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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-16


The Nature of St. Paul's Preaching

1-5. Paraphrase. 'When I visited you in Corinth I made no attempt to reconcile my message with your Greek philosophy, (2) but kept to the proclamation of the facts of Christ's life and death upon the Cross. (3) It was with much anxiety and self-distrust that I preached the gospel to you; (4) and the success I obtained was due not to my way of commending the truth, but solely to the spirit and power which animated me; (5) and so God's purpose was fulfilled, that your faith should be based not upon the eloquence of man, but upon the grace of God.'

1. When I came] i.e. on his first visit some five years before (Acts 18:1-11). Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom] St. Paul did not try to win the Corinthians to the gospel either by the eloquence of his speech in presenting it, or by his adroitness in showing its connexion with some of the philosophical ideas which were popular at the time. Testimony] i.e. which God sent me to give about Christ. RV, following another reading, has 'mystery,' i.e. the hidden counsel and will of God revealed in Christ: cp. Romans 16:25, Romans 16:26.

2. Save Jesus Christ, etc.] The Apostle relied for their conversion upon his witness to the great facts of Christ's life and death. The Crucifixion he dwelt upon all the more emphatically that he knew it must be an unattractive doctrine to many.

3. In weakness] His first visit was paid at a time when he was either sick in body from his recurrent malady (2 Corinthians 12:7), or sick at heart from his failure at Athens (Acts 17:32), and dreading lest he were again to fail among these argumentative Greeks. Fear and.. much trembling] The Apostle frequently uses this expression to indicate an overpowering anxiety for the performance of duty, culminating in a supreme effort: cp. 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5; Philippians 2:12.

4. The success of the Apostle's preaching was the result of his own possession of the divine Spirit, and the power that resided in his message to arrest and convince the hearer.

6-16. Paraphrase. 'There is indeed a wisdom with which the facts of the gospel are in harmony and which we declare to those who are ripe to receive it. (7, 8) It is not the wisdom of this world, for that led its possessors to crucify the Lord; but the wisdom which God has long kept secret (9) as the Scriptures confirm. (10) This secret wisdom God has revealed to us by His Spirit; (11) for just as man's spirit alone knows his secret thoughts, so only the Spirit of God knows God's deep designs. (12) And that Spirit of God has revealed these designs to us, (13) and we preach them in words suited to convey their spiritual message. (14) Now to the man who has not been enlightened by the Spirit of God these truths make no appeal; (15) but he whose mind has been thus enlightened is able to estimate them rightly, and he himself in his turn cannot be understood by the unspiritual. (16) For no one can know the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him; but we are in sympathy with the mind of Christ, and so can understand these spiritual truths which are revealed in Him.'

6. Wisdom] Christianity has a wisdom of its own. While it is centred in a Person, it is capable of being expressed in the terms of philosophy, and is in harmony with all that is best in human reasoning and speculation.

Perfect] St. Paul divides Christians into two classes, the beginners and the advanced. The former must be taught the simple truths of the gospel and grounded in its facts: the latter are able to receive teaching regarding God's plan in redemption and His purpose as it is revealed in Christ and illustrated in the history of the world. 'Perfect' means 'mature,' 'full-grown,' and is applied to Christians of ripe experience and character. It is often used in this sense in the Epistle to the Hebrews: cp. Ephesians 4:13; Colossians 1:28; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 9:9; Hebrews 10:1, etc.

The princes of this world] 'The men of light and leading' (Dods). They showed utter ignorance of God's mind: cp. 1 Corinthians 2:8.

7. In a mystery] Mystery means something formerly hidden in the counsels of God, but now revealed. The 'mystery' here is the reasoned account of the redemption brought by Christ. Theology is necessary if we are to understand our religion. Unto our glory] cp. Matthew 25:34.

8. The Lord of glory] The glory is His; and He came to bestow it upon us, to bringus to the perfection of our nature.

9. Eye hath not seen] A free quotation, perhaps from memory, of Isaiah 64:4 with the addition of 'neither have entered into the heart of man,' in order to emphasise the fact that man has had no share in the discovery. The things which God hath prepared] The spiritual blessings and comforts and enhghtenment revealed in Christ.

10. Searcheth] i.e. explores, fathoms: Psalms 139:1; Romans 8:27. The deep things] lit. 'the depths of God': i.e. His counsels.

11. The spirit of man.. the Spirit of God] The two expressions are exactly parallel. The spirit of man is man's conscious self in thought: and the Spirit of God is His conscious Self in thought.

12, 13. Render, 'Now when we accepted the salvation of the gospel our minds were enlightened not by any worldly wisdom, but by the wisdom which God's Spirit bestows upon the spiritually-minded and which enables us to understand and appreciate the blessings given us through Christ. (13) And these blessings we explain to you in terms suggested by no human philosophy, but by God's Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language.'

12. The spirit of the world] i.e. the wisdom falsely so called, which brought men no blessing. The spirit which is of God] i.e. true spiritual insight, which God gives by bestowing upon us a portion of His own Spirit, sending forth into our minds His light and truth (Psalms 43:3). The things that are freely given]

The spiritual blessings brought by Christ, forgiveness, sanctification, redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30).

13. We speak] Our language no less than our truths are the result of the spiritual insight with which God has enlightened our minds. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual] The phrase should be translated either, (1) 'interpreting spiritual truths in spiritual language,' or, (2) as in RM, 'interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men.' The former connects it with the context of this v., the latter with 1 Corinthians 2:14. With the former also cp. 1 Corinthians 2:4.

14. The natural man] i.e. man as he is by nature before he has come under the influence of God's grace. He may have all the intellectual qualities necessary to comprehend the wisdom of man, but he cannot understand the wisdom of God without the spiritual qualities which come only from acceptance of the gospel, e.g. humility, purity of heart, and submission to the influence of Christ.

15. Is judged of no man] The unregenerate man cannot estimate the spiritual man's experiences and aspirations: he is only bewildered when he hears these things mentioned.

16. Who hath known] adapted from Isaiah 40:18. No man untouched by God's Spirit can know anything of His mind. His truth is only revealed to those in sympathy with the spirit and character of Christ.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/1-corinthians-2.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, October 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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