And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—-those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.
Oh, how I love Paul! He is hilarious. He is so cheeky. "Sure, sure. Peter, James, and John, those pillars, they seemed like somebodies, I guess." Love it!
But is he being as disparaging as he appears? Not really, but sort of. Here's Luther on this verse:
Paul disparages the authority and dignity of the true apostles. He says of them, "Which seemed to be somewhat." The authority of the apostles was indeed great in all the churches. Paul did not want to detract from their authority, but he had to speak disparagingly of their authority in order to conserve the truth of the Gospel…
What they say has no bearing on the argument. If the apostles were angels from heaven, that would not impress me. We are not now discussing the excellency of the apostles. We are talking about the Word of God now, and the truth of the Gospel. That Gospel is more excellent than all apostles.
"The gospel is more excellent than all apostles." Yes!
You know what? Matt Chandler, John Piper, Mark Dever, Tim Keller, David Platt. These guys and more are (probably) better preachers than you and me. But if your gospel is the Bible's gospel, their gospel isn't better than yours. Same gospel. They can't improve on it any more than you can defuse it.
If you're a good preacher, you're probably a better speaker than Paul—because Paul himself acknowledged he wasn't an impressive speaker—but if your gospel is the Bible's gospel, it is not your speaking that wakens hearts, but the same power the "unimpressive" Paul set loose.
If you know and speak the gospel, you are a channel for God's destroying of strongholds and resurrecting of lives. Every Christian who can articulate the gospel has the launch code and access to the button.
If you preach the gospel, you wield the most powerful word in the universe. It's not the gnosis of the apostles. It's the resurrecting word entrusted to us all.