In the books that the first Christians wrote, there are very few physical descriptions of anyone. This is one of those rare descriptions. Paul repeats it from the words of someone at Corinth who clearly disliked him. This person was opposing Paul in order to gain authority in the church for himself*. ĎPaul was weak and he did not speak wellí: that was what this person insisted.
The description itself astonishes us. It is not how we would expect anyone to describe a man like Paul. We would describe Paul as a man with great energy, whose words achieved great results in Godís work. However, we have not met Paul, and this person clearly had heard him. Even if this personís words are not entirely true, they were accurate enough for people to believe him.
Paul was not a physically weak person. He was strong enough to carry on his job, which was to make tents*. So, the description seems to refer to the impression that he gave. Paul appeared weak. He did not seem like someone who was strong enough to lead people. He was not impressive.
The description of the words that Paul spoke is similar. Paul did not speak in an impressive manner. Instead, he chose words that were simple and plain in their meaning. He did not give clever speeches like people expected an important leader to do*.
In other words, Paul did not look or speak like a leader. He did not behave in the proud and impressive way that many leaders behave*. Other people, now in the church at Corinth, considered that they had the right qualities to be its leader*. They laughed at Paulís words in the Books of 1 and 2 Corinthians. Paul was only trying to frighten them by his letters, they said*. That was not Peterís opinion about Paulís letters. Peter considered that Paulís letters have the same authority as the rest of the Bible*.
Next part: Paul meant what he said (10:11)
* See complete article for these Bible references.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.