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C. As Illustrated by the Apostle’s Example
1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony1 of God. 2For I determined not to know2 any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s [om. man’s3] wisdom, but in demonstration of theSpirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The connection.—Paul here affirms his own conduct to have been in strict accordance with the nature of the Divine calling. [His views were sustained by his practice and at the same time justified that practice.] “As the Lord chose no one among you on account of his wisdom, so I did not come to you with wisdom.”—Burger.
1 Corinthians 2:1. And I.—κᾀγω: “I also.” So God has dealt with you, and I have conformed to his method. [Or: “I also, like all true Christian preachers.”—De Wette. Or: “I accordingly,” consistently with the revealed purpose of God just mentioned.”—Hodge.] The connection with the preceding paragraph is close and direct, though a remoter reference to 1:17, 23 is not thereby excluded.—on coming to you, brethren, came not.—He has in view here his first long residence at Corinth, although a second shorter visit had been paid them just before writing this Epistle. The repetition “coming,” “I came,” as not foreign to classic usage, nor is it mere tautology. The former expresses the fact of his appearing among them [or the occasion of which he was about to speak,] while the second with its qualifying adjuncts states the way and mode of his appearance.—with excellency of speech and of wisdom.—[“As speech and wisdom (λόγος and σοφία) are here distinguished, the former probably refers to the manner or form, and the latter to the matter of his preaching. It was neither as a rhetorician nor as a philosopher that he appeared before them.”—Hodge. In 1:17 what he disavowed was wisdom of speech (σοφίᾳ λόγου), the emphasis being on “wisdom.” Here, the two are distinguished as separate elements, and the idea of rhetoric is added to that of philosophy.] This clause some make the sole adjunct to “I came,” leaving the rest of the sentence distinct, as adducing the proof of his appearing as he did, q. d., ‘I came to you thus and so, inasmuch as I proclaimed,’ etc. [“This mode is generally preferred not only because of the position of the words, but also because of the sense.”—Hodge; and so Alford, Stanley and others.] But the whole clause is to be taken together, and the adjunct before us to be connected with—proclaiming to you the testimony of God.—The sense is ‘I did not come preaching with highly wrought eloquence and philosophic subtilities.’ To take the present participle here in a future sense is neither necessary nor suitable, since he is here speaking not of intention but simply of his mode of conduct. The matter of his preaching is “the testimony of God.” This is essentially the same as “the testimony of Christ,” 1:6, and what was there said holds good also here. It is the testimony which God bears concerning Christ (1 John 5:9), or the revelation of his plan of salvation which He makes out of His own consciousness, originally through Christ, and then through the Apostles. This is what it is incumbent on the servant of God simply to proclaim. In this work there is no need of rhetorical ornament and philosophic art. The very object of the proclamation itself precludes the applicability of eloquence and wisdom. (Comp. Osi.) [“The Gospel is in its essence not a theory, or an abstraction, or a comment, or an image of the fancy, but it is history, and indeed, Divine history. The preaching of the Gospel is therefore a proclamation of the doings of God, and especially of that one great act of love, viz., the sending of His own Son to die for the sins of the world. This may become a matter for theory and science in the bosom of the Church after faith in it has become established, but even then it is only as a development from faith. Science can never beget faith. Faith comes only through the regenerating power of God’s Spirit, who reveals Himself efficiently and in the most direct manner through the proclamation of the Gospel story.” Olshausen.]
1 Corinthians 2:2. His conduct in the particular above-mentioned shown to be deliberate—the result of a settled purpose. For—confirmatory—I did not determine.—[The negative particle, by its position here, is more naturally connected with the main verb. So Alf., who interprets: “the only thing that I made it definitely my business to know, was;” and Meyer says that the common connection of the “not” with “any thing” (τι), as in our E. V., is contrary to the phraseology. But Stanley translates: “I determined to know nothing,” making οὐκ ἕκρινα like οὓ φημι. The difference of import is somewhat. In the one case, Paul tells us how far his mind was made up, that his determination did not go beyond one point; in the other case, his determination was a positive one, covering the whole ground and excluding from that all but one thing.] κρίνειν with the inf.=to conclude upon, resolved, decide, as in 2 Corinthians 2:1; 2 Corinthians 1:0 Romans 14:13.—to know any thing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified—i.e. to mingle any other sort of knowledge with the preaching of Christ. His one sole aim was to portray before their eyes this one person, and that too in His deepest humiliation, as He had suffered for them the shameful death of the cross. [So far from seeking to conceal his ignominy, so offensive to the worldly spirit, he would make it prominent and glory in it.] Hence it was that he would not indulge in any rhetorical or dialectic arts, in any high-flown discourse or philosophic argumentation. In this way certainly he might fail to attract the educated classes, so called, but he would be the better able to bring to light men’s actual religious needs and satisfaction. And this, with him, was the great point, for which he was willing to renounce every attainment in which he excelled, for he knew that those who wilfully neglected the revelation he brought could be gained by no reasonings from the light of nature. (See Bengel in loco.) [Furthermore, it must be observed, that it would be to mistake entirely the drift of the Apostle’s discourse, were we to take the name of Christ here, according to the fashion of many divines, as put by metonymy for the whole system of divinity, or for the doctrine of the Atonement. The purpose of Paul here is to avoid theorizing of all kinds, and to adhere rigidly to Christianity in its most concrete form as seen in the person and work of its founder. In his view, preaching was to act the part of a herald, to proclaim, not opinions, but the facts and messages as intrusted to him, and to let them speak for themselves. Hence we are here to take his language most literally. What he resolved on proclaiming to the Corinthians was Christ in His person and work, as the living revelation of the Father, as the Truth and the Life, as the One in whom were hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, as the source of all salvation and blessing, whom to believe in, love and serve was life eternal. His Gospel was not theory or science, but history, and the glory of this history is, to use the words of Olshausen, that “it lives and repeats itself in the Church as a whole and in every member of the Church. It therefore never grows old any more than God himself can become antiquated; and it maintains itself to this day in all that fulness of power which it manifested in the first establishment of the Church.”—“To know any thing.” There is a force in the use of the word “know,” instead of “preach,” or “teach,” which is not to be overlooked. It shows that his determination covered not only the range of his words and acts, but also of his thoughts. He meant that Christ should fill his consciousness.].
1 Corinthians 2:3. “Describes the preacher, as the former verse did his theme.” Bengel.—And I was with you, ἐγενόμηνπρὸςὑμᾶς. This might be rendered: I came to you, as 2 John 1:12. (according to the better reading). But Paul is here speaking not of his coming, but of his residence among them (1 Corinthians 2:4). In like manner γενέσθαι πρός occurs also in 16:10. (πρός: before, in presence of, 16:6, 7; Galatians 1:18; John 1:1.) How he was with them he proceeds to state in three substantives. a. in weakness. Since he is here speaking of his personal bearing, we are not to understand by this any physical infirmity, such as weak organs, or feeble chest, or ungainliness of form [as Stanley]; nor yet any sickness, or feebleness, bringing with it depression of spirits [as Rückert and Stier], though this would be more plausible; and, least of all, any thing happening from without, like persecutions, and sufferings inflicted by others [as Chrysostom], which would be inconsistent with the use of the singular number. In view of the expressions of Paul himself (2 Corinthians 10:1; 2Co 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:10; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12) it were better to refer this to inward weakness, but not so much to any sense of defect in science and education (so de Wette, Osi.), as to a feeling of utter inadequacy for the greatness of the work and for the resistance he would have to encounter (see Acts 18:9, ff.). [Bengel says: “opposed to power (1 Corinthians 2:4). We must not suppose that the Apostles were always in an agreeable frame of mind or quite free from perturbations.] b. in fear and c. in great trembling.—Terms expressive of great timidity as contrasted with a bold and confident demeanor maintained by the overweening consciousness of his own abilities, “such as appeared in the eyes of ancient Paganism to be the highest morality.” Neander. It has been justly observed that such anxiety, arising from a sense of insufficiency for the work on hand, is a marked characteristic of the most distinguished servants of God (see Osiander). The interpretation of Olshausen and others is less consistent with the idea expressed in the foregoing term (“in weakness.”) They understand Paul as intimating a modest fear lest he should corrupt the Divine truth with a mixture of human elements, and fail in the proper discharge of his duty. The sense of the phrase, “in fear and trembling,” which is a proverbial one (Genesis 9:2; Exodus 15:16; Isaiah 19:16) is determined by the connection. Elsewhere, as in Ephesians 6:5; 2 Corinthians 7:15, it denotes: sollicita reverentia; or, as Bengel: “A fear which abounds so as to effect even the body in its gestures and movements.”
1 Corinthians 2:4. Describes the mode of preaching.—And my speech and my preaching.—The “and” in 1 Corinthians 2:3 and the “and” in 1 Corinthians 2:4 are not so related as to be rendered: “As well I myself—as also my speech.” But the first of these conjunctions simply joins 1 Corinthians 2:3 to the preceding, and the second, 1 Corinthians 2:4 to 1 Corinthians 2:3, putting the matters stated in harmonious connection. On account of the repetition of “my,” we are not at liberty to take the two words here as identical, nor yet are they so related as to indicate the first the form and the second the substance of his preaching [so Stanley]. It were better to distinguish them as denoting, the first (λόγος), his private discourse, and the second (κήρυγμα), his public discourse [so Olsh., Rück., and most others]; or, the first, discourse in general, and the second, discourse in particular, viz., the proclamation of the Gospel [so Hodge]. Less probable is the opinion of de Wette [adopted by Alf.], who takes the two words as designating the same thing but in distinct aspects; the former his style and course of argument, the latter his announcement of Gospel facts and conviction of their certainty.4—was not.—The verb here has to be supplied; either ἐγένετο for 1 Corinthians 2:3, or ἧν, meaning: was not furnished with (Luke 4:32); or: did not consist in. The character of his speech and preaching is described, 1, negatively—not in the persuasive words of wisdom, οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖς σοφίας λόγοις.—[ἀνθρωπίνης man’s, is a gloss, inserted most probably through a failure to perceive that the word thus far has been used in a strict and single sense, and from the consequent opinion that it needed some qualification. “Wisdom” is, all through, “synonymous with philosophy.”] The adjective πειθοῖς has, from the earliest times, proved a stumbling block. It is found no where else in all Greek literature, though its use is warranted by analogous forms, as φειδός from φείδομαι. But the explanation, which would take πειθοῖς as a substantive, in the sense of: persuasions, and put σόφίας λόγοις in apposition, is inadmissible, if only for this reason, that the plural of πειθώ no where occurs. Hence have arisen manifold conjectures for changing the ordinary reading, none of which are well grounded, not even the suggestion so acutely maintained by Semler, Rincke, Fritzche, that the original read thus: οὐκ ἐν πειθοῖ σοφίας in fitting antithesis to ἐν , since it is decisive against this, that this reading no where appears alone without λόγοις or λόγων. Even in the ordinary reading, “wisdom” may be regarded as expressing the main idea, inasmuch as 1 Corinthians 2:5 demands this. πειθός, otherwise πιθανός [and as Meyer suggests, “probably a word in common, oral use.”]=convincing, winning, enticing, comp. πιθανογογία, Colossians 2:4. [Corinthia verba, pro exquisitis, et magnopere elaboratis et ad ostentationem nitidis. Wetstein ad loc.] 2, positively—but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.—“Demonstration” stands in strong contrast with “persuasive words,” since the word is often used elsewhere also to denote strong, cogent proof in opposition to winning speech. The way in which it is to be taken here, depends upon the manner in which we construe the associated genatives. These express either the object of the demonstration or its subject. In the former case the phrase would mean the practical exhibition of the spirit, as the source of spiritual life, renewing, enlightening and sanctifying, and of the power which resides in this spirit and which it imparts to man. In the latter case, the Spirit must be regarded as dwelling in the Apostle himself, and working through him, displaying His power in the facts he proclaimed, by rendering them effective to salvation. What ability he had to convince and convert would thus be ascribed to the living energy of the Spirit whose minister he was. In this way, as Neander says, “the demonstration furnished by the Spirit would be in contrast with that presented through words, and the demonstration of power with that of logical argumentation. It is the testimony of the Spirit which alone Paul admits as valid.” This interpretation is to be preferred, since in the antithetic clause “wisdom” is to be regarded as the subject or source whence the persuasive words originate, or which begets and presents them. Hardly deserving of more than mention are expositions like that which takes “Spirit and power” as equivalent to: powerful spirit, or which explains the “demonstration of the Spirit” to consist in the proof afforded by prophecies, and that “of power” in the miracles Paul wrought (Origen and Grotius). Even were prophecy and miracle to be thought of in this connection still they could not by any means have been exclusively intended. In any case, the reference must primarily have been to that moral power from above which ever accompanied the preaching of the Apostle, and which acted upon the hearts and consciences of his hearers, awakening, agitating and quickening them to a new life. In all this there was a demonstration of a higher sort, more influential for faith than the strongest arguments of philosophy.
1 Corinthians 2:5. Expressive of ultimate intent both of God in sending Him to preach as He did, and of Himself acting in compliance with it,—that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.—The end of preaching is faith in Christ. But if this faith was grounded upon human wisdom and its arguments and persuasions, which were only a superficial assent, then would the foundation be loose. It could remain only until assailed by strong arguments of a contrary sort. But if, on the other hand, faith rested upon a Divine demonstration, which while it convinced, converted also, and so took possession of the whole man, it was then fixed and immovable, and could victoriously withstand all the assaults of human power and art.
[“Longinus alludes to the abrupt and unsystematic style on which the Apostle prides himself. ‘Paul of Tarsus was the first who maintained positive assertion without elaborate proof.’ ”—Stanley].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. The nature of faith in Christ.—It is a trustful surrender of soul to Him; a conviction concerning Him, which involves at the same time a union with His person, even as He is offered unto us for our salvation—hence, with Him as “the crucified.” It is a reception of Him in such a way that He dwells in us and we in Him. But this pre-supposes a renunciation of all self-confidence, and of all trust in any thing creaturely and human, whether it be in the line of action, or permission, or of suffering, as available before God for working out or earning salvation, or for establishing and restoring our fellowship with God. It is an act which can proceed only from a mind renewed and strengthened by the might of Divine love, since God’s Spirit and power are operative in it, showing and convincing the sinner on the one hand of his own guilt and insufficiency for himself, and on the other hand of the holy and compassionate love of God, His saving righteousness and His almighty grace in Christ; and this, too, in a way to take down all boasting, and beget an implicit reliance upon God alone.
2. The sole means to produce faith.—This is a style of preaching which presents the great facts of redemption directly to the heart in their simple Divine energy, without the accessories of human science and art. In such preaching, God’s Spirit and power can bear testimony, and glorify Christ, and bring to man’s consciousness the greatness, and holiness, and wisdom, and glory of His redeeming love in such a manner as to qualify the heart for an exercise of faith. Wheresoever, on the contrary, human rhetoric with its artifices, and human philosophy with its speculations, are mingled up with Gospel truth, there offered some obstruction is to the operation of the Divine power; there some purely human influence, such as the charm of style or of fine reasoning, it may be, supersedes the Divine influence, and we fail of being drawn into the sphere of the truth itself, “as it is in Jesus;” there human selfishness and pride still have free scope. As the result, we have instead of a firm and lasting faith, only a feeble, sickly opinion, which is ever ready to yield to counter-influences, or to changed humors, or to new systems of thought; which does not carry in itself the life of man in Christ, or of Christ in man; which is not heavenly, but earthly, not deeply rooted, but superficial, and ever ready to vanish away.
3. The mood and attitude of the Christian preacher. He who clearly perceives what faith is, and what is requisite for it, and what depends on it; who sees what barriers of every kind, especially of false culture and foolish pride, oppose themselves to it; who understands how the pure and artless preaching of Christ alone has power to awaken faith, and yet what prejudices there are against such preaching, and how little it is acceptable to men, especially to the highly educated classes, and to those who either practise or tolerate the grosser or more refined forms of wickedness, and how the whole life and being of a man strives against the truth which seeks to slay their selfishness and their sensuality,—a person who comprehends all this as he ought, will recognize and feel it to be a task transcending all human ability, and too difficult for him in the imperfection of his spiritual life, to go abroad into the world, especially into the circle of the refined and learned, as a simple preacher of Christ crucified, and there maintain his stand. The persons he there meets, seek their satisfaction in art, and science, and learning; they take delight in luxury and sensual enjoyment; and the knowledge of this fact abates confidence, takes away boasting, begets timidity, awakens anxiety, yea bows a man to the very dust with a sense of his own weakness. But for this very reason does he become all the more suitable an instrument for Christ. The more emptied he is of self, the more can God impart to him of His spirit and power, and work in him and through him, the more will he be disposed to cherish a holy courage and confidence in God. With “the foolishness of preaching” he will be ready to encounter a world full of obstacles, and find himself strong enough to overthrow all its bulwarks, while he will feel ashamed to resort to secular arts for gaining an entrance for himself. And the earnest endeavor of every one, through whom God achieves exploits, is to become just such a simple instrument of the Spirit in subduing the hearts of men through the word of truth, and winning them to Christ.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
[1. Paul the pattern of an Evangelical preacher. On entering Corinth Paul was confronting his severest task. He had just left Athens, where, notwithstanding his brilliant audience and great speech on Mars Hill, he had met with comparatively small success. We read of no Church having been found there. And now he is to offer the Gospel in a city that presented in many respects far greater obstacles than Athens did. In addition to the pride of philosophy there was to be encountered here a degree of luxury and vice no where else to be found. And if there was failure at Athens, how much more the likelihood of failure at Corinth? It is in view of these discouragements, that the picture which the Apostle has given us of himself obtains its peculiar interest. The main features of it are 1. His inward feelings. He is not bold, defiant, self-assured, as an earthly warrior pushing up to an assault. On the contrary, he is much cast down, conscious of weakness, full of fear. To the outward sight, there is every thing against him. But while the flesh trembles, the spirit has courage to go on, being trustful in God. 2. His determination as to the course to be pursued. a. He will not cater to the tastes of the Corinthians, and think to win them by gratifying these. Fine oratory and subtle philosophy, however capable of these, he lays aside. They are not the means for winning faith, for saving souls. b. He will simply proclaim the testimony of God, holding up Christ in all His glory, and in all His shame, as the only means which God hath appointed to make man wise and holy, believing that however much this might scandalize the natural heart, it was the demonstration of God’s spirit and power which would alone prove mighty for the overthrow of Satan, and the setting up of God’s kingdom. 3. His aim. The faith he might awaken should rest in nothing he might say or do of himself, but solely in the exhibition which God should make of Himself through the Son whom He had set forth, and whom Paul was intent on holding up before the minds of men even to the utter hiding of himself from view].
2. Heubner:—The Christian must first unlearn in order to learn. To preach Christ the Crucified is to put Him and His atoning work at the top, to set all truth in connection with these, and to derive all good from these (1 Corinthians 2:2). Self-diffidence in a preacher helps more than self-confidence. It is a great thing to stand in place of God and proclaim His word in presence of angels and men (1 Corinthians 2:3). Christianity is sufficient for itself and needs no adventitious aids. No preacher should so far humble himself as to seek these, nor should the people expect them. What is the demonstration of the Spirit and of power? (1 Corinthians 2:4). It is the conviction of sin and of the need of a Saviour, which the Spirit works in the heart through the Gospel. This is something which no man can effect of himself. Hence what the preacher has preëminently to strive for, is that the Spirit may operate through his word; and the hearers, that they may experience this heavenly power. In order that the preacher may make “demonstration of the Spirit,” he must have the Spirit. A faith which rests upon regard for a philosopher Isaiah 1:0, impure—a man’s name is put for Christ’s; 2, unsafe and fickle—human systems crowd each other out; 3, inoperative—the Spirit of God is not its source; 4, not genuine—science has no faith-begetting power. Therefore a Christian’s faith should not rest upon scholastic wisdom, but on the power of God renewing the heart. What a person has experienced within cannot be argued out.
Hedinger:—Christ Crucified the preacher’s Alpha and Omega. Away with finery and feathers! Let the Spirit of God speak in thee. He knows how to hit the heart (1 Corinthians 2:2). Those conductors to salvation who have been proved in the furnace of affliction are the best approved. To the mariner on a wild sea, experience is every thing. To have only studied maps at school will prove of little account (1 Corinthians 2:3).
Gossner:—The death of Christ must be recognized and credited. This is what captivates the heart, and kindles the fire that burns. Faith in the Son of God is the greatest miracle of grace. It is a great consolation that here and there one soul that hears us is made to experience the power of Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of sins. He who preaches Christ crucified must himself be ready for a crucifixion. Paul trembled while preaching that which blessed the world. Many false teachers, who betray the world and lull it into a death sleep, speak with bold front and without sense of danger.
Rieger:—It is a question whether ministers do not try too much to conceal their weakness and fear, and are not too assiduous in filling up the gaps and pauses with artificial efforts; whether they do not shrink too much from the criticism of the world, when it insists so strenuously upon calmness, fluency and ease in a speaker. But where there is life, there will be fluctuations. Living growth has to break through obstructions.
[Chalmers:—A minister has no ground to hope for fruit from his exertions until in himself he has no hope; until he has learned to put no faith in the point and energy of his sentences—until he feel that a man may be mighty to compel the attention, and mighty to regale the imagination, and mighty to silence the gainsayers, and yet not mighty to the pulling down of strong holds].
[Tholuck. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5. Paul a type of the true preacher. 1. Contents of his sermon, 1 Corinthians 2:2. II. Tone of the preacher. Theremin, 1 Corinthians 2:2. The knowledge of Christ the crucified. It includes a threefold knowledge. I. What man is. II. What God is. III. What man should be. Chalmers. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5. The necessity of the Spirit to give effect to the preaching of the Gospel. I. Success of the teacher dependent on God in the ordinary branches of learning. II. The specialty in the work of the Christian teacher.]
1 Corinthians 2:11 Corinthians 2:1.—Instead of μαρτν́ριον. others, according to good and ancient authorities [A. C. Cod. Sin. Syr.], read μνστήριον. But it is more probable that this arose from a gloss suited to 1 Corinthians 2:7, than that μαρτν́ριον could have crept in here from 1:6; at the same time only a few authorities read μαρτν́ριον τον͂ χριστον͂.
1 Corinthians 2:21 Corinthians 2:2.—The received τον͂ είδεναι τι is not well authenticated, and the order τί εἰδέναι is confirmed by B. C. D. E. Δ.and many other decisive authorities. [Wordsworth says: “τὶ, which is emphatic, is rightly placed before είδέναι by B. C. D. E. and by Griesbach, Scholz., Lach., Alf., Meyer. Indeed είδέναι τὶ ἐν ν̔μῖν would have been liable to an inconvenient interpretation: to know what is in you.”]
1 Corinthians 2:41 Corinthians 2:4.—The received ανθρωπίνης has the balance of authorities against it [and is omitted by Griesb., Scholz. Lach., Tisch., Meyer.] Other variations in this ver. (e. g.) πιθανοῖς for πειθοῖς etc., can hardly be regarded as any thing more than conjectures of an older or a later date, (See below.)
[Why de Wette’s view should be termed “less probable,” when it is in perfect consistency with the use of the terms thus far, it is difficult to see.]
III.—THE GOSPEL, WHICH ABJURES HUMAN WISDOM, HAS NEVERTHELESS A WISDOM OF ITS OWN
6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom [a wisdom not] of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7But we speak the wisdom of God [God’s wisdom]5 in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which6 God hath prepared for them that love him. 10But God hath revealed them unto us7 by his8 Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For what man knoweth (οῖ̓δεν) the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth [ἔγνωχεν]9 no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now 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. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost [the Spirit]10 teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But 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 [judged of]. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth11 [of] all things12, yet he himself is judged of [by] no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.13
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
[In this section we have the other side of the matter under discussion. In view of Paul’s repudiation of “wisdom,” it might be inferred by the Corinthians that Christianity was a narrow, partial, one-sided religion, suited only to one particular portion of human nature; that while it professed to be the friend of true piety and sound morals, it was at the same time a foe to science and free thought; yea, that it stood in entire antagonism to that which both universal opinion and the declarations of the Old Testament esteemed “more precious than rubies,” and was the ally of ignorance and barbarism. Such inferences it was important to obviate for the credit of Christianity, and in the interest of truth. Hence the Apostle goes on to state that the Gospel, which ignored human wisdom, and in some of its aspects carried the appearance of folly, did not abjure all pretense to wisdom, nor put contempt on the human intellect. He shows furthermore that while he deemed it expedient to confine himself when with the Corinthians to simple preaching, there was a sermonizing which went beyond this, and before fit audience could expatiate largely on the deep things of God].
1 Corinthians 2:6. Wisdom however we do speak.—[The δέ here as is in the E. V. is to be taken as strongly antithetic]. Σοφίαν—the higher religious wisdom of Christianity. By this we are to understand not what merely concerns the form of discourse, such as an inspired way of speaking; nor yet what concerns its subject matter, such as the future relations and events of the Kingdom of the Messiah, to which the immediate context is said to point. (Meyer). The correct view has been given by Osiander, and Bengel says: “Wisdom here denotes not all Christian doctrine, but its sublime and secret principles (capita sublimia et arcana);” he also puts λαλεῖν to speak, in antithesis with κηρύσσειν to preach, making the former to mean private instruction and the latter public speaking. But his interpretation of the word “wisdom” is too atomistic, and of the word “speak” too restricted. There is no reference here to any system of secret doctrine. [What he does mean will be more fully considered hereafter, when all the characteristics given of it have been surveyed]. But traces of this true wisdom are to be seen in several of Paul’s Epistles, especially in those to the Romans, Ephesians and Colossians, also in 1 Corinthians 15:0. Its foundation is Christ (1:30; comp. Colossians 2:3).—among them that are perfect, ἐν τοῖς τελείοις—the audience for this wisdom. The “perfect” stand opposed to the beginners, “the babes in Christ” (3:1), and are identical with “the spiritual.” He means that what he had not been able to deliver to the Corinthians in the immaturity of their Christian life, because they could not as yet apprehend it, he did announce among those of riper Christian experience. Thus we see that wisdom is the same as that which he calls “meat” (3:2) as contrasted with “milk.” The same antithesis appears in 14:20; Ephesians 4:13 ff.; Hebrews 5:11-14. To the Corinthians, as they were, he could only communicate what was suited to their yet weak powers of apprehension, viz., the great facts of redemption, with their immediate practical consequences, with their christological presuppositions and their theological foundations. And this was done in the simple form of preaching, or of bare statement that the things were so, or had been so, or would be so as declared, accompanied by Scripture proofs, such as are found in the book of Acts, and with applications to the inner and outward life of the hearers. But where, on the other hand, a greater maturity of Christian life and a capacity for the deeper comprehension of truth existed, there he was able to set all this forth in their fundamental proofs and in their intimate connections. There he was able to unfold the whole Divine economy in accordance with its eternal principles and its progress through time and its fixed laws and in relation to its final consummation, so that that which Grecian wisdom was in search of within its own sphere was actually attained in a way that was incomparably higher and Divine, and better fitted to satisfy the deepest needs of a thoughtful spirit.
The interpretation we have here given, which would seem to be decisively confirmed by what follows, is opposed by another on the ground, 1, that it is one entirely foreign to the Apostle, since he nowhere in his Epistle contemplated “the perfect” as his readers (but how of Philippians 3:15 : Let us therefore as many as be perfect, etc)? 2, that it is in contradiction with 1 Corinthians 2:2, (where, however, he is only speaking of the first proclamation of the Gospel); and the sense given is this: that the simple, scandalizing doctrine of Christ crucified contains in itself the profoundest wisdom, encloses a Divine mystery which is intelligible only to the perfect. But this explanation, which is conveyed also in Luther’s translation, 1, has no sure grammatical support, since the preposition ἐν carries the idea of “in the judgment of,” only when the persons are mentioned, who appear to decide a ease by their own opinions (comp. Passow Wörterbuch, 1:2, p. 910), and especially in connection with, such verbs as denote to be and to appear; 2, it does not correspond with usage elsewhere to understand “the perfect” to mean true Christians who seek true wisdom in Christ, or as Calvin does: “those who possess a sound and unbiased judgment.”—[The view just given is in the main that which is advocated by Calvin, Olsh. and Hodge, who in favor of it argues, “1. that those who regarded Paul’s doctrine as foolishness were not the babes in Christ, but the unrenewed, “the wise of this world;” consequently those to whom it was wisdom were not advanced Christians, but believers as such. Throughout the whole context the opposition is between “the called,” or converted, and the unconverted, and not between one class of believers and another class. 2. If “the perfect” here means advanced Christians, as distinguished from babes in Christ, then the wisdom which Paul preached was not the Gospel as such, but its higher doctrines. But this cannot be, because it is the doctrine of the cross, of Christ crucified, which he declares to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, 1:24. And the description given in the following part of this chapter of the wisdom here intended, refers not to the higher doctrine of the Gospel, but to the Gospel itself. The contrast is between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, and not between the rudiment and the higher doctrines of the Gospel. Besides, what are these higher doctrines which Paul preached only to the elite of the Church? No one knows. Some say one thing and some another. But there are no higher doctrines than those taught in this Epistle and in those to the Romans and Ephesians, all addressed to the mass of the people. The New Testament makes no distinction between (πίστις and γνῶσις) higher and lower doctrines. It does indeed speak of a distinction between milk and strong meat, but that is a distinction, not between kinds of doctrine, but between one mode of instruction and another. In catechisms designed for children the Church pours out all the treasures of her knowledge, but in the form of milk, i.e., in a form adapted to the weakest capacities. For all these reasons, we conclude that by “the perfect” the Apostle means the competent, the people of God as distinguished from the men of the world; and by wisdom, not any higher doctrines, but the simple Gospel, which is the wisdom of God as distinguished from the wisdom of men.” The argument is not convincing. It seems obvious on the very face of his exposition, that the Apostle is here making a distinction between that simple “preaching” of Gospel facts which he had been adhering to among the Corinthians, and what he calls “wisdom” which he had thus far held in reserve at Corinth by reason of the incapacity of the converts there to apprehend it. And surely the distinction is one which is practically observed by all preachers. There is a Christianity embodied in facts which a child may learn and profit by; and there is a philosophy of Christianity, a system of doctrine, a theology, which is dispensed only to those of mature intellect and experience. And so far from admitting the custom of the Church in teaching children the Assembly’s Catechism, which surely cannot be called “milk,” as a valid argument in support of the exposition, it may be a question whether the custom itself does not fall under condemnation through the Apostle’s argument. The contrast is indeed between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God; but there is also another contrast indicated by the “however” with which the verse is introduced—a contrast between κήρυγμα and σοφία, preaching and wisdom]. Accordingly we hold to the first exposition as the only one well established: “In order to obviate all misapprehension of his language, Paul here asserts that the Gospel does include in itself the true wisdom. It is altogether foreign to his intent to set up an opposition here between reason and revelation. On the contrary he here distinctly expresses the validity of a demand for a science that is to be unfolded out of Christianity; a science which must be the sole, true and all-satisfying science.” Neander.—but a wisdom not of this world.—He here distinguishes that profounder development of the fulness of Christian truth designated as “wisdom” from all that which passes for such in the world without. It was not anything which sprang up in the natural progress of the race, either before or apart from Christ. The δέ as in Romans 3:22. “Like the German aber, it is used in particular when something is annexed in illustration as the complement of a sentence. Thai by “this world,” he does not mean simply the great mass of mankind, the commonality only, but has in mind especially its leaders as those to whom this Christian wisdom was utterly foreign, is shown in the added words—nor of the prince of this world.—Does he mean by this the demons mentioned in Ephesians 6:12, as κοσμοκράτορας? Hardly ̓́Αρχων with this sense appears only in the Sing, John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2. And in any ease these are not intended in 1 Corinthians 2:8. According to Bengel the expression embraces the leaders both of the Jews and of the Greeks. Not simply influential, learned men, philosophers; also not merely the members of the Jewish Sanhedrim, but all those of high station in general, the multitude of those who bear sway either by their authority or by the respect which they command. These are described as persons who come to naught.—That is, they are bereft of all authority and consideration in the kingdom of God, in the world to come. He is not speaking here of their being overcome by the higher wisdom and power of Christianity, but of the utter destruction of their importance as leaders in that higher economy, at the institution of which everything which springs out of this lower order of things is done away, however respectable it may appear.
1 Corinthians 2:7. Now comes the positive part of the description, which is introduced by an emphatic repetition.—But we speak God’s wisdom, i.e., a wisdom which He has, and which He has imparted to us.—in a mystery.—It is doubtful with what this should be connected. Certainly not with the following participle, “hidden,” which would be hardly grammatical and also tautological, but rather either with “we speak” or with “wisdom.” The first is to be preferred, because in connecting it with “wisdom” the article in the Greek should be put before it for the sake of distinctness; and then the sense would be: we speak the wisdom of God as a mystery, i.e., as “something which does not proceed from the human understanding, but from the Divine revelation.”—Neander. Or “handling it as a mystery.”—Meyer. Not however in the sense of any esoteric communications analagous to the Grecian mysteries to which neither here nor yet in the expression “perfect” (=initiated) is any allusion to be sought. But does not the explanatory participle following, viz., “the hidden,” which certainly relates to wisdom, require us to connect the words “in a mystery” with “wisdom?” The article after the anarthrous σοφίαν is neither necessary nor admissible if we translate it: “a wisdom consisting in mystery” [although, as Meyer says, “its omission would be at the cost of perspicuity.” Paul would, in that case, have expressed himself ambiguously which he might easily have avoided by the use of the article.” But, it may be asked, whether it is not quite in the Apostle’s style to put nouns in relation through a preposition in this way? Is not the σοφίαν ἐν μυστήρῳ exactly analogous with σοφία in 1:30. What is meant by “speaking a thing in a mystery,” we cannot comprehend, unless it is speaking it secretly or in a dark and obscure manner. Such must be the meaning of the term when made to qualify a verb. But certainly this was not what Paul intended to say, nor is it in accordance with the use of the term in the N. T. Here “mystery” denotes not a quality or condition of obscurity but a fact or truth which is made known by revelation. Hence it would exactly express the very thing in which Paul’s mission consisted, and instead of being connected with “speak” seems to us most naturally associated by the preposition “in” with “wisdom.” This view would seem to follow from Kling’s definition of the word “mystery.”] This in the N. T., and especially in Paul’s phraseology denotes something unknown to man—shut out from his comprehension, and which is made known only through Divine revelation. It is used in particular of the Divine purpose of redemption, especially in respect to the participation of the Gentiles in the salvation wrought by Christ (Ephesians 3:3 ff.; Colossians 1:26 ff.) of the final restoration of Israel (Romans 11:24), and of the physical change which is to take place at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51).—the hidden means either that which was concealed or is concealed. It is the first, when a statement is added of the thing having been made known as in Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:28. But it is the second, when it is meant, that the thing in question is withdrawn from human knowledge. In our passage, where the fact of concealment is first enlarged upon (1 Corinthians 2:8), and then afterwards a revelation to the elect of God is spoken of in contrast with a concealment from others, the latter meaning is to be preferred.—which God ordained.—This expression shows still more conclusively that “wisdom” is to be understood in an objective sense, not of the knowledge of the enlightened and of the doctrine flowing from it as such, but of its subject matter, that which elsewhere is called “a mystery;” the Divine plan of salvation itself, in reference to the wisdom revealed therein; or we may say, the work of redemption including in itself its chief end and the sure means of accomplishing it.—before the ages.—He here goes back to the original ground of this redemptive scheme in the eternal purpose of God formed before the world was (comp. Romans 8:29 ff; and Ephesians 1:5). The supplying of “to make known,” or “to reveal,” for the purpose of filling out a supposed elipsis, is not necessary. On the expression, “before the ages,” compare the similar expressions in (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 3:9-10; Colossians 1:26; 2 Timothy 1:9). “God determined on redemption before creation, i.e., already at the very foundation of creation there existed a Divine purpose to establish a kingdom of God in the world and therefore He made it.” Neander.—unto our glory.—From the eternal ground of salvation he here turns to its final end, which also stretches forward into eternity. The glory he here speaks of is not the glory of the Church of the New Testament as compared with the Old, but as everywhere with Paul, when discoursing of believers, it denotes their full restoration to the Divine image. It is the state of redemption completed, wherein the spiritual life shines out in the effulgence of an incorruptible state. (Comp. Romans 5:2; Romans 8:18; Romans 8:21; Romans 9:23; Colossians 1:27; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:10.) What is said in 2 Corinthians 3:18 does not justify us in including here that inward glorifying of the soul which is involved in our regeneration, and which takes place in this life. If, with Meyer, we interpret the wisdom of God to mean “His spiritual philosophy which He has revealed to His ministers,” then we must understand this clause thus: which God has fore-ordained so that it should redound to our glory. This glory, which stands in contrast with the utter evanishment of this world’s princes, is supposed by some to be that destined to be revealed at the coming of Christ in which Christians are to be partakers through that Divine wisdom. But is this thought Pauline? It may be doubtful. Unquestionably, however, this thought is, that God’s eternal purpose, which comprises His plan of salvation, or in other words His wisdom, which proposes salvation for its object and devises the best means for its accomplishment, has for its final end our glorification. (Com. Romans 8:29 ff.)
1 Corinthians 2:8, Shows more fully how thoroughly hidden this wisdom was—which none of the princes of this world (or age) knew.—[The relative “which” is taken by Billroth and Stanley and others to refer to “glory.” “That which belonged to eternity and was before the ages, was not likely to be known to those who lived in time or in this age,” and this is still further justified by supposing an allusion to this in the expression “Lord of glory.”] But we are neither compelled nor justified in adopting this construction. The main thought of the passage is “God’s wisdom,” and it is to this that the relatives refer both in this and in the previous verse. What the Apostle here brings to view is the concealment in which God’s wisdom was kept, by showing how entirely it remained unknown and unsuspected by even the leaders of this world, who were deemed persons of keen insight and took the management of affairs, and the argument for this was,—they would not otherwise have crucified the Lord of glory.—For it was through Him that this Divine wisdom, which devised the plan of salvation and aimed at the glorification of believers, was made known and carried out. And this, it were fair to suppose, they would not have done could they have seen the fulness of Divine wisdom and power which shone in him and which was flowing out upon others. “Paul here contemplates those who directly took part in the crucifixion as the representatives of that worldly spirit which was exhibited in the Greek philosophy. They acted in the name and in the entire spirit of the ancient world.”—Neander. “The Lord of glory.”—So also in James 2:1. This expression is not to be taken as equivalent to ‘glorious Lord,’ but, as in the analogous expressions, “Father of glory” (Ephesians 1:17); “The God of glory” (Acts 7:2), “The Lord is the possessor of glory.” The genitive case used here in the Greek is the genitive of possession. “Lord of glory” is a title of Divinity. It means possessor of Divine excellence. “Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory” (Psalms 24:10; Acts 7:2; James 2:1; Ephesians 1:17). The person crucified, therefore, was a Divine person. Hence the deed was evidence of inconceivable blindness and wickedness. It was one that could only have been done through ignorance. “And now, brethren,” said the Apostle Peter to the Jews, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers,” Acts 3:17. The fact, that the princes of this world were so blind as not to see that Christ was the Lord of glory, Paul cites as proof of their ignorance of the wisdom of God. Had they known the one, they would have known the other. This passage illustrates a very important principle or usage of Scripture. We see that the person of Christ may be designated from his Divine nature, when what is affirmed of Him is true only of his human nature. The Lord of glory was crucified; the Son of God was born of a woman; He who was equal with God humbled Himself to be obedient unto death. In like manner we speak of the birth or death of a man without meaning that the soul is born or dies, and the Scriptures speak of the birth and death of the Son of God without meaning that the Divine nature is subject to these changes. It is also plain that to predicate ignorance, subjection, suffering, death, or any other limitation of the Son of God, is no more inconsistent with the Divinity of the person so designated, than to predicate birth and death of a man is inconsistent with the immateriality and immortality of the human soul. Whatever is true either of the soul or body may be predicated of a man as a person, and whatever is true of either the Divine or human nature of Christ may be predicated of Christ as a person. We need not hesitate therefore to say with Paul, the Lord of glory was crucified; or even in accordance with the received text in Acts 20:28, “God purchased the Church with His blood.” The person who died was truly God, although the Divine nature no more died than the soul of man does when the breath leaves his body.”—Hodge]
1 Corinthians 2:9. Confirmatory citation.—But, as it has been written, what things eye hath not seen, and ear hath not beard, and into the heart of man have not entered, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.”—[We have here given a literal translation of this passage as nearly as possible in the order of the Greek text]. The first point to be considered here is the connection both logical and grammatical. This has been attempted in various ways. One is, by supplying a supposed ellipsis after “but,” either by inserting the words “it has happened,” be as to make it read, “but it has happened as is written” (Bengel); in which case a demonstrative clause would have been required after the relative clause; or by inserting “we speak,” taken from 1 Corinthians 2:7. It would be more correct, however, without supplying any thing, to go back directly to 1 Corinthians 2:7, and connect there, and to find in 1 Corinthians 2:9 an expansion and enhancement of what is said in 1 Corinthians 2:8. “which none of the princes knew,” so that ἀλλά instead of being translated “but” might be rendered “yea, rather.” [This rendering is adopted by Stanley], The reading would then be, “we speak God’s wisdom, which none of the princes knew, yea, which no eye hath seen.” In this case the clause, “for if they had known they would not have crucified, etc.” would be taken as a sort of parenthesis, in order to facilitate the connection with what precedes. We would then connect 1 Corinthians 2:10, “but God hath revealed them to us” directly with the previons words, “what things he hath prepared,” inserting only a comma after “him.” In this case, only, the repetition of the name “God” would appear strange, and would have to be regarded as done for the sake of emphasis. If this does not suit, then we may either assume an anacoluthon, so that in this break the sentence would seem to lose itself in mystery and distance inaudible (so de Wette and Osi.), or we may find the sentence completed in 1 Corinthians 2:10, the proper antecedent being introduced with δέ, but, as in 1 Corinthians 1:23, to signify the antithesis there to 1 Corinthians 2:8. It would then read “but what eye hath not seen, etc.;” these, “on the contrary, God hath revealed to us” (so Meyer and Alford).—Since the last mentioned mode of connection seems forced, and the reason assigned for the anacoluthon is not very clear, we prefer to assume a climax as above stated, introduced by “yea, rather,” without joining 1 Corinthians 2:10 directly to the preceding clause. [Hodge prefers the anacoluthon, and very justly Bays, in reference to this citation and to that in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “in quoting the Old Testament the Apostle frequently cites the words as they stand, without so modifying them as to make them grammatically cohere with the context.”].—There is yet another difficulty to be considered. Whence is the citation taken? Since no passage in the Old Testament is found exactly corresponding to it, the patristic expositors supposed that the words were taken, either from some Old Testament Scripture now entirely lost, or from some apocryphal prophecy; and Z. Chrys. asserts that he had read these words in the apocalypse of Esaias. Grotius, however, supposes that they were taken from the writings of the Rabbis who had preserved them out of an old tradition. But in opposition to these opinions it must be regarded as settled that Paul uses the formula “as it is written” only in introducing citations from the Old Testament. Accordingly Meyer has adopted the solution that Paul quoted an apocryphal passage under the idea that the words were in the Old Testament. But before we resort to any such explanation, it is to be seen whether the dissimilarity between our passage and the Old Testament texts in question is so great, as to prevent us from supposing that he quoted freely here, as he has also done elsewhere, and as other New Testament writers have also occasionally done. Certainly Paul could hardly have had in mind Isaiah 52:15. “For that which hath not been told them should they see, and that which they had not heard, should they consider;” nor yet 65:17; “For behold I create new heavens, and a new earth, and the former should not be remembered nor come into mind,” unless perhaps the last clause, in the ring of the expression. But he may have had in mind Isaiah 64:4, according to the original text: “For since the world have men not heard, nor perceived, nor hath an eye seen, O God, besides Thee; he will do it for him who waits upon Him”14—here there is a transition from the second person to the third, as is frequently the case in prophetic diction—since the formula, “as it is written,” admits of a free quotation, and Paul is not always precise in adhering to the words (1:19, 31; 14:21; Romans 9:33). We therefore unhesitatingly accord with Osiander in maintaining a reference here to Isaiah 64:4. The sense common to both passages is, that God has prepared for His people who wait for Him, things far exceeding all human experince or observation. ἐπὶ καρδίαν Heb. עָלָה עַל לֵב lit. to come upon the heart, to become a matter of experience and thought.—In the word, “prepare” we have the carrying out of the “fore-ordination” mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:7.—But what does the Apostle mean by “the things prepared?” Meyer says the salvation of the Messianic kingdom (comp. Matthew 25:34.) Very well, but not simply in its future glories. What is intended is the whole work of redemption in all its essential particulars, from the foundation laid for it in Christ, on unto its final consummation. They are the benefits never before known or imagined, and far transcending all conception and surmise which are contained in God’s revelation, and the glory aimed at and procured by it. “They are the gracious gifts and disclosures of blessedness, an insight into which, and an enjoyment of which are afforded us even here in faith, whose full fruition is reserved for a higher world.” Osiander. That deliverance from exile to which the passage in Isaiah primarily refers, is in truth only a faint image of that which is to be considered as the literal fulfilment of all such expression (comp. also Matthew 13:17).
1 Corinthians 2:10-12. The revelation of this wisdom and its means.—But to us God bath revealed them through His Spirit.—“To us,” that is, Paul himself and his fellow-Apostles; for of Christians in general he is not speaking. See 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:16—also 3:1. [So Hodge; Stanley, however, says “believers generally, but with a special reference to himself”]. The communication here is not of an external, but of an internal sort. (Comp. the expression, “to reveal in me,” Galatians 1:15). This is clear also from the agency employed. This agency is the Spirit, who executes God’s purposes of redemption and is the means of enlightening them in the knowledge of their nature. He does this work so far as He is “freely given of God,” 1 Corinthians 2:12. The possibility of this revelation by the Spirit is shown in the following words—for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.—“The Spirit” here is evidently, by reason of the connection, the same as “His Spirit” in the previous clause. Only there He is introduced as proceeding outwards and working ad extra, but here and in what follows as imminent or existing within the Godhead. An analogous expression occurs respecting the Son of God in John 1:18, where the phrase “who is in the bosom of the Father” corresponds with “the Spirit searcheth all things,” etc.; and the word “declare” with “hath revealed by His Spirit.” The ability to make known the thoughts of God unto the Apostles is here grounded upon the knowledge the Spirit has of these things in their inmost source and profoundest depths. This is expressed by ἐρευνᾷν: lit. to explore, to search through and through; but here, and wherever else it is used of Divine knowledge, it denotes the result of that exploring, i.e. a complete and thorough knowledge (comp. 139:1; Romans 8:27=καρδιογνώστης of Acts 1:24; Acts 15:8 and Revelation 2:23. Chrys. ἀκριβὴς γνῶσις κατάληψις.) Βάθηθεοῦ: inmost recesses of God, the otherwise unexplorable depths where His thoughts and volitions have free play, the hidden mystery of His personality which correspond to those mysteries of His kingdom and of all His works and ways which the Spirit reveals. The image is drawn from the sea, whose depths are supposed to be unfathomable and bottomless. (Psalms 36:7; Psalms 92:6; Job 11:8). Meyer says: “The entire abounding fulness which God has in Himself, every thing which goes to make up His being, His attributes, thoughts, plans, decrees.” (Not the latter exclusively). See also the phrase “depths of Satan,” Revelation 2:24. That such must be the office of the Spirit, and of Him alone, is now illustrated by an analogy.
1 Corinthians 2:11. For who of men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God no one knoweth save the Spirit of God.—The logic is this: “The Spirit and only He can know the depths of God. For as the spirit of man which is in him can alone know what is of him, so only the Spirit of God can know what is of God.” The Apostle puts the first member of the comparison in the form of a question. “Who of men knoweth, etc.?” Here the gen., ανθρώπων, of men, is not superfluous. The ignorance here implied is not an absolute one, inasmuch as God is to be excepted from it (Osi.); or, we may say, it carries a prominent emphasis: “no man knows what is of man” (Meyer)—τὰτοῦἀνθρώπου not βάθη : “the things of a man” in general; not his “depths.” According to the context, the things alluded to must be limited to those of his inner life, his secret thoughts and purposes. The “spirit” of man is the breath of God in him, “the candle of the Lord searching all the inward parts of his belly” (Proverbs 20:27), the inner eye or light (Matthew 6:23), that whereby he becomes evident to himself, recognizes his own distinct individuality, is conscious of himself, and of his thoughts and acts as belonging to himself, the Divine image in man, the principle of his personality. (See Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, S. 116 ff.; Beck, Bibl. Seelenlehre, S. 947). By the words “which is in him,” the spirit, as the principle of self-consciousness, is distinguished from the spirit in others, as the principle of objective knowledge. A like additional qualification to “the Spirit of God” would be out of place, either because God is absolutely one, or because His Spirit is also dispensed to others, as seen in the next verse: “which is from God” (Meyer). De Wette says: “Paul conceives of the Spirit not as being in God, as though He were the principle of God’s self-consciousness; but he very wisely says merely “the Spirit of God” in order that he might thus hold the way open for saying afterwards “the Spirit from God.” The substance of the comparison is this: as the knowledge of the inward man is possible only through self-consciousness, so is the knowledge of God possible only through the consciousness of God obtained by means of the Holy Spirit. De Wette, however, overlooks an important element in the Apostle’s course of thought, in that the Apostle makes the immanent beholding of the depths of God on the part of the Spirit the ground of his function as a revealer. But the Spirit of God (in accordance with the analogy of the human spirit which is derived from Him and is his image) is the principle of the Divine self-knowledge, the ground of God’s life as a self-conscious existence—that whereby God is personal life, is the One who is eternally and absolutely cognizant of Himself in all His thoughts, volitions and decrees, in His doing and working,—the One who is revealed unto Himself and then reveals Him abroad to others—the One who sees through Himself and also shines through the human spirit and so qualifies it for looking into the work of God. [“The analogies of Scripture, however, are not to be pressed beyond the point they are intended to illustrate. The point here is the knowledge of the Spirit. He knows what is in God as we know what is in ourselves. It is not to be inferred from this that the Spirit of God bears in other points the same relation to God that our spirits do to us.” Hodge.] Having thus shown the ability of the Spirit to reveal the things of God, he reaffirms and corroborates the declaration of 1 Corinthians 2:10.—Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God.—The expression is antithetic. But what are we to understand by “the spirit of the world?” Certainly not any mental peculiarity; as most imagine, (Beza: ingenium humanum, [Barnes and others]: doctrina humana; [de Wette and Stanley: spirit of human wisdom; Hodge: a paraphrase for human reason]), since the thing contrasted with it cannot be explained in this manner. Neither can it be construed ironically, as denoting an utter want of that which is spiritual, or that show of spirit which the world calls spirit (see Osi.), nor yet as the finite spirit, in so far as it sets up independently for itself (Billroth). But it means that principle which controls the world in its thought and volition, and which is elsewhere termed “the prince of this world (John 12:31); also “the god of this world” (comp. Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:11 ff.; 1 John 4:3; 1 John 5:19), Meyer says: “The diabolic spirit under whose control the world is held, and which profane humanity possesses.” Osiander discovers in it “a demonic element, blending in with, however, and manifesting itself in connection with splendid natural powers—a principle of selfish curiosity which excites and stimulates the mental faculties to knowledge, but does not overcome their weakness, and which, while alienated from God, ever remains involved, not merely in weakness and ignorance, but also in perverseness and error.”—but—Inasmuch as he is treating no more of operations imminent in the Godhead, but of acts of external revelation, the subject in contrast is denominated—the Spirit which is from God.—“He brings to view the spirit as having been already bestowed.” Neander. This spirit, coming as it does from God, and the bestowment of which conditions the knowledge of Divine things, and which belongs only to the children of God (comp. Romans 5:5; Romans 8:9 ff; Romans 14 ff.; John 15:26), is to be entirely distinguished from the “spirit of man” which belongs to us as men, and makes us akin to God (Acts 17:29), and which constitutes our personality (1 Corinthians 2:11), and which is the immediate organ of the Spirit of God, needing, however to be renewed, and, because of its weakness, requiring to be strengthened. (Ephesians 4:23; Romans 7:22 ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; comp. Matthew 2:15-16). The object of the bestowment of the Spirit is—that we might know the things which are freely given to us by God.—These things are the same as those spoken of in 1 Corinthians 2:9 as having been “prepared” for us (comp. 1:30; Romans 8:24; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). τὰχαρισθέντα, (from χαρίζεσθσι as Romans 8:32)=gifts of free grace. By these are meant the blessings of God’s kingdom which Christians already possess in faith and hope, but which they will enjoy in full perfection when the kingdom of God has been set up in glory. [Hodge very singularly says: “not so. The connection is with 1 Corinthians 2:10, and the subject is the wisdom of God, the Gospel as distinguished from the wisdom of this world.” But what are the topics of this Gospel but the spiritual blessings here seen and known in part, but afterwards to be known as we also are known? A distinction here is untenable]. The persons to whom they are given (ἡμῖν) are Christians generally, as must appear from the very nature of the case [and the knowledge they obtain is “the assurance of confidence.” Calvin. Those who receive the Spirit not only have a clear apprehension of the blessings God hath provided, but discern them as “freely given unto them.” This must be so, as knowledge in the Scriptures is one with experience. There is no real perception without possession].
1 Corinthians 2:13. Having indicated the source of Gospel-wisdom, Paul proceeds to show how he proclaimed it, taking up the thought of 1 Corinthians 2:4.—Which things we also speak.—That the speaking here is directly connected with the fact of having received of the spirit from the purpose of knowing and declaring, and proceeds from it, and is of a sort corresponding to the nature of the objects received, is shown by word, καί: “also.” How he spake is exhibited antithetically.—Not in words taught of human wisdom, οὐκ ἐν διδακτοῖς ανθρωπινης σοφίας λόγοις—The Gen. here is governed not by λόγοις but by διδακτοῖς. (Comp. διδακτοὶ θεοῦ taught of God, John 6:45). [Most of the older English versions and Calvin construe the other way. Wiclif: not in wise wordes of mannes wisdom. Tyndale: not in the connyuge wordes of mannes wysdome. Rheims: not in learned wordes of humane wisedom. Cranmer and Geneva translate very nearly as the authorized version]. He means not in an artificial style of discourse, fashioned after the rules of scholastic rhetoric and dialetics, but in those taught of Spirit.—Πνεύματος without the article as in 1 Corinthians 2:4, because it is to be taken qualitatively as denoting a principle higher than that of human wisdom. We are not here to suppose that any actual dictation of the language is intended, but only an operation of the Spirit upon the mind, “which strongly pervades and controls even the speech and modes of exhibition:” in short a simple discourse which proceeds directly from a heart possessed by the Spirit of God. [Hodge says: “This is verbal inspiration, or the doctrine that the writers of the Scriptures were controlled by the Spirit of God in the choice of the words which they employed in communicating divine truth. This has been stigmatized as the mechanical theory of inspiration. It is objected to this, that it leaves the diversity of style which marks the different portions of the Bible, unaccounted for. But if God can control the thoughts of a man without making him a machine, why not also his language?—rendering every writer infallible in the use of his characteristic style? If the language of the Bible be not inspired, then we have the truth communicated through the discoloring and distorting medium of human imperfection. Paul’s direct assertion is that the words he used were taught by the Holy Ghost.” Wordsworth adds: “Here is a sufficient reply to the assertions of those who allege that the inspiration vouchsafed to St. Paul was limited to a general perception of divine truth and that he was left himself without divine guidance as to the form in which that truth was to be expressed. A caution also is thus supplied against the notion that there are verbal inaccuracies, and blemishes, and defects in St. Paul’s representations of the supernatural truths which he was commissioned to deliver. Comp. Hooker, II. 8:6, and Serm. 5:4; also Routh, Relequiæ Sacræ, Vol. V. pp. 336–341”]. This is clear from the explanatory clause [which we render—Combining spiritual things with spiritual.]—πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες. The interpretation of this depends on the explanation we give to συγκρίνοντες. This signifies originally, to combine together with judicious selection, then to unite in general, to join, the opposite of διακρίνειν; with this then comes the idea to hold together, i. e., by way of comparison (2 Corinthians 10:12), [this is the meaning adopted in the E. V.]; out of this there follows the idea of measuring, estimating according to something; and then of interpreting or expounding, as it is used in Genesis 40:8 and Daniel 5:12 in reference to dreams, in which cases the signification to judge must be referred back to the idea of holding together the various elements of the process so as to get a proper view of them. At any rate there is nothing in these last passages to justify our taking the word in the text to mean unqualifiedly to explain [as Stanley does] whether we take πνευματικοῖς as Masculine [rendering as Bengel, Rückert, Stanley: “to spiritual men”] (which is by no means required by the 1 Corinthians 2:14, since a new paragraph opens there), or as Neuter; rendering it “by spiritual things,” meaning thereby either the Old Testament types used to explain the New Testament (as Chrysostom and others), or the testimonies of the Prophets, which, being inspired by the Spirit, are the fit illustrations of the things which Christ has revealed, by His Spirit (as Grotius and others), both which ideas are remote from the connection, or “with spiritual words” (as Elsner and others). [Wordsworth interprets this clause comprehensively. “Blending spiritual things with spiritual,” i.e., not adulterating them with foreign admixtures (2 Corinthians 2:17; 1 Peter 2:2) also “combining.” for the purpose of comparing and explaining, e.g., the things of the New Testament by the Old Testament, or one spiritual truth by another]. Nor yet do we agree with Neander’s view, “that which has been communicated to us by the Divine Spirit we explain in a form which is suited to that communication.” The only correct interpretation is to take συγκρίνειν in its original import, and πνευματικοῖς as Neuter, and to render as above, carrying the meaning: uniting the spiritual matters which are the subject of our discourse (λαλοῦμεν 1 Corinthians 2:12) with words and forms that are taught of the Spirit. So Castalio, Calvin, Osiander, Meyer. [Hodge and Barnes]. Thus understood the clause serves to illustrate still further the suitableness of the style of discourse just before advocated, and as Osiander rightly observes, contains no tautology, since rather “the thought is here stated in the form of a fundamental principle, and is taken up and set forth with stronger emphasis.”15
1 Corinthians 2:14. [Explains the reason why this higher spiritual wisdom is not indiscriminately imparted, but “spoken only to the perfect.” It is seen in the incapacity of multitudes to apprehend it, and to discern “the Divine impress it bears both on its contents and style of delivery.” It is an inability arising from “their essential character, which is as opposed to the Gospel as it is in every respect harmoniously consistent with itself.”].—But the natural (or psychical16) man.—ψυχικὸς δὲ ἄνθρωπος. Here we have the character described. Luther explains it thus: “the natural man is one who, though he stands apart from grace, is still endowed to the fullest degree with understanding, sense, capacity and art.” He is the opposite of “the spiritual man,” see Jude 1:19. ψυχικοί, πνεῦμα μὴ ἔχοντες lit.: “psychical, not having the spirit.” ψυχή: Psyche, soul, Latin, anima, is the intermediate between πνευμα spirit, and σωμα body (1 Thessalonians 5:23). It is the personal life of the individual (Ichleben) arising from the entrance of the spirit into the earthly organ of the body as its breath of life, in which personal life the spiritual and the sensuous elements are combined, the one entering into the other. The spiritual element, by becoming psychical or natural, forms a power of consciousness and volition, sinks into the life of sensation and impulse and embodies itself in the man and becomes organic. The sensuous element on the other hand (which taken out of the world of sense the soul fills with its life of sensation and impulse), being possessed by the spiritual power, becomes itself spiritualized in conscious self-directed activity and made capable of intelligent knowledge and volition. By reason of this its double nature, the soul becomes dependent on springs of life that belong as well to the world of sense as to the spiritual world. But, with particular individuals, the soul exercises a free choice in regard to the degree and order in which from time to time these influences from above and below shall be appropriated and employed. It depends on its pleasure whether it shall isolate itself, and, with this, sever its own spiritual part from the Divine life of the Spirit, or whether it shall receive this life into itself. Now in separating from the life of the spirit, man, as a natural or psychical creature, gets divested of his spiritual character and becomes fleshly. There is, indeed, in him still a spiritual element but then it no longer rules as a controlling principle, regulating his impulses and desires. On the contrary, being in subjection to the soul (ψυχή), the spirit becomes more and more subservient to the soul’s perverse and carnal tendencies, from whence there springs deceit, falsehood, defilement in spirit, through contact with corresponding evil, and also that earthly and worldly wisdom spoken of in James 3:15. The soul, in itself robbed of the spiritual element, as a personal life (as spirit), is also unable to work out the spiritual things into a clear, intelligent apprehension by a free conscious effort of its own. Hence the mere soul-man, in other words the psychical or natural man, has neither inclination nor eye for the spiritual. He is closed up against all higher wisdom as if it were but folly. (Comp. Beck, Bibl. Seelenlehre, § 14 ff, 33 ff; Lehrwiss, §§ 207 and 213. From all this it will be seen that the translation “sensuous,” “sinnlich,” is not exhaustive. With this there is included also the idea of the selfish. Besides, both the intellectual and ethical aspects are also to be taken into account. See Osiander, de Wette, Meyer17.—The ethical side of “the psychical man,” viz., his disinclination towards the higher sphere of life, appears in what is affirmed of him.—receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.—For δέχεσθαι here is not=to understand, which thought is afterwards expressed by γνῶναι but it means: to accept, to receive, as always in the N. T. (Luke 8:13; Acts 8:13; Acts 11:1; Acts 17:11; 1Th 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13, etc.). οὐ δέχεται ἀπωθεῖται Acts 13:46. “He will not accept them, although they are offered.”—Bengel. The phrase, “the things of the Spirit of God,” combines what was distinguished in 1 Corinthians 2:13, the Divinely spiritual both in form and substance. The reason of this rejection is explained,—because they are foolishness unto him.—“Whereas,” adds Bengel, “he is seeking after wisdom.” And these things seem foolish, because they conflict with his narrow, foregone conclusions and prejudices.—and he is not able to know them.—This clause is either to be joined to the previous one, as assigning an additional reason for the natural man’s not receiving spiritual things, q. d., “he considers it absurd, without being able to understand it” (Meyer, [Alford, Stanley, Tischendorf]); or to be taken as parallel to the clause, “he receiveth it not,” and expressing the intellectual side of the case in an independent manner, so that the following words stand related to it alone ([Calvin, Hodge, Barnes, and others, in accordance with 1 e. v.]). The first is the more correct. The natural man contemns spiritual things through prejudice and lack of apprehension,—because they are spiritually judged of.—The reason here assigned bears upon both the previous clauses which together explain why the Gospel is rejected. It appears all foolish and incomprehensible, alike from the fact that it requires to be looked at in a way for which the natural man in unfitted. ἀνακρίνειν, to judge of, as in 4:3; 9:3; 14:24. It denotes the result of investigation and proof, which it primarily in fact signifies (Acts 17:11; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19.) πνενματικῶς: spiritually (i.e.) either by the spirit of man (not soul: ψνχή) quickened and filled by the Spirit of God, or in a spiritual manner, so that the Holy Spirit, whose are the things to be judged of, both as to form and substance, directs likewise in the judgment of them by His illuminating grace. In either case, the sense is essentially the same, although the latter comports better with the use of the word “spirit” in the context. [While it is the office of the Spirit to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, it is His also to purge the mental vision so that it can see the objects presented, for the eye of the natural man is blinded by the god of this world, and to him, however presented, the Gospel is hidden. Hence the manifestation towards the man must be supplemented by a change in him, rendering him spiritually minded, and so producing “a congeniality between the perceiver and the thing perceived.”]
1 Corinthians 2:15. Presents a contrast.—But the spiritual man. i.e. he who, in conformity with the image of God (Colossians 3:10), has been renewed to an existence in the Spirit, Who, in turn lives in him as his life and to a constant exercise of his power in the strength of the Spirit; in other words, he who has the Spirit as rule, guidance and might (Beck, Seelenl. S. 35 ff.);—judgeth of all the things—τὰ πάντα [see Crit. obs.] all the things. By these we are to understand in accordance with the context, at least for the most part, or preeminently the things of the Spirit which the natural man is not in a condition to judge of. This reference is indicated yet more distinctly by the article τά: the [if genuine]. Besides the saying of Beck (Lehrwiss S. 210) here holds good. “Only by being made spiritual is a man capacitated for the apprehension of spiritual objects. Such as God and Divine things, and only by the energy thus obtained is he able critically to test, and spiritually to govern all the remaining portion of his being as something inferior and subservient to the Spirit.” So also Meyer (Exodus 3:0) [only giving the passage a much broader scope, since he refers the “all things” not simply to those of the Spirit, but includes under it “all objects which come within the sphere of his judgment”]. “On all this can the spiritual man pass a correct estimate by means of a judgment enlightened and controlled by the Holy Ghost.” [In illustration of this, Meyer alludes to instances of Paul’s nice spiritual discrimination, exhibited “in matters not belonging to doctrine, and under the most varied conditions, e. g. in his wise improvement of circumstances amid persecutions and prosecutions, and during his last voyage, etc.; also in his judgments respecting marriage cases, judicial causes, slavery, and the like; in all which he understood how to place every thing under the level of a higher spiritual point of view with wonderful clearness, certainty and impartiality; also in his estimate of different personages, etc.” But it may be fairly questioned whether Meyer does not here go beyond the proper scope of the passage. The object in view throughout the whole of it is a Divinely revealed spiritual “wisdom,” which transcended the apprehension of “the natural man;” and it is not easy to see how affairs altogether prudential could be brought into the account]. The acceptation of παντα as Acc. Sing. Masc. is against the previous context (see Meyer).—But he himself is judged of by no man.—The previous clause leads us to supply here, “who is not spiritual.” For such as these the position of the spiritual man is too high. They cannot comprehend the inner life, or pronounce suitable judgment upon it. “Undoubtedly Paul said this with special allusion to such in the Corinthian Church as took the liberty of criticising him.” Neander. Of course what is affirmed in this verse of the spiritual in general, must in particular cases be limited according to the measure and degree of perfection attained in the spiritual life (comp. Calvin and Osiander). One proof of the sense perverting exegesis of the Romish Church may be seen in their reference of this passage to the hierarchy and its judicial office in doubtful questions (Corn. a Lapide, Estius).
1 Corinthians 2:16. Proof of the foregoing.—For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him?—The question is taken from Isaiah 40:13; according to the LXX, with the omission of the words καὶ τίς σύμβουλος αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο “and who hath become his counsellor,” which come in between the words “Lord” and “that.” The “mind of the Lord” is here identical with “the mind of Christ” in the following clause. We might, indeed, on looking at the passage in Isaiah, refer it to God; but since the words are introduced freely without a formula of citation, there is no necessity for this, and the identification of them with “the mind of Christ,” is more in accordance with the course of thought. The νοῦς, mind, is the spirit as the source of thoughts, counsels, plans. The spirit, not however, as shut up within itself, but, so far as what is contained therein, is imparted and operates abroad. Hence it is not absolutely the same as πνεῦμα spirit (as Billroth and Neander). [“This is rather the substratum of the νοῦς,—mind, and which being imparted to the man, makes his mind one with the mind of Christ.” Meyer]. Ὃςσυμβιβάσει ὥστε συμβιβάζειν [Buttmann, § 143, I., or Kühner § 334, 2]. Συμβιβάζειν, to bring together, metaphorically, to put one’s self to rights, to make oneself intelligible; and hence transitively, to prove, to instruct; elsewhere, with τι, in the Hellenic idiom, also with a personal object; io teach some one. [This use of the word, Alford says belongs to the lxx; in the New Testament it means to conclude, to prove, to confirm]. The object in this case is not any spiritual truth, but the Lord,—but we have the mind of Christ.—[“We,” the Apostles, himself included, and in the view of his issue with the Church, perhaps emphasized. Of course other spiritual persons are not excluded, but they are not now brought into the account]. Hence, ἔχομεν, not=perspectum habemus. The word denotes that inward possession which is founded upon communion with Christ, upon having “put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27).—The thought now brought out is this, the judgment of the spiritual man on the part of him who is not spiritual, would require such a knowledge of the mind of the Lord as would qualify a person to instruct the Lord Himself, since the persons who are to be judged are such as have the mind of Christ, inasmuch as His Spirit dwelling in them, and directing their thought, fashions them to His mind, and identifies their thinking with His thinking. [“Syllogistically stated, the argument would stand thus: no one can instruct the Lord. We have the mind of the Lord. Therefore no one can instruct and judge us.” Hodge.]
[Obs. We are now prepared to consider what this wisdom is, that is spoken of in this passage, according to the characteristics given by the Apostle. 1. It is a system of objective truth analogous to that taught by the Greek philosophers, and destined to supplant it: the true σοφία sent to supersede the false. 2. It is one that can be advantageously taught only to persons who by a practical faith in the rudimental facts of Christianity, have made some advances in the Divine life. 3. It is a wisdom beyond the reach of human reason or conjecture to discover—a veritable mystery preserved in God’s keeping until He should choose to make it known. 4. It is one which has been revealed By the Holy Spirit out of the depths of the Godhead; hence 5. It must comprise such things as are found there, and carry the mark of the Divine personality, viz.: the nature, attributes, and constitution of the Divine Being, His plans and purposes as Creator, His laws as the Supreme Ruler, His aims and methods, and decrees, and works as Redeemer; all these more particularly as bearing upon man, and shedding light upon his condition and destiny. And these are truths both ontological and ethical; truths for the intellect and moral sense at once; truths spiritual and eternal in their highest and broadest sense. 6. The forms in which this wisdom is communicated, are also Divinely cast. They are they the words and illustrations suggested to the minds of the Apostles by the Holy Ghost, who inspired them, and which must ever constitute the best statements of this wisdom. It is a wisdom whose truth and excellence are not directly obvious to the natural man. In order to discern intuitively its force and beauty, and to perceive its Divine character, there is required the spiritual eye that is conformed to the light of the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, and can by direct vision recognize its truth and heavenly source.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
[1. There is and must be a Divine philosophy in Christianity. The historical facts on which the Gospel rests embody living and eternal truths, which it is the life and joy of the spiritual man to contemplate and explore. In Jesus, the Son of man, there is incarnated the Word of God the Logos, from whom emanate all those Divine archetypal ideas which inform and regulate the whole created universe. By Him all things consist. His province it is also, as the Son of God, the Father’s express image, to reveal that Father in the glory of His perfections, in His laws, purposes and workings, and thus to exhibit the principles on which the world is governed. Moreover, as the Son of Man, it is His office to show what man properly is in his true ideal, and what are the problems of his destiny. Still further, as the Son of God and the Son of man combined to constitute the mediatorial King, He becomes the centre of all human history, the Head of that kingdom with reference to which all things in the world are controlled and governed. Christianity, therefore, carries in itself the substance of all sound theology, and anthropology, and ethics, and historical science. Jesus Himself being the absolute Truth and Life, in Him there must be hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, and these treasures it will be the province of an enlightened intelligence to explore, and bring forth, and make known to the apprehension of mankind as that which is alone worthy of study and fitted to nourish alike the mind and heart. Thus it will be found in the end that the researches of right reason are directly in the line of faith’s leading—that the scheme of Christianity as set forth in the doctrines of the Gospel is in accordance with true science—yea, its very substance—and that “religion passes out of the ken of reason only when the eye of reason has reached its horizon, and that faith is but its continuation,” revealing to the devout worshipper the things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man to conceive].
[2. This Divine philosophy is distinctly apprehended only by a renewed sanctified intelligence. Here life and light coincide. We believe in order that we may understand, and experience becomes the only fit guide and teacher. Sin and the remains of sin prove a disqualification for knowledge and beget folly. Hence it is that the communication of this Divine wisdom is suited only to such as have made attainments in piety, and must be measured out in proportion to their attainments by a wise economy. Christ being our light, so far as He is our life, it must follow] that with the unfolding of this new life in us, and to the degree in which the principle of this life, even the Divine Spirit, mortifies the works of the flesh and breaks down our narrow-minded selfishness, and clears our intelligence of all prejudices, and emancipates us from human authorities, and from our self-complacency, and from our delight in whatsoever flatters and pleases self, will this Divine, wisdom dawn with ever-growing clearness upon our apprehensions, and our understanding of God’s thoughts and ways become enlarged, and our susceptibility for still further disclosures be increased. If on the awakened conscience of the sinner there arises at the start the light of God’s pardoning and restoring grace beaming from the person of Christ evidently crucified before his eyes, and under its radiance he sees the follies of the past and the obligations of the future, and learns his indebtedness to redeeming love, and experiences its saving and gladdening influences, and feels in himself the quickening of a new and higher principle with all its uplifting powers and emotions, then in all this there will be laid the foundation of a knowledge of Christ, and what He is, and what is the nature of the life that proceeds from Him, to which each day’s experience and reflection will constantly contribute. As his piety matures, the more he will come to understand something of the riches that are to be found in Christ—of His relations to the Godhead as the Eternal and Only-Begotten of the Father—of His relations to humanity as its Prince and Head—of the atonement founded upon the intimate union of His two natures—of the method and means by which His redeeming work was begun and is carried on and will be perfected at last—of the operations of the Holy Spirit in the instrumentalities of the Gospel—of the gifts of grace—of the foundation and increase of the Church—of God’s superintendence over the race in guiding it to a participation in the blessings of his salvation—of the way in which these things condition each other, and how they all come to rest upon the decree of the all-wise and merciful God which infinitely exceeds all human imaginings, and to the realization of which the whole history of the race in all its main branches, both before and after Christ, must tend—of the manner in which God will consummate His redeeming work, both in its direct progress and in its remoter connection with what precedes, and in its resemblances to the work of creation (1 Corinthians 15:0), and finally of the immanent relations of the Godhead which lie at the foundation of this whole process. These are some of the truths which will gradually unfold their glorious meanings upon the mind of the growing Christian, making his path shine brighter and brighter until the perfect day. Mere beginners cannot be expected to comprehend them. They transcend the apprehension even of the most distinguished sages of the world, and range beyond the scope of man’s natural experience and observation—yea, beyond the flights of human imagination and hope. But to the sincere believer they are made known with ever greater clearness through the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
3. The office of the Holy Spirit as the revealer rests upon essential distinctions in the being of God. His external operations and His indwelling in the hearts of men are owing to an earlier and independent existence in the Godhead, by virtue of which. He is called “the Spirit of God” in a manner analogous to “the spirit of man which is in man.” Hence he must be supposed to exist in God not merely as a power or an attribute, but as an essential life-factor in the Divine nature, maintaining at the same time that independence which is already seen to follow from His independent activity abroad, and from the perfection of the Divine nature. He is God’s proper self, as certainly as man’s spirit is his own self; yet not however the entire God, just as the spirit of man is not the entire man. More exactly defined in the light of 1 Corinthians 2:11, He is God as looking through and recognizing Himself, even as we may define the Logos to be God imaging and expressing Himself objectively. And if the Divine fiat which creates life abroad is, when contemplated inwardly as the Logos, a self-subsistent and creative Life, so is the Divine cognition which illuminates and creates truth abroad—when contemplated inwardly as Spirit, an independent and creative truth or light. God’s being and begetting as Spirit, i.e., the Spirit in God and the Spirit from God, is Truth—is the Light and the Father of Lights. On the ground of these essential distinctions within the being of God, there is ascribed to the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 2:10 a vision and a knowledge, which not only penetrates all God’s works in their profoundest depths, and comprises in its scope all creaturely perception and all the mysteries of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:9), but also comprehends the inmost secrets of the Divine personality and most hidden attributes of God’s own self. And precisely because He is this inwardly illuminated inmost self of God, and the all-penetrating vision of God, is He the Truth. Spirit is God (John 4:24) as being a personality which is in itself invisible, but which is conscious of itself in the whole circumference of its being and which thoroughly discerns and reveals every thing external to itself. And the Lord is that Spirit, in so far as He taketh away the veil from the heart and discloses His glory unto the believer, from one degree of splendor unto another, until the fulness of His light shines upon them (2 Corinthians 3:17 ff; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:6).” Accordingly inasmuch as God is throughout transparent to Himself, and manifest in His own peculiar and hidden self, shining through every thing, and glorifying all who are devoted to Him in Himself, He is Light in Himself, Light through Himself on all abroad, and Light to Himself. This is the inward significance of the Divine Spirit, and such is He in godlike self-subsistence as the living and creative truth,” etc. (Beck, Lehre., S. 103 ff.).
4. While the psychical (ψυχικός) man imprisoned: as he is in his own natural selfishness, living and moving ever outside of the sphere of God’s enlightening Spirit, has no sense to receive the Divine spiritual communications so that they all appear to him irrational and absurd, the spiritual (πνευματικός) man, who has received the Spirit of God and is controlled by him, carries in himself a standard for determining that which is of the Spirit; so that he is able to estimate it, both according to its substance and its form of expression, and is therefore qualified to judge of everything which comes within his sphere, by this the highest measure of all true worth. But he himself is exalted above the judgment of the unspiritual. Persons of this sort are capable of comprehending or instructing him so far as he is governed in his conduct by the Divine spirit, about as little as they are in condition to know the mind of Christ, which the spiritual man hath, and so to instruct Christ Himself. But the spiritual man judgeth of all things, because he hath received the anointing of the Holy One, even Christ, and knoweth all things (1 John 2:21-22). These are they who are “taught of God.” (θεοδιδακτοι, John 6:45.) This exalted state is maintained in the same manner in which it is won, in true, humble self-denial, in poverty of spirit, in steadfast, determined mortification of all selfish desires and unrestrained devotion to do what is good and wise, and in that simple-hearted abandonment which allows the Spirit of God to work in the heart, to will and to do of his own good pleasure. So far as these qualities fail, and self is suffered to hold sway, the man is betrayed into spiritual pride and into gross errors which arise from commingling and confounding what is human with what is Divine.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1. Rieger: The great distinction between the wisdom of this world and the wisdom of God.—1. a. The former changes its opinions and principles well nigh faster than its fashions. b. It is ambitious to give the tone to that which shall be esteemed proper and conducive to the public good, and to fill every sphere with its own taste and judgment so as to be in favor with the princes of this world. c. But, alas! those to whom it so devotes itself soon fade and pass away but too apparently. The greater part of them outlive their own credit for wisdom, and a false garnish of their youth is soon succeeded by the lustrelessness of an old age which is all the more wretched from the contrast. 2. a. The hidden wisdom of God emerges out of eternity, and is on this account liable to no change. b. Its benefits also stretch onward into eternity, and when the work of redemption shall be completed it will be found in glory long after the fashion of this world has utterly vanished. c. Its instruction flows with such purity that only those who lay the foundation for it in the fear of God are introduced therein, step by step, along the path of obedience. d. Against its demands the heart of man is so apt to be hardened that it is a rare thing for one of the princes of this world to attain unto the knowledge of it (1 Corinthians 2:6-8).
2. The mystery of the Divine wisdom.—What is here held up to faith transcends the sight and hearing, the knowledge and understanding of men (e. g.) the manifestation of the Son of God in this world, the mysteries of the kingdom of leaven declared by Him, His sufferings, death, and resurrection, the setting up of His Church through the power of the Holy Spirit dispensed in such lowly vessels, the ways and judgments of God with His people on earth hitherto and the numerous humiliations of the cross which yet issue in the clearer victory of the truth. Nothing of all this could have entered the heart of man, had it not been first declared by the Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and afterwards more fully disclosed by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9).
3. The revelation through the Spirit of God.—1. Its indispensableness to the knowledge of God, because God is alone, and is known only to Himself, therefore less capable of being “searched out” than men are by each other, since they possess a common nature. 2. Its sufficiency; what the Spirit searches out and can consequently impart is perfectly substantiated, since He as certainly belongs to the being of God as our spirit belongs to our human nature, and knows every thing respecting God with as much certainty as our consciousness reports to us what is in us. 3. Its contents and operation; what God has in mercy ordained respecting us, the reason why He has made us His children, and what He prepared for us for all eternity, this we learn from the Spirit of God. He teaches it; He awakens also our desires for it; He works faith in us, and He establishes and quiets the heart in this knowledge (1 Corinthians 2:10-12).
4. The preaching that is acceptable to God.—a. Is one that follows the lead of the Spirit, and b. It is attainable by the diligent perusal of the words of the Apostle, learned from the Holy Ghost, by inquiring into their meaning, and also by submitting our hearts and minds to the discipline and guidance of the Spirit. In other respects at the same time we are not to omit reflection upon the suitable construction of the discourse and the right use of all human aids, yet aiming, however, always to keep aloof from all that is purely our own, or is prized by the world, or is extravagant in diction, and to bring forth whatever is impressive and soberly considered, according as the Spirit of God has expressed it to us in the Scriptures. c. But even for this reason, can the true preacher not expect to please every person; for in preaching spiritual doctrines he is obliged to direct his attention largely to the spiritually-minded, who are assisted in the apprehension of his message by the help of the Spirit working in them also (1 Corinthians 2:13).
5. The natural man neither receives nor apprehends what the Holy Spirit teaches in the Gospel.—Such is every person who rests in his own natural powers and has not bowed his heart to the influences of the Holy Ghost, since in his love of self he trusts too much to his own understanding, whose insight and evidence he over-values, and is thereby betrayed into an aversion to Divine things. But such corruption is not simply a bondage to carnal lusts. It is also a wisdom that is after the flesh (1 Corinthians 2:12-13); and the words of human wisdom excite an opposition to the doctrines taught by the Spirit, as well as to the simplicity of preaching. But this has its degrees: a, strong prejudice even to the avowed rejection of Divine truths; b, neglect of spiritual things; so as not to deem it worth while to lay aside prejudices and candidly to confer with any one in reference to them; c, assent to the truth, but without any strong faith wrought by the Spirit of God to the entire change of mind, hence accompanied still by hostility to the light, and by an incapacity to judge spiritual things spiritually.
6. The spiritual man: a, his ability to judge; b, his elevation above the judgment of others.—a, He who has been brought by the Spirit of God to the knowledge, faith and obedience of the truth, and daily learns, under Divine tuition, the things which are given us of God, judges everything which is presented to him appertaining to the knowledge and service of God, not indeed with entire infallibility, yet according to correct grounds, b, But in this he is neither subject to the judgment of any man, nor bound to allow himself to be governed by it. For with the force of the declaration, “Who has known the mind of the Lord? but we have the mind of Christ,” he can swing himself clear of all human judgments and repose in that which Christ has revealed. But it must be remembered, that in order to be able properly to boast that we have the mind of Christ there must be in us daily communion with the word of God, an entire indifference to human glory, fervency in prayer, and a patient love towards others. O God, teach me by thy Spirit, for thus it is I live.
7. Starke:—The longer and more truly a Christian serves God, the more spiritual wisdom he obtains (1 Corinthians 2:6). Christ and everything that is in and with Him, is an incomprehensible mystery; fail but to explore it, and thou art but a fool; but believe what is revealed to thee of it, and it is enough for thy salvation (1 Corinthians 2:7). Wonder not that the greatest in the world, the most gifted, the wisest, do not only not accept Christ, but on the contrary altogether torture and crucify Him. They understand no better, and think themselves able by means of their reason to comprehend the faith and religion of Christ, just as they do everything else (1 Corinthians 2:8). The. royal dignity of the children of God is shown in the fact, that they perceive and spiritually judge all things, especially the internal state of the godless, while they themselves are wholly unknown to the latter; and hence it is that they will one day become, as it were, occupants of the great judgment seat as Christ’s associate judges in the world’s assize (Lg.). Oh, how unqualified is the unconverted teacher for the office of the Spirit, especially for judging correctly of the true state of the souls of his hearers (Lange), (1 Corinthians 2:15). The mind of Christ is the mind of the Father and of the Holy Ghost, and it is revealed in the Scriptures. Whoever then wishes to know the mind of Christ need not climb on high and seek it from far (Romans 10:7), but let him hold fast to the revealed word. There he will learn what God means and what he intends to do with us (1 Corinthians 2:16).
8. Hedinger:—Listen how a man ought to preach: Not in the stilted phraseology of romance, nor in the use of wretched wit; but he should utter the mysteries of God in the form of sound words (1 Timothy 6:3), and as the Holy Ghost lays them to the heart and brings them to the tongue of His faithful servants (Matthew 10:20). (1 Corinthians 2:13).—Is he that judges unregenerate? What better is he than a blind man undertaking to judge of colors? Is he regenerate? Then he has a mind akin to that he judges. And although opinions in reference to topics that are aside from Christ, the foundation (3:11), may be divided, yet will he pass no judgment on these contrary to love and mildness, much less set himself up to be the lord and judge of another’s faith, in an arrogant, unbecoming manner (1 Corinthians 2:15).
9. Gossner:—It is not well to communicate everything to all. There are truths which can fitly be expressed only in certain circumstances and in certain degrees (1 Corinthians 2:6). Only to those who have come to the just consideration of their sin and misery will the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, become the foundation and centre from which everything proceeds and to which everything returns (1 Corinthians 2:7-8). Best of all is it to preserve everything in a pure, still heart, and let there be for every pulse a thanksgiving and for every breath a song, until all come together at last, and we can praise our Redeemer for everything with one accord in the right place and in society of the right persons (1 Corinthians 2:9). A glance into the deep things of God might awaken in us proud thoughts, as if it were possible for us to scan the Divine Majesty. But within this depth there is nothing else to be discovered but infinite love; that love whereby God condescended so low and stooped to commune with wicked, fallen, degraded humanity. These are the deepest depths and the most indescribable mysteries of the Godhead. This is what the natural man cannot understand—that God should make Himself so small. A glance into this mystery therefore does not elate, but it humbles (1 Corinthians 2:10). As we are obliged to learn man through men, so can we learn God only through God, or through His Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11). The spirit of the world is at bottom the evil spirit, Satan, the god of this world, who has his seat in the hearts of the children of disobedience, and rules the world from thence. He must be expelled by the Spirit of God. He who has this Divine Spirit knows out of his own experience and inward observation what is given to him of God. He believes not at random, but what he believes that he knows, possesses, and enjoys (1 Corinthians 2:12). If a preacher surrenders his whole heart and mind and conduct to God, he will become so possessed by the Holy Ghost that it will be obvious to all that the Spirit speaks through him (1 Corinthians 2:13). There are honorable people with whom we can converse on many truths of Christianity, such as the omnipresence of God, etc., and they will hear and understand gladly. But as soon as we speak a word concerning the Saviour and His meritorious sufferings and death, then they say: “Ah, that I don’t understand; that is too high for me.” This doctrine does not suit one who has, not the Holy Spirit. To the old man in us it is only foolishness (1 Corinthians 2:14). If we “have the mind of Christ,” think as He thinks, will as He wills, put all matters before us as He puts them, then will it be granted us to understand the mysteries of the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:16).
9. Heubner:—The man who is enlightened by the Spirit is able to estimate and judge all things, even the moral worth of the principles and acts of the unconverted, and the vanity of the earthly mind with its pursuits, because he knows what sin is from his own experience, and has torn himself loose from it, and because in the knowledge of the will of God, the absolute Good, he has a standard to measure everything else according to its real value (1 Corinthians 2:15).
10. On 1 Corinthians 2:10-12. Schleier. Serm. 5th coll. Vol. 2d. From what the Apostle has said of the inmost nature and origin of the Spirit of God, it follows 1. that the operations of the Spirit are unique in their kind; 2. that every thing which comes to us from the Spirit is perfectly certain and reliable; 3. that it is amply sufficient for all our spiritual needs. On 1. To all other matters the world arouses us by means of our common understanding; but to “search the deep things of God,” and to cry “Abba Father,” this is vouchsafed to us only by the Spirit when He descends into our spirits. On 2. Since the knowledge imparted by the Spirit, respecting what is in God is as eternal and unchanging as the Spirit of God Himself, the conviction thus obtained that “God is Love” becomes also the deepest and most reliable truth of our existence, etc. On 3. There is nothing wanting to our most blessed communion with God,—if only the Holy Spirit reveal to us the love of God as the innermost depth of his nature,—if only we are made to see that benevolent purpose of God, which has been actuating his paternal heart towards the race from the beginning,—if only it become evident to us that all the wounds of our nature may be healed through the fulness of the Godhead which dwells in Christ as He has become partaker of our nature,—and if only through Him the Spirit of God, who is poured out upon all who believe in Christ as a quickening and strengthening power, glorifies the Saviour in their view and causes them to realize the presence of Christ in Him.
11. [We must be cautious not to pervert these statements into arguments for the disparagement of human reason and learning in the matters of religion. See this point argued in extenso by Richard Hooker (III. 8:4–11). So Wordsworth].
12. [Tholuck: 1 Corinthians 2:6-13. Apostolic Preaching. I. Its source—derived: a. not from the teaching of men, but b. from the revelation of the Divine Spirit. II. Its form: a. not a demonstration of the human understanding, but a witness of the Divine Spirit; b. not the product of an acquired eloquence, but the offspring of a Divine necessity. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14. Apostolic preaching. I. It proceeds out of the Spirit of God in the preacher. II. It addresses itself to the Spirit of God in the hearer.—R. South. 1 Corinthians 2:7. Christianity mysterious,18 and the wisdom of God in making it so. I. The Gospel is the wisdom of God. II. It is this wisdom in a mystery. The reasons of the mystery; a. the nature and quality of the things treated of, being surpassingly great, spiritual and strange; b. the ends designed with relation to their influence on the mind in impressing with awe and reverence, and humbling pride, and engaging our closer search, and reserving fuller knowledge as a source of blessedness hereafter. Inferences: 1. The reasonableness of relying on the judgment of the Church and on spiritual teachers. The unreasonableness of making intelligibleness the measure of faith. 3. The vanity and presumption of pretending to clear up all mysteries in religion.—J. Spencer: 1 Corinthians 2:7. Wisdom of God in mystery.19 I. The matter of mysteriousness which the Apostle had in mind. Christ slain for us. II. This mysteriousness is wisdom, as being what might be expected in accordance with other mysteries, such as: a. Sin: b. Incarnation; c. Christ’s person and history; d. The mode of God’s treatment of Christ; e. The mode of the believer’s restoration to God.—J. Barrow: 1 Corinthians 2:6. The Excellency of the Christian Religion as suited for “the perfect:” 1, in the character it gives of God; 2, in the description it gives of man; 3, in the rule it prescribes; 4, in the service it appoints; 5, in the living example it affords; 6, in the solid grounds it gives us to build on; 7, in the help it affords; 8, in the way it satisfies conscience; 9, in the simplicity of its communication.—F. W. Robertson: 1 Corinthians 2:9-10. God’s Revelation of heaven. I. Inability of the lower parts of human nature, the natural man, to apprehend the higher truth: a. “Eye hath not seen”—not by sensation; b. “Ear hath not heard”—not by hearing; c. “Neither have entered the heart”—not by imagination or affection. II. The Nature and Laws of Revelation: a, by a Spirit to a spirit; b, on the condition of Love.—N. Emmons: 1 Corinthians 2:12. The peculiar spirit of Christians. II. Describe the Spirit. II. Show the peculiar knowledge it gives.
1 Corinthians 2:71 Corinthians 2:7.—[θεον͂ σοφίαν so in all the best authorities, A. B. C. D. E. F. Cod. Sin., instead of σοφίαν θεον͂. The emphasis being on θεον͂ Then σοφίαν εν μνστηρὶω come together, forming one complex idea.]
1 Corinthians 2:91 Corinthians 2:9.—ä is better than ὅσα [the former, as it is found in A, B. C., Meyer, Stanley and Lach. prefer. But the Text. Rec. is supported by D. E. F. G. Cod. Sin. and is adhered to by Words, and Alf.]
1 Corinthians 2:101 Corinthians 2:10.—[The proper order, supported by all the best authorities, is ἡμῖν δἑ . The emphasis is on the first words. “To us, however, hath God revealed them.”]
1 Corinthians 2:101 Corinthians 2:10.—Many good authorities omit αν̓τον͂ his. The omission is more explicable on the ground of what follows (τὸ γὰρ πνεν͂μα) than the omission of αν̓τον͂. [Yet it is omitted by A. B. C. Cod. Sin., doubted by Alf., rejected by Stanley.]
1 Corinthians 2:111 Corinthians 2:11.—Instead of οἶδεν So the best MSS. and editions. [“There is a difference between the two words οί͂δεν and ἔγνωκεν.” The former simply means “knoweth;” the latter “to know by acquisition.” Words. Yet we hare in 3:20 κν́ριος γὶνὠσκει.]
1 Corinthians 2:131 Corinthians 2:13.—αγίον holy, is not well attested. A Gloss. [Omitted by A. B. C. D1. F. G. Cod. Sin. and rejected by Words., Alf., Meyer.]
1 Corinthians 2:151 Corinthians 2:15.—μὲν after ἀνακρίνει is not original: has been inserted on account of the δὲ in the following clause [yet it is found in B. D³. B. J. Cod. Sin., and is retained by Words., De Wette.]
1 Corinthians 2:151 Corinthians 2:15.—τά before πάντα is well supported. The omission is probably to be explained from the fact that some thought it necessary to take πάντα as accusative masc. in antithesis to ον̓δενὸς. (Some have it πάντας.) [Τά is not found in B. Dª. E. J. Cod. Sin.]
Lach. instead of χριστον͂ reads κνριον͂. This is neither paramountly supported nor internally probable. [So also Stanley; but Meyer, Alf., Words., sustained by A. C. Cod. Sin, adhere to the received text. Meyer regards it as a mechanical repetition of νοῦν κνριον͂ above.]
The margin of the E. V. renders the last part of this verse, “neither hath seen a God besides Thee, that doeth so for him, etc.” This version is given by Ewald, de Wette, and Lowth. It is found also in the lxx. Luther’s version, following the Vulgate, gives it as in the English text. Unquestionably the former are correct in putting “God” in the accusative case. It is also noteworthy that the clause “nor perceived by the ear,” is not in the LXX, and Lowth thinks either that this passage has been corrupted by the Jews, or that Paul quotes from some apocryhal book, either “The Ascension of Esaias,” or “The Apocalypse of Elias,” in both of which the passage is found as cited by Paul. It will be seen, likewise, that this clause is omitted by Paul, and that he has inserted another phrase instead—“Neither have entered into the heart of man;” καὶ επὶ καπδίαν ; and these words are so similar to ον̓ μή επέλθῃαυτῶν ἐπὶ τὴν καρδίαν found in the lxx. Isaiah 65:17, that one can hardly avoid the belief that the two passages were blended together in the Apostle’s mind, and were freely quoted to suit his case.]
The view given, but not advocated by Bengel and Stanley, seems deserving of more attention than Kling has bestowed upon it, and may fairly dispute the ground with that he has given. Συγκρὶνειν, whatever may be its classical meaning, is used in the LXX. in six places at least, with the unquestioned signification of: to explain, to make that which was mysteriously hinted in visions clear to ordinary minds. This was what Joseph did to the chief butler and chief baker, and to Pharaoh, and what Daniel did to Belshazzar. And Paul is here speaking of dealing with things of like nature, i.e., supernaturally revealed, which eye had not seen, etc. And what more natural than for him to use σνγκρίνειν in precisely the same sense as in the former cases. The allusion is almost palpable. Rendering the word then explaining, the train of thought requires that we take πνενματικοῖς as Dative Mas: to spiritual persons. Here, then, we see the Apostle reverting back to the thought with which the paragraph opens, “that of speaking wisdom among the perfect.” “The spiritual things” here are the contents of this wisdom, “the perfect” are “the spiritual.” And thus we have a hinge on which the course of thought passes easily over into what follows, and the δε of 1 Corinthians 2:14 has its natural antithetic force. “Explaining spiritual things to the spiritual, but the natural man,” etc. This, it is interesting to note, is the first construction given of this passage in an English version. Wiclif renders: “Maken a liknesse of spiritual things to goostli men, for a besteli man persuyued not through thingis,” etc. Here, however, we have a new meaning to συγκρίνοντες, equivalent to: making spiritual things match with spiritual men. And is this the meaning of the Rhemish version: “comparing spiritual things to the spiritual?” This evidently is a literal transferring of the Vulgate “comparantes,” which is derived from “compare,” and has for its first meaning to match to pair. Calvin has still another interpretation: “adapting spiritual words to spiritual things,” which Beza snbstantially adopts. Here there is simply an inversion of ideas.]
It is to be regretted that there are no adjectives in English which distinctly preserve the important distinctions observed in Scripture between body, soul, and spirit. Much obscurity oftentimes arises in consequence, and we fail to perceive the profound philosophy which underlies Paul’s doctrine. The adjective corresponding to the noun soul our translators render “natural.” This is not a bad translation if we bear in mind the equivocal use of the word nature: that it either may mean, the course of things as they are, or the course of things as they ought to be,” and that it is in the former sense the text takes it.]
See also Owen, vol. iii. p. 257, where, basing his exposition on 1 Corinthians 15:44, he says: “The φνχικός (i.e.) the natural man, is one that bath all that is or can be derived from the first Adam, one endowed with a rational soul and who hath the use and exercise of nil his rational faculties.” He takes strong ground against those “who tell us that by this ‘natural man’ is intended ‘a man given up to his pleasures and guided by his brutish affections and no other.’ ” See his citations from Augustine and Chrysostom to the same effect. A profound analysis of this important subject, in all its connections, is given also in Müller on Sin, vol. i. p. 457, vol. ii. p. 367. Calvin: “The natural man (i.e.) not merely the man of gross passions, but whoever is taught only by his own faculties.” And Bengel quotes Ephraim Cyrus: “The Apostle calls men who live according to nature natural, φνχικον́ς, those who live contrary to nature, carnal, σαρκικον́ς; but those are spiritual, πνενματικοί, who even change their nature after the spirit.” An able disquisition on the “Tripartite Nature of Man,” in all its bearings on Christian doctrine has lately been issued by Rev. J. B. Heard, of England.]
[An evident misapprehension of the word “mystery,” as used in the text.]
A mistake, as above.]
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
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