1 Corinthians 2:11-16

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.[a]
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,
16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”[b]But we have the mind of Christ.

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1 Corinthians 2:11-16 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO 1 CORINTHIANS 2

The apostle, in this chapter, pursues the same argument as before, that the Gospel needed not the wisdom and art of men: this he illustrates by his own example; and then he extols the Gospel above all the wisdom of men; and observes how it comes to be made known to men, even by the Spirit of God: hence it follows, that it is to be taught in his words, and not in the words of men; and that it can be only known and judged of by the spiritual, and not by the natural man. He instances in himself, and in his own ministry, when at Corinth, where he preached the Gospel in a plain and simple manner, without using the ornaments of speech, and human wisdom, 1Co 2:1 his reason was, because he had determined with himself to preach not himself, but a crucified Christ, 1Co 2:2. His manner of behaviour is more largely declared, 1Co 2:3 that he was so far from being elated with his human literature, and priding himself with that, and making use of it in an ostentatious way, that he was attended with much weakness, fear, and trembling; and his discourses were not adorned with the flowers of rhetoric, but were delivered with the power, evidence, and demonstration of the Spirit, 1Co 2:4. And his end and view in this method of preaching were, that the faith of his hearers should not be ascribed to human wisdom, but to a divine power, 1Co 2:5 but lest the Gospel should be thought meanly and contemptibly of, because of the plain dress in which it appeared, the apostle affirms it to be the highest wisdom, as those who had the most perfect knowledge of it could attest; a wisdom superior to the wisdom of this world, or of its princes, since that comes to nothing, 1Co 2:6 the excellency of which he expresses by various epithets, as the wisdom of God, mysterious wisdom, hidden wisdom, ancient wisdom, ordained before the world began, for the glory of the saints, 1Co 2:7 a wisdom unknown to the princes of the world, who otherwise would not have been concerned in the crucifixion of Christ, 1Co 2:8 and that this far exceeds the capacity of men, and could never have been found out by them, he proves, 1Co 2:9 by a testimony out of Isa 64:4 and then proceeds to show how it comes to be known by any of the sons of men, that it is by the revelation of the Spirit of God, 1Co 2:10 which is illustrated by the nature of the spirit of man within him, which only knows the things of a man; so in like manner only the Spirit of God knows the things of God, and can make them known to others, 1Co 2:11. And in this way he observes, that he and others became acquainted with these things; namely, by receiving not the spirit of the world, which at most could only have taught them the wisdom of the world, but the Spirit of God, whereby they knew their interest in the blessings of free grace, published in the Gospel, 1Co 2:12. And seeing the Gospel is made known by the Spirit of God, it should be delivered, not in the words of man's wisdom, but in the words of the Holy Spirit, as the apostle affirms he and other ministers did deliver it, returning to his former argument, 1Co 2:13. And also it follows from hence, that the things of the Gospel, which the Spirit reveals, cannot be known and received by the natural man, who has no discerning of them, and so no value for them, 1Co 2:14 and can only be discerned, judged, and approved of by spiritual men, 1Co 2:15 and who are not to be judged by natural and carnal men, because they have not the mind of Christ, and so cannot instruct them; but spiritual men have it, such as the apostle and others, 1Co 2:16.

apostle gives of himself is occasioned, either by what he had said in the latter part of the preceding chapter, concerning the choice God has made of the foolish, weak, base, and despicable things of the world, and of his calling them by his grace both to fellowship with the saints in common, and therefore he accommodated his ministry unto them, and in particular to the ministry of the word, of which he himself was a like instance and an example; or else by what he had declared in 1Co 1:17 of the same chapter, that he was sent to preach the Gospel,

\\not with wisdom of words\\; which he here reassumes, and affirms agreeably, that when he first came to Corinth, he

\\came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom\\; for though he was not only versed in Jewish learning, being brought up at the feet of Gamaliel; but had also a good share of Grecian literature, and was capable, upon proper occasions, to cite the Greek poets, as he does Aratus, Ac 17:28 and Menander, Tit 1:12,13 and so could, had he thought fit, have adorned his discourses with pompous language, with the flowers of rhetoric, and the eloquence of the Grecians; yet he chose not such a high and florid style, and which savoured so much of human wisdom and art; for the subject he treated of required no such dress, nor any great swelling words of vanity, or a bombast style to set it off, and gain the applause and assent of men: for what he delivered were plain matters of fact, attested by God himself,

\\declaring unto you the testimony of God\\; that is, the Gospel, which bears a testimony to the love, grace, and mercy of God, his kindness and good will to the sons of men, in giving and sending his only begotten Son to be the Saviour and Redeemer of them; and in which God bears a testimony of his Son, of his sonship, deity, mediation, incarnation, obedience, sufferings, and death, of his resurrection, ascension to heaven, session at his right hand, intercession for his people, and his second coming to judgment, and of eternal life and salvation by him. All which being matter of fact, and depending upon the witness of God, which is greater than that of men, needed no art nor oratory of men to recommend it: it was enough in plain words, and easy language, to declare it, with the evidence by which it was supported. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, read, "the mystery" of God: and so the Syriac version ahlad azr, "the mystery of God" one of Stephens's copies reads, "the mystery of Christ"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "the testimony of Christ". 05252

1 Corinthians 2:11-16 In-Context

9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him—
10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.
11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.
12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.
14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.
15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,
16 for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?”But we have the mind of Christ.

Cross References 10

  • 1. Jeremiah 17:9
  • 2. Proverbs 20:27
  • 3. Romans 8:15
  • 4. 1 Corinthians 1:20,27; James 2:5
  • 5. ver 1,4; 1 Corinthians 1:17
  • 6. John 14:17
  • 7. S 1 Corinthians 1:18
  • 8. 1 Corinthians 3:1; Galatians 6:1
  • 9. Isaiah 40:13; S Romans 11:34
  • 10. John 15:15

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual"
  • [b]. Isaiah 40:13