Category Archives: 1 CORINTHIANS 2

1 CORINTHIANS 2

SUMMARY OF THE CHAPTER

Having shown the wisdom of God in history, at Calvary, and in the believers’ testimony, the apostle now shows how that wisdom is communicated to men. He reminds the Corinthians that when he came to them with the gospel he did not employ the methods of the world to put over his message, but only the wisdom of God made known in the power of the Spirit. He then goes on to explain how that wisdom had been communicated to him, and how he and his fellow-apostles were able to make it known to believers.

STRUCTURE OF THE CHAPTER

(a) Verses 1-5 The wisdom of the world disowned.
(b) Verses 6-8 The wisdom of God described.
(c) Verses 9-10 The wisdom of God disclosed.
(d) Verses 11-13 The wisdom of God delivered.
(e) Verses 14-16 The wisdom of God discerned.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 1 TO 5

2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

2:5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

(a) Verses 1-5 The wisdom of the world disowned

2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

And I, brethren, when I came to you- the personal pronoun is emphatic, indicating that the apostle is going to use his ministry as the example. They could testify that the situation was as he describes here. Came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom- the apostle had been brought up, and probably educated, in Tarsus, which was above Alexandria and Athens as a centre of learning. He was then transferred to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the most revered and learned rabbis of the time. He had the best of Gentile and Jewish education, therefore. He shows in his preaching that he knew the classics, quoting from them when it was appropriate, (Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). He would also be versed in Jewish wisdom and tradition. Excellency of speech would refer to oratorical skills; wisdom would be the underlying train of thought behind his speaking. He refused to imitate the philosophers and their grand speeches, and rejected the thought behind their words, for the reasons he has given in chapter 1. The apostle is not suggesting that preachers should not choose their words carefully, and seek to put their subject matter over in an understandable way. Ecclesiastes 12:9,10 says, “And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs. The preacher sought to find out acceptable words: and that which was written was upright, even words of truth”.  Declaring unto you the testimony of God- this would refer to all that God makes known about Himself. We saw in 1:6 that the testimony of Christ was about Christ, so to be consistent we shall have to say that the testimony of God is about God. He is the fountainhead of all wisdom, and so is supremely worth knowing. It is life eternal to know the only true God, John 17:3.

2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

For I determined not to know any thing among you- despite being versed in the thoughts of the philosophy of this world, the apostle was determined to not incorporate anything of that in his presentation of the truth of God.  Save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified- it is important to constantly make known the twin truths of Christ’s person and His work. These are the basis for everything else. The preaching of the gospel involves the setting forth of truth regarding the person and work of Christ. It is therefore Christ-centred, and not man-centred. The opening verses of the epistle which expounds the truth of the gospel say that the gospel of God is concerning His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Romans 1:1,3. The apostle deliberately used all His names and titles to impress upon us that in the gospel the full-orbed beauties and glories of Christ are made known. Preachers should beware of allowing their message to degenerate into a constant appeal to sinners to believe. They need to be exhorted to do this, of course, but only when the person to be believed has been presented. As the blind man said, “Who is He, Lord, that I might believe on Him?” John 9:36. The apostles “ceased not to teach and to preach Jesus Christ”, Acts 5:42. In other words, they taught who He was and what He had done, and then preached that men should believe on Him. This was the order they adopted, and we have no reason to alter it.

The name Jesus tells of one who is Jehovah the Saviour, so His Deity is in view. And also His manhood, for it the name given to Him at His birth. Christ is His title as the fulfiller of the Old Testament predictions. The fact that He was crucified takes in all that the New Testament has to say about the nature of His death. So to preach Jesus Christ, and Him crucified is to preach the whole of the truth of God.

2:3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

And I was with you in weakness- unlike the mighty men of the world, Paul had renounced worldly strength, and worked in the power of the Spirit, as he says in the next verse. Natural eloquence has the power to move people dramatically, but the apostle would not employ such means.  And in fear, and in much trembling- Corinth could be a violent place, but as Paul approached there to preach the Lord assured him that no man would set on him to hurt him, Acts 18:10. Sosthenes the chief ruler of the synagogue, on the other hand, was beaten for some reason. So it is not natural fear that Paul has, but spiritual fear, trembling lest his preaching in some way obscured the glories of Christ by the use of worldly wisdom.

2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom- there is no need for the use of carnal techniques in the proclamation of the truth, for the Spirit of God impresses it upon the hearts and consciences of sinners, without any need for the devices and tricks of man. Sinners are not to be enticed, but preached to. The gospel has no attraction for the natural man, so it is pointless trying to attract him. He is only attracted to natural things, and we are not here to do that. The word for preaching used here is a proclamation; it was not a setting forth of viewpoints for the Corinthians to discuss, but a setting forth of Christian doctrine for them to believe.  But in demonstration of the Spirit and of power- this is the first mention of the Spirit in the epistle. In 1:24 it was power and Christ linked together, now power and the Spirit. It is the same power that energises the message as saves through Christ crucified. So the apostle has renounced both worldly wisdom and worldly power in the setting forth of the truth. It is said of Stephen that they could not resist the wisdom and spirit by which he spoke, Acts 6:10, but this was spiritual wisdom. And we remember that Paul heard Stephen preach. No doubt the power of that preaching contributed to Paul’s conversion.

2:5 that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men- men were going to take a mental stand on the basis of what Paul preached, so he was careful to only announce that which it would be appropriate for them to stand on. If they took their stand on the wisdom of men, they would not have a stable footing, and no footing at all before God.  But in the power of God- in the message about Christ crucified there is the power of God to save, (“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation…” Romans 1:16), and also to strengthen day by day to do God’s will.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 6 TO 8

2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

(b) Verses 6-8 The wisdom of God described

2:6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect- the foregoing does not mean that Paul, by turning from worldly wisdom, taught that which had no wisdom attached to it. Far from it, as he now tells us. There were two sides to the system of pagan religion prevailing at the time. There was the external worship of an idol, and its associated vice and corruption. Then there was what Revelation 2:24 calls “the depths of Satan”, the evil doctrines that only the initiated knew about. These were they who had been introduced into the hidden secrets behind the pagan system by a person known as a hierophant, or temple teacher. Such persons, once they had advanced in the mysteries of the religion, were called the perfected ones, and were allowed into the presence of the god. The Holy Spirit lifts the word “perfected” out of its pagan setting, and sanctifies it to express the position of those who have been taught by God’s teachers, and who are here described as perfect. But instead of this position being reserved just for the few, every Christian is perfected in this sense, having committed himself to the doctrine of the apostles, or, as Romans 6:17 puts it, “ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine that was delivered you”.  Yet not the wisdom of this world- the insight into the true nature of things that he imparted owed nothing to the wisdom of this age, (which is the word for world used here), for the present time is marked by the fact that it follows the violent rejection of God’s Son. How can any good come from a world like that?  Nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought- it did not owe anything to the princes of this world either. These would be those versed in the opinions and philosophies of the world, the nobles mentioned in chapter 1. Their supposed wisdom did not stop them perishing, as 1:18 has already said, so they came to nought. It is no good listening to perishing men. So the believers come to perfection, whilst the princes come to nought.

2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery- God has His mysteries, too, yet He introduces the secrets of His heart into the minds of His people through the teachings of the apostles. It is not that the apostle spoke in mysterious terms, but rather that he unfolded those things God had in mind for us, which are understood by those who possess the Spirit within.  Even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world- much of what is unfolded in the New Testament was unknown to the saints of the Old Testament. It was hidden in God’s heart, as Ephesians 3:9 also testifies. God created all things by Jesus Christ, so He is in total control. He could have arranged for these things to be unfolded sooner. He chose not to, mainly because it needed the coming of the Spirit of God for believers to be able to take in the full truth He had in mind to tell. As the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth”, John 16:12,13.  Unto our glory- the matters set out in the apostles’ doctrine have to do with the position of privilege to which believers are brought in Christ.

2:8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Which none of the princes of this world knew- those versed in this world’s wisdom had no idea as to who Christ really was. They are the mighty, noble and rich people of chapter 1. Their thinking was governed by a world-view that dismissed the truth of God, and therefore they were ignorant. This applied even to the chief priests and rulers of Israel, for they are described as ignorant by the apostle Peter in Acts 3:17.  For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory- they really believed they were crucifying a blasphemous carpenter from Nazareth. They refused to believe that He was the Son of Gods, despite the infallible proofs of this He gave them. This is a sure indication that they were governed by natural thinking, despite their religion. It is not simply that they crucified Him because they were unbelievers, but rather, because they were convinced they were right, they thought there would be no repercussions from crucifying Him. Hence their fear when they were told He was risen from the dead. His resurrection is a sure indicator that He will judge men, Acts 17:31. They could have just let Him live and die in the ordinary course of events. Because they sought to hasten His death, they showed themselves ignorant of the true nature of things.

Not only is Jesus Christ the Lord of glory as to His personal worth, but also as the one who brings His people into a position of glory, as the previous verse has indicated.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 9 TO 10

2:9 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.

2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

(c) Verses 9-10 The wisdom of God disclosed

2:9 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.

But as it is written- the apostle now appeals to the Old Testament scriptures to prove his point, and the apostle makes a quotation from Isaiah 64:4.  “Eye hath not seen- mention had been made of the wise men, scribes and disputers of this world in 1:20. They have been confounded by the wisdom and power of God demonstrated at Calvary. But what of the scribes in Israel, have they been any more successful in penetrating the depths of the mind of God? Says Isaiah, in effect, they have not written it down so that our eyes can run along the lines and learn what God has in store, for it was kept even from the inspired writers of the Old Testament.  Nor ear heard- what of those who debated the things of God  in Israel, can they tell us?  Neither have entered into the heart of man- can it be said of the wise men in Israel that the mysteries of God ever entered into their hearts as they sought to know God better.  The things which God hath  prepared for them that love Him”- the things were prepared, so New Testament truth is not an afterthought with God. The things taught by the apostles were planned in eternity, and disclosed when it was appropriate to do so. Isaiah wrote “him that waiteth for Him”, whereas Paul by the same Spirit writes, “them that love Him”. We learn by this that those who wait for God to reveal His truth do so because they love Him; love for the truth is love for the God of truth. The Lord Jesus linked love of the truth with love of the Father and Himself in the upper room ministry. His words were,

“He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me:

and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father,

and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.

Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot,

Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words:

and My Father will love him,

and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him.

He that loveth Me not keepeth not My sayings:

and the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me”, John 14:21-24.

2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit- in the first instance this refers to the inspired teachers of the New Testament era, and secondarily, to those who receive that teaching. The Lord Jesus said that “the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things”, John 14:26. And again, “I have many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth”, John 16:13. So there is to be further truth, after the Spirit has come at Pentecost; full truth, for the Spirit will guide into all truth; and final truth, for He will teach all things, and there will be nothing else to say.   For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God-the whole range of Divine truth is open to the Spirit, since He is a Divine person. He is able to guide us if we have an interest in exploring the breadth of the truth of God. But we should also explore the depth of it too, for the Spirit can reach deep down into the mind of God and reveal truth to us that they natural mind could never discover. David said of God, “Thy thoughts are very deep”, Psalm 92;5, and he was, of course, right. But what is well beyond the reach of the wise men of the world is discoverable by the earnest believer.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 11 TO 13

2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

(d) Verses 11-13 The wisdom of God delivered

2:11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him?-  the apostle uses an illustration we can readily understand to bring out two points. The first is that the things that are being thought in a man’s spirit, in the inner recesses of his being, can only be known by that man. Of course God knows, but that is not the point here; it is “what man knoweth”. Another man cannot know the secrets of a man’s spirit.  Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God- the second point is that if a natural man cannot know what the mind of a fellow-man is, it stands to reason that he cannot understand the mind of a Divine person. But the Spirit of God stands in the same relation to the Godhead as a man’s spirit stands in relation to himself. Just as man is a tripartite being, consisting of spirit, soul, and body, so God is Father Son and Holy Spirit. And just as having three parts to our being does not make us three beings, so having three persons in the Godhead does not make the Godhead three gods. This is an incidental testimony to the Deity of the Holy Spirit. The apostle is driving home the lesson that if we are to know Divine wisdom, and gain insight into the true nature of things, then we can only do so through the Holy Spirit.

2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world- with the word “now” the apostle begins to bring out the implications of what he has said just before. The spirit of the world is that sum total of thoughts, opinions, viewpoints and reasonings of the men of the world which combine together to govern its attitudes and actions. If the apostles were governed by the world’s thinking, (as, alas, some of the Corinthian believers were), then they would not be able to discern the truth of God.  But the Spirit which is of God- instead of receiving the sum total of the world’s thinking, he has received the Spirit of God, who is able to disclose the sum total of Divine thoughts, insofar as it is God’s mind for us to know them at this time. This Spirit is “of God”, the preposition being “apo”, meaning “away from”. The thought is that the Spirit has been sent away from God into our hearts, for we come into the good of Pentecost when we believe. The word of the Lord Jesus has come to pass, for the Holy Spirit has been sent in His name, as He promised, John 14:26.  That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God- God not only gives His wisdom to His people, but gives His Spirit to them so that they may know and understand it. God has freely given these things, yet too often we are not much interested in Divine things; this is to our loss, and disappoints God.

2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Which things also we speak- as they heard inspired men expound Divine truth, the believers at Corinth could hear the things of God. They could no longer say, “Ear hath not heard”.  Not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth- not only were the thoughts from God, but the very words used to convey the words were of God too. The intellectuals of the world would speak in far different terms to the apostles, but they were not conveying Divine truth. This is not to say, of course, that the apostles spoke in a language that was not used on earth. They used ordinary words, but not in the way the wise of the world would use them.  But which the Holy Ghost teacheth- as inspired men, the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit as they spoke and wrote. The apostle Peter likened the prophets of the Old Testament era to ships which were carried along by the wind in their sails, 2 Peter 1:21. So the Spirit moves men along as they convey Divine truth. They are thereby taught by the Spirit what to say, and what words to use.  Comparing spiritual things with spiritual- by the Spirit of God certain thoughts entered the minds of inspired men. But they were responsible for putting those thoughts into words. They did not abandon their personality or upbringing as they did this; they were still themselves, and their own character came through as the spoke, but they were Spirit-filled men, and spoke infallibly when they were exercising their gift. So the spiritual truths instilled into the minds of inspired men by the direct action of the Holy Spirit, were matched, in their minds, by the appropriate words to convey those truths. The whole process was superintended by the Holy Spirit, without at any time over-riding the personality of the speakers.

We see this process referred to by the Lord Jesus in connection with David and his writings in the Psalms. In relation to the words of Psalm 110, the Lord asked, “How then doth David in Spirit call Him Lord?” Matthew 22:43. In Mark 12:36 it is, “For David himself said by the Holy Spirit”. In Luke 20:42 it is “And David himself saith in the book of Psalms”. So David himself was speaking and writing, (Luke); he was doing so by the power of the Spirit, (Mark); he was in a spiritual state as he did so, (Matthew). So also did the inspired men of this age speak.

Notice that even though he is referring to the book of psalms, the Lord indicates that David “saith”. The very words of David are preserved in his writings. And moreover, it is as if David is speaking in the present, for it is not “David said”, but, “David saith”. The word of God is as up-to-date and relevant now as the day it was given. Paul could speak of “the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day”, Acts 13:27. So the prophets are still speaking.

The apostle makes no reference to writings in this passage, for the reason just cited- the written word is one with the spoken word, for what David wrote is what David is still saying, by the power of the Spirit of God. We have the inspired record of what inspired men said as they preached, and we have the written record of what inspired men said as they dictated to their amanuensis or scribe. So we no longer have to say “ear has not heard”, for we hear inspired men in their writings; nor say “eye hath not seen”, for we have the writings before us; nor say “things have not entered into the heart of man”, for they have, as the Spirit taught them, and they in turn have taught us, so that we may have Divine truth in our hearts.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE FIRST EPISTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2, VERSES 14 TO 16

2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

(e) Verses 14-16 The wisdom of God discerned

2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God- the apostle now turns to the matter of discerning the things of God. By using the word “but”, the apostle begins to deal with two problems. The first is that a natural man is not willing to receive or welcome the things of the Spirit. The second is that he cannot know them even if he is willing to do so, because he has no capacity to receive them. Even though confronted with a page of inspired writing, the natural man can only understand if he is willing to be moved by the Spirit. If he resists the Holy Spirit, (as men can do, Acts 7:51), he will remain ignorant.

The apostle now classifies men as either natural, or spiritual. The word used here for natural is not simply a description of an unsaved person. The word was coined by Aristotle to describe “man at his best, being activated by higher thoughts and aims than the mere sensualist”. So Paul is deliberately using a word which speaks of a refined and cultured person. If such a one as this is not inclined to receive the things of the Spirit of God, what hope is there for the rest of humanity, who have no interest in seeking higher things?

For they are foolishness unto him- the reason he does not receive the things of God is not because he has not the brains to do so, for Paul has deliberately used a word that describes an intellectual person. The natural man does not receive the wisdom of God, for he immediately dismisses what is told him as being foolish, because it does not fit in with his world-view. For more on the matter of worldviews, see the page entitles “Do you have a worldview?”  Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned- even if he was inclined to receive them, he could not know or understand them aright. He might be able to follow what the Scripture says, but he has no ability to discern the real meaning. That is the privilege only of those who have the Spirit of God, and who seek to understand the things of God by His enabling. The things of God are to be dicerned on a higher level that the natural man can attain unaided. But if there is a responsive heart to the word of God, then light is given Cornelius and his friends are an illustration of this, Acts 10:44-48. The Scripture in that passage simply says that the Spirit of God fell upon them. But if we read Peter’s comment on that event in Acts 15:7 we learn that they had first heard the word of the gospel and believed, and then God gave them the Holy Spirit, verse 8. So when the apostle says the natural man cannot know the things of God he means “cannot know them unaided, but only by the power of the Spirit working in seeking hearts”.

2:15 But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things- the apostle now uses the word “things” yet again, the things being those things which God hath prepared for those who love Him, as verse 9 has told us. These precious things are discerned as to their meaning by spiritual people alone. Even carnal believers find them difficult to grasp, which is the problem the apostle deals with in the next chapter. The word here translated “judgeth” is the same one as is translated “discerned” in verse 14, and is found again in this verse 15 as “judged”. It is a word which means “to examine, investigate or question”, (Vine). The spiritual person is able to evaluate spiritual truth because he is in harmony with it, and is not grieving the indwelling Spirit of God. And the apostle assures us that all things are available to the spiritual person to investigate. There is no part of revealed truth that is barred to him. There is not an area of Divine truth that is only open to a select group of Christians. This does not mean, of course, that the believer is able to understand everything that God understands, for that is not possible; but it does mean that he is able to range over the whole of Divine truth, as the Spirit of truth guides.

Yet he himself is judged of no man- the foregoing does not mean that the believer is the source of Divine truth. For one thing, there is the fact, brought out in verse 11, that one person cannot know what is in another person’s spirit. But aside from that, an unbeliever cannot judge or discern the mind of God directly from the believer. It is only as that believer is used by the Spirit to transmit the things of the Spirit to the unbeliever that any good comes. We can see how this cautions us against thinking that we have been put into a position of power over the souls of men. The apostles were careful to disclaim any authority of their own as they served the Lord. The apostle Peter made clear that the healing of the lame man was not accomplished by his own ability. “Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? Or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”, Acts 3:12. When Paul and Barnabas healed a lame man, the heathen men around thought them to be gods, and the apostles had to protest that they were but “men of like passions with you”, Acts 14:15.

2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.

For who hath known the mind of the Lord- we now learn why the statements of verse 15 are so, which is why this verse begins with “for”, as the apostle explains the reason. In the original Greek text, there are two questions here. Question 1, “who hath known the mind of the Lord? Question 2, “who may instruct Him”. As to the first question, it very easily and very obviously can only be given the answer “No-one”. The statement is an allusion to Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 40:13, where he is pointing out the superiority of God’s knowledge to man’s. In the context, Isaiah is referring to the wisdom of God in creation, whereas in 1 Corinthians 2 the thought is that of the communication of spiritual truths. Just as no mere man can understand the wisdom of God in creation, so no man is able to fathom the mind of God in regard to spiritual things. This is true even of apostles, for they had not thought it up, (it “had not entered into the heart of man”, verse 9); they had not read it in the Old Testament, (“eye hath not seen”); nor had they heard fellow-apostles discussing it, (“ear hath not heard”).

So the unbeliever cannot judge or investigate the mind of the believer and discover the mind of God, for that believer is not able, unaided, to know the things of God. The believer knows because God has revealed the truth to him, and not because he has in himself the ability to know. How much less is an unbeliever able to know God’s mind!  That he may instruct Him?  We come now to the second question, which asks whether a man is able to instruct God. These questions are being asked not so that we may have a long discussion as to what the answer is, but to show that the answer is obvious. A person who instructs another must at least have the same amount of knowledge as he does. By this means he is able to suggest new ways in which their common knowledge may be applied. No one is able to carry out this procedure in regard to God. He needs no instruction from another, for He knows fully every permutation and possibility there is. These things being so, we can neither penetrate the Divine mind, nor draw alongside of God to counsel Him as an equal. Which suggest to us a question of our own. How then can we know the mind of Christ so as to know the truth of God? The answer is found in the last sentence of the chapter.  But we have the mind of Christ- starting with “but” as it does, this expression presents to us the answer to the problem posed by the previous two statements. It is important to notice that throughout the passage, “we” has referred to the apostles, as the agents through whom Divine wisdom is communicated. We now find the apostle using the word “we” with emphasis. As if to say, “We, and we alone, in the first instance, have the mind of Christ”. We notice the use of the title Christ here, signifying, as it does, one who is anointed of the Spirit of God, the Greek word christos meaning anointed. This emphasises His special relationship to the Holy Spirit when it comes to the communication of Divine truth. (The name Son of God emphasises His special relationship with the Father in the display of Divine attributes). The Spirit of God was sent forth by the Son and the Father in order that the special truths relevant to this present age might be made known. The words of the Lord Jesus were these, “But the comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you”, John 14:26. So the Spirit would remind them of things they already knew, and enable them to record them infallibly. But there is more, for later the Lord Jesus said, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come”, John 16:13. So it is that the truths of Christianity were infallibly passed on to us by the apostles because they were guided into all truth by the Spirit of God. In this sense they may be said to have the mind of Christ, for they have insight into His thoughts, which are the thoughts of one who is truly God, and yet who also has become man so that we may know God through Him.

These things being so, we should be careful to take note of the writings of the apostles, for they convey infallibly to us the mind of Christ. By such means Divine wisdom is imparted to us, and we may enjoy the things of God. Let us continue steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, Acts 2:42, and not be tempted to try to bring men the truth of God by worldly means.