1 Corinthians 2:16


Sunday, 20 April 2014

For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

In Isaiah 40, the Lord puts forth a series of rhetorical questions for us to consider. Paul uses the thought of Isaiah 40:13 to close out this chapter of 1 Corinthians –

“Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?”

The answer is that no one can know the thoughts of the Lord unless He reveals them to us. As he said in verse 11, “Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.” Because no one can know the things of God unless God reveals them to us, then without Him doing so, we are left with the most important questions of all unanswered and unknowable. Further, because He is God and thus the Source of all wisdom, no one can instruct Him. He alone is the bearer of all wisdom and knowledge. That wisdom and knowledge which we possess is only that which has been made available through His creation, of which we are a part.

Therefore, there is an infinite gap between the two unless the Spirit of God reveals His mind to us. And He has done so through the Person and testimony of Jesus Christ. The Lord (Jehovah) of the Old Testament is revealed in Him, so that by the Spirit of God “we have the mind of Christ.” In other words, Paul is tying the Lord (Jehovah) directly to the Person of Jesus; they are One. Because the Spirit of God has spoken through the prophets and apostles, whose words are now provided in the Bible, and because we have received Christ and understand that the Bible is speaking of God’s work in Him, the mystery is revealed. We have the mind of Christ.

The People’s New Testament sums up Chapter 2 this way –

“Two things are learned from this chapter: (1) There is a divine wisdom or philosophy. (2) This divine wisdom, or mystery, is an absurdity or perplexity to the world, but the wisdom of God to the saints.”

It should be repeated that though we have “the mind of Christ,” this doesn’t mean we automatically have all of it in its fullness. It means that it is available to us. It is up to each of us to study, contemplate, and meditate on the word of God. God’s revelation to us isn’t with a “spiritual hypodermic needle.” It is the Bible. This is where our instruction is to be derived from.

One other point of note concerning chapter 2 is that Paul began it by highlighting his ministry as one which proclaimed Christ and Him crucified. It wasn’t with elegant words to woo his audience, nor was it with persuasive words. It was in direct and simple language which accurately and responsibly handled God’s word. Let each preacher of the Bible put away the frills and the fluff and focus on God’s Word!

Would I describe a preacher,
* * * *
I would express him simple, grave, sincere;
In doctrine uncorrupt; in language plain,
And plain in manner; decent, solemn, chaste,
And natural in gesture; much impress’d
Himself, as conscious of his awful charge,
And anxious mainly that the flock he feeds
May feel it too; affectionate in look,
And tender in address, as well becomes
A messenger of grace to guilty men.

William Cowper, The Task (1785)

Life application: To have the mind of Christ is to know Christ, but to have it in its fullness is to know the word which speaks of Him. Know your Bible.

O Precious God Almighty – use me to Your glory, keep me from bringing dishonor upon Your name, and lead me in paths of righteousness all my days – for Your name’s sake. With these things, You will be glorified, those around me will be edified, and I… I Lord will be satisfied. For Your name’s sake and to Your glory, this I pray. Amen.



1 Corinthians 2:15


Saturday, 19 April 2014

But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 1 Corinthians 2:15

Again as before, care must be exercised in considering this verse. It is not an absolute that everyone who has called on Christ has the ability to judge all things rightly. Not every “every” in the Bible is an absolute and not all “alls” in the Bible are either. They are often general statements which are applied to biblical truths. This is perfectly evident by reading commentaries on any given verse, including this one. The amount of disagreement on what is meant by Paul reflects the certainty that the Holy Spirit doesn’t externally inject us with the knowledge necessary to make right spiritual judgments.

What the Holy Spirit does do is give us the ability, for the first time in our lives, to look into the wisdom of God from a spiritual perspective. What once was nonsense and foolishness now is understandable in a different way. We may not have, and no one certainly possesses, all the knowledge that is presented in the Bible, but we do have the spiritual ability to learn it in the way in which God intended. Unfortunately, there are many hindrances to right spiritual discernment. Some are:

1) Pride. We may have learned something in our biblical schooling and despite being presented with overwhelming evidence to the contrary, we remain close-minded to the truth lest we appear to look foolish.

2) Lack of proper study. The more one reads the Bible and studies it, the more it weaves into a unified whole in our minds. We begin to perceive macro and micro structures which are contained throughout its pages. But this is hard, time-consuming, and often tiring work.

3) Personal bias. We may have a presupposition about a matter (dispensationalism vs. preterism, for example) and we may find it impossible to overcome the mental barrier because of how we perceive God’s working in the world.

4) Source of authority bias. We may accept a source of authority concerning our understanding of the Bible which then affects our entire view of how to approach its truths. Roman Catholicism claims that the papacy is the authority on Bible interpretation. If we accept that, then we will follow in lock-step with whatever they say. This is true with others as well, including cults.

For these and other reasons, our ability to spiritually judge all things may be skewed from what God intends for us to see. Despite this, Paul continues with the thought that one who is able to view the Bible from its proper spiritual perspective, that person “is rightly judged by no one.” The one who has accepted Christ and is viewing Scripture from that perspective is, at least in the overall sense, coming at it from the proper perspective. If a non-believer comes along and attempts to refute their interpretation of the Bible which is presented from this spiritual perspective, they will obviously be incorrect in their judgment of them.

How can someone who isn’t in Christ judge someone who is in Christ concerning their knowledge of the source of their faith (meaning the words of the Bible given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) which they themselves don’t accept? It would make no sense. It would be like an artist arguing with a mathematician about calculations in numbers because the numbers were the wrong color. It would make no sense because it is a category mistake. The color of a number (if written) is irrelevant to the content of the calculation because the substance of what numbers represent has nothing to do with color.

The same is true with the Bible. The substance of the Bible is spiritual in nature. To argue concerning the Bible apart from its spiritual message is a category mistake and therefore, the non-spiritual person cannot judge the spiritual interpretation of God’s word.

Life application: Although there are differing views on the meaning and intent of scriptural verses and passages, ultimately, they must be viewed from the spiritual perspective intended by God. Only a person viewing them from such a perspective will be able to rightly deduce the true meaning of the passage. But competence, study, and prayer are needed. We cannot assume we have pure knowledge of Scripture without much effort and the accompaniment of the Spirit’s illumination.

Heavenly Father, a warm shower revives my weary body after a day of hard work. A bite of food gives me strength to re-engage my duties. A friendly smile or a word of encouragement  enlivens me and gives me stamina to meet the foes of the world. All of these are a part of Your creation, given as gifts of Your love. If these things are such a help, how much more heartening is the Source of them… how much more wonderful is Your fellowship than all other things. How my soul longs for You, the Living God. Amen.



1 Corinthians 2:14


Friday, 18 April 2014

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 1 Corinthians 2:14

This is another highly abused verse within common Christian speech. It needs to be viewed from within the context given and with reasonable contemplation. Far too often, Christians will cite it as a demonstration of the impossibility of a non-believer being able to know, understand, or perceive anything found in the Bible. Likewise, they will cite it to demonstrate that they have access to all knowledge and are therefore authorities on the subject matter they desire to speak of. Both of these are immense misinterpretations of Paul’s intent.

He has been speaking of the contrast between human wisdom and the wisdom of God (which is the work of God in Jesus Christ). He has demonstrated that His work – the cross, the resurrection, etc. is God’s plan of salvation, something which is “foolishness” to those who reject this plan. To support this, he begins with “but.” This is given as the contrast to those things “which the Holy Spirit teaches.” The contrast is that “the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man is the Greek term psychikos de anthropos. The word psychikos is descriptive of the natural or lower aspect of humanity. It is earthly rather than heavenly. The word pneumatikos on the other hand is used to describe the spiritual aspect of man.

A great comparison of these two words is found in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul describes the contrast between the earthly and the spiritual man. In James’ epistle, he uses the term to describe earthly wisdom –

“This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic.” James 3:15

Jude speaks in similar terms as well. Understanding that this is a state of the person, it should be noted that there are many Christians who act anything but spiritual. They have accepted Christ, but they aren’t focused on Him as Lord through much of their walk. This is exactly what James is talking about in his letter. Therefore, Paul’s words here cannot be taken as an example that Christians suddenly become the possessors of all spiritual knowledge, nor can it be used to say that non-believers have no ability to discern the contents of the Bible.

Instead, and what should be perfectly clear from the context, is that Paul is speaking of the very same matter he has been speaking of throughout the chapter (and even in the previous chapter). It is that the wisdom of God is displayed in the work of Jesus Christ. This is God’s special revelation concerning the redemptive process. Those who believe that one can answer all things through natural revelation (what can be perceived through creation), logic, and philosophy will inevitably reject the work of Jesus. To them it is foolishness that God would save people in such a way as this.

This is what Paul is referring to. Such things “are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Only through the spiritual knowledge imparted to us by God can we know the truth of the gospel. The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophets and apostles, testifying to the work of Jesus Christ. They in turn gave us the Bible to read, accept, and believe.

The problem with misinterpreting this verse as many people do, is that they suddenly act upon it as if they have all the spiritual insight they need and it is available to them by daily injections of Holy Spirit power. When in fact, what they have available to them is the Bible – given by the Holy Spirit. The Bible, however, is a big, complicated, and often hard to grasp book. It takes immense study, contemplation, meditation, and care to fully grasp – and in fact, no one can truly plumb its depths.

Study is hard work and it involves expanding one’s mind, even to exhaustion. It is time-consuming and it requires much perseverance and dedication. These things are not now, nor have they ever been, very popular. Interestingly, many non-Christians – Jews, agnostics, and even professing atheists, know the Bible far better than most Christians. They discern many truths from it and they use it as a valuable source of knowledge and history. Because of this, it is obvious that Paul isn’t speaking on the terms of general knowledge and ability to perceive Scripture. He is speaking on the truth of what Scripture ultimately proclaims – Jesus Christ crucified.

Life application: Care needs to be taken to always keep verses in their proper context. Sometimes a whole chapter, or even more, is needed to properly discern the intent of just one verse. Running ahead with a verse like 1 Corinthians 2:14 without keeping it in its intended context can only lead to a pretext. It is harmful to sound interpretation and it inevitably will lead to know-it-alls who actually know very little. Be patient, studious, and determined in your pursuit of Bible knowledge and understanding.

Lord, I am so thankful to You for Your word. Please grant to me the heart to never misuse it, misquote it, or mishandle it. Give me wisdom to apply all it’s truths to my life and to grow in my knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.



1 Corinthians 2:13


Thursday, 17 April 2014

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 1 Corinthians 2:13

Again, Paul continues to build on his previous thoughts. “These things” refers to the “the things that have been freely given to us by God” from the previous verse. The Spirit was upon the apostles, including Paul, for the reception of the word of God. In this, he shows that they were under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as they spoke out the message of Christ. Those words which were put to pen and compiled for us became the word of God, the Holy Bible.

It is this cherished book that is “not in words which man’s wisdom teaches.” No other book has its source directly in God. Instead they have their source in the created rather than the Creator; man’s wisdom is involved. But those prophets and apostles whose work is included in the Bible “spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

As “man’s wisdom” is excluded, only the truth of God remains. It is true that the styles of the  individual writers of the Bible come through, but each word was selected by God, moving harmoniously with the writer so that His perfect intent is realized. When a musician plays from a sheet of music, his style may come through, and yet the musical notes were each selected by the composer. If the musician is faithful to follow the score, then the style and intent of the composer will be known, despite who the musician is. So both the musician and the composer can be discerned at the same time.

If Eddie Van Halen were to play Bach, anyone who knew Van Halen’s style could say, “That is Eddie Van Halen.” At the same time, anyone who knew Bach’s writing style could say, “That was written by Bach.” In the Bible, man’s wisdom is excluded, but the words of the divine Author and the style of the human writer remains. Thus the Bible can be, and is, the word of God.

Finally, in Paul’s words today he says that this process is noted as “comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” This is an immensely complex phrase which is highly debated concerning its exact meaning. Many possibilities exist as to how Paul’s words are rightly translated. One possibility which seems appropriate based on the next verse would be “Explaining spiritual things to spiritual persons” (Adam Clarke). This will continue to be evaluated in  verse 14.

Life application: God’s word is sealed. The prophets and apostles have received God’s revelation which has been recorded for us and which is our guide for life and conduct as Christians. Extra-biblical revelation is not only unnecessary, it would be a diversion away from the very word which God has given us. Don’t be swayed by those who claim prophecies or “a word” from the Lord. The Lord has given us His word – did He somehow miss something? No!

Lord God, You have given us Your word; I will hold to it alone. You have sent Your Son to reveal You to us; I will look to Your Son. You have told us He is our One Mediator between us and You; I will pray through no other. Thank You for Your word which tells of Your love for us in Christ my Lord. And thank You for Christ my Lord. Amen.

1 Corinthians 2:12


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. 1 Corinthians 2:12

Paul just spoke of the Spirit of God being the only One who can truly know the things of God. Now he builds upon this, stating that “we have received.” In the original sense, he is surely writing about himself and the other apostles as they received instruction concerning the work of God in Christ (the very subject he has been speaking about). In other words, the reception of the things of God was limited to the apostles who have then given us what they received. Through them, this was revealed to those who accepted the message and believed. When faith is exercised in the true gospel, the believer is then sealed with “the Spirit who is from God;” the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14).

Therefore, Paul’s “we” is ultimately referring to all true believers. What we receive “is not the spirit of the world.” In this, he is probably thinking on two separate lines. The first is the Jew who was looking at the Scriptures from a worldly, kingly sense. Their idea of a Messiah was one who would deliver them from their enemies and set up a kingdom over the world in which they would be the head of the nations. They couldn’t understand that “all are bound under sin” and therefore sin is the greatest enemy. Before the Messiah could reign as King, He had to suffer as the Servant.

The second line Paul is probably speaking of is the wisdom and philosophy of the Greek which looked for a rational, natural explanation for all things. Their knowledge excluded the thought of sin needing to be dealt with by God personally. Such knowledge could never understand the deep things of God which necessitated His divine intervention to reconcile us to Him. Along with the wisdom of the Greek was certainly the inclusion of all of the gentile systems which always look to self and to works for reconciliation with God. In all, the “spirit of the world” is at enmity with God.

But in His grace, God provides His Spirit to those who believe “that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Again, as noted in previous verses, this is not speaking of divine inspiration of new things and prophetic utterances which people claim all the time in churches today. It is speaking about those things that were revealed through the apostles and given to us in Scripture. It is the word of God which tells of Jesus. Though lacking the sensation of charismatic churches, it is the Bible and only the Bible by which we are given insights into what God has done, is doing, and will do in the world. The apostles received the word directly from God; we receive the word directly from the Bible.

Life application: Ever since the completion of the Bible, people have continued to proclaim prophecies and claim that they have had dreams and visions concerning divine revelation from God. And yet, in those 2000 years, none of them have added anything of value to the truth of the Bible. Instead, they have been diversions away from biblical truth. Don’t get swept up in the vain imaginings of others, but hold fast to what God has revealed. What more does He need to say?

Lord, I trust in Your word alone to be my source of knowledge concerning You in all spiritual matters. Thank You for the Holy Bible. Amen.