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the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 2

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verse 1

[In chapter 1 Paul showed that it was God’s plan to overthrow the vain wisdom of the world by those weak and lowly ones whom the world despised. He now proceeds to show that the church at Corinth was founded by him as a weak and lowly one, in accordance with God’s plan.] And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech [as an orator] or of wisdom [as a philosopher], proclaiming to you the testimony of [about] God. [Though Paul was educated at Tarsus, which Strabo preferred as a school of learning to Athens or Alexandria, yet he made no display of his learning, and hence his enemies spoke of his speech as contemptible or no account (2 Corinthians 10:10). He quotes from Aratus at Acts 17:28; and Epimenides at Tit 1:12; and Menander at 1 Cor 15:33 . But Paul counted all such polite learning as mere dross in comparison with the excellency of the knowledge of Christ-- Philippians 3:8]

Verse 2

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [Paul here asserts that the subject-matter of his preaching was selected from choice, or fixed design. He does not mean to say that every sermon was a description of the crucifixion of our Lord, but that all his teaching and preaching related to the atonement wrought by Christ upon the cross. This atonement, through the sacrifice of our Lord, was recognized by Paul as the foundation of the Christian system, and he here means to say that he handled no doctrine or theme at Corinth without remembering and recognizing its relation to that foundation.]

Verse 3

And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. [Paul frequently asserts his tendency to physical weakness and depression (1 Corinthians 4:7-12; Galatians 4:13; 2 Corinthians 10:1; 2 Corinthians 10:10; 2 Corinthians 12:7). This sense of weakness was accentuated by his recent semi-failure at Athens, by frequent persecution, and by the absence of his companions, Silas and Timothy, till Paul’s sense of timidity amounted to actual fear (Acts 18:9). He was also out of money and had to work for Aquila. The slight admixture of philosophy which he had used in addressing the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34) had thoroughly convinced the apostle that it was of no use, or benefit, in the presentation of the gospel.]

Verse 4

And my speech [discourse on doctrine] and my preaching [announcement of facts] were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power [1 Corinthians 1:5 . He relied upon the divine aid, rather than upon the aid of human learning]:

Verse 5

that your faith should not stand in [should not be based upon] the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Verse 6

We [as an inspired apostle] speak wisdom, however, among them that are fullgrown: yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nought [Paul here begins to correct the impression which his semi-ironical language about the foolishness of God might have made, and proceeds to show that the gospel is the highest wisdom--a wisdom which he had not yet been able to impart to the Corinthians because it could only be comprehended by mature Christians, and so was above the receptive powers of the Corinthians who as yet were mere babes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). But if the Corinthians who were developing in spiritual manhood could not receive this heavenly wisdom, much less could the world-rulers who were moving backward, crab-fashion, into nothingness, in accordance with the plan of God outlined in the last section. Thus the apostle reveals the startling fact that progression in philosophical and political worldliness is retrogression as to the kingdom of God, so that the Corinthians in seeking to better their religious condition by bringing these worldly elements into the church, were not only retarding their spiritual growth, but were actually associating themselves with those who were shrinking and shriveling toward the vanishing point]:

Verse 7

but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds unto our glory [Paul often speaks of Christ and his gospel as a mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4-9; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 3:6; 1 Timothy 3:17). God’s purpose to give his Son for the salvation of the world was a mystery long hidden, but now revealed, but still hidden from those who wickedly refused to receive it (Matthew 11:25; Matthew 13:10-13), to which class Paul proceeds to relegate the world-rulers]:

Verse 8

which none of the rulers of this world hath known: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory [their conduct proved their ignorance even as Jesus asserted-- Luke 23:34]:

Verse 9

but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, And which entered not into the heart of man, Whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him. [This passage is taken from Isa 64:4; but it is an exposition, and not a verbatim quotation. The words form an unfinished sentence, and, as is not infrequent with Paul’s quotations, do not fit nicely into the general structure of his discourse. To understand them we should supply the words "we speak" from verse 7; i. e., we fulfill the prophecy by telling those things which God prepared for those that love him (the mystery of the gospel), but which no uninspired man ever in any way surmised or anticipated. The prophecy includes the unseen glories of heaven.]

Verse 10

But unto us [inspired apostles] God revealed them through the Spirit [Here the defective knowledge gained by the world-rulers through their wisdom or philosophy stands in sharp contrast to the heavenly and perfect knowledge which the apostles had by revelation of the Spirit. Paul proceeds to discuss the perfection of this inspired knowledge]: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things [Romans 11:33] of God.

Verse 11

For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.

Verse 12

But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that were freely given to us of God. [As a man alone knows himself, so God alone knows himself. As the thoughts and intentions of a man are best known by his own spirit, so also are the divine counsels of God best known by the Spirit of God. If a man’s knowledge of himself surpasses that of his neighbor who knows him well, much more must the revelation of the unseen God by his Spirit far surpass all the speculations of mankind with regard to him. But this revelation of God the apostles enjoyed, through the Spirit of God, who guided them into all truth (John 16:13). How superior, then, was their knowledge to that of worldly philosophy, even if it embraced the collective knowledge of all men.]

Verse 13

Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words. [Here again we have a clear claim to inspiration, and not only so, but verbal inspiration. Paul did not reason after the manner of worldly philosophers, but imparted his truth under the guidance of the Spirit, who taught him the words to use, so that he taught spiritual truths with spiritual words, a fitting combination. The leaders of our current Reformation did well in conforming to this rule, by seeking to express Bible thoughts in Bible language. To Paul the terms and phrases of theology would have been as distasteful as those of philosophy, because equally man-made and unspiritual.]

Verse 14

Now the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged. [As sound is perceived by the ear, and not by the eye, so the spirit of man perceives spiritual things which can not be comprehended by his psychic nature. But a man who has lived on the low psychic plane--a carnal, sensuous victim to bodily appetites--has, by neglect, let his spiritual faculties become so torpid, and by sin so deadened them, that the spiritual things of God become as foolishness to him, despite their worthiness-- 1 Timothy 1:15]

Verse 15

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, and he himself is judged of no man.

Verse 16

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ [A spiritual man, helped by the indwelling Spirit of God, is enabled to judge of things divine, and much more of things human. But he himself can not be judged of carnal men, because they have no knowledge of those things by which they should weigh or estimate him. Could a man know God so as to instruct him? Surely not. No more, then, could a man counsel, judge or instruct a man who, by the inspiring power of the Spirit, thinks the thoughts and has the mind of Christ. Jesus revealed his mind to the apostles (John 15:15), and also to Paul as one of them-- Galatians 1:11-12]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/1-corinthians-2.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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