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Bible Commentaries

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible
1 Corinthians 2

 

 

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Verse 1

1 Corinthians 2:1. And I, brethren, &c.— As a further argument to keep them from glorying in their leaders, St. Paul tells the Corinthians, that, as the preachers of the Gospel, of God's choosing, were mean and illiterate men, so the Gospel was not to be propagated, nor men to be established in the faith, by human learning and eloquence; but by the evidence that it had from the revelation contained in the Old Testament, from the power of God accompanying and confirming it with miracles, and from the influences of the Spirit of God upon the heart, 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.

I came not with excellency of speech With the pomp of language. Doddridge. This may allude to the vain affectation of sublimity and subtilty so common among the Greeks of that age, and very remote from the true eloquence in which our Apostle did so remarkably excel. It has been asserted, that the Apostle laboured under a great impediment in his speech, from a stammering or a squeaking shrillness in his voice. Others choose to apply the words to his defect in oratory, and want of experience in the Greek language:both which may be looked upon as wide of the mark, and not the Apostle's meaning in this verse; which can be no other than that assigned in the beginning of the note. It hence appears, that he was far from taking advantage of a higher education, superior learning, and greater use of the world; and by this conduct put himself upon a level with the other Apostles. But an impostor, whose aim had been power, would have acted a contrary part; he would have availed himself of all those advantages; he would have extolled them as highly as possible; he would have set himself up, by virtue of them, as head of the sect to which he acceded, or at least of the proselytes made by himself. This is no more than was done by every philosopher who formed a school; much more was it natural in one who propagated a new religion. But as his conduct was the reverse, he shewed that he acted upon higher principles than any philosopher, and that same was no motive for his professing himself a Christian, and for endeavouring to make others Christians likewise. By the testimony of God is meant, "what God hath revealed and testified in the Old Testament." The Apostle declares, that, when he preached the Gospel to the Corinthians, he made use of no human science, no insinuations of eloquence, no speculations of philosophy, no embellishments of human learning; all his arguments were, as he tells them, 1 Corinthians 2:4 from the revelation of the Spirit of God, the predictions of the Old Testament, and the miracles which he himself did among them; that their faith might be owing entirely to the Spirit of God, and not to the abilities and wisdom of man. Instead of μαρτυριον, which we render testimony, several ancient manuscripts read μυστηριον, mystery. There may be something said in favour of this reading; for though the Apostle owns the doctrine of the Gospel, dictated by the Spirit of God, to be contained in the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and built upon revelation; yet he every where teaches that it remained in some measure a secret there, not fully understood till they were led into the hidden evangelical meaning of those passages, by the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the assistance of the Spirit, in the times of the Messiah, and then published to the world by the preachers of the Gospel; and therefore he calls it, especially that part of it which relates to the Gentiles, almost every were μυστηριον, mystery. See particularly Romans 16:25-26. Locke, Wetstein, and Lord Lyttelton on St. Paul's Conversion.


Verse 2

1 Corinthians 2:2. For I determined not to know any thing, &c.— The word rendered to know, is used according to the Hebrew idiom, to cause to know, or to teach. St. Paul, who was himself a learned man, especially in the Jewish knowledge, having told them in the foregoing chapter, that neither the Jewish learning nor Grecian sciences give a man any advantage, as an inspired teacher and minister of the Gospel, he here reminds them that he made no shew or use of either of them, when he planted the Gospel among them; intimating thereby that those were not the things for which their teachers were to be valued or followed. There seems to be a peculiar emphasis in the expression among you, as if the Apostle had said, "I did not change my usual method at Corinth; and you know with what glorious success it was attended." The Greek of the last clause is, και τουτον εσταυρωμενον,— even that crucified person. The Jews and heathens evidently gave our Lord this name by way of contempt; but St. Paul declares, that instead of concealing this as an infamy and scandal, it was the main thing he insisted upon; as indeed all the most important doctrines of the Gospel stand in a close and natural connection with it: and no doubt but he took them in that connection; for he refers, in the course of these Epistles, to several doctrines relating to the Father and the Holy Spirit, as what he had taught them, though not expressly included in the doctrine of the crucifixion. See Locke, Doddridge, and Mackni


Verse 3

1 Corinthians 2:3. I was with you in weakness St. Paul, by thus setting forth his own modest and humble behaviour among them, reflects on the contrary carriage of their false Apostle; which he describes at length, 2 Corinthians 11:20. See also Acts 18:6; Acts 18:9.


Verse 4

1 Corinthians 2:4. But in demonstration of the Spirit, and of power There were two sorts of arguments wherewith the Apostle confirmed the Gospel; the one was, the revelations made concerning our Saviour by types and figures, and prophesies of him under the law; the other, the miracles and miraculous gifts accompanying the first preachers of the Gospel, in the publishing and propagating of it. The latter of these St. Paul here calls power, the former he terms the Spirit; and so 1 Corinthians 2:12; 1 Corinthians 2:14. The things of the Spirit of God, and spiritual things, are things which are revealed by the Spirit of God, and not discoverable by our natural faculties. Locke. The Archbishop of Cambray, instead of enticing words of man's wisdom, renders the Greek Persuasive discourses of human wisdom.


Verse 5

1 Corinthians 2:5. That your faith should not stand, &c.— Their faith being built wholly on divine revelation and miracles, whereby all human abilitieswere shut out, there could be no reason for any of them to boast themselves of their teachers, or value themselves upon their being followers of this or that preacher; which St. Paul here obviates. See Locke.


Verse 6

1 Corinthians 2:6. Howbeit, we speak wisdom, &c.— The next argument the Apostle uses, to shew them that they had no reason to glory in their teachers, is, that the knowledge of the Gospel, was not attainable by our natural parts, however they were improved byart and philosophy, but was wholly owing to revelation, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16. Perfect, in this verse, is the same with spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:15.—One that is so perfectly well apprized of the divine nature and original of the Christianreligion, that he sees and acknowledges it to be all a pure revelation from God, and not in the least the product of human discovery, parts, or learning; and so, deriving it wholly from what God hath taught by his Spirit in the sacred Scriptures, allows not the least part of it to be ascribed to the skill or abilities of men. Thus perfect is opposed to carnal, ch. 1 Corinthians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 3:3 that is, such babesinChristianity,suchweakandmistakenChristians,thattheythoughtthe Gospel was to be managed as human arts and sciences among men of the world, and that those were better instructed and more in the right, who followed this master, or teacher, rather than another; and thus, glorying in being the disciples, one of Paul, another of Apollos, fell into divisions and parties about it, and vaunted one over another: whereas, in the school of Christ, all was to be built on the authority of God alone, and the revelation of his Spirit in the sacred Scriptures. Some render the clause, Howbeit, we teach wisdom in things most excellent. See Ezra 2:63. By the wisdom of this world, is meant the knowledge, arts, and sciences attainable by man's natural parts and faculties; such as man's wit could find out, cultivate, and improve, and such as the princes of this world approve, encourage, and endeavour to propagate. Though by αρχοντες του αιωνος τουτου, may here be understood the princes or great men of this world, in the ordinary sense of these words, says Mr. Locke; yet he that well considers 1 Corinthians 1:28 of the foregoing chapter, and 1 Corinthians 2:8 of this chapter, may find reason to think, that the Apostle here principally designs the rulers and great men of the Jewish nation. If it be objected, that there is little ground to think that St. Paul, by the wisdom he disowns, should mean that of his own nation, which the Greeks of Corinth (whom he was writing to) had little acquaintance with, and had very little esteem for,—I reply, that to understand this right, and the pertinency of it, we must remember, that the great design of St. Paul in writing to the Corinthians was, to take them off from therespect and esteem, that many of them had for a false apostle who was got in among them, and had there raised a faction against St. Paul. This pretended apostle, it is plain from 2 Corinthians 11:22 was a Jew, and, as it seems, 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, valued himself upon that account, and possibly boasted himself to be a man of note, either by birth, or alliance, or place, or learning among the people, who counted themselves the holy and illuminated people of God; and therefore to have a right to sway among those new heathen converts. To obviate this claim of his to any authority, St. Paul here tells the Corinthians, that the wisdom and learning of the Jewish nation led them not into the knowledge of the wisdom of God, that is to say, the Gospel revealed in the Old Testament; evident in this, that it was their rulers and rabbies who, stiffly adhering to the notions and prejudices of their nation, had crucified Jesus the Lord of glory, and were now themselves, with their state and religion, upon the point of being swept away and abolished. It is to the same purpose that, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 he tells the Corinthians, that he knows no man after the flesh; that is to say, that he acknowledges no dignity of birth, or descent; or outward national privileges. "The old things of the Jewish constitution are past and gone; whoever is in Christ, and entered into his kingdom, is in a new creation, wherein, all things are new, all things are from God; no right, no claim or preference derived to any one from any former institution; but every one's dignity consists solely in this, that God hath reconciled him to himself, not imputing his former trespasses to him." Αιων ουτος which we translate this world, seems to me to signify commonly, if not constantly, in the New Testament, that state which, during the Mosaical constitution, men, either Jews or Gentiles, were in, as contradistinguished to the evangelical state or constitution; which is commonly called ' Αιων μελλων, ερχομενος, The world to come.—Who come to nought, means, who are vanishing. If the wisdom of this world, and of the princes of this world, is to be understood of the wisdom and learning of the world in general, as contradistinguished to the doctrine of the Gospel, then the words are added, to shew what folly it is for them to glory as they do in their teachers, when all that worldly wisdom and learning, and the great men the supporters of it, would quickly be gone; whereas all true and lasting glory came only from Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. But if these words are to be understood of the Jews, as seems most consonant both to the main design of the Epistle, and to St. Paul's expressions here, then his telling them that the princes of the Jewish nation are brought to nought, is to take them off from glorying in their Judaizing false apostle; since the authority of the rulers of that nation in matters of religion was now at an end, and they with all their pretences, and their very constitution itself, were upon the point of being abolished and swept away, for having rejected and crucified the Lord of glory. See Locke.


Verse 7

1 Corinthians 2:7. We speak the wisdom of God The wisdom of God is used here for the doctrine of the Gospel, coming immediately from God by the revelation of his Spirit; and in this chapter it is set in opposition to all knowledge, discoveries, and improvements whatsoever, attainable by human industry, parts, and study, all which he calls the wisdom of the world, and man's wisdom;—thus distinguishing the knowledge of the Gospel, which was derived wholly from revelation, and could be had no other way, from all other knowledge whatsoever. What the Spirit of God had revealed of the Gospel during the times of the law, was so little understood by the Jews, in whose sacred writings it was contained, that it might well be called the wisdom of God in a mystery, that is to say, declared in obscure prophesies, and mysterious expressions and types. Though this be undoubtedly so, as appears by what the Jews both thought and did, when Jesus the Messiah, exactly answering what was foretold of him, came among them, yet by the wisdom of God in a mystery, wherein it was hid, though proposed by God before the settling of the Jewish oeconomy, St. Paul seems more particularly to mean what the Gentiles, and consequently the Corinthians, were more peculiarly concerned in; viz. God's purpose of calling the Gentiles to be his people under the Messiah; which, though revealed in the Old Testament, yet was not in the least understood till the times of the Gospel, and the preaching of St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, which therefore he so frequently calls a mystery. The reading and comparing Romans 16:25-26, Ephesians 3:3-9, Ephesians 6:19-20, Colossians 1:26-27, Colossians 2:1-8 and Colossians 4:3-4 will give light to this. To which give me leave to observe upon the use of the word wisdom here, that St. Paul, speaking of God's calling the Gentiles, cannot, in mentioning it, forbear expressions of his admiration of the great and incomprehensible wisdom of God therein. See Ephesians 3:8; Ephesians 3:10, Romans 11:33. The term Προ των αιωνων, signifies properly, before the ages; and I think it may be doubted whether these words, before the world, do exactly render the sense of the place. That αιων, or αιωνες, should not be translated the world, as in many places they are, I shall give one convincing instance, among many that might be brought, viz. Ephesians 3:9 compared with Colossians 1:26. The words in Colossians are, το μυστεριον το αποκεκρυμμενον απο αιωνων, thus rendered in the English translation, which hath been hidden from ages; but in Ephesians 3:9 a parallel place, the same words του μυστηριου του αποκεκρυμμενου απο των αιωνων, are translated, The mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid; whereas it is plain from Colossians 1:26 that απο των αιωνων, does not signify the epoch or commencement of the concealment, but those from whom it was concealed. It is plain that the Apostle, in the verse immediately preceding, and that following this which we have before us, speaks of the Jews; and therefore the phrase προ των αιωνων here, may be well understood to mean before the ages of the Jews; and so απ αιωνων, from the ages of the Jews, in the other two mentioned texts. Why the word αιωνες, in these and other places, (as Luke 1:70, Acts 3:21 and elsewhere,) should be appropriated to the ages of the Jews, may be owing to their counting by ages, or jubilees. See Mr. Locke, and Dr. Burthogge's judicious treatise, "Christianity a revealed Mystery," 100. 2. p. 17.


Verse 8

1 Corinthians 2:8. They would not have crucified The force of the original is, They would not by any means. Compare Luke 23:34. St. Paul, in the close of the foregoing verse, opposes the true glory of a Christian, to the glorying which was among the Corinthians in the eloquence, learning, or any other quality of their factious leaders: for, in all his expressions, he has an eye on his main purpose; as if he should have said, "Why do you make divisions, by glorying as you do, in your different teachers? The glory to which God hath ordained us Christian teachers and professors, is, to be expounders, preachers, and believers of those revealed truths and purposes of God, which, though contained in the sacred Scriptures of the Old Testament, were not comparatively understood in former ages. This is all the glory that belongs to us, the disciples of Christ, who is the Lord of all power and glory, and herein has given us what far excels that, whereof Jews or Gentiles had any expectations from what they gloried in." See the next verse. Thus St. Paul takes away all matter of glorying from the false Apostle, and his factious followers among the Corinthians. See Locke and 2 Corinthians 3:6-11.


Verse 11

1 Corinthians 2:11. Knoweth no man Knoweth no one. These words must signify the perfect acquaintance with all the divine schemes and purposes which the Holy Spirit had, and which the Apostle's argument directly proves that no creature can have: so that in this passage we have a strong proof of the divinity of the Spirit; and, accordingly it has been urged as such by all who have defended that important doctrine. See Bishop Pearson on the Creed.


Verse 12

1 Corinthians 2:12. Now we have received We, the true Apostles, or rather I for though he speaks in the plural number to avoid ostentation, as they might interpret it, yet he is here justifying himself, and shewing the Corinthians, that none of them had reason to forsake and slight him, in order to follow and cry up their false apostle. That he speaks of himself, is plain from the next verse, compared with 1 Corinthians 2:1 and ch. 1 Corinthians 1:17.—As he puts "princes of the world," 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8 for the rulers of the Jews, so here he puts spirit of the world for the nation of the Jews; that worldly spirit wherewith they interpreted the Old Testament, and theprophesies of the Messiah and his kingdom. Locke.


Verse 13

1 Corinthians 2:13. Comparing spiritual things, &c.— Explaining, &c. Wall, Elsner. "Comparing one part of revelation with another." It is plain, says Mr. Locke, that the spiritual things which he here speaks of, are uncharitable counsels of God, revealed by his Holy Spirit in the sacred Scriptures. This expression may serve to convince us of the great regard which weought always to maintain for the words of Scripture; and may especially teach ministers, how attentively they should study its beauties, and how careful they should be to make it the support of their discourses. See Wetstein.


Verse 14-15

1 Corinthians 2:14-15. But the natural man, &c.— The natural man and the spiritual man are opposed by St. Paul in these verses; the one signifying a man who has no higher principles to build on, than those of natural reason; the other, a man who founds his faith and religion on divine revelation, and, experiences the power thereof in his heart. This is what appears to be meant by natural, or rather animal man,— ψυχικος,— and spiritual, as they stand opposed in these two verses. There are some who suppose that ψυχικος implies something further; namely, the sensual man, who continues under the influences of his appetites and passions, and is a stranger to the noble exercises and principles of the divine life. See James 3:15. Jude 1:19. Locke, Owen, and the 2nd volume of The Phoenix, p. 544. Instead of judgeth all things, Bos reads judgeth of every man.


Verse 16

1 Corinthians 2:16. That he may instruct him. "Him, refers here to spiritual man in the former verse, says Mr. Locke; for St. Paul is shewing, not that a natural man, and a mere philosopher, cannot instruct Christ;—this nobody, pretending to be a Christian, could imagine;—but that a man, by his bare natural parts, not knowing the mind of the Lord, could not instruct, could not judge, could not correct a preacher of the Gospel, who built upon revelation, as he did." Many interpreters, however, think it more agreeable to the construction, and its connection with what follows, by Him to understand God. This part of the epistle is very artificially conducted: the Apostle is now aiming at the great point of establishing his authority, which had been suspected among them; yet he does not directly propose, but obliquely insinuates, arguments againstsuch suspicions; arguments which might possess their minds, before they were aware of what he intended to effect by them. This important remark will often present itself to the attentive reader of St. Paul's Epistles. See Doddridge, Guyse, and Pyle.

Inferences.—It should be the resolution of every Christian, and especially the determination of every minister, to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified; (1 Corinthians 2:2.) to esteem this the most important of all knowledge, to cultivate it in their own minds, and endeavour to propagate it to others. Fraught with this divine science, those ministers of the Gospel who know least of the excellency of speech, and the enticing words of man's wisdom, will do more important service for the reformation of the world, and the salvation of souls than without it the greatest masters of language, or adepts in philosophy, will ever be able to effect. Let the princes of this world boast of the knowledge and refined policy, which is so soon to perish, (1 Corinthians 2:6.) by which so many of their subjects perish, and sometimes themselves before their time:—In how many instances does it leave them to imitate the destructive maxims of those, who, under pretence of public good, but really under the instigation of the basest private passions, crucify Jesus, the adorable Saviour,—the Lord of glory! 1 Corinthians 2:8.

We should continually pray to God to teach us more of that hidden wisdom, which they who are truly initiated into real Christianity know, and which opens upon us views and hopes beyond what eye hath seen, or ear heard, or it hath particularly and fully entered into the heart of man to conceive, 1 Corinthians 2:9. There is no need we should distinctly conceive it; it is enough that we know in the general it is what God hath prepared for them who love him: a consideration, which many surely teach us to despise that which he so often bestows on those who hate him; on those with whom he is angry every day.

Happy will it be, if that spirit which searcheth all things, even the hidden things of God, give us more deeply and affectionately to know the things which are freely given us of God, and to adore that grace from which we receive them. These things we learn with the highest advantage from the holy Scriptures, where they are delivered in words which the Holy Ghost taught, 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 words therefore the most admirably adapted to express those spiritual and sublime ideas which they were intended to communicate; and in which, consequently, we learn to speak of the things of God with the exactest propriety, and the purest edification.

May we be enabled spiritually to discern them, with whatever contempt they may be treated by natural, that is animal men; by those who, though conceited of their rational powers, can relish little or nothing but what relates to this low and sensual life! 1 Corinthians 2:14. Conscious of that inward discerning, which discovers all things to us in their true light, even things of infinite importance, may we pity that undiscerning rashness of blind arrogance and pride, with which some, who think themselves the wisest, in proportion to the degree in which they are the most wretched of mankind, may treat us; and not only us, but that gospel which is our glory and our joy! 1 Corinthians 2:15. We have the mind of Christ delivered to us by his holy apostles, who were intimately and miraculously instructed in it. Let us humbly receive the oracles which they deliver; and whilst others are presuming haughtily to censure them, may we think ourselves happy if, with meek submission to their unerring authority, we may sit at the feet of such teachers, and regulate our lives by their instructions!

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle had before declared with what unadorned simplicity he had preached to his Corinthian brethren the doctrines of the gospel; they needed no varnish, and he trusted to their native weight and evidence to recommend them. And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God; he used no rhetorical arts nor affected curious speculations, but plainly declared the message which he had received of the Lord, the truth of which was attested by prophesies and miracles, and sealed to their hearts by the demonstration of the spirit. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified, avoiding all shew of Jewish or Grecian literature, and above all things insisting upon that one distinguished point, in which all the lines of our salvation meet as in one centre, from which all the privileges of the gospel flow as from their source, and under the influence of which we can alone be engaged and inclined to all the service to which our Saviour calls us, constrained by his dying love. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling, deeply sensible of his own insufficiency for the arduous work; in his outward circumstances and appearance, poor and despicable; exposed to innumerable difficulties from the enmity of the world without, and the envy of some within, who wanted to make a party against him, and, above all, deeply exercised in his own soul, lest his message should be despised and rejected by them to their eternal ruin. And my speech, and my preaching, was not with enticing words of man's wisdom; these he studiously avoided, but he taught with much more effectual evidence, in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, not only by the miracles which he wrought in confirmation of his mission, but by the energy with which the Holy Ghost accompanied his preaching to their consciences: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, as supported by mere human evidence, or wrought by mere moral persuasion or argument, but in the power of God, arising from a divine conviction of the truth, resting on divine testimony, and produced by the operation of God. Note; (1.) Nothing is more contrary to the spirit of the gospel than the affectation of being admired as orators, instead of being useful preachers. (2.) Christ, in his person and offices, should be the great subject of all our discourses; nothing so effectually reaches the conscience as the doctrine of the cross. (3.) Faithful ministers have peculiar trials, both from without and within, trembling sometimes for themselves, conscious of their own infirmities; and trembling for the people, lest that which should be to them a savour of life unto life, should, by their unbelief and prejudices, become a savour of death unto death. (4.) The faith of God's people is not the effect of mere human persuasion, but of divine operation.

2nd, The apostle had disclaimed all affectation of human wisdom. Howbeit, says he, we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, ( τελειους, ) and grown up to greater maturity in knowledge, understanding, and grace; demonstrating the infinite wisdom and suitableness of the divine contrivance, in the grand scheme of man's salvation, through faith in a crucified Jesus.—Yet not the wisdom of this world, such systems as philosophers have invented or will approve; nor of the princes of this world, such as the proud Rabbis and great men of the earth comprehend, or conceive, who, with all their boasts of science, come to nought, and perish in their pride, if they be not humbled to genuine repentance. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory. The divine contrivance for the salvation of lost sinners had been unknown to the Gentile world, and but dimly revealed to the Jews in mysterious types and figures; but now the fulness of time was come, when the mystery of grace should be unfolded. And this design of the divine wisdom none of the princes of this world knew, neither the Roman governor, nor the high priest and elders of the Jews; for had they known it, they would not have crucified him, who in essential Deity is one with the Father, and justly claims the title of the Lord of Glory. But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. Low as their apprehensions were of the crucified Redeemer, yet has he brought in a salvation for lost souls, unutterably glorious, by a contrivance far above human conception, and has prepared for those faithful souls, who, sensible of his amazing grace, feel the power of his divine love in their hearts, such inestimable blessings as pass man's understanding. But these glorious things God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit, by a divine illumination in the preaching of the gospel; for the Spirit, who is the great agent in the conversion of the sinner's soul, illuminating his darkness, and quickening him from his state of death, searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God; and who alone, being perfectly acquainted with his counsels, is fully able to reveal them to us. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? None but our own spirit can discover what passes in our secret thoughts; even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God: none but that eternal Spirit, who is essentially God, and one with the Father and the Son, (as a man's soul is one with him, and conscious of all that passes in his breast) can know or reveal these unto us. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, that we should be guided by its wisdom, or follow its maxims, but the Spirit which is of God, whose office it is, in the oeconomy of man's salvation, to enlighten the darkened mind, that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God, even all those inestimable blessings and privileges, of which, by grace through faith, we are made partakers. Which things also we speak, declaring, from happy experience, the truths which the Spirit hath revealed to us, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, affecting to set them off with figures of oratory, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, to add to which would be but to gild the brilliant, which shines infinitely brighter in its native lustre; comparing spiritual things with spiritual, the types with the antitype, the prophesies with their fulfilment, the Old Testament with the New, which serve to cast mutual light and glory on each other, and supply us with expressions, which most forcibly and clearly convey the Spirit's meaning to the heart. But the natural man, who continues under the darkness of his fallen mind, whatever attainments in human wisdom and literature he may have made, receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, because he cannot reconcile them to his corrupted reason and defiled mind; neither can he know them; he is as much under a moral incapacity of ever attaining to the true understanding of spiritual things, as the blind man is under a natural incapacity of discovering the brightest objects till the faculty of vision is given him, because they are spiritually discerned, and therefore cannot be comprehended without divine illumination. But he that is spiritual, and taught of God, judgeth all things, discovering the excellency, all-sufficiency, and suitableness of God's method of salvation, and distinguishing truth from error. Yet he himself is judged of no man; no natural man, however wise or learned, discerns the principles upon which he acts; or can comprehend the truths which the spiritual man experimentally knows; or can confute him by any reasonings, when he sees that he has the word of God for his guide, and the Spirit of God has promised to lead him into all truth. For who hath known the mind of the Lord? What philosopher ever soared so high as to penetrate into the secrets of God's eternal mind, that he may instruct him who is spiritual, in these supernatural truths? Darkness and folly are evident in all the schemes and notions of the wisest sages; but we have the mind of Christ, are divinely led into the knowledge of his designs of grace, and therefore can never be moved away from the hope of the gospel, by any pretenders to science, or by the disputations of philosophers, with whatever sounding names or titles they may be dignified. Learn hence, (1.) That the wisest sage and the most illiterate peasant are on a level, respecting the knowledge which maketh wise unto salvation. (2.) If all the wisdom that ever existed in the whole fallen race was centered in one natural man, he would in this state be as incapable of communicating one tittle of divine truth to us, as the glowworm of enlightening the universe. (3.) It is the distinguishing character of genuine Christians, that they are all taught of God, not only by external revelation, but by the Spirit's internal illumination. (4.) The love of God, now shed abroad in our hearts, is the earnest of that inheritance which he hath prepared for the faithful. (5.) We are not to wonder that those, who are most advanced in human literature, are usually most averse to the truths of God. The reason is evident, 1 Corinthians 2:14 and they will not humble themselves. (6.) A spiritual understanding of the Scriptures is a better qualification for the ministry than all Roman or Grecian literature.

 


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Bibliography Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:4". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-corinthians-2.html. 1801-1803.

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