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 1 Corinthians Chapter Two

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter Two    Sun May 27, 2012 8:05 pm

1 Corinthians Chapter 2

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

On this note, Paul made his transition to a third point in his illustration of the futility of human wisdom, compared with the power and wisdom of God. That was seen also in the manner of his ministry which he described as characterized by weakness and fear and with much trembling (1Co_2:3). Paul is explaining to them, here, that it was not because he was a great orator that they received the message of the Lord Jesus Christ. The message was pure and simple. The message was Jesus and He crucified. Paul was a learned scholar, but that was more of a hindrance than a help, in this particular case.
“Testimony of God”: This was not Paul’s testimony of God, but God’s testimony of Himself (namely, “the Cross”).
This phrase simply describe a spirit of dependence and subjection to God’s authority (cf. Eph_6:5; Php_2:12), which marked his ministry. It was also true that his manner of preaching was unimpressive from a human point of view (2Co_10:10). Paul readily admitted this and even used it as a point in his argument. His preaching was not marked by eloquence or persuasive words such as characterized the sophists, the traveling teachers of that day, but was instead the unembellished message of a crucified Christ as the only means of salvation. “I determined” (literally, “I decided”): The implication is that Paul gave careful thought to his approach, and resolved to lay aside the ornaments of speech and philosophical skill to announce Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Paul’s message and method reflected divine wisdom.
Paul was not interested in their standing in the community or their education. The only way that Paul separated them was those who believe and those who do not believe.
Though Paul expounded the whole counsel of God to the church and taught the Corinthians the Word of God, the focus of his preaching and teaching to unbelievers was Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty for sin on the cross. Until someone understands and believes the gospel, there is nothing more to say to them. The preaching of the cross was so dominant in the early church that believers were accused of worshiping a dead man. Many Bible scholars believe that this was saying that Paul had a nervous disorder. Some type of nervous disturbance in His brain. I really do not believe this is what Paul is saying here.
“Weakness…fear…trembling”. Paul came to Corinth after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi, run out of Thessalonica and Berea, and scoffed at in Athens, so he may have been physically weak. But in that weakness, he was most powerful. There were no theatrics or techniques to manipulate people’s response. His fear and shaking were because of the seriousness of his mission.

Faith, then, was induced by a demonstration of the Spirit’s power and was not a product of human ingenuity or rhetorical flourish. I love Paul saying, here, that his preaching was a demonstration of the power and the Spirit of God in him. In other words, he is saying that the Holy Spirit of God is speaking through him. Paul is fully aware, as we should be, that a message he might come up with on his own might not be the one God would have him to bring. He has turned his tongue and his mouth over to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is speaking through Paul. Paul wanted to be sure their faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. Our faith should not be based on mankind, but should be placed in the power of God. It is not up to men to judge whether your faith is what it should be or not: it is up to God.
1 Corinthians 2:6

In Paul’s disclaimer about his own brilliance he did not mean that God puts a premium on ignorance and rejects wisdom of any sort. There was a wisdom taught by the Spirit which Paul wanted his readers to grasp firmly. Some of his readers had done so (no doubt Paul hoped that someday all would do so). He referred to them as the mature, probably including the individuals mentioned in 1Co_16:15-18. They are the same people he described as spiritual people (1Co_2:13, 1Co_2:15). “Perfect” refers to the morally and spiritually mature. (Genuine believers) Paul cannot resist the use of irony here. In verse 4 he denies the use of wisdom; now he admits to using it, buy only among those capable of comprehending and appreciating it (namely, the perfect).
We know that the Lord Jesus spoke in parables, so that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not hear. He did not want the world to come to Him with their mind, so He taught in parables so that only His own would understand through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The reason the rulers of this age (cf. 1Co_1:20) did not understand this wisdom was because they lacked the Spirit (1Co_2:14), and thus were coming to nothing.
1 Corinthians 2:7

The message which Paul proclaimed was God’s secret wisdom, known only by God’s revelation (Mat_11:25). At the heart of this wisdom is the plan of salvation intended for our glory, determined before time began (Eph_1:4). “In a mystery”: In may be instrumental (i.e., “by a mystery”), modal (“in the form of a mystery”), or local (“hidden in a mystery”). Mystery refers to some work or purpose of God unrevealed until now (Romans 16:25-26). In this case, the reference is to the “hidden wisdom”, which God ordained…unto our glory. The purpose of God concerning our salvation was designed by God from eternity and is directed toward the everlasting glory that believers will enjoy in His presence.
We do know that Jesus revealed this “mystery” to the believers. Let me share a couple of Scriptures that will help us understand.
Colossians 1:26-27 "[Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:" "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"
Paul is saying that the very thing they are calling folly is in, fact, and the greatest wisdom. This is wisdom of God that He has revealed through the Holy Spirit of God to those who are His followers.
1 Corinthians 2:8

As did John in his Gospel (Joh_17:1), Paul linked glory with the crucified Lord, an utter paradox to both Jews and Gentiles (1Co_1:23) who nonetheless unwittingly (Luk_23:34) took part in that central act of God’s plan of salvation. “Princes of this world”: The crucifixion is proof that the rulers/Jewish religious leaders lacked wisdom. This is saying; that if they had known for sure who Jesus was, they would not have crucified Him.
A little knowledge of the Word of God is a dangerous thing. If you truly get into the study of the Bible, stay with it. To learn just a little will tend to confuse you. You need an overall view of the Bible, before you start deciding what is right and what is wrong. Let the Word {itself} teach you.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

The blessings of salvation were prepared by the Father, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Spirit (Eph_1:3-14) to all believers who as a result love God (1Jn_4:19). In our wildest imagination, we cannot come up with the wonderful things the Lord has stored up for us.
Isaiah 64:4 "For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him."
These words from Isaiah refer to the wisdom God has prepared for believers. God’s truth is not discoverable by eye or ear (objective empirical evidence), nor is it discovered by the mind (subjective, rational conclusions).
This scripture also shows the harmony of the Old Testament with the New Testament.
The only way the Corinthians could know this was by the Spirit, who knows and reveals these deep things of God about salvation. The Holy Spirit that we receive is the earnest of greater things to come. We are not like the rest of the world, if we are believers; we have hope of the resurrection. We are not a permanent resident of this earth, if we are a Christian.
“Revealed…unto us”: Unto us is in the emphatic position in Greek, emphasizing the enormous privilege granted the recipients of divine revelation. The magnificent treasure of God’s revealed truth is accessible to the mature believer.
By the Holy Spirit, God disclosed His saving truth. (Matt. 11:25; 13:10-13). The Spirit alone was qualified because He knows all that God knows, Himself being God.
As with the “we’s” in verses 6, 7, 12, and 13, Paul is, first of all, speaking of himself (as in John 14:26; 15:26-27 and, in a sense, of believers who have been given the Word as recorded by the apostles and their associates who wrote the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 2:11

Paul illustrated this by pointing out that nobody can fully fathom the thoughts of anyone else. How much more necessary, then, is the work of the Spirit if the thoughts of God are to be known. It is not possible for man of flesh to fully understand God who is Spirit. We know as much of God as the Holy Spirit of God has revealed unto us.
Verse 11 deals with the doctrine of illumination (a condition of spiritual awareness; divine illumination; "follow God's light"), having to do with human understanding of divine truth.
This is saying that it is not possible for man to know what is in another’s heart. Only the Spirit of God knows that.
It is not possible for man of flesh to fully understand God who is Spirit. We know as much of God as the Holy Spirit of God has revealed unto each of us individually.
1 Corinthians 2:12

It was for that purpose, in part, that the Spirit who is from God came (Joh_16:13), not just to some Christians but to all (1Co_12:13). The subject of verses 12 and 13 is the doctrine of inspiration. In verse 12 Paul talks about the content of inspiration. In verse 13 his concern is with the communication of inspiration.
The “we” and “us” refer to the apostles and other writers of the Word of God. The means was inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20-21), by which God freely gave the gift of His Word. It was this process of inspiration that turned the spiritual thoughts into spiritual words (verse 13) to give life (Matt. 4:4).
The Spirit of God has brought unto us life, if we are Christians. We are heirs according to the promise of God if we are believers. The New Testament is the last will and testament of Jesus Christ and it reveals to us what our inheritance is, if we are Christians.
1 Corinthians 2:13

It was this message of salvation which Paul proclaimed and now expounded further. It did not originate in man but in God and was taught by the Spirit. Paul then expressed these spiritual truths which were a message of wisdom (cf. 1Co_2:6). The Greek word pneumatikois may be neuter gender and so translated spiritual words as in the NIV (“expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words”). Or it may be masculine gender and translated “spiritual men” (“interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men,” as in the NIV margin). Both senses are possible, but Paul’s primary point in this passage was not how the message of wisdom was received but who received it, as suggested by the context: Paul spoke the message of wisdom to “the mature” (1Co_2:6). Thus 1Co_2:13 parallels 1Co_2:6 and forms a kind of bracket, in keeping with well-written Greek style. This, perhaps, is speaking of the things that the Holy Ghost reveals to man. Physical eyes cannot see into the Spirit. That is why so many times people read the Bible and do not understand what it is saying. The Holy Spirit of God {our school teacher} has to teach us the meaning, or we do not understand. The spiritual things are so far above this earth that they can only be understood by the Holy Spirit. We will find, as we go on in these lessons, that it is the spirit of man that Jesus quickens, not the flesh of man.
“Comparing spiritual things with spiritual”: The term comparing occurs only here and in 2 Cor. 10:12 where the meaning is clearly “compare”. However, in classical Greek, the term was always used in a sense of “to compound” or “to interpret.” Probably the most satisfactory interpretation is “combining spiritual things with spiritual words.” After speaking of spiritual “things,” (verses 11-13), Paul now speaks of the “forms” in which they are conveyed. Spiritual truth is conveyed in language that is given by God’s Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14

Since only spiritual people are able to receive spiritual truths, it follows that the man without the Spirit, an unregenerate person, would not and could not receive the message of wisdom regardless of his intellectual abilities or accomplishments (1Co_1:20). Like a deaf critic of Bach or a blind critic of Raphael is the unregenerate critic of God’s Word. The natural man looks with physical eyes and understands with a carnal mind, so he does not understand the Spirit at all. The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is {if we are true believers} teaches us the things of the Spirit. The physical {carnal} man believes only what he can see, touch, or taste. The spiritual man understands secrets that cannot be seen, touched, or tasted.
The natural man looks with physical eyes and understands with a carnal mind, so he does not understand the Spirit at all. The Holy Spirit which dwells in us is {if we are true believers} teaches us the things of the Spirit. The physical {carnal} man believes only what he can see, touch, or taste. The spiritual man understands secrets that cannot be seen, touched, or tasted.
“Natural man”: (Literally, “unspiritual man”) is unreceptive. He does not admit the truth into his heart. (Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; 11:1; James 1:21). As spiritual discernment is generated only by the Holy Spirit, the capacity to know spiritual truth is beyond the innate powers of the natural man.
“Spiritually discerned”: The fundamental idea of discerned is that of “examination” or “scrutiny”. It is used only by Paul and Luke, and mostly of “judicial examination” (Luke 23:14); Acts 4:9; 1 Cor 9:3; 10:25 and 10:27). On the spiritual plane, the natural man does not have the ability to sift the facts.
1 Corinthians 2:15-16

On the other hand a person possessing the Spirit and guided by Him is able to evaluate and apply all things the Spirit reveals (1Co_2:10).
The spiritual man can be judged only by God (1Co_4:3-5), not by unregenerate people (1Co_2:15) or by worldly Christians (1Co_3:1-3). Obviously, unbelievers are able to recognize Christian’s faults and shortcoming; but they are not able to evaluate their true nature as spiritual people who have been transformed into children of God.
I believe that this is speaking of a man who has been baptized with the Holy Spirit of God and has the gift of discernment. We must try the Spirits and see whether they are of God or not. We do not judge people lost or saved, but we do make judgments on the actions of people.
Jesus is the final Judge of all. The only Judge the Christian will stand before is Jesus and those making carnal judgments about you should not affect you at all.
The difference between the natural man and the spiritual man is primarily that the spiritual man has founded his faith on God’s revelation. He can judge now both earthly and heavenly things. He can discern what is and what is not of the gospel and salvation, and whether a man truly preaches the truth of God.
To have the mind of Christ is to be obedient to God’s revelation (Php_2:5-Cool, as were the spiritual people in the Corinthian church. Saying that we have the mind of Christ just means that He has revealed to us His will. In the following Scriptures there is an even better description of what I am trying to say.
John 15:15 "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you."
John 16:13 "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 shew you things to come."
“We have the mind of Christ”: means that Christians possess the Lord’s own understanding, that is, His thoughts, opinions, judgments, plans, and so on. This answers the question that Paul puts in the same verse, “who hath known the mind of the Lords?”The answer is, “We do!” The term we includes the apostle Paul and to some extent all true believers, though believers today are prudent to acknowledge the superiority of apostolic insight into spiritual matters to that of their own.
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1 Corinthians Chapter Two
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