of the Bible, prayers, and consultation with mature Christians are all advisable so that we will not confuse confidence in ourselves with confidence in God.

Blessings to you!

PS: Space does not permit detailed explanation of the background. You are encouraged to read Acts 18 to get a better understanding of Paul’s arrival and stay in the city of Corinth. If you have any question about the background or the kind of stress that Paul might be experiencing, feel free to leave your question here, and I will try to answer or explain in further detail.


davidDavid Soemarko received his M.A.T.S. degree (Master of Arts in Theological Studies) from Moody Theological Seminary – Michigan. He had served as a teaching elder for nearly 15 years. He has also taught the Bible in different levels (from Sunday school classes to theological classes) for about 30 years. David is also a computer/electrical engineer (with a M.S. degree from University of Michigan). He enjoys a wide range of hobbies including computer applications, drawing, painting, printmaking, photography, music, piano, gardening, and science of cooking and baking.

David blogs at on bible and bible applications.

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