Which is a more important requirement for the minister of the gospel? Revelation or eloquence?
In an age of misplaced priorities, we’ve seen people value eloquence above revelation. Many will rather feel happy than actually grow. It’s not too hard to find people switch loyalty from a place where they receive revelation knowledge to the ‘happening place‘. It’s increasingly difficult to see people who have had consistent membership in the same Church for ten years…especially among the youth!
This didn’t just begin today though. Something similar appeared to have transpired between Paul and Apollos. In the previous post,(READ HERE) we learnt that Apollos was an eloquent man;
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, AN ELOQUENT MAN, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.” – Act 18:24 (KJV)
Apollos’ ministry came into Corinth and stayed there while Paul left for Ephesus. To clarify that, see Acts 19:1;
“… while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus…”
This is where issues begin (or appear to begin). The people at Corinth begin to take sides. Most parts of Paul’s first letter to Corinth (1 Corinthians) appears to be addressing this. He says;
“What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I FOLLOW CHRIST.” Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?” 1 Corinthians 1:12-13
Don’t mistake Paul’s comment on the impropriety of strife among Christians as him saying they can follow whoever they choose. The point here is, you do not either follow Apollos or Paul. It was Christ that was crucified. It is in his name and by his Spirit that we have been ‘baptized’ or added to the body of Christ. It is in His name that Paul carried out ministry.
However, Paul still firmly affirms that in choosing who to follow, revelation gifts and not natural abilities should be the priority. He says:
“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth”. (1:26)
Was he trying to insinuate that the hype about Apollos’ natural gifts were carnal? Perhaps, it is too early to say. Let’s read on.
And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with ELOQUENCE OR HUMAN WISDOM as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God (1 Corinthians 2:1)
Why is Paul saying this? Don’t forget, Apollos came to them with eloquence. Read on;
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 2:4-5)
We can see so much emphasis on spiritual gifts being prioritized above natural abilities. Paul goes on to talk about the special revelation he had received from God:
However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him— THESE ARE THE THINGS GOD HAS REVEALED TO US BY HIS SPIRIT. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10)
Paul had received a revelation from the Spirit of God that had been hidden from the foundation of the earth! He lets them understand how silly it will be to rather have fine words at the expense of revelation.
Just in case you are in doubt that Apollos is still the subject matter, he says;
“You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 1 Corinthians 3:3-4
Paul does not in any way insinuate that he is the only one who can care for their spiritual welfare. Learn from people (if they bring the right message), but to leave Paul to follow Apollos will be silly. To forget his teachings because he is away and go for something less wholesome will be sad. He says;
The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.By the grace God has given me, I LAID A FOUNDATION AS A WISE BUILDER, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work ((1 Corinthians 3:8-13)
Paul says he is the wise Master builder. He laid the theological foundation for the church! If anyone builds upon my foundation, let him build with care, knowing that God will judge.
Again, who was the subject matter? Re-affirm:
“Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 1 Cor 4:6
So, what’s the conclusion? What’s Paul trying to say?
“I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. THEREFORE I URGE YOU TO IMITATE ME“. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
Just a moment ago, you might have thought he was indifferent about who they followed. Nope. They were his children. He refused to let go.
And so Paul says:
For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. (1 Corinthians 4:17)
This was what happened in Paul’s day. It’s happening today. Many attend churches that can enhance their social status. They know where they ought to be but they refuse to be there. Likewise, some persons read posts that bless them and will never like or share. Also, there is the issue of some growing by feeding elsewhere and partnering financially where they do not belong.
” Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord…Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?…If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?…” (1 Corinthians 9:2,6, 11-12)
All this is for ‘someone reading’- Never choose eloquence over revelation, talent or ministry gifts, excellence over an actual opportunity to grow spiritually.
Go for revelation.
Remember to read;
REVELATION OR ELOQUENCE? Choosing the Minster to Follow (Part 1)
Pastor Emmanuel Iren
Pastor Iren Emmanuel is the lead pastor of Celebration Church International, a church which envisions a people whose lives are in Christ, for Christ with Joy. The church presently has 3 branches; Silverbird Cinema, Ikeja. Temperance hall, Bells University, Ota and Benin City. Reach him on Facebook: Iren Emmanuel