1 Corinthians 2

Paul's Reliance upon the Spirit

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I 1did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you 2the testimony of God.
2 For I determined to know nothing * among you except 3Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.
3 I was with you in 4weakness and in 5fear and in much trembling,
4 and my message and my preaching were 6not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of 7the Spirit and of power,
5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on 8the power of God.
6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are 9mature; a wisdom, however, not of 10this age nor of the rulers of 11this age, who are 12passing away;
7 but we speak God's wisdom in a 13mystery, the hidden wisdom which God 14predestined before the 15ages to our glory;
8 the wisdom 16which none of the rulers of 17this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified 18the Lord of glory;
10 20For to us God revealed them 21through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the 22depths of God.
11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the 23spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.
12 Now we 24have received, not the spirit of 25the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,
13 which things we also speak, 26not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
14 But a 27natural man 28does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are 29foolishness to him; and he cannot * understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
15 But he who is 30spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.
16 For 31WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But 32 we have the mind of Christ.

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1 Corinthians 2 Commentary

Chapter 2

The plain manner in which the apostle preached Christ crucified. (1-5) The wisdom contained in this doctrine. (6-9) It cannot be duly known but by the Holy Spirit. (10-16)

Verses 1-5 Christ, in his person, and offices, and sufferings, is the sum and substance of the gospel, and ought to be the great subject of a gospel minister's preaching, but not so as to leave out other parts of God's revealed truth and will. Paul preached the whole counsel of God. Few know the fear and trembling of faithful ministers, from a deep sense of their own weakness They know how insufficient they are, and are fearful for themselves. When nothing but Christ crucified is plainly preached, the success must be entirely from Divine power accompanying the word, and thus men are brought to believe, to the salvation of their souls.

Verses 6-9 Those who receive the doctrine of Christ as Divine, and, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, have looked well into it, see not only the plain history of Christ, and him crucified, but the deep and admirable designs of Divine wisdom therein. It is the mystery made manifest to the saints, Col. 1:26 , though formerly hid from the heathen world; it was only shown in dark types and distant prophecies, but now is revealed and made known by the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is the Lord of glory; a title much too great for any creature. There are many things which people would not do, if they knew the wisdom of God in the great work of redemption. There are things God hath prepared for those that love him, and wait for him, which sense cannot discover, no teaching can convey to our ears, nor can it yet enter our hearts. We must take them as they stand in the Scriptures, as God hath been pleased to reveal them to us.

Verses 10-16 God has revealed true wisdom to us by his Spirit. Here is a proof of the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, 2Pe. 1:21 . In proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, observe, that he knows all things, and he searches all things, even the deep things of God. No one can know the things of God, but his Holy Spirit, who is one with the Father and the Son, and who makes known Divine mysteries to his church. This is most clear testimony, both to the real Godhead and the distinct person of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were not guided by worldly principles. They had the revelation of these things from the Spirit of God, and the saving impression of them from the same Spirit. These things they declared in plain, simple language, taught by the Holy Spirit, totally different from the affected oratory or enticing words of man's wisdom. The natural man, the wise man of the world, receives not the things of the Spirit of God. The pride of carnal reasoning is really as much opposed to spirituality, as the basest sensuality. The sanctified mind discerns the real beauties of holiness, but the power of discerning and judging about common and natural things is not lost. But the carnal man is a stranger to the principles, and pleasures, and actings of the Divine life. The spiritual man only, is the person to whom God gives the knowledge of his will. How little have any known of the mind of God by natural power! And the apostles were enabled by his Spirit to make known his mind. In the Holy Scriptures, the mind of Christ, and the mind of God in Christ, are fully made known to us. It is the great privilege of Christians, that they have the mind of Christ revealed to them by his Spirit. They experience his sanctifying power in their hearts, and bring forth good fruits in their lives.

Cross References 32

  • 1. 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:4, 13
  • 2. 1 Corinthians 2:7
  • 3. 1 Corinthians 1:23; Galatians 6:14
  • 4. 1 Corinthians 4:10; 2 Corinthians 11:30; 2 Corinthians 12:5, 9; 2 Corinthians 13:9
  • 5. Isaiah 19:16; 2 Corinthians 7:15; Ephesians 6:5
  • 6. 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 13
  • 7. Romans 15:19; 1 Corinthians 4:20
  • 8. 2 Corinthians 4:7; 2 Corinthians 6:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9
  • 9. Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:15; Hebrews 5:14; Hebrews 6:1
  • 10. Matthew 13:22; 1 Corinthians 1:20
  • 11. Matthew 13:22; 1 Corinthians 1:20
  • 12. 1 Corinthians 1:28
  • 13. Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:1
  • 14. Romans 8:29
  • 15. Hebrews 1:2; Hebrews 11:3
  • 16. 1 Corinthians 1:26; 1 Corinthians 2:6
  • 17. Matthew 13:22; 1 Corinthians 1:20
  • 18. Acts 7:2; James 2:1
  • 19. Isaiah 64:4; Isaiah 65:17
  • 20. Matthew 11:25; Matthew 13:11; Matthew 16:17; Galatians 1:12; Ephesians 3:3, 5
  • 21. John 14:26
  • 22. Romans 11:33f
  • 23. Proverbs 20:27
  • 24. Romans 8:15
  • 25. 1 Corinthians 1:27
  • 26. 1 Corinthians 1:17; 1 Corinthians 2:1, 4
  • 27. 1 Corinthians 15:44, 46; James 3:15; Jude 19 mg
  • 28. John 14:17
  • 29. 1 Corinthians 1:18
  • 30. 1 Corinthians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 14:37; Galatians 6:1
  • 31. Isaiah 40:13; Romans 11:34
  • 32. John 15:15

Footnotes 7

Chapter Summary


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 Commentaries

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