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Monday, September 25th, 2023
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
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1 Corinthians 2

Dunagan's Commentary on the BibleDunagan's Commentary

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I. Paul's Approach To Preaching: 2:1-5

II. The Gospel Is God's Wisdom: 2:6-9

III. The Necessity of Revelation: 2:10-13

IV. The Natural Man And God's Wisdom: 2:14-16


'It appears that Paul was not an especially good speaker ( 2Co_11:6 ; 2Co_10:10 ). At least, not in comparison with the rhetoricians whose one goal in life seemed to be to able to talk beautifully. And in an area where polished and eloquent talking was a big thing, Paul stood out as rude in speech. But that didn't bother him. The orators spoke and people oohed and aahed, Paul spoke of Christ and lives were transformed.' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 41]

'If the church at Corinth was rent by a spirit of schism and faction--if some were saying, "I am of Paul"; others, "I am of Apollos" or "I am of Cephas" or "I am of Christ"--Paul insists that the fault was not his own...Here he declares that even in his mode of preaching he had given no occasion for any persons to boast of Paul as their leader...Paul had been careful so to preach that by no display of human wisdom he should obscure the divine character and source of his message. He had displayed among the Corinthians no tricks of oratory, no flights of eloquence, no pretensions of philosophy, in giving them his testimony of the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.' [Note: _ Erdman p. 36]

'In every possible way Paul has tried to show them the folly of their present fascination with wisdom, which was inherent within it the folly of self-sufficiency and self-congratulation . Even the preacher whom God used to bring them to faith had to reject self-reliance.' [Note: _ Fee p. 90]


Verse 1

1Co_2:1 And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.

'when I came unto you' -the first time ( Act_18:1 ff)

'excellency of speech' -Lit., according to elevation or superiority (Vincent p. 194) 'Superiority of speech' (NASV) 'Eloquent and persuasive oration after the fashion of the Greek orators.' (Lenski p. 87) (1:17) 'Not in such a way as to distinguish myself..those who seek wisdom may sound as if they are involved in a noble affair; in reality they are engaged in various forms of self-congratulatory..competition over "excellence" of speech..' (Fee p. 91)

'or of wisdom' -'or to philosophy' (Knox); 'or learning' (Nor). This seems to refer to the "content" of the message. 'Paul's preaching did not depend upon superior rhetoric or an outstanding philosophy for its success. When the manner of preaching or the argumentation of the preacher is stressed to the point that Christ is obscured, one has come with excellency of speech or wisdom.' (Willis p. 58)

'proclaiming to you the testimony of God' -i.e. preaching the gospel message.

Point to Note:

'Though Paul was educated at Tarsus, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens and Alexandria, yet he made no display of his learning..(He was a well-educated man- Act_22:3 )..He quotes from Aratus at Act_17:28 , and Epimenides at Tit_1:12 , and Menander at 1Co_15:33 ..' [Note: _ McGarvey p. 58]

Verse 2

1Co_2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

'Determined' -firm mental resolve, 'I had decided' (Nor).

'save Jesus Christ, and him crucified' -'He does not mean to say that every sermon was a description of the crucifixion of our Lord, but that all his teaching and preaching related to the atonement wrought by Christ upon the cross.' [Note: _ McGarvey p. 58] ( Act_24:25 )

Points to Note:

'Some commentators relate this decision to the course of events which transpired in Athens. They say that Paul tried without much success to reason with philosophers on their own basis while in Athens; he tried propagating the gospel through excellency of speech and wisdom but failed to have any success in preaching in this manner.' [Note: _ Willis pp. 59-60]

Problems with the above view:

1. Paul did preach Christ crucified in Athens- Act_17:31 ; "he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection." (17:18)

2. Paul did have some success in Athens. ( Act_17:34 )

3. As Willis points out, this view demands that we treat Act_17:22-31 , as an uninspired sermon .

4. In contrast to the above view, a better view is that Paul simply resolved, even after his rejection by the Athenian philosophers (17:32), to continue preaching the exact same message! ( Gal_3:1 )

We should be impressed with Paul's courage. Another man might have been tempted to alter his style of preaching or the content of the gospel message, to gain more converts. Despite being rejected by the "wise men", Paul refused to alter his message in order to gain their "respect". Paul did not seek to hide the death of Jesus upon the cross, even though, many of his listeners would consider it foolishness. In spite of Paul's example, how many modern religious bodies argue that the church won't survive unless we alter our style of preaching and the message that we preach?

1. Hence all cries to "keep up with the times", or to "alter the gospel message so that it is acceptable in the eyes of the world (i.e. remove the doctrines of hell, Christ is the only way, Judgement, various moral issues, counting the cost, denying self, etc..)", are rooted in the desire for human praise. Such a plea only comes from those who are enthralled with the wisdom of this world.

2. Such a demand is also a lack of faith in God and His message. The gospel message doesn't need altering ( Gal_1:6-9 ); the human heart does! ( Luk_8:1-56 )

Verse 3

1Co_2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

'I was with you' -Acts Chapter 18.

'in weakness' -'even as Paul's manner of preaching did not present the gospel as a new philosophy, neither did his bodily appearance. Whereas the Grecian philosophers manifested haughtiness and self-confidence to the point of arrogance..' (Willis p. 61) 'Now we learn that even beyond that (his manner of preaching) there was no personal impressiveness about Paul when he began his work in Corinth.' (Lenski p. 90) 2Co_10:10 ' but his personal presence is unimpressive .' ( Gal_4:13 ; 2Co_10:1 ; 2Co_12:7 )

'in fear, and in much trembling' -'full of fears, and in great anxiety.' (TCNT)

Points to Note:

1. 'Paul had been in prison in Philippi, driven out of Thessalonica and Beroea, politely bowed out of Athens. It is a human touch to see this shrinking as he faced the hard conditions in Corinth.' (Robertson p. 83)

2. He was initially all alone. ( Act_18:1-5 )

3. He had to make some tents, indicating that he might have been out of money. ( Act_18:3 ) Apparently tent-making in the eyes of some could have been considered "weakness".

4. God gave Paul encouragement in Corinth. ( Act_18:9-10 'Do not be afraid any longer ..')

5. Considering the state and condition of the city of Corinth..'a sense of complete personal inadequacy in view of the task of evangelizing such a city as Corinth.' (F.F. Bruce p. 37)

'He was depressed by the surrounding mass of dense heathenism, discouraged by the pride and self-sufficiency of the Corinthians, repelled by their impurities and moral corruption, and saddened by the bitter and blasphemous opposition of his own Jewish fellow countrymen.' [Note: _ Erdman p. 37]

6. 'Run down as he was, he was a poor figure to come..face to face with people who admired oratory and philosophic presentation. Paul feared and trembled that his condition might work a prejudice against the blessed message he had to bring.' (Lenski p. 91)

Paul is again reminding them, 'Why are you so enthralled with the wisdom of this world? Don't you remember how I first came to Corinth? Did I look anything like a philosopher? Did I sound like one? And yet, you embraced the message I preached! You embraced it because it was the truth! My style of preaching wasn't special, neither was my personal appearance. The only thing you could of been impressed with, WAS THE GOSPEL MESSAGE! '

Verse 4

1Co_2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

'speech and my preaching' -'message and my preaching' (NASV). Content and method of presentation.

'persuasive words of wisdom' -now Paul did seek to persuade men. ( Act_17:2-4 ; 2Co_5:11 ) And many of his sermons were persuasive. ( Act_24:25 ; Act_26:28 )

'But his preaching did not thereby lack "persuasion". What it lacked was the kind of persuasion found among the sophists and rhetoricians, where the power lay in the person and his delivery.' [Note: _ Fee p. 94]

'In either case Paul is stating that his preaching does not derive its power to convince from the rhetorical art of human wisdom...he is forbidding the making of the presentation of the message more important than its content .' (Willis pp. 62-63)

'Corinth put a premium on the veneer of false rhetoric and thin thinking.' (Robertson p. 83)

'demonstration' -585. apodeixis ap-od'-ike-sis; from 584; manifestation: -demonstration. 'Lit., a showing forth' (Vincent p. 195) 'The word he uses is the word for the most stringent possible proof, the kind of proof against which there can be no argument.' (Barclay p. 27) 'A word suggesting more than simply "manifestation", something akin to "evidence" or "proof"...In Greek rhetoric it was a technical term for a compelling conclusion drawn from the premises..Paul thus turns this word on its head, arguing that the "proof" lies not in compelling rhetoric, but in the accompanying VISIBLE..of the Spirit's power.' (Fee p. 95)

'of the Spirit and of power' -probably refers to the miracles that accompanied Paul's preaching. ( 2Co_12:12 ; Mar_16:17-20 ; Heb_2:3-4 . 'The miracles were absolute, indisputable proofs of the veracity of the gospel message.' (Willis p. 63)

Verse 5

1Co_2:5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

'that' -the purpose of God.

'stand' -'rest' (NASV), should not be based upon.

'And he tells us he didn't try to make the Message appear especially "wise". It wasn't clothed in complex argument...The Corinthians hadn't been drawn to Christ by a smart-talking debater . They had heard a very ordinary man proclaim an extraordinary Message and confirm it with acts which were self-evidently beyond human ability. AND WHY WAS ALL THIS SO? So they wouldn't glorify men and break up into church parties over them. So they would give God the glory..Stupid men get the impression that God couldn't do it without them.' [Note: _ McGuiggan pp. 42-43]

Points to Note:

1. The danger of placing your faith in the wisdom of men, is that another philosophy can always come along. In fact, another philosophy will always come along, and show the first to be erroneous on some points. ( Eph_4:14 )

2. 'the polished oratory sometimes heard in American pulpits, where the sermon itself seems to be the goal of what is said, makes one wonder whether the text has been heard at all. Paul's own point needs a fresh hearing. What he is rejecting is not preaching, not even persuasive preaching; rather, it is the real danger in all preaching--self reliance. The danger always lies in letting the form ... get in the way of what should be the single concern: the gospel proclaimed through human weakness..' (Fee pp. 96-97)

3. 'A word needs to be said about the absolute certainty which Paul displayed concerning the gospel; the gospel was the only way of truth. Paul did not leave any room for the possibility of being in error. He would not, therefore, have much appreciation for the modern relativity theories concerning truth. The gospel was proven too certainly for him to leave any room for error.' (Willis pp. 63-64) The same is true for all generations since. ( Joh_20:30-31 )


'To this point Paul has been rather hard on "wisdom"--because he is arguing against a Corinthian attitude toward it that has placed him and his gospel in a less than favorable light.' (Fee p. 98)

Paul has been arguing against 'mere human wisdom', the type of wisdom that thinks the gospel is foolishness. (1:23) The type of wisdom that is demonstrated in human religions and human philosophical systems. And yet, the so-called "foolishness" of Paul's message, actually does save! (1:21) And the gospel message does contain wisdom, real, genuine wisdom, the wisdom of God.

'Now Paul develops the thought that the gospel is in reality the only genuine wisdom . Do the Corinthians want wisdom? Well, here it is, the one supreme wisdom in the whole universe!' (Lenski p. 94)

Verse 6

1Co_2:6 We speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought:

'We speak wisdom' -'Yet we do speak wisdom' (NASV). Let no one say that the Bible isn't intellectually challenging. ( 2Pe_3:16 )

'among them that are fullgrown' -'among those who are spiritually mature' (Phi). Paul's term for matured Christians. (Vincent p. 195) ( 1Co_14:20 ; Heb_5:14 )

Points to Note:

1. The wisdom that Paul spoke he has already defined for us, i.e. Christ crucified (2:2; 1:23-24).

2. In this context, the fullgrown, seem to refer to the same group as are labeled "spiritual" in 2:15.

3. Paul isn't saying that he reserved a "wisdom" for the fullgrown, and preached something different to babes in Christ. The whole gospel was the wisdom of God.

4. The use of the word "fullgrown/spiritually mature" seems to be a jab at the Corinthians:

'the argument of this paragraph is full of bite . The Corinthians, enamored by wisdom and thinking of themselves as "spiritual" are less than enchanted with Paul's message, which they regard as "mere milk". With fine irony Paul demolishes these various misperceptions and false boastings..' (Fee p. 98)

The same type of argument seems to be used in 1Co_14:37 . A person demonstrates their possession of or lack of spiritual maturity by their acceptance or rejection of the gospel message. Ouch! God will have Paul take another hit at the Corinthians pride in 3:1, 'I..could not speak to you as to spiritual men'.

The whole point seems to be, "Spiritual people", appreciate the gospel message, they see in "Christ crucified", the wisdom of God. So much for the so-called "wise men" of Eastern religions and many of this nation's college philosophy professors. If you don't appreciate "Christ crucified", then your not "spiritual".

'yet a wisdom not of this world' -'not of this age' (NASV) 'This wisdom does not belong to the passing age of fleeting things, but to the enduring and eternal.' (Robertson p. 84) 'This "age" (era) must end. Then what about it's "wisdom"? (Lenski p. 96)

'nor of the rulers of this world' -'nor of the leaders of this age.' (Nor) 'Paul wants the Corinthians to understand that his proclamation was not of human origin. Man didn't manufacture this message. It is God's wisdom. Neither pagans nor princes thought this wisdom up .' (McGuiggan p. 43) 'The wisdom of which Paul speaks is not secular wisdom, which is dominated by the rulers or powers that control the current climate of opinion.' (F.F. Bruce p. 38)

In view of verse 8, the "rulers" of this verse are to be understood as human leaders. The "wise, mighty and noble" of this world. ( 1Co_1:26 ) Despite what they may claim, the movers and shakers of this world, have never had a good grasp of reality. Keep this in mind when you listen to the radio or watch television.

'who are coming to nought' -'the Greek present participle a fact in process of accomplishment .' (Vincent p. 195)

Points to Note:

1. The world's elite all eventually pass away.

2. Many a philosophy has been abandoned, by the next generation.

3. Increasingly, especially in our age, the reputed wisdom of the world's way of handing moral issues, is seen to be bankrupt.

Verse 7

1Co_2:7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory:

'in a mystery' -'in the singular the term "mystery" ordinarily refers to something formerly hidden in God from all human eyes but now revealed in history through Christ and made understandable to his people through the Spirit (i.e. through preaching the Spirit's revelation)' (Fee p. 105)

'We speak God's wisdom..by our delivering what has been secret'. (Willis p. 70) ( Eph_3:1-5 )

'The Greeks had their "mystery religions" and mystery rites. Only the initiated were in on them. But the truth is, they were nothing! They were men playing little boys's games. (Can you think of any organizations like that today?) Passwords, oaths, secret signals, and all the like. All childish "wisdom" wrapped up in childish "mystery". Then there was God's mystery! An "open secret".' [Note: _ McGuiggan p. 44]

'even the wisdom that hath been hidden' -hidden at some point in the past, but now revealed. ( 1Pe_1:10-12 )

'which God foreordained before the worlds' -'What God determined before the ages, has been worked out in the present age.' (Fee p. 105)

That Jesus Christ would die for the sins of the world, was planned before the foundation of the world. ( 1Pe_1:18-20 ) It was part of God's eternal purpose. ( Eph_3:1-11 ) Hence, this is no "off the cuff" or, "off the top of the head" wisdom. The gospel reveals a plan that was formulated from eternity. It had been thought through even before the first man was created!

'unto' -'aiming at' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 779)

'our glory' -the aim of the gospel is to bring glory to all. ( Mar_16:15-16 ), and yet, all will not accept it. And even among those that initially embrace it, all do not endure. ( Rom_8:17 ; 2Ti_2:11-13 ) But for those that remain faithful, in contrast to the rulers of this age who are coming to nought, the faithful Christian has glory to look forward to.

Brethren, what's wrong with some of us? Too many Christians are enthralled with "successful" people who are on the road to eternal ruin!

Verse 8

1Co_2:8 which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory:

'which' -i.e. which wisdom of God.

'none of the rulers of this world hath known' -with all their counsellors and advisors, the 'big-wigs' missed the wisdom of God. And as "proof" of this statement, Paul adds:

'for had they known it' -the fact that the Jewish and Roman authorities pressed for and allowed Jesus to be crucified was absolute proof that they hadn't grasped God's purpose, the true wisdom. The Bible often mentions the ignorance of the rulers involved in the crucifixion of Christ. ( Luk_23:34 ; Act_3:17 ; Act_13:27 )

'the Lord of glory' -What would the average Jew of the first century said in response to the question, 'Who is the Lord of glory'? Wouldn't they have said, 'Jehovah is'? Another proof of the divine nature of Jesus Christ. 'Characterized by glory' (Robertson p. 85) The Lord whose attribute is glory (Vincent p. 196)

Points to Note:

1. The leaders of the time, men possessed with "the wisdom of the world", proved themselves so ignorant of God's plan, that God in the flesh stood before them, and they put Him to death! 'Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin, (Herod), Pilate and the Roman court saw nothing of the splendor clothing the Lord Jesus as He stood before them.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 779)

2. 'The levity of philosophers in rejecting the cross of Christ was only surpassed by the stupidity of politicians in inflicting it; in both acts the wise of the age proved themselves fools.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 779) ( Rom_1:22 )


'Verse 9 confirms by the language of Scripture..what has just been said.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 779)

'Blind and senseless mankind needed revelation! Splinter over men? Perish the thought! If revelation was an absolute necessity, how could the Corinthians justify their fragmenting over some prominent men in the Church?' (McGuiggan p. 44)

Verse 9

1Co_2:9 but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.

'as it is written' -( Isa_64:4 /65:17) 'He does not employ the very words, but states the main thought, which emphasizes the inability of man to discover that which God alone can reveal.' (Erdman p. 40)

'entered not into the heart of man' -'no human mind conceived' (Fee p. 107) 'Things beyond our imagining' (NEB).

How bankrupt is the world's wisdom? Well, it's rulers put God to death. And all the world's wisdom over the ages, had never even conceived the ideas that are found in the gospel that Paul preached. The world's wisdom is seen as shallow from the perceptive, that it was God who had to enlighten man as to the facts about this life.

'Whatsoever things God prepared' -'These words do not refer to the unknown glories of heaven, as commonly supposed, but to the way of salvation. ' (Erdman p. 40)

Notice the text again. No human eye had ever beheld these "things", no human ear had ever heard them (preached by any philosopher), and no human mind operating with mere human wisdom had ever conceived these "things". It was precisely these "things" that are revealed in the gospel. "Things" such as forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, redemption, etc...and how to live!

Points to Note:

1. Where does this verse place those religious scholars that claim the Bible has been corrupted? Who claim they can tell the difference between verses in the Gospels that later writers erroneously attributed to Jesus, and the kernel of truth that Jesus really said? It seems they are claiming that they can know God's will without a clear revelation from God! It seems they are claiming to be as close to God, as the Spirit is! (2:11) It sure looks as if they are claiming for themselves a quality or condition (infallibility, inspiration), which they deny for the Bible.

2. Where does this verse place people who read the Bible, and then say, 'But I think God will do something different.'? They read Mar_16:16 , and then say, 'But I really think that in the end God won't consider baptism to be an essential requirement for salvation'. How do they know? Such claims sound pretty arrogant. In fact, they are claiming to have an "inside track" to God's mind. In reality such claims are saying, "I know what God revealed, but trust me, God feels differently in His heart."

Verse 10

1Co_2:10 But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

'us' -God initially revealed such "things" to the Apostles and N.T. prophets. ( Eph_3:3-5 ) They in turn recorded that revelation and when we read the New Testament we have access to God's truth also.

'Us' in contrast to the 'rulers of this age'. The way you hear some people talk, you would have thought that God revealed His truth through Hollywood actors and actresses, or Governmental officials.

'revealed' -601. apokalupto ap-ok-al-oop'-to; from 575 and 2572; to take off the cover, i.e. disclose: -reveal. 'To uncover, disclose, bring to light.' (Willis p. 75)

Hence the New Testament is a revelation, an uncovering of God's plan to save man. Therefore, it cannot be impossible to understand or comprehend, neither can it be too confusing for all to agree on.

'So man couldn't come up with either the message or "the things" (the blessings involved in Christ..)...But if God had to reveal them, quit praising man as if he came up with them .' (McGuiggan p. 45)

'through the Spirit' -( Joh_14:26 ; Joh_15:26 ; Joh_16:13 ; Eph_3:5 ; 2Pe_1:20-21 ). The medium which God employed in this process of revealing His hidden purposes to man.

'for' -the reason that the Spirit was chosen to be the medium of this revelation. 'Paul proceeds to discuss the perfection of this inspired knowledge.' (McGarvey pp. 60-61)

'the Spirit searcheth all things' -'explores everything' (NEB); 'fathoms all things' (TCNT) 'In one timeless act the Spirit sounds the absolute depth of "all things"' (Lenski p. 106) 'The phrase describes an Intelligence everywhere active, everywhere penetrating ( Psa_139:1-7 ).' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 781)

Points to Note:

1. 'When it is said that the Spirit searcheth all things, the word is not to be understood as implying a partial knowledge, needing to be made complete, but a deep and accurate knowledge already possessed.' (Erdman p. 41)

2. If the Spirit is simply a 'force or influence', as the Jehovah Witnesses claim, then Paul's argument completely breaks down. What credit would you place in a "wisdom" delivered by a "force or influence"? What real "wisdom" could an unconscious and unintelligent force reveal? And what could such a force know about God?

3. This verse clearly distinguishes the Spirit from the Father. That makes at least two persons under the canopy of "God".

'yea, the deep things of God' -'even the inmost depths of God's being.' (TCNT) ( Rom_11:33 ) God's secret plans and purposes. Such things as described in 2:9. Now, for the Spirit to know and be able to reveal properly the most hidden purposes of God, the Spirit would have to be Divine himself. As one writer said, 'Who can know God perfectly, but God?' Hence the Spirit is perfectly qualified to serve as the revealer of the "wisdom of God".

Verse 11

1Co_2:11 For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.

'For' -'Paul lays down the fundamental truth that the only person who can tell us about God is the Spirit of God. He uses a human analogy. There are certain things which only a man's spirit knows.' (Barclay p. 31)

'save the spirit of the man, which is in him' -'People can't even tell what another person is thinking unless that person reveals it. And so it is with God's thoughts.' (McGuiggan p. 45)

Points to Note:

1. The above argument seems to contradict any claims that people might make for ESP or mind reading. I think plain experience tells us the same thing. If people really could read minds, they wouldn't be struggling to survive as entertainers. Just the military use of such a person would be priceless. What price would a government be willing to pay for someone that could accurately read every thought of the enemy? It would make "code-breakers" and all military intelligence obsolete.

2. The above argument contradicts those that set aside Scripture, and then boldly claim that they "really" know how God feels about a subject.

3. The case that Paul has made is unbreakable. The ONLY way to know what is on God's mind, is for God to reveal it by the Spirit, and have it recorded (2:13). And that's the Bible! The Bible tells us EXACTLY how God feels about things. God has no other view concerning a biblical subject, than the view that has been revealed.

Verse 12

1Co_2:12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God.

'not the spirit of the world' -'spirit that belongs to this world' (Wms).

Fee believe's that all Paul is saying is that the Holy Spirit is "not of this world". It seems to me that Paul is saying more than that and the expression 'spirit of the world', refers to the mental mind set that moves the philosophers and "wise men" of this world. The type of attitude and perspective about reality that moved men to crucify Jesus (2:8). Paul says, 'We received a Spirit alright, but the Spirit we received was nothing like moves the philosophers that you are enthralled with.'

'that we might know' -the purpose that the Spirit was given to the Apostles and New Testament Prophets. ( Eph_3:5 ) 'It is not a senseless rhapsody or secret mystery, but God expects us to understand "the things freely given.."' (Robertson p. 87) ( Joh_8:32 ; Eph_5:17 ; 2Pe_3:18 )

'the things' -the "things" once hidden (2:9), "things" like "What must I do to be saved".

'freely given to us of God' -no merit involved.

Verse 13

1Co_2:13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words.

'Which things' -the "things" God prepared for those that love Him (2:9), the "things" which had never entered the mind of man (2:9), the "things" God revealed through the Spirit. Paul and the other inspired men of the N.T. didn't keep to themselves the revelation given to them.

'we speak' -they also wrote such "things" down. ( Eph_3:3-5 ; 2Pe_3:15 ; 1Co_14:37 )

'not in words which man's wisdom teacheth' -'not in language taught by human philosophy' (TCNT). Ah! That's why the New Testament doesn't read like the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Kant, Hume, etc...'The implication is that divine truths should not be communicated in rhetorical forms suitable for secular wisdom.' (F.F. Bruce p. 40)

Points to Note:

1. 'There is a way in which they do not proclaim them..Paul denied that the words he used in the proclamation of God's revelation were the words he came up with himself (on his own; purely from his own mental resources)...He has been consistently denying that any of the credit is to be laid at his feet. He had been a blind rabbi. He missed the Message a million miles . Now he is Christ's. Now he claims that the Spirit of God revealed to him what he knows about the Gospel .' (McGuiggan pp. 45-46)

2. 'The following was found among the graffiti on a wall at St. John's University: "And Jesus said unto them, 'Who do you say that I am?' And they replied, 'You are the eschatalogical manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationship.' And Jesus said: 'What?'"

Commenting upon the above, Bill Love (Christian Appeal) wrote, "Jesus did not talk in the code language of the third year seminarian because he cared too much for...people...Jesus set forth the deepest truths about God and man in seemingly simple stories about a young runaway and his father, about a poor woman searching for her lost coin, and about a farmer sowing a field....Those who are as unpretentious and receptive as children will see God in these stories (parables); those who are full of their own achievement will 'go empty away'." Are you unsophisticated enough to grasp that? [Note: _ Plain Talk. Vol. 17, No. 5, p. 1, Robert Turner.]

'but which the Spirit teacheth' -indicating that the words that Paul and other inspired men spoke (and wrote), where "words" given or taught by the Spirit. A clear claim for verbal inspiration. Paul specifically mentions "words". Paul wasn't given a concept by God and then left free to express it anyway he wanted to. He was "taught" Spirit given "words". ( Mat_10:19-20 )

'combining' -originally meant to combine, to join together fitly. (Robertson p. 88) The word can also mean to 'compare, explain, or interpret.'

'spiritual things' -in the context, the "things" revealed by the Spirit, the spiritual truth once hidden, the gospel message, the wisdom of God.

'with spiritual words' -'spiritual thoughts with spiritual words' (NASV). While 'words' is in italics, indicating it was supplied by the translators to complete the thought. It is a logical conclusion. How else were "spiritual thoughts" made known? By what other means could spiritual thoughts be combined with or explained by?

Points to Note:

1. Every word given had a purpose. Other N.T. passages hint at this. ( Mat_5:17-18 ; Mat_22:31-32 ; Gal_3:16 ; Rev_22:18-19 )

2. No word is to be overlooked. The order of a sentence is also very important, i.e. a saved condition is placed AFTER baptism ( Mar_16:16 ).


Verse 14

1Co_2:14 Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.

'natural' -'refers to one who obeys the promptings of his bodily nature..unspiritual or carnal.' (Lenski p. 115) 'He's the man who stands aloof from the wisdom of God and who depends on his foolish "wisdom".' (McGuiggan p. 46)

'receiveth not' -'Does not accept, rejects, refuses to accept.' (Robertson p. 89)

'the things of the Spirit of God' -i.e. the things that the Spirit revealed through the Apostles. The "natural" man rejects the gospel message.

Points to Note:

1. Many consider this "natural" man to be a non-Christian. And such a person would certainly qualify. And yet, the Corinthians were in danger to becoming this "natural" man. (3:1-3) I see Paul defining the "natural" man as anyone who rejects the teachings delivered by the Spirit, and some Christians did that in the First Century. (14:37; 2Th_3:6 ; 2Th_3:14 )

2. Therefore, the "natural" man isn't a man so depraved that he can't understand the Gospel Message without the direct operation of the Holy Spirit. Note: There is just something I don't get. If the sinner is so depraved that he can't understand 'God so loved the world...' ( Joh_3:16 ), etc...Then why is he able to understand 'Coldest Beer in Town sold here'? Aren't both simply concepts expressed by words?

3. The phrase "receiveth not", implies a choice, a conscious decision. He hears it, he understands what is being said, but he doesn't like it. The enemies of Jesus ("natural men"), understood what He taught. ( Mat_21:45 ; Mat_27:63 ) Those that rejected Paul's message, understood the concepts he was presenting ( Act_17:32 ; Act_22:22 ; Act_25:25 (Felix, a "natural" man, understood exactly what Paul was driving at).

'for they are foolishness unto him' -(1:23). Again note, the various unconverted Jews and Gentiles that had rejected Paul's preaching, "understood" that Paul was preaching a crucified Messiah, it's simply that they thought such a concept was ridiculous. To this day people consider the message of the New Testament to be foolishness for various reasons.

It's important to note that one's attitude toward's the gospel, reveals one's true self. Those that reject the gospel message are automatically labeled as "unspiritual". "People are revealed for who they are by their response to the cross." (Fee p. 117)

'and he cannot know them' -in order to consider it "foolishness", he must know something about the gospel, if only what it claims.

Points to Note:

1. Paul has already stressed that man cannot know God apart from revelation. (2:8-9; 1:21)

2. Hence, the man or woman who has rejected the gospel message, has just cut themselves off from the only true information that we have about God.

'because they are spiritually judged' -'appreciated by spiritual insight' (Wms); 'because it takes spiritual insight to see its true value' (Gspd)

'judged' -350. anakrino an-ak-ree'-no; from 303 and 2919; properly, to scrutinize, i.e. (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine: -ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.

'Men access things differently according to their frames of reference. A fitness fanatic will (very often) have no appreciation at all for chess or sedentary pursuits. A man who has time only for making money frowns on holidays as a "waste of time"...The natural man judges everything by his worldly wisdom and spiritual things are ridiculed.' (McGuiggan p. 46)

Point to Note:

And how are things "spiritually judged"? Clearly, by the Scriptures ( Act_17:11 ; 1Th_5:21 ; Heb_5:14 ). Therefore, the person who has no appreciation for the revelation of the Spirit, is going to be wrong about many things. So why were they, and why do we become enthralled with people that don't even believe the Bible is the word of God? ( Jer_8:9 ..'Behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, And what kind of wisdom do they have? '). Good question.

Verse 15

1Co_2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.

'spiritual' -the person who accepts the revelation from the Spirit, i.e. the person who believes and has embraced the word of God.

'judgeth all things' -'appraises all things' (NASV); 'can find out the real value of everything' (Beck).

'all things' -all things that pertain to salvation, all things that are vital for his relationship with God. He is able to properly evaluate the importance of many common things in everyday life. Money, relationships, spouse, children, etc..( Heb_5:14 ; Psa_119:99-105 ). And the key to this ability, isn't any inherent wisdom in himself, but his acceptance of the Word of God and the willingness to apply what it teaches to daily living.

'he himself' -the person obeys the revelation, i.e follows the Bible.

'is judged of no man' -'he is properly valued by none' (Ber) ( Heb_11:38 ). The world does 'judge' the Christian, it does make a judgement about him. 'That is, those who aren't Christ's don't know how to understand him. The natural man regards him as an enigma...the spiritual man is marching to Another drummer.' (McGuiggan p. 47)

Points to Note:

1. The person who has rejected the gospel, has just labeled themselves as an unqualified assessor of "value". Why are we so concerned about human "approval", when those same people can't even properly assess the value of the word of God?

2. 'The profane person cannot understand holiness; but the holy person can well understand the depths of evil.' (Fee p. 118)

3. The Christian is qualified to talk about the life of sin, but the non-Christian isn't qualified to ridicule the life in Christ.

4. So, who should we be listening to? If we are needing advice about an important decision in life, whose counsel should we seek?

Verse 16

1Co_2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

'For' -quotation from Isa_40:13 , also quoted in Rom_11:34 .

'who hath know the mind of the Lord' -'Who is the person who wants to match wits with God?' (Fee p. 119) Read Job chapters 38-40, when you think you are ready.

This verse seems to be aimed at the persons that the Corinthians were enthralled with, the "natural" men, those that considered the gospel message to be foolishness. In order to properly judge Paul and other Christians, such men would have to know the mind of the Lord, and without revelation, that could only be accomplished if you had been the Lord's teacher! What arrogance!

'mind of Christ' -'the thoughts of Christ as they are revealed by the Spirit.' (Fee p. 119) As already shown in verses 6-13. 'We who are spiritual have the very thoughts of Christ!' (Phi)

Therefore, all those in the world who sit in judgement upon Christianity and faithful Christians, are manifesting a spirit, that Paul says is exactly the same as a person who would claim to be God's teacher.

Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dun/1-corinthians-2.html. 1999-2014.
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