Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 2

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

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Verses 1-16

1 Corinthians 2:2 . I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. That is, to know him in the glory of his person, as revealed in the oracles of truth. “I and the Father are one,” says our blessed Lord; having unity of essence, and harmony of will. To know him in his mysterious incarnation, as the WORD made flesh, John 1:14; and to know him as crucified for us. Leviticus 16:0. Isaiah 53:0. Hebrews 9:0. The tragic cross is the school of angels, and the study of men. To know him and the power of his resurrection, confounding all his foes, and putting death beneath his feet. To know him, so as to die in his death, and rise in the likeness of his resurrection, comprises renovation of heart, and all the christian temper. To know him, and nothing else. What can the wounded want in the hospital but a cure? All things compared with salvation are only the obtrusive buzzings of the age.

1 Corinthians 2:3 . I was with you in weakness: ασθενεια , without strength. The word is mostly used for infirmities and diseases of the body, but is here used for depression and discouragement on account of persecutions. The sense then will be, as in Erasmus, Though my word took effect in your conversion, yet I disclaim all merit; it was the Spirit of power that operated in your hearts. It was, as in 1 Corinthians 2:5, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4 . My speech, my word, discourse, and my manner of preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom. The two words, πειθοις λογοις , enticing or persuasive words, refer to the beauties of diction, Attic phrases, elegant periods, and ingenious insinuations, decorated with simile and metaphor. He left all that to juvenile rhetors. Full of his subject, the fountains of eloquence flowed from all the avenues of his soul. His doctrine was evangelical, the manifestation of the truth commending itself to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.

1 Corinthians 2:6 . We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, who have a perfect knowledge and understanding of the truth. Even the hidden wisdom of God, the glorious plan of our redemption, concealed in the eternal mind; and though it may appear as foolishness to the princes and doctors of the age, it nevertheless transports the minds of angels and men who contemplate it with devout affections.

1 Corinthians 2:7 . We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery. Socinians are almost the only persons who pretend to a religion without mystery, yet even deism itself has its mysteries, such as are inexplicable. The doctrines of divine revelation especially bear this character, this impress of the deity, or they would not correspond with the works of creation and providence, which all the efforts of human science have been unable to explore. The incarnation of the eternal WORD, God manifest in the flesh, is declared to be preëminently a mystery, the mystery of godliness. On any other hypothesis however than that of his true and proper divinity, there would be nothing mysterious or wonderful in his advent, and the language of the apostle would be overcharged and incorrect. The resurrection of the dead is mentioned as a mystery incapable of explanation. 1 Corinthians 15:51. Such also is the nature of Christ’s sufferings in the garden and on the cross, together with the whole scheme of man’s redemption, in which the supreme Being has overwhelmed with astonishment the whole intelligent universe, and left all created minds at an infinite distance in their research. Even the inspired and seraphic apostle, standing on the borders of this abyss, could only exclaim, Oh the depths! Men pretending therefore to preach a gospel destitute of mystery, can never be considered as preaching the gospel of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:8 . Had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. The jews being blinded, knew neither Christ nor the Father. John 16:3. And when Pilate asked, whence art thou? He knew not that Christ was the Lord of glory; and that dwelling in his ancient cloud, he had inhabited the praises of Israel. Exodus 24, 40:34. Ezekiel 1:0. Ezekiel 43:2. The apostle adds, but the wisdom of the princes, the jewish priests, come to nought, and even their temple and their worship shall be utterly abolished.

1 Corinthians 2:9 . It is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard. Though the princes of this world knew not Christ, nor his glory, the prophets had all foreseen it, as in Isaiah 64:4, and in the last chapters of Ezekiel, and of Daniel. The glorious gospel of the blessed God shall shine out into all the dark corners of the earth, and righteousness shall be rained down from heaven. Ministers shall preach like angels, and wars and discords cease from the earth. The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Zechariah 14:0.

The apostle next gives the glory to God, who had revealed those things to them by his Spirit. We are not sufficient of ourselves to reason out, or to collect such glorious things. It is Christ who hath made us able ministers of the new testament, and we are bound to preach and publish those things for the joy and salvation of others.

1 Corinthians 2:12 . We have received, not the spirit of the world. No: this gospel which we have received from heaven, makes us heavenly-minded. The world seek their own, we seek the glory of Christ; the one makes us wise for time, the other for eternity.

1 Corinthians 2:13 . Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but with the ingenuousness of little children. Our prayers and sermons are copies of the heart. The studied discourse of Tertullus produced no effect on the court, while the honest eloquence of Paul made Felix tremble. Meanwhile, we are not ignorant of the art of speaking, the refinements of logic, and the figures of rhetoric, but we lay them all aside to save souls, and speak the truth in love.

1 Corinthians 2:14 . But the natural man: ψυχικος , the animal man, whose sensual soul, affectus sequens humanos, following human affection, says Erasmus, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Above he calls them princes of this world; but here, the groveling state of their appetites merits a lower name. They live not for intellectual pleasure, but for animal delight. Therefore God cannot shine on their minds with his emanations of peace and joy.

1 Corinthians 2:16 . Who hath known the mind of the Lord? Isaiah 40:13. Romans 11:34. Or, being his counsellor, hath taught him all these glorious plans of creation and providence, especially the glorious things laid up for those who love him. Of the latter phrase, St. Paul gives here, it would seem, a version of his own, adapted to the scribe, to the wise, to the disputer or rhetor of this world. If by his wisdom he has been a tutor to the deity, let him put in his claim, and he shall have a full reward.

But we have the mind, the wisdom, of Christ; and the mind of the Lord is the mind of the Saviour. This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. John 17:3.


On looking back through the preseding doctrines, we are struck with the glorious visions which opened on the minds of the prophets and apostles respecting the grandeur of God in his counsels, and the unsearchable riches of the gospel. Oh what is this expansion of soul, this exuberance of thought bursting on men so holy? Assuredly it was to raise our poor groveling minds to things of transcendant excellence. It was to support us, poor abject ministers, with the hopes of better times, and martyrs and confessors with the crown of righteousness, laid up for those who love his appearing.

By consequence, if the glorious things spoken of the kingdom of God, and of our future hope, afford us unspeakable consolation and joy, we are bound the more to preach them to others, and give a reason of our hope. Nay more; we are bound to speak to them in spontaneous words, for the true sublime of thought is always uttered in the plainest words. Above all, we are bound to speak as do the oracles of God, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, explaining one text of scripture by another, that all the rays of light may be converged in the hearer’s breast.

How deplorable then is the state of thy soul, oh man of the world, that receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God. Is reason thy tutor? Is philosophy thy guide? Is a library of elementary knowledge, and amusing books, the productions of profane men, your sole treasure? Pause a moment, and ask, what can these do for you in a dying hour? Is not all time comparatively lost, which is not employed in thinking of God, and living in conformity to his pleasure? It is true, you cannot know the things of God without regeneration; it is the inner man of the heart which tastes and sees that he is good. But ask, and you shall receive.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. 1835.