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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 2

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


When I came to you. In chapter 1, Paul showed that God purposely chose what the world considers nonsense and weak, to put to shame and to destroy what the world thinks is important. To the Corinthian Christians he says: (1) the gospel is no philosophy; (2) you are no philosophers. He returns to his starting point: that Christ sent him to tell the Good News – in contrast to men’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:17). [MUSTERION = something secret which has now been made known.] Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians 2:7-10. Long words and great learning. He did not use these on the Areopagus either (see Acts 17:22-31). Paul’s style of preaching was determined by the message. His emphasis was on the fact of God’s act in Christ, not on eloquence and men’s wisdom.

Verse 2


Except Jesus Christ. If Paul were to proclaim a different message, he would use a different style. But he was simply telling the Good News of Christ. Therefore, he used a simple, direct style, because he did not want anything to detract from the power of “Christ on the cross!”

Verse 3


So when I came to you. 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 tell how Paul did not come. 1 Corinthians 2:3-5 tell how he did come. Weak and trembled. The Greeks evaluated their philosophers by the power and style of their speaking. Paul deliberately used a style that was “weak and trembled all over with fear.” [Some think his physical condition had something to do with this.] 1 Corinthians 2:5 shows why he did this.

Verse 4


Were not delivered. He did not use the skillful words that brainwash a person without really teaching him anything. But with convincing proof. The Truth was made known by the Spirit and proved by supernormal powers. Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:5 and note.

Verse 5


Your faith, then. This whole paragraph grows out of “When I came” in 1 Corinthians 2:1. He points back to his original work at Corinth. Paul was God’s spokesman; therefore he acted so that God alone would receive the glory (see note on 1 Corinthians 1:31). If he had persuaded the Corinthians with skillful words and blended Christianity with Greek philosophy, his work would have been destroyed with the wisdom of this world (see 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20).

Verse 6


Yet I do speak wisdom. So far Paul has said that his message is “nonsense,” out of step with the wisdom of this world. Yet at the same time, he makes it plain that his message (the gospel) is in the truest sense: “God’s wisdom!” But, he points out, only to those qualified to understand it! Spiritually mature. Evans writes: “The curtain must be lifted with a caution measured by the spiritual intelligence of the spectators.” See 1 Corinthians 2:14. Powers that rule this world. Locke understands these to be the Jewish rulers and their distorted form of Judaism (as Galatians 1:14). Probably all human rulers can be included in this. [Some think evil spirits are meant, since they are the source of idolatry, false religions, etc. (Ephesians 6:12), but 1 Corinthians 2:8 speaks of the rulers of this world who crucified Jesus.] That are losing their power. Wise in their own ways, but not in God’s, they must fall and lose their power.

Verse 7


God’s secret wisdom. The world does not understand the value of God’s wisdom in “Christ on the cross,” because they are completely unqualified to do so. The Corinthian Christians only partly understood, because they were “spiritual babies” (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). Hidden from men. MacKnight sees in this Paul showing that none but the apostles had the authority to reveal the Good News in an infallible manner; and that the false teachers were impostors who had no truth to reveal. Which God had already chosen. This shows that “Christ on the cross” was God’s Plan even before Creation!

Verse 8


None of the rulers. This points to the Jewish and Roman rulers who nailed Christ to the cross. They were completely ignorant of God’s wisdom and plan. The stupidity of the philosophers in rejecting “Christ on the cross” was only surpassed by the stupidity of the politicians who nailed him there.

Verse 9


As the scripture says. Paul paraphrases Isaiah 64:4 Septuagint. This describes “Christ on the cross,” that is, God’s secret wisdom. No one ever expected God to act in history by sending the Eternal Logos in human form and having him die on the cross as the means of salvation! The TOTAL glory of God’s act in Christ is still beyond human understanding!!!

Verse 10


But it was to us. That is, to we who love him. Those things which human talents could not discover, God made known by means of his Spirit (compare John 14:26). The Spirit searches everything. That is, the Spirit knows the deep, unrevealed things of God, and he made them known to the apostles, who in turn reveal them to us through their writings.

Verse 11


It is his own spirit. He uses this as an illustration: your own spirit knows things about you which no one else can know. In the same way. Nothing of God’s Plan and secret knowledge is unknown to God’s Spirit. And, only God’s Spirit can make these things known to us.

Verse 12


We have not received this world’s spirit. Paul contrasts this world’s spirit (the demonic inspiration of the pagan prophets, such as Acts 16:16), with the Spirit sent by God. So that we may know all. Compare Ephesians 1:17-18. That God has given us. This points directly to the historic gifts which God has already given to men in Christ.

Verse 13


So then. The apostles passed on to mankind all the Spirit made known to them. Paul has no esoteric secrets to be whispered only to a select circle. If only the spiritually mature understand, it is not because he limits the number who hear. But in words taught by the Spirit. Evans writes: “with spiritual phrase matching spiritual truth.” As we explain spiritual truths. [The TEV follows Bengel, Ruckert, Hofmann, Stanley, Alford, Schmiedel, et. al., in translating this phrase as it does.] This best ties in with 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Verse 14


But the man. [PSUCHIKOS = unspiritual, non-spiritual, not possessing the Spirit of God.] Paul is saying that human nature at its very best, such as seen in the Greek philosophers, the highest aims and thoughts of natural life, still has no ability to evaluate, understand, and receive the gifts (1 Corinthians 2:10) that come from God’s Spirit. Only on a spiritual basis. The spirit must be stirred from its paralyzed condition, and born of water and the Spirit (John 3:5 and note), before we can evaluate God’s wisdom as the Spirit makes it known to us. We thank God that the “A B C’s of the gospel,” which all can understand, are enough to produce faith in us and prepare us for spiritual knowledge! [Faith: see James 2:19 and note.]

Verse 15


The man who has the Spirit. The Spirit is God’s gift to each Christian (see notes on Acts 2:39; Acts 5:32). The man who has the Spirit is not blinded and biased by his human nature; therefore he has the ability to clearly see the true value of everything. But no one is able to judge him. The spiritual man stands on a height from which he scans the world, but only God is higher than he! [This is an ideal, since it implies a perfect development of maturity (compare 1 Corinthians 3:1).]

Verse 16


As the scripture says. Paul paraphrases Isaiah 40:13 Septuagint. He uses this to illustrate his statement in 1 Corinthians 2:14-15. The greatest of the Greek philosophers, who were the most intelligent of “unspiritual man,” could not give advice to God. [MacKnight understands this to mean that they had no ability to teach anything to a spiritual man.] Have the mind of Christ. Christ lives and thinks in the PNEUMATIKOS (those who have the Spirit)! See 1 Corinthians 6:17; 2 Corinthians 13:3-5; John 15:1-8.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/1-corinthians-2.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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