WHAT DOES THE BIBLE MEAN, PAUL WAS “RUDE IN SPEECH?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
“But though I be rude in speech, yet not in knowledge…” (2 Corinthians 11:6a). Just how was Paul “rude?”
The Greek word translated “rude” in here is idiotes (from which we get “idiot”). It would be helpful to see how our 1611 translators rendered that word elsewhere.
First, Acts 4:13: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” Then, 1 Corinthians 14:16: “Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” The word “unlearned” appears in verses 23 and 24 as well. “Ignorant” or “unlearned” means “untaught, uneducated, in a particular subject.”
“Rude” in 2 Corinthians 11:6 did not mean that Paul spoke offensive, nasty language; it was “rude” as in rudimentary (basic, simple, plain). Paul knew proper Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic—he had been trained under the guidance of Gamaliel, the chief rabbi of that time. He was highly educated in literature, history, and religion. Jesus Christ even taught him doctrine never before revealed. In short, Paul was no idiot. But, he did not use his education to form statements that would manipulate people to make them do or believe. Unlike Apollos (Acts 18:24-26), Paul chose not to be an eloquent speaker.
“ And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1,4,5).
Many church leaders need to understand this simple fact. According to God the Holy Spirit, it is not about using highly technical theological terms and defending complex denominational dogmas. It is all about using plain, simple language that common people (even children) can understand and believe. Remember, the King James Bible is sixth-grade English for a reason!
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