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Bible Commentaries

F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary
1 Corinthians 2

 

 

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Verses 1-16

WHEN PAUL WAS commissioned to preach the Gospel he was instructed to do so in a way that would endorse the message he preached. This he stated in 1 Corinthians 1:17. Had he as a matter of fact done as he was told? He had. And in the opening verses of chapter 2 he reminds the Corinthians of the spirit that had marked him in his approach to them, and the character of his preaching. Verse 1 Corinthians 2:1 gives us the style of his preaching. Verse 1 Corinthians 2:2 the Subject of his message. Verse 1 Corinthians 2:3 the spirit that characterized him. Verse 1 Corinthians 2:4 reverts to the style of his preaching, but adding where his positive power lay. Verse 1 Corinthians 2:5 shows us the end he had in view.

As to style, he was no orator well versed in the arts of moving men by excellent or enticing speech. All that he eschewed, relying only upon the Spirit of God and His power.

For theme he had Christ and His cross only. Emphasize in your mind the two words, “among you.” He knew the tendencies of the Corinthians, with their great ideas as to philosophy and the human intellect. He would not meet them on their ground and be enticed into philosophic discussions of their choosing. He determined that among them he would know nothing but Christ crucified. Paul started his career with Christ glorified, yet he knew well that except they believed on, and laid hold of, Christ crucified, nothing of a divine sort, would be done. The truth of a crucified Christ was that which laid in the dust all their pride and glory; and until man comes down into the dust he cannot begin with God.

And Paul’s own spirit was in keeping with this. He did not arrive in their midst with a great flourish of trumpets, announcing himself as “Palestine’s most powerful Preacher,” or something of that sort, as is customary in this twentieth century. The very reverse. Weakness, fear, trembling, are the things he alludes to. He was acutely conscious that the flesh was still in him, that he might easily be seduced from single-eyed fidelity to his Master, and betrayed into something which was not of God. He knew the mighty power of the devil, entrenched in Corinthian hearts. Hence his fear and trembling. And hence again the room for the demonstrated power of the Spirit of God, and the casting down of the devil’s strongholds in human hearts. Would to God that there was more room made for the working of that power today!

Then we might see more of converts who really have their faith standing not in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

Up to the end of this fifth verse the Apostle has mentioned human wisdom eight times, in every case to utterly discredit it. From this some might imagine that wisdom of every kind is to be discounted. Others again might suppose that the Christian faith only appeals to the feelings and emotions, and hence has in it nothing worthy of the attention of a thinking man.

So, in verse 1 Corinthians 2:6, Paul reminds the Corinthians that the faith abounds in wisdom, only it is the wisdom of God, and not of the great ones of the earth. Moreover it is wisdom of a character that only appeals to “the perfect,” to those who have graduated, or are full-grown. We may be believers, but as long as we are in any uncertainty as to how we stand before God, as long as we are in the throes of self-occupation over questions of deliverance from the power of sin, we have neither heart nor leisure to learn the wisdom of God as expressed in His counsels and purposes, which were once a secret but now are made known.

The word, world, in verse 1 Corinthians 2:6 is really, age. In another scripture Satan is spoken of as “the god of this age.” The god of this age uses the princes of this age to propound the wisdom of this age, while blinding their minds so that they have no knowledge of God’s wisdom which was ordained before all the ages. When the Lord of glory was here he so blinded their minds that they crucified Him.

This really is a tremendous indictment! The supreme Lord of glory was condemned to a death of supreme degradation and shame, and that not so much by the ignorant rabble as by the princes of this age. The very superscription on His cross was written in letters of Greek and Latin and Hebrew. The Greeks were incontestably the intellectual princes of the age. The Romans were the princes in matters of military prowess and the arts of government. The Hebrews were princes without a rival in matters of religion. Yet all were involved in the crucifixion of the Lord of glory. All thereby revealed their complete ignorance of God and all brought themselves beneath His judgment.

The princes of this age “come to nought.” Very humiliating this! Not only is “the understanding of the prudent” coming to “nothing,” (1 Corinthians 1:19.) but the princes of this age themselves come to nothing. The final result, the sum total, of all the clever doings is NOTHING. The clever men themselves come to NOTHING. In contrast with this we are told by the Apostle John that “he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” and again we have the Lord’s words to His disciples that, “your fruit should remain.” The believer, and the believer only, has power to engage in that which will abide to eternity. Let us consider this very attentively, and may our lives be governed by our meditations!

It is a marvellous thought that the wisdom of God, once hidden, but now made known, was “ordained” before the ages unto our glory. Not only were we ourselves chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, but God’s wisdom had our glory in view before the ages began, and all was then ordained. And what God ordains never fails of consummation when God’s hour is reached. Our glory then is certain, and is connected with, and subsidiary to, Christ’s glory. Christ’s glory is the supreme thing, but our glory is as certain as His, and equally ordained of God.

That which has been ordained, according to verse 1 Corinthians 2:7, has also been “prepared” (verse 1 Corinthians 2:9), and the things prepared are altogether beyond man’s reach, either by eye, ear or heart. We apprehend many things by using our eyes—that is, by observation. Many others we apprehend by using our ears, listening to what is handed down to us—that is, by tradition. Other things we apprehend by the heart instinctively—that is, by intuition. We apprehend the things of God in none of these ways; but by revelation, as verse 1 Corinthians 2:10 shows.

The things prepared have been revealed by the Spirit. The “us” of that verse is primarily the apostles and prophets to whom the truth was first made known. The truth has reached the general body of saints through them, as we shall see in a moment. But in verse 1 Corinthians 2:11 we are made to think of the competency of the Spirit to reveal, since He is the Spirit of God. Only the human spirit can really know human things. Just so, only the Spirit of God knows the things of God and is competent to make them known.

But believers have received the Spirit of God as verse 1 Corinthians 2:12 states. Thus it is that we have competency to apprehend the things of God. No research, no experiment, no learning, no intellectual powers, can give us that competency; only the Spirit of God.

Let us take this very much to heart, for we live in an age marked by research and experiment and intellectual activity and it is commonly supposed that the human mind is capable of dealing with the things of God just as it deals with the things of man. IT IS NOT. Hence the fearful spiritual blunders perpetrated by otherwise learned men. Highly qualified are they in human things: yet pitiably blind and ignorant of the Divine.

Are we all keen to know the things of God? We certainly should be. We have a personal interest in them. The things “ordained,” “prepared,” and “revealed” have been “given to us of God.” Are we possessing ourselves, in spiritual understanding and enjoyment, of our possessions?

We may be, since the things revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets have been communicated to us in divinely ordered words. This verse 1 Corinthians 2:13 tells us. The words “comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” may be rendered “communicating spiritual [things] by spiritual [means]” (N. Tr.). Here the apostle definitely claims inspiration, and verbal inspiration at that, for his spoken utterances. Even more so then, if that were possible, for his written utterances. The inspiration claimed definitely relates to “words.” If we have not got in the Scriptures (as originally written) God’s thoughts clothed in God-chosen words, we have no inspiration of any real value at all.

The last link in this wonderful chain is “discerned.” If we today do not discern God’s things through God’s word it will not avail us much that they have been ordained, prepared, revealed, given and communicated. They may be ours: are ours, if indeed we are Christians; but for practical blessing today, we must discern them. And the discerning on our part is by the same Spirit, by whom they were revealed and communicated.

For discerning, we need the right spiritual condition. The “natural man,” i.e., man in his natural or unconverted condition, does not discern them at all. The “spiritual,” i.e., the converted man, not only indwelt but also governed and characterized by the Spirit of God, alone can take them in. Possessing the Spirit we have the mind of Christ. Governed by the Spirit the eyes of our hearts are opened to understand.

The word “judgeth,” occurring twice in verse 1 Corinthians 2:15, is just the word “discerneth,” as the margin of a reference bible shows. Read discerneth and the sense is clearer. It is only the spiritual believer who has spiritual eyesight to see all things clearly.

Long ago someone was complaining: “I can’t see it. I want more light!” It was said in reply, “It is not more light you want; it is windows!” That was doubtless true. If we allowed the Spirit of God to clean up the windows of our souls we should soon see clearly.

 


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Bibliography Information
Hole, Frank Binford. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:4". "F. B. Hole's Old and New Testament Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/fbh/1-corinthians-2.html. 1947.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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