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Preaching the Crucified Christ
Paul did not go to Corinth as an orator or philosopher. Instead, he preached Jesus as the Anointed, or Christ, who was crucified. The apostle admitted his appearance and speech did not impress others ( 2Co_10:10 ). This would not have mattered to Paul as he put Christ first ( Gal_2:20 ; 2Co_5:15 ; Php_3:8 ) and called for others to do likewise ( Rom_12:1-2 ; Col_3:17 ). Paul only wanted to preach the good news, or gospel ( 1Co_2:1-2 ; Rom_1:16 ).
After his failure at Athens ( Act_17:22-34 ), Paul showed concern that he may not have been getting his important message across. He refused to use man's wisdom and relied totally on God's power and message. Then, he had the assurance his hearers' faith was based solely on God's power ( 1Co_2:3-5 ).
The Spirit Reveals God's Wisdom
Paul indicated he was ready to speak with wisdom from God if his listeners were ready to hear it. However, he would not speak with a worldly wisdom, which would have resulted in giving them nothing. Instead, he was prepared to speak with the wisdom which was from God. McGarvey shows that Paul on several occasions spoke of the gospel as a mystery ( Rom_16:25 ; Eph_3:4-9 ; Col_1:26 ; 1Ti_3:16 ). It took wisdom from above to make known God's plan of salvation which had long been hidden, but was revealed in Christ. McGarvey goes on to show that it continued to be a mystery to those who, out of their wickedness, refused to hear ( 1Co_2:6-7 ; Mat_11:25 ; Mat_13:10-13 ).
The "rulers of this world" had proven they were ignorant, in respect to this mystery, when they crucified our Lord. Jesus prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do" ( Luk_23:34 ). Paul cited Isa_64:4 to show man did not understand God's plan of salvation. It took the revealing work of the Holy Spirit for men to come to an understanding of God's mystery. Man, through his wisdom, could not have discovered the truth. Specifically, God's inspired spokesmen were the ones through whom the Spirit made the mystery known. Through them, for the first time, God perfectly made known the plans he had kept in his heart since before creation ( 1Co_2:8-10 ).
Only the Spirit Knows
No one can know the inner secrets of a man without the spirit (inner man) of that man revealing them. In a similar manner, only the Spirit of God can reveal God's mysteries. That is why those with worldly wisdom did not know God. An inspired spokesman could not speak about God simply through worldly wisdom. Rather, they spoke through the Holy Spirit's inspiration ( 1Co_2:11-12 ; Joh_16:13-14 ; Joh_14:26 .)
Paul went on to explain the workings of inspiration. Those who were inspired taught spiritual truths using spiritual words. All Christians would do well to follow this pattern and use only the Bible to show what God desires of man. A man who has lived a sensuous, worldly life is unable to understand those spiritual thoughts Spirit guided men deliver. Due to lack of use, his ability to discern spiritual ideas is dead, or at least weak. A carnal mind can cause a man to be lost eternally ( 1Co_2:13-14 ; Rom_8:6-7 ; 2Co_4:3-6 ).
A spiritual man is able to examine and understand God's revelation. He is able to judge both the higher things of God and lower things of this earth. In contrast, no earthly man can know whether one claiming to be God's spokesman speaks the truth. Certainly, no one could so know God's mind that he could teach him. Therefore, no man could know the inspired man's mind enough to teach him. Lipscomb and Shepherd suggest that "instruct" should be translated "joined together with him." Carnal cannot be joined, but the spiritual man thinks like his Lord ( 1Co_2:15-16 ).
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Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent