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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
1 Corinthians 2

 

 

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Verse 1

1. And I—As in myself one of the nothings of 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.

Speech or of wisdom—The same intellectual or philosophical leadership rejected by me in 1 Corinthians 1:12-17, was refused by me when I first came to Corinth to preach the Gospel. Excellency of speech, does not mean oratorical excellence; nor does Paul, as some think, aim here or elsewhere any slants at Apollos’ rhetorical style or ability, the phrase really meaning, excellency of philosophical lecturing or discourse.

Or wisdomSophia, or philosophy; the invariable meaning of the word as used in 1 Corinthians 1:22.


Verses 1-5

II. BUT HE HAS AN AUTHORITY, AS ORGAN OF A GOD-GIVEN REVELATION, WHICH IS DECISIVE AND ULTIMATE, 1 Corinthians 2:6 to 1 Corinthians 4:21.

1. Yet Christianity has indeed a wisdom (sophia) of its own, not human, but God-given, understood by the spiritual alone, 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.


Verse 2

2. I determined not to know—Rather, I did not determine to know. He had no purpose of holding forth any philosophical substitute for the Gospel. By this is not meant that a minister must preach on no other topic than the crucifixion of Christ. It is not meant that he may not in preaching denounce particular sins, or instruct in particular virtues. Nor is it meant that he may not preach the law, or draw lessons from Scripture characters or events even in the Old Testament. Nor is it meant that he may not devote entire sermons to particular doctrines not in immediate connexion with the crucifixion. What Paul meant was, that he knew nothing but Christ’s atonement—no substitute for it in the systems and philosophies of mere men—as a ground of salvation. His meaning was, as in 1 Corinthians 3:11, that there can be no other foundation than Christ.


Verse 3

3. Weakness… fear… trembling—A blending of feelings arising, perhaps, from different causes, yet uniting in one effect. We have intimated that Paul, coming to Corinth fresh from his ill-success at Athens, may have felt a check upon his spirit. Note on Acts 18:3. The loneliness of his separation from Silas and Timothy chilled his courage. His experience at Athens may have deeply impressed him with the feeling that less of appeal to natural reason, and a more forcible pressure on the religious sensibilities by the presentation of Christ and the atonement, should frame his whole discourse. This was that foolishness of preaching in renunciation of all Grecian sophia which he proved to be the power of God to the founding of the Corinthian Church, and which he has described in those flashing and triumphant antitheses that run through 1 Corinthians 1:22-28.


Verse 4

4. Enticing words—Not rhetorical or elocutional in style, but the persuasive utterances of a true philosophy.

Demonstration— Manifestation.

Of the Spirit—From or by the divine Spirit and divine power.


Verse 5

5. Wisdom of men—The philosophy of the Grecian schools.

Power—The powerful influence of the Spirit of God.


Verse 6

6. Howbeit—Notwithstanding all this depreciation of sophia.

Perfect— Not to the carnal or babes, (1 Corinthians 3:1,) but to the adult, (for such is the meaning of the word perfect) in Christ, and who are, therefore, called spiritual, 1 Corinthians 2:15, and who have attained a higher Christian life. The carnal, 1 Corinthians 3:3, are under influence of evil passions, 1 Corinthians 3:4, are to be rebuked for sin, 1 Corinthians 3:17, and threatened with judgment, 1 Corinthians 4:21. See note on 1 Corinthians 3:1. The privileges of the perfect are now described, 9-16.

Princes… nought—Notes on 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.


Verse 7

7. Wisdom of God—Note on 1 Corinthians 1:17.


Verse 8

8. Had they known it—How far they were ignorant, and how far their ignorance was an excuse, is discussed in note on Luke 23:34.

Lord of glory—An epithet too lofty for a mere man.


Verse 9

9. WrittenIsaiah 64:4 paraphrased by Paul, and adapted to his purpose. The words, of course, describe not the future happiness of the redeemed in heaven, but their present.


Verse 10

10. The Spirit searcheth—A striking ascription of personality to the Spirit. All things—Within the universe nothing is hidden from the search of the omniscient Spirit.

Deep things—Rather, the depths of God. Nothing but omniscience can know omniscience. Nothing but God’s Spirit can know what is in the divine Mind.


Verse 11

11. For—An illustration of the divine consciousness is drawn from the human consciousness.

The things of a man—The interior things of his thought.

Spirit—Which, by the power of consciousness turning our attention inward, reads our own inner thoughts and purposes. The only reason why human reason cannot absolutely know the existence of the divine Personality is, that man can only infer it from the works of creation and providence, and cannot walk into the divine Consciousness, and know it. But no more can a man know the consciousness of another man, and can only infer his neighbour’s possessing thought and reason from his external manifestations. So that we have the same sort of proof of the personality of God that we have of the mentality of our fellow-man.


Verse 12

12. The spirit of the world—As every man has an individual spirit, so the world has a collective spirit, a common moral tone and temper; and that spirit is at variance with the divine Spirit. As the wisdom of man is antithetical to the wisdom of God, so the spirit of the world is antithetical to the Spirit of God.

That we might know—By blessed experience.

Things… given—Namely, (1 Corinthians 2:9,) the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.


Verse 13

13. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual—For as we reason about, and understand, and realize, secular things by comparison—comparing things secular with secular—so we comprehend and reason of spiritual things by comparing spiritual with spiritual. So that there is a blessed logic in spiritual things.


Verse 14

14. The natural man—The secular or worldly man, who possesses only the worldly “understanding that judges only by sense” and time. See note on 1 Corinthians 3:1. The word natural or psychical, derived from ψυχη, psyche, (soul,) seems to presuppose the threefold division of man into body, soul, and spirit. In that division the spirit is the highest nature of man, in which he bears the nearest affinity to God, by which he is a moral, conscientious, or religious being; while the soul embraces man’s animal and secular understanding, by which he is acute in things of sense. Notes Matthew 5:3, and 1 Corinthians 15:44. The natural man is one whose spiritual nature is torpid or deadened by sin and the predominance of earth and sense. His is the spirit of the world and the wisdom of men, but not the spirit which is of God or the wisdom of God.

Receiveth not— His torpid spirit is unsusceptible to communion with God.

Foolishness— How intensely does the purely secular man scout the utterances of the devout spirit! How sneers he at the very thought of communion with God! How easy it is to burlesque the language of piety! True, those very men have their solemn moments, and their trying crises, when conscience is touched and their ridicule is hushed. And how will men who scorn the thought of communion with God abide to meet him in the judgment, face to face?

Can he know—He has an absolute incapacity for knowing the beauty of holiness and the blessedness of divine things.

Spiritually discerned—While his spirit is torpid and unsusceptible. Even in natural science there are recognised unseen truths. Says Professor Tyndall, “Besides the phenomena that address the senses, there are laws, and principles, and processes, which do not address the senses at all, but are spiritually discerned.”


Verse 15

15. Judgeth all thingsAll the things of 1 Corinthians 2:12-13; the deep things of God. By these all things are not meant merely the doctrinal truths of theology, which are comprehended by the logical understandings, but the deeper things of holiness of heart and spirit.

Judged of no man—He is not subject, in his experience and realization of divine things, to the understanding of the natural man. The spirit from God is not to be judged by the spirit of the world. For God is right and the world is wrong.


Verse 16

16. We—The spiritual.

Mind of ChristWe having the mind of Christ, whom none can instruct, cannot be judged by any natural man. Our experience and gifts from God the world knows not of, and has no right or power to pronounce judgment upon. High communion with God, with exalted excitement of emotions, while it has its blessedness is not without its dangers. The human imagination is therein liable to catch fire, and a wild fire it is liable to be. The experience of the Church suggests the following cautions:—

1. Our spiritual experiences must be in accordance with the teachings of Christ, and regulated by the laws of the inspired written word. Those whose spiritual emotions, impressions, or cognitions contradict the word of God, are actuated by a delusive spirit.

2. Such spiritual exercises should accord with natural decency and becomingness; for “nature itself teaches” that decency and propriety are of God.

3. Our spiritual enjoyments should not exert themselves in mere emotional pleasure; but purify our daily life, make us honest in business, courteous in manners, faithful in our secular duties, and enterprising in good-doing. A mere contemplative or monastic piety lacks the true spirit of Christ.

4. True communion with God is modest and not boastful. It can bear with patience the pretence of the world to sit in judgment upon it. Nor does it endow its own personal opinions with the attribute of divine omniscience.

5. Our spiritual joy should give us firm faith, and a holy yet modest boldness in presenting religion to others; not obtrusively, but studying the occasion; not driving or persecuting, but winning souls to Christ and goodness. When we truly feel our religion to be a great treasure, we are most likely best to succeed in the effort to impart it to others.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-2.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 15 / Ordinary 20
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