Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, February 28th, 2024
the Second Week of Lent
There are 32 days til Easter!
Attention!
We are taking food to Ukrainians still living near the front lines. You can help by getting your church involved.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 2

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Preaching the Crucified Christ

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 I, brethren, when I came to you: In chapter one, verses 17-31, Paul cautions the Corinthians about their glorying in man. He warns them that the wisdom of man is mere foolishness compared to the wisdom of God. Now in the words "And I, brethren, when I came to you," Paul is showing that he has practiced what he taught when he came and spoke to them. He did not come, as did their "wise men," with enticing words. Rather, he came teaching the truth of God; and those who had accepted his teaching had not been tricked into accepting the gospel by beguiling speech.

came not with excellency of speech: The term "excellency" (huperoche), which is also translated "authority" in 1 Timothy 2:2, means "elevation, pre-eminence, superiority" (Thayer 641-1-5247). By the word "excellency," Paul is referring to his style of preaching. He did not rely upon his own speaking abilities to convert people to Christ: the message did the converting. Paul refers to this same idea in his second letter by saying, "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible" (2 Corinthians 10:10).

or of wisdom: "Wisdom" (sophia) refers to "broad and full intelligence" (Thayer 581-2-4678). Paul is telling the Corinthians that he did not make the cross of Christ vain by coming to them with his own words as a philosopher; but, instead, he came as a simple preacher of the gospel, a bearer of good news. Paul says, "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect" (1:17).

declaring unto you the testimony of God: The word "declaring" (kataggello) means to "declare, promulgate, make known (or) to proclaim publicly" (Thayer 330-2-2605). Instead of publicly proclaiming his own message to the Corinthians, Paul stresses that he came to declare the "testimony of God." What is the "testimony of God?" The answer is clearly stated by John:

If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:9-13).

The marginal reading of the Revised Standard Version explains that the word marturion, translated "testimony" in the King James Version, is translated "mystery" or "secret" by ancient authorities. The word mystery may be a better translation because the crucified Christ is the mystery of God, as Paul records:

Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26-27).

Later in 1 Corinthians 2:7, Paul refers to this "mystery" when he says, "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory." In the New Testament, a mystery is not something that is considered impossible to understand, but it is something that has not been divinely revealed. Vine says, "In the ordinary sense a mystery consists of knowledge withheld, in scripture it consists of truth revealed" (424).

Verse 2

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

For I determined not to know any thing among you: The word "for" (gar) ties this verse to verse 1. Paul says it was no accident that he came to them preaching the crucified Christ--it was deliberate. His total purpose in coming to them was not to learn more about them, their teachings, or their wisdom. "I determined not to know any thing among you...." The word "not" goes with "I determined." In other words, "I am not determined to know any thing among you...." The term "determined" (krino) means "to resolve, decree" (Thayer 360-2-2919), or as Strong says to "decide" (#2919).

save Jesus Christ, and him crucified: After stating that it was his decision not to know anything about the Corinthians, Paul qualifies his statement by saying, "save Jesus Christ, and him crucified." The word "save" (ei me) means "if not" (Strong #1508); therefore, Paul is saying, "I decided not to know any thing among you if it is not concerning Jesus Christ, and him crucified" (Strong #2919).

Paul "intentionally set aside the different elements of human knowledge by which he might have been tempted to prop up the preaching of salvation" (Godet 125). Paul decided it would not be right to preach the wisdom and the philosophy of the Jews and Greeks. His only message was concerning the crucified Christ. He was not going to preach the belief of the Jews concerning Jesus, for to them the crucified Christ was a "stumblingblock" (see comments on 1:23). He also was not going to preach the belief of the Greeks, who considered the death of Christ on the cross as "foolishness" (see comments on 1:23). On the other hand, Paul was determined not to sugar-coat the truth concerning the crucified Christ by eliminating the teaching about Him--he was determined to preach "Jesus Christ, and him crucified" no more and no less. (See comments on 1:17-23 for additional remarks concerning the crucified Christ.)

Verse 3

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

And I was with you in weakness: In contrast to verse 2 where Paul was defining his purpose in going to Corinth, he now describes how he came to them: first, in "weakness" (astheneia), which means "feebleness of body or mind" (Strong #769). Contextually, "weakness" does not refer to his bodily weakness but to an inward weakness. This attitude is a sign of Paul’s humbleness. He did not come to them with a feeling of might and wisdom; instead, he tells them of his feelings of inadequacy for the greatness of his work and the resistance he would have to encounter. Paul feels he does not compare to the Corinthians who have well-developed talents. For example, he says he is not an eloquent public speaker in 2 Corinthians 10:10: "For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." Because of his feeling of inferiority, he refers to himself as coming in "weakness."

and in fear, and in much trembling: Because he comes to the Corinthians in weakness, Paul says he comes "in fear, and in much trembling." The word "fear" (phobos) means to be "alarm(ed)" (Strong #5401). Thayer says it literally means to be in "terror" (656-2-5401) to the point of causing much "trembling." "Trembling" (tromos) is "used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but religiously does his utmost to fulfil his duty" (Thayer 630-2-5156). This phrase seems to indicate the human side of Paul by referring to his concerns. Paul was not fearful for his physical life, but he feared to the point of trembling at the thought that his inadequacies might not allow a successful work in Corinth.

With the use of the three adjectives ("weakness," "fear," and "trembling"), Paul shows his humble, timid attitude in contrast to the bold confidence of the Greek wise men. In times of "weakness," however, his source of strength would come from a remembrance of the Lord’s words. Jesus tells Paul in Acts,

Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city (18:9-10).

Verse 4

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

And my speech and my preaching: Paul uses the words "speech" (logos) and "preaching" (kerugma) to refer to his different ways of spreading the gospel. By "speech" Paul probably refers to private conversations in which he was teaching the gospel. By the term "preaching," he refers to public sermons or discourses.

was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom: Paul wants the Corinthians who were converted to Christ to remember when he came to them they accepted the gospel because of the words spoken and not because of who spoke them or how they were spoken. Paul is reminding them that he did not speak in private or public gatherings "with enticing words of man’s wisdom." "Enticing (peithos) words" means "persuasive" words (Thayer 497-2-3981). In other words, Paul’s style of speaking was not overly persuasive. No one considered Paul’s speeches to be persuasive words of wisdom; therefore, the Corinthians were not converted because the apostle was speaking with "excellency of speech" or of "wisdom" (2:1).

but in demonstration: What caused the Corinthians to accept the gospel as preached by Paul? It was a "demonstration of the Spirit and of power." The term "demonstration" (apodeixis), used only here in the New Testament, means "proof" (Thayer 60-1-585) or "manifestation" (Strong #585).

of the Spirit: The "Spirit" refers to the Holy Spirit. The words spoken by Paul did not originate from his own "wisdom" or the wisdom of any man; instead they came by means of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promises the apostles that such would happen by saying,

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you" (John 14:26).

and of power: Paul reminds the Corinthians they were convinced to accept the gospel of the crucified Christ because of the "power" of the Holy Spirit. The word "power" (dunamis) is defined by Strong as "miraculous power" (#1411). Paul’s preaching proved to be messages from God because of the miracles he performed. It was based upon these things, and not man’s wisdom. Paul presents this same message to the Thessalonians: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Verse 5

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men: "Faith" (pistis) means "persuasion" (Strong #4102). Paul is expressing why "enticing words" are not to influence the Corinthians to believe false teaching. If Paul had used enticing words, the Corinthians possibly would have still accepted his teachings; however, their "faith" (persuasion) would have come from the "wisdom of men."

but in the power of God: Paul stresses that their faith "stands" either in the "wisdom of men" or it "stands" in the "power of God." The word "stand" (eimi) indicates that true faith "exist(s)" (Strong #1510) "in the power of God." The preposition "in" gives the source of this persuasion. The Christian’s "faith" exists in God’s power.

This "power" (dunamis) is "divine power considered as acting upon the minds of men" (Thayer 159-1-1411). This is the power God has furnished to persuade and strengthen a Christian’s faith. The "power" referred to is the gospel of Christ, as Paul indicates in Romans 1:16: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." For our "faith" (persuasion) to last until the end of time, it must originate from the wisdom of God (the gospel) and not the wisdom of man. Man’s wisdom cannot be depended upon, for it is always changing; but God’s wisdom and His words are forever (Hebrews 13:8), and they will lead to salvation.

In this verse, Paul brings the readers’ attention back to the point he was making in chapter 1:18, that is, "the power of God." Paul interrupts his letter to explain to the Corinthians that "the gospel of the crucified Christ is not a wisdom, but a power; not a philosophy, but a salvation" (Godet 130).

Verse 6

The Gospel Is the True Wisdom

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: In the previous verses, Paul repeatedly teaches the gospel of Jesus Christ does not depend upon human wisdom. Now he tells them he teaches "wisdom." Paul is not condemning wisdom itself, but human wisdom. In his emphasis on wisdom here, he is speaking about genuine wisdom, the wisdom of God.

In the first 5 verses, Paul uses the singular pronoun "I"; but now he changes to the plural "we" to include all faithful Christians who teach God’s word. The apostles and all inspired teachers taught the true wisdom. This wisdom is preached to those who are "perfect." The word "perfect" (teleios) means "full-grown, adult; full age, mature." These are the ones, as Thayer continues to say, who are "more intelligent, (and) ready to apprehend divine things" (618-2-5046). The Revised Standard Version renders this word "mature." The term "perfect" or "mature" is used in contrast with the word "babes" in 1 Corinthians 3:1. Further over in the book of 1 Corinthians, teleios is translated "men" in contrast to children: "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men" (teleios) (14:20).

The wisdom of God must be known and understood. Paul’s message to the Corinthians is that they improve themselves to the point of maturity so they might be able to hear and understand God’s word. Christians need to remove all obstacles keeping them from God, and certainly the Corinthians had many obstacles in their lives. Paul states in chapter three, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (3:3). A complete knowledge of God’s word will help to remove these obstacles and make a Christian perfect. Paul says, "Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13).

yet not the wisdom of this world: The word "world" (aion) means "age" (Strong #165) and refers to a period of time instead of the physical world. The things Paul and other inspired teachers taught did not originate with the wisdom of any man.

nor of the princes of this world: Not only did the apostles not speak the wisdom of the world, they also did not speak the wisdom of the "princes of this world." Some say the "princes" of this world are demons and cite as a proof Ephesians 6:12: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." A closer look at the context, however, proves this to be an erroneous view because verse 8 tells us the "princes of this world" "crucified the Lord"; surely the demons did not do this. The "princes of this world" are simply the wisest, the most influential, learned men of the day. It includes the philosophers and all the leaders of the Jews, as well as the Gentile representatives of political power. These are the ones who spoke against the crucified Lord.

that come to nought: The phrase "that come to nought" is translated from the word katargeo and means "to render idle, unemployed, inactive, inoperative" (Thayer 336-1-2673). The Revised Standard Version renders this verse: "Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away." Regardless of the wisdom of the "princes of this world," their words are nothing more than nails in their own spiritual coffins. Their wisdom will soon vanish. They do not have the true wisdom needed to secure salvation, and they refuse to accept the gospel of the crucified Christ; therefore, they are dooming themselves. "All the plans of human wisdom shall fail; and this which is originated by God only shall stand" (Barnes 32).

Throughout history, from the days of Christ to the present time, man’s wisdom has always led to destruction. For example, the wisdom of man was not able to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, nor has it been able to avoid wars in every generation since. The reason is they have relied upon their own wisdom, instead of God’s wisdom. Jeremiah 10:23: "...it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps."

Verse 7

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery: In contrast to the "wisdom of this world" of which Paul speaks in the previous verse, he now declares the apostles and all inspired teachers speak the "wisdom of God," which is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

There is some confusion as to whether the term "mystery" should be applied to the word "speak" or to the word "wisdom." If it applies to "speak," it refers to the words that contain a mystery; if it applies to "wisdom," it refers to the fact that God’s wisdom, concerning the crucified Christ, was hidden from man until God revealed it. Vincent and Lange say it refers to "speak," while such scholars as Robertson, Godet, Lenski, and Vine say it refers to "wisdom." It seems to make very little difference because the mystery is hidden from everyone who does not receive the gospel of Christ. However, it seems more appropriate to apply it to "wisdom" because the context is contrasting man’s "wisdom" with God’s "wisdom."

In this context Paul is teaching the Corinthians that the greatest wisdom of all mankind was not able to discover the plan of salvation because God’s wisdom had been hidden in a mystery. In order for mankind to benefit from the mystery concerning Jesus Christ, God had to reveal it. Jesus says in Luke 8:10: "Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God...."

even the hidden wisdom: The words "even" and "wisdom" in the King James Version have been supplied by the translators. The Revised Standard Version renders this verse: "But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification." The word "hidden" (apokrupto) is used "in the sense of concealing (or) keeping secret" (Thayer 63-2-613). Paul is saying that by speaking the wisdom of God the apostles are able to reveal the hidden messages of God. Man’s wisdom would never be able to reveal these messages.

which God ordained before the world: The term "ordained" (proorizo) means "predetermined, decide beforehand" (Thayer 541-1-4309). The "hidden" mystery of God is the crucified Christ, which was not an afterthought of God. This plan was "ordained" before the foundation of the world so that mankind could be saved. This same message is presented to the church at Rome when Paul teaches, "Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began" (Romans 16:25). The term "world" (aion), meaning "ages" (Strong #165), should be in the plural, not the singular as the King James Version renders. The Revised Standard Version is more accurate by rendering this phrase: "...which God decreed before the ages."

This verse is not teaching that man’s salvation is predetermined. The thing that is predetermined before the foundation of the world was the plan of redemption or the way of salvation.

unto our glory: The plan of redemption involving the death of Jesus is for Christians’ "glory," that Christians may be "partakers" of "glory." The word "glory" (doxa) indicates "the glorious condition of blessedness into which it is appointed and promised that true Christians shall enter after their Saviour’s return from heaven" (Thayer 156-2-1391).

Verse 8

Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Which none of the princes of this world knew: (See verse 6 for explanation of "the princes of this world.") The "princes of this world" did not know the mystery concerning Christ’s crucifixion leading to man’s salvation. Since they did not realize God’s plan was for the Messiah to die upon the cross, when it came to pass, they considered it foolishness to claim that Jesus was the Messiah. The Apostle Peter also makes reference to the people’s rejection of Christ when he says,

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses....And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled" (Acts 3:13-15; Acts 3:17-18).

for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory: This clause is Paul’s proof that the princes of this world did not know the plan of God concerning Jesus. While Jesus was on the cross, He acknowledged the ignorance of those who crucified Him by saying "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The phrase "the Lord of glory" indicates that the person crucified was a divine person.

Verse 9

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

But as it is written: Paul is making reference to the teachings of Isaiah when he says,

For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him (Isaiah 64:4).

Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man: In mentioning this Old Testament passage, Paul is proving man cannot understand the mysteries of God through his own senses (sight, hearing, understanding) unless God reveals them.

the things which God hath prepared for them that love him: The mysteries were revealed to Paul and other inspired writers; however, they did not come from man. Instead, Paul indicates the apostles speak the things the eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, and man has never learned. These mysteries are now available to those who love God. "The things which God hath prepared" does not refer to heaven. In this context, the word "things" refers to the gospel of Christ. Of course, everything we know about His gospel, as well as everything we know about God, the Holy Spirit, our origin, and our eternal destination, comes from God’s word; however, the "things" here probably refer to the things concerning the redemptive plan of salvation.

for them that love him: The word "love" (agapao) is not a love of words only but a love of action, a love of obedience. Man’s salvation depends upon his proving his love to God by being obedient to God.

Verse 10

How the Inspired Learned God’s Will

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

But God hath revealed them unto us: Paul has clearly proved the "princes (rulers) of the world" did not know God’s mysteries concerning the plan of redemption but that this plan was revealed to the inspired writers. The word "revealed" (apokalupto) is defined by Thayer as "to make known, make manifest, disclose, what before was unknown" (62-1-601). Concerning the mysteries of God that have been hidden from the foundation of the world, Paul says they have been revealed, not to the princes of this world (verse 8) but "unto us," referring to himself and other inspired writers.

by his Spirit: Even though eyes have not seen and ears have not heard (verse 9) the truths concerning the gospel plan of salvation, inspired writers were taught these mysteries, not by the wisdom of man but by "his Spirit," that is, the Holy Spirit. Jesus gives this promise in John 14:26,

But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

for the Spirit searcheth all things: The word "searcheth" (ereunao) literally means to "examine" (Thayer 249-1-2045); however, it does not indicate a type of investigation by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit already knew things concerning man and God (2:11); therefore, He had to only reveal the messages.

yea, the deep things of God: The "deep things" (bathos) of God refer to "things hidden and above man’s scrutiny, especially the divine counsel (Thayer 92-2-899). These "deep things" have reference to the purposes of God concerning the plan of salvation. Paul’s main thought in this verse is that the Holy Spirit is able and competent to reveal accurately the teachings of God to them because He is a part of the Godhead. Today we still have these mysteries--the printed pages of the New Testament.

Verse 11

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

Paul now shows an analogy between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God. In the same way that man’s spirit knows the things concerning man, God’s Spirit knows the things concerning God. This analogy shows the Holy Spirit has an exact knowledge of the things of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him: This comparison is not implying that there is a perfect resemblance between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man. The "spirit of man" refers to his mind or his self-consciousness; therefore, one man may not know the things of another man, but he does know the things concerning himself because of his self-consciousness. He has a knowledge of why he does the things that he does.

even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God: The "Spirit" of God does not refer to something in God, as it does with man; instead it refers to the person of the Holy Spirit. The point Paul is making is man cannot understand the mysteries of God without revelation. But in the same way that man’s spirit (self-consciousness) knows himself, the Spirit of God knows the things concerning God; thus He can and did communicate the thoughts and plans of God to the inspired writers of the New Testament.

The obvious point Paul is making to the Corinthians is that the wisdom of the Greeks could not possibly know the things of God. Thus, the Greeks taught "the wisdom of man."

Verse 12

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God: "We" in this verse is the same as "us" in verse 10 and refers to the apostles and all inspired men. "The spirit of the world" is the same as the "wisdom of this world" in verse 6, referring to the rulers throughout the ages. Paul is repeating himself and thereby stressing what he is teaching was not "received" (lambano) or "gain(ed)" (Thayer 371-1-2983) by the wisdom of man but by the wisdom of God. A more detailed explanation of why this action is necessary is found in Paul’s letter to the church at Rome.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be (Romans 8:4-7).

God’s divine Spirit is here contrasted with another spirit that is of the world. The things Paul has to say come directly from God, through His divine Spirit. He says he and the other inspired writers have received the Spirit which is "of" (ek) God" or the Spirit which is from or proceeding from God. Thayer explains the word "of" as referring to the Spirit who has God as His "origin or source" (190-1-1537). In other words, Paul refers to the Holy Spirit whom Christ promised would come and guide them into all truth (John 14:26).

that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God: This phrase tells why Paul and the other inspired men refused to receive the spirit or wisdom of the world but instead accepted only the wisdom from God. The term "know" (oida) means to "get knowledge of, understand, perceive" (Thayer 174-1-1492). In the previous verse, Paul clearly states the spirit of the world cannot know the things of God. "The spirit of the world" can lead only to disobedience because the world does not know God’s will. Writing to the church in Ephesus, Paul says,

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2).

Paul says "we" (inspired men) accept only the wisdom of God "freely given to us" by the Holy Spirit that we "might know the things of God." This teaching should be a lesson to us today. When a person says, "I don’t know what God expects of me," he is showing that he has not fully accepted the wisdom of God. We will know God’s desires when we fully accept Him. Paul says,

That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:2-3).

Paul has explained to the Corinthians how God’s will was revealed to him and other inspired men; however, beginning with the next verse, he begins to explain how God’s will is delivered to other Christians--those not inspired.

Verse 13

How the Uninspired Learn God’s Will

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth: The way the uninspired learn God’s will is by hearing those who were inspired speak God’s will to them. Paul repeats his previous statement, stressing he does not teach the things taught by man; instead, he speaks only the words the Holy Ghost teaches him. The word "teacheth" (didaktos), found twice in this verse, means "taught" or "instructed" (Thayer 144-1-1318). Therefore, Paul is saying, "We, the inspired, teach the uninspired, not the things of learned men, but the words that we are instructed by the Holy Ghost."

This verse is not teaching verbal inspiration. Inspired men did not necessarily repeat word for word what the Holy Ghost said; instead, they taught, in their own words, what the Holy Spirit brought back to their minds.

comparing spiritual things with spiritual: The term "comparing" (sugkrino) is defined as "to join together fitly, compound, combine" (Thayer 593-2-4793). There is controversy about this part of the verse because of the word "comparing." The interpretation depends upon whether the word "comparing" is neuter or masculine, and neither can be proved. If it is neuter, the phrase means combining spiritual things with spiritual words, therefore, harmonizing with the first part of the verse. If it is masculine, however, the phrase is teaching comparing spiritual things with spiritual men, harmonizing with verse 14. Contextually, either view would apply. The most reasonable view is to take the word "comparing" as neuter and referring to "the words...which the Holy Ghost teaches." In other words, Paul taught spiritual things (God’s wisdom) by associating the "spiritual things" with the words given to him from the Holy Spirit. This does away with the idea of verbal inspiration. The Holy Spirit told Paul what to say; and Paul taught the people the message in his own words. Being guided by the Holy Spirit allowed him to teach these spiritual truths in his own words without mistake.

Verse 14

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: "The natural man" is rendered "the unspiritual man" in the Revised Standard Version. Paul makes the point that those who are not spiritual "receiveth not" (dekomai) the spiritual things given by the Holy Spirit. The words "receiveth not" mean that the unspiritual will not "receive favorably, embrace, (or) approve" (Thayer 131-1-1209) of the "things of the Spirit of God."

for they are foolishness unto him: The reason they will not approve of these things is that to them these words "are foolishness" (moria), meaning "silly or absurd" (Strong #3472).

neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned: By the words "neither can he know them," Paul is explaining the reason the unspiritual man’s wisdom is in error--his investigation of God’s will was not being aided by the Holy Spirit. Thayer says, "Spiritually, that is, by the aid of the Holy Spirit" (523-2-4153). The word "discerned" means to "investigate" (Strong #350). Therefore, Paul’s teaching, as Meyer says, is that the uninspired man "is not in a position to discern it" (58). There were only a few people (apostles and other inspired writers) who were selected by God to receive the words from the Holy Spirit and in turn preach the message to the world.

Verse 15

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things: In contrast to the "natural man" in verse 14, Paul now refers to the "spiritual" man. The "spiritual" (pneumatikos) man refers to those who are "filled with and governed by the Spirit of God" (Thayer 523-2-4152); therefore, they are inspired of God and are the only ones who can judge or "investigate" (Strong #350) the things of God. The inspired writers wrote down the things delivered from the Holy Spirit so that even today we can judge all things by the written word.

yet he himself is judged of no man: Those who are spiritual, however, can be "judged of no man." Even though the "natural man" (2:14)--the uninspired man--may attempt to pass his spiritual views on to true Christians, he is disregarded because he is not spiritual and, therefore, is ignorant of God’s word.

Verse 16

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

This verse is taken from Isaiah 40:13. The phrase "the mind of the Lord" is identical to "the mind of Christ." The Apostle Paul is proving the last phrase of verse 15 that the spiritual (apostles and all inspired men) can be properly judged of no man. Paul’s argument of proof is really no less than a syllogism.

Major premise: No unspiritual man can know the mind of Christ (2:14).

Minor premise: The spiritual man has the mind of Christ (1:13).

Conclusion: The unspiritual man cannot judge the spiritual man (1:15).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/1-corinthians-2.html. 1993-2022.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile