Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 25th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 2

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

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Verses 1-16

It was through Paul that the Corinthians had been brought to God; and he here reminds them that when he first came there, he had avoided the use of high-sounding speech and intellectual arguments: it was not through these things that they had been converted, nor did the testimony of God require any such thing. And certainly the whole Christian course should be consistent with its beginning.

For Paul had been thoroughly purposed in coming there not to be turned aside in any way from the one vital object of his message, "Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Let us be careful to note here that it is first of the Person of Christ he speaks; but it must not stop there, as though Christ had come to add His voice to the wisdom of this world. No, He has been crucified by the world, rejected by the wise and powerful, cut off in the midst of His days, leaving everything behind that would exalt man in the flesh.

Therefore Paul was with them "in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling." This was not in any way subservience to men, but a realization of God's own hand upon him; weakness as merely the instrument dependent upon the superior power of God; fear and trembling, the sober realization of the greatness and reality of the revelation of God with which he had been entrusted. For he was simply a servant of the Living God, responsible to communicate only what God had made known to him; and certainly not to add any human philosophy to it. He used no adroit salesmanship, no psychological persuasion; for he sought a real response of faith, faith that would have solid root in the power of God, not in the wisdom of men.

However, it is not by any means that the apostle despised or ignored wisdom; for among "them that are perfect," those brought to a proper knowledge of God, they did indeed speak wisdom. But it was not wisdom in the way the world regards it, not the wisdom of this world, nor of the rulers of this world; for however prominent such men may be for a brief moment, both they and their wisdom are very soon reduced to nothing.

"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery." This does not have the sense of a mysterious, strange type of thing, but of something previously unrevealed, that is, "hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world." It was hidden from the understanding of men, who could not possibly understand it until Christ Himself was manifested to take away our sins. God's wisdom had long antedated the wisdom of men, being simple in its grandeur and grand in its simplicity, yet not discoverable by the highest exercise of man's wisdom. Nor was this simply to display the superior wisdom of God, but was designed "unto our glory," that is, for the bringing of sinful mankind into a place of dignity and glory before unimagined.

None of the rulers of this world had known, nor could have known this. If they had previously known what marvelous results in glory to God and to the Person of the Lord Jesus would issue from the death of the cross, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. They had no idea that what they considered their victory over Christ was their actual defeat.

Verse 9 is a quotation from Isaiah 64:4, showing how totally obscure to man are the counsels of God, apart from a direct revelation of God. "Eye hath not seen:" human observation could find nothing here. It was this to which Eliphaz appealed in his reproving Job (Job 4:8); but he was wrong. "Nor ear heard." Never had the ear received this from all the combined wisdom of ages past, - the tradition to which Bildad appealed in his judgment of Job (Job 8:8-10). He was just as wrong. "Neither have entered into the heart of man." No man's intuition could have imagined any such wisdom as was God's; though Zophar (Job 11:6) considered that his own intuition was authoritative. This is the most foolish of all, and of course false.

"But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit." The answer then is exclusively a revelation from God. After Job's three friends had been proven wrong, and silenced, then Elihu approached the subject on this solid basis: "There is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them wisdom" (Job 32:8). It is the Spirit of God who has communicated this divine wisdom, and of course by the direct inspiration of those whom He chose to give us the written word of God. These writers all write with a wisdom manifestly higher than their own, though each one has a manner and style distinctive of himself: each was not merely an automaton, but the Spirit of God exercised each one to write in full personal liberty, yet every word guarded and guided by His sovereign power.

For the Spirit of God penetrates the deep things of God, as no creature could ever do; and it is He therefore who is capable of revealing these. This is illustrated in verse 11 by the analogy as to the spirit of a man. It is a man's spirit that knows the things of a man. Knowledge, intellect, understanding is connected with the spirit, not with the soul, which is more characterized by desire and feeling.

As to the things of God therefore, it is the Spirit of God who knows them: man naturally knows nothing whatever as to these.

But believers have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God, with the object of our knowing the things freely given to us of God. This does not mean that the conscious knowledge of all believers is therefore the same, but all have the same Spirit, who is able to communicate the things of God, so that we shall know them in proportion as we are willingly taught and led by the Spirit.

There is however, special emphasis put upon the fact of the apostles having the Spirit of God, by whom they communicate the truth of God to others. They spoke in words, not of man's wisdom, but as taught by the Holy Spirit, "communicating spiritual things by spiritual means" (J. N. Darby Trans.). It should be evident that spiritual things can be no more communicated by natural means than that they could be understood by natural intellect. Therefore, it must be by the power of the Spirit of God that they are both understood and communicated to others. Let us closely observe too, that it is not merely the thoughts or concepts involved that are inspired of God, but the "words." Every word as it was given was precisely right, exactly expressing (in the original languages) the mind of God. Translators are not at liberty therefore to merely translate what they conceive to be the meaning of any given passage. An honest translation must translate the words as faithfully as they can possibly be translated, in strict consistency with the meaning of the words in the original language.

The original writers of Scripture then were fully and absolutely guided by the Spirit of God in their writing, and preserved totally from any human error, though in many cases, if not all, they were unaware at the time that they were actually writing Scripture that would endure for eternity. It is important that we too who may minister the Word of God to others, should learn to depend on the leading of the Spirit of God, and not on any human intellect, in so speaking; though we know absolutely that our speaking now cannot ever result in being actual Scripture, for the Word of God is complete.

Verse 14 insists that the natural man cannot receive or know the things of the Spirit of God; for he has not been born again, and is dependent upon his own natural senses in regard to what he understands. Spiritual things are outside the realm of his experience and of his knowledge, and he considers them only foolishness, because they are discerned only spiritually, not by his natural senses.

Verse 15 is the total opposite of this. "He that is spiritual" does not describe every believer, for some of these are "carnal, even though they have the Spirit of God (ch. 3:1). It refers to those who in practice depend upon the leading of the Spirit, as every believer ought to. A carnal believer will not discern all things, because, while some of his thoughts may be spiritual, yet fleshiness is so mixed with these that his outlook will be confused. But one who is spiritual discerns all things. Indeed, he not only discerns spiritual things, but will discern the true import of natural things in a way the natural man cannot. "Yet he himself is discerned of no man." He is an enigma to men, for he thinks and acts on a different level, not energized by self-centeredness, but by a genuine regard for the glory of God.

"For," it is questioned, "who hath known the mind of the Lord: who shall instruct Him." This is knowledge inscrutable, because high above any creature level. "But we have the mind of Christ." Marvelous, precious declaration of fact! Having the Spirit of God, this is the revelation of the mind of Christ. The believer has this. Then he should certainly seek to make use of it in daily experience. If not, he is not "spiritual."

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/1-corinthians-2.html. 1897-1910.
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