Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 2:6 - 2:16

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 2:6 - 2:16


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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

III.—THE GOSPEL, WHICH ABJURES HUMAN WISDOM, HAS NEVERTHELESS A WISDOM OF ITS OWN

2:6–16

6Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom [a wisdom not] of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to naught: 7But we speak the wisdom of God [God’s wisdom] in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory; 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But 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. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For what man knoweth ( ïῖ ̓ äåí ) the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth [ ἔãíù÷åí ] no man, but the Spirit of God. 12Now 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. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost [the Spirit] teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But 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 [judged of]. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth [of] all things, yet he himself is judged of [by] no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

[In this section we have the other side of the matter under discussion. In view of Paul’s repudiation of “wisdom,” it might be inferred by the Corinthians that Christianity was a narrow, partial, one-sided religion, suited only to one particular portion of human nature; that while it professed to be the friend of true piety and sound morals, it was at the same time a foe to science and free thought; yea, that it stood in entire antagonism to that which both universal opinion and the declarations of the Old Testament esteemed “more precious than rubies,” and was the ally of ignorance and barbarism. Such inferences it was important to obviate for the credit of Christianity, and in the interest of truth. Hence the Apostle goes on to state that the Gospel, which ignored human wisdom, and in some of its aspects carried the appearance of folly, did not abjure all pretense to wisdom, nor put contempt on the human intellect. He shows furthermore that while he deemed it expedient to confine himself when with the Corinthians to simple preaching, there was a sermonizing which went beyond this, and before fit audience could expatiate largely on the deep things of God].

1Co_2:6. Wisdom however we do speak.—[The äÝ here as is in the E. V. is to be taken as strongly antithetic]. Óïößáí —the higher religious wisdom of Christianity. By this we are to understand not what merely concerns the form of discourse, such as an inspired way of speaking; nor yet what concerns its subject matter, such as the future relations and events of the Kingdom of the Messiah, to which the immediate context is said to point. (Meyer). The correct view has been given by Osiander, and Bengel says: “Wisdom here denotes not all Christian doctrine, but its sublime and secret principles (capita sublimia et arcana);” he also puts ëáëåῖí to speak, in antithesis with êçñýóóåéí to preach, making the former to mean private instruction and the latter public speaking. But his interpretation of the word “wisdom” is too atomistic, and of the word “speak” too restricted. There is no reference here to any system of secret doctrine. [What he does mean will be more fully considered hereafter, when all the characteristics given of it have been surveyed]. But traces of this true wisdom are to be seen in several of Paul’s Epistles, especially in those to the Romans, Ephesians and Colossians, also in 1 Corinthians 15. Its foundation is Christ (1:30; comp. Col_2:3).—among them that are perfect, ἐí ôïῖò ôåëåßïéò —the audience for this wisdom. The “perfect” stand opposed to the beginners, “the babes in Christ” (3:1), and are identical with “the spiritual.” He means that what he had not been able to deliver to the Corinthians in the immaturity of their Christian life, because they could not as yet apprehend it, he did announce among those of riper Christian experience. Thus we see that wisdom is the same as that which he calls “meat” (3:2) as contrasted with “milk.” The same antithesis appears in 14:20; Eph_4:13 ff.; Heb_5:11-14. To the Corinthians, as they were, he could only communicate what was suited to their yet weak powers of apprehension, viz., the great facts of redemption, with their immediate practical consequences, with their christological presuppositions and their theological foundations. And this was done in the simple form of preaching, or of bare statement that the things were so, or had been so, or would be so as declared, accompanied by Scripture proofs, such as are found in the book of Acts, and with applications to the inner and outward life of the hearers. But where, on the other hand, a greater maturity of Christian life and a capacity for the deeper comprehension of truth existed, there he was able to set all this forth in their fundamental proofs and in their intimate connections. There he was able to unfold the whole Divine economy in accordance with its eternal principles and its progress through time and its fixed laws and in relation to its final consummation, so that that which Grecian wisdom was in search of within its own sphere was actually attained in a way that was incomparably higher and Divine, and better fitted to satisfy the deepest needs of a thoughtful spirit.

The interpretation we have here given, which would seem to be decisively confirmed by what follows, is opposed by another on the ground, 1, that it is one entirely foreign to the Apostle, since he nowhere in his Epistle contemplated “the perfect” as his readers (but how of Php_3:15 : Let us therefore as many as be perfect, etc)? 2, that it is in contradiction with 1Co_2:2, (where, however, he is only speaking of the first proclamation of the Gospel); and the sense given is this: that the simple, scandalizing doctrine of Christ crucified contains in itself the profoundest wisdom, encloses a Divine mystery which is intelligible only to the perfect. But this explanation, which is conveyed also in Luther’s translation, 1, has no sure grammatical support, since the preposition ἐí carries the idea of “in the judgment of,” only when the persons are mentioned, who appear to decide a ease by their own opinions (comp. Passow Wörterbuch, 1:2, p. 910), and especially in connection with, such verbs as denote to be and to appear; 2, it does not correspond with usage elsewhere to understand “the perfect” to mean true Christians who seek true wisdom in Christ, or as Calvin does: “those who possess a sound and unbiased judgment.”—[The view just given is in the main that which is advocated by Calvin, Olsh. and Hodge, who in favor of it argues, “1. that those who regarded Paul’s doctrine as foolishness were not the babes in Christ, but the unrenewed, “the wise of this world;” consequently those to whom it was wisdom were not advanced Christians, but believers as such. Throughout the whole context the opposition is between “the called,” or converted, and the unconverted, and not between one class of believers and another class. 2. If “the perfect” here means advanced Christians, as distinguished from babes in Christ, then the wisdom which Paul preached was not the Gospel as such, but its higher doctrines. But this cannot be, because it is the doctrine of the cross, of Christ crucified, which he declares to be the power of God and the wisdom of God, 1:24. And the description given in the following part of this chapter of the wisdom here intended, refers not to the higher doctrine of the Gospel, but to the Gospel itself. The contrast is between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God, and not between the rudiment and the higher doctrines of the Gospel. Besides, what are these higher doctrines which Paul preached only to the elite of the Church? No one knows. Some say one thing and some another. But there are no higher doctrines than those taught in this Epistle and in those to the Romans and Ephesians, all addressed to the mass of the people. The New Testament makes no distinction between ( ðßóôéò and ãíῶóéò ) higher and lower doctrines. It does indeed speak of a distinction between milk and strong meat, but that is a distinction, not between kinds of doctrine, but between one mode of instruction and another. In catechisms designed for children the Church pours out all the treasures of her knowledge, but in the form of milk, i.e., in a form adapted to the weakest capacities. For all these reasons, we conclude that by “the perfect” the Apostle means the competent, the people of God as distinguished from the men of the world; and by wisdom, not any higher doctrines, but the simple Gospel, which is the wisdom of God as distinguished from the wisdom of men.” The argument is not convincing. It seems obvious on the very face of his exposition, that the Apostle is here making a distinction between that simple “preaching” of Gospel facts which he had been adhering to among the Corinthians, and what he calls “wisdom” which he had thus far held in reserve at Corinth by reason of the incapacity of the converts there to apprehend it. And surely the distinction is one which is practically observed by all preachers. There is a Christianity embodied in facts which a child may learn and profit by; and there is a philosophy of Christianity, a system of doctrine, a theology, which is dispensed only to those of mature intellect and experience. And so far from admitting the custom of the Church in teaching children the Assembly’s Catechism, which surely cannot be called “milk,” as a valid argument in support of the exposition, it may be a question whether the custom itself does not fall under condemnation through the Apostle’s argument. The contrast is indeed between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God; but there is also another contrast indicated by the “however” with which the verse is introduced—a contrast between êÞñõãìá and óïößá , preaching and wisdom]. Accordingly we hold to the first exposition as the only one well established: “In order to obviate all misapprehension of his language, Paul here asserts that the Gospel does include in itself the true wisdom. It is altogether foreign to his intent to set up an opposition here between reason and revelation. On the contrary he here distinctly expresses the validity of a demand for a science that is to be unfolded out of Christianity; a science which must be the sole, true and all-satisfying science.” Neander.—but a wisdom not of this world.—He here distinguishes that profounder development of the fulness of Christian truth designated as “wisdom” from all that which passes for such in the world without. It was not anything which sprang up in the natural progress of the race, either before or apart from Christ. The äÝ as in Rom_3:22. “Like the German aber, it is used in particular when something is annexed in illustration as the complement of a sentence. Thai by “this world,” he does not mean simply the great mass of mankind, the commonality only, but has in mind especially its leaders as those to whom this Christian wisdom was utterly foreign, is shown in the added words—nor of the prince of this world.—Does he mean by this the demons mentioned in Eph_6:12, as êïóìïêñÜôïñáò ? Hardly ̓́ Áñ÷ùí with this sense appears only in the Sing, Joh_12:31; Eph_2:2. And in any ease these are not intended in 1Co_2:8. According to Bengel the expression embraces the leaders both of the Jews and of the Greeks. Not simply influential, learned men, philosophers; also not merely the members of the Jewish Sanhedrim, but all those of high station in general, the multitude of those who bear sway either by their authority or by the respect which they command. These are described as persons who come to naught.—That is, they are bereft of all authority and consideration in the kingdom of God, in the world to come. He is not speaking here of their being overcome by the higher wisdom and power of Christianity, but of the utter destruction of their importance as leaders in that higher economy, at the institution of which everything which springs out of this lower order of things is done away, however respectable it may appear.

1Co_2:7. Now comes the positive part of the description, which is introduced by an emphatic repetition.—But we speak God’s wisdom, i.e., a wisdom which He has, and which He has imparted to us.—in a mystery.—It is doubtful with what this should be connected. Certainly not with the following participle, “hidden,” which would be hardly grammatical and also tautological, but rather either with “we speak” or with “wisdom.” The first is to be preferred, because in connecting it with “wisdom” the article in the Greek should be put before it for the sake of distinctness; and then the sense would be: we speak the wisdom of God as a mystery, i.e., as “something which does not proceed from the human understanding, but from the Divine revelation.”—Neander. Or “handling it as a mystery.”—Meyer. Not however in the sense of any esoteric communications analagous to the Grecian mysteries to which neither here nor yet in the expression “perfect” (=initiated) is any allusion to be sought. But does not the explanatory participle following, viz., “the hidden,” which certainly relates to wisdom, require us to connect the words “in a mystery” with “wisdom?” The article after the anarthrous óïößáí is neither necessary nor admissible if we translate it: “a wisdom consisting in mystery” [although, as Meyer says, “its omission would be at the cost of perspicuity.” Paul would, in that case, have expressed himself ambiguously which he might easily have avoided by the use of the article.” But, it may be asked, whether it is not quite in the Apostle’s style to put nouns in relation through a preposition in this way? Is not the óïößáí ἐí ìõóôÞñῳ exactly analogous with óïößá ἀðὸ èåïῦ in 1:30. What is meant by “speaking a thing in a mystery,” we cannot comprehend, unless it is speaking it secretly or in a dark and obscure manner. Such must be the meaning of the term when made to qualify a verb. But certainly this was not what Paul intended to say, nor is it in accordance with the use of the term in the N. T. Here “mystery” denotes not a quality or condition of obscurity but a fact or truth which is made known by revelation. Hence it would exactly express the very thing in which Paul’s mission consisted, and instead of being connected with “speak” seems to us most naturally associated by the preposition “in” with “wisdom.” This view would seem to follow from Kling’s definition of the word “mystery.”] This in the N. T., and especially in Paul’s phraseology denotes something unknown to man—shut out from his comprehension, and which is made known only through Divine revelation. It is used in particular of the Divine purpose of redemption, especially in respect to the participation of the Gentiles in the salvation wrought by Christ (Eph_3:3 ff.; Col_1:26 ff.) of the final restoration of Israel (Rom_11:24), and of the physical change which is to take place at the resurrection (1Co_15:51).—the hidden means either that which was concealed or is concealed. It is the first, when a statement is added of the thing having been made known as in Rom_16:25; Eph_3:9; Col_1:28. But it is the second, when it is meant, that the thing in question is withdrawn from human knowledge. In our passage, where the fact of concealment is first enlarged upon (1Co_2:8), and then afterwards a revelation to the elect of God is spoken of in contrast with a concealment from others, the latter meaning is to be preferred.—which God ordained.—This expression shows still more conclusively that “wisdom” is to be understood in an objective sense, not of the knowledge of the enlightened and of the doctrine flowing from it as such, but of its subject matter, that which elsewhere is called “a mystery;” the Divine plan of salvation itself, in reference to the wisdom revealed therein; or we may say, the work of redemption including in itself its chief end and the sure means of accomplishing it.—before the ages.—He here goes back to the original ground of this redemptive scheme in the eternal purpose of God formed before the world was (comp. Rom_8:29 ff; and Eph_1:5). The supplying of “to make known,” or “to reveal,” for the purpose of filling out a supposed elipsis, is not necessary. On the expression, “before the ages,” compare the similar expressions in (Rom_16:25; Eph_1:4; Eph_3:9-10; Col_1:26; 2Ti_1:9). “God determined on redemption before creation, i.e., already at the very foundation of creation there existed a Divine purpose to establish a kingdom of God in the world and therefore He made it.” Neander.—unto our glory.—From the eternal ground of salvation he here turns to its final end, which also stretches forward into eternity. The glory he here speaks of is not the glory of the Church of the New Testament as compared with the Old, but as everywhere with Paul, when discoursing of believers, it denotes their full restoration to the Divine image. It is the state of redemption completed, wherein the spiritual life shines out in the effulgence of an incorruptible state. (Comp. Rom_5:2; Rom_8:18; Rom_8:21; Rom_9:23; Col_1:27; Col_3:4; 1Th_2:12; 2Ti_2:10.) What is said in 2Co_3:18 does not justify us in including here that inward glorifying of the soul which is involved in our regeneration, and which takes place in this life. If, with Meyer, we interpret the wisdom of God to mean “His spiritual philosophy which He has revealed to His ministers,” then we must understand this clause thus: which God has fore-ordained so that it should redound to our glory. This glory, which stands in contrast with the utter evanishment of this world’s princes, is supposed by some to be that destined to be revealed at the coming of Christ in which Christians are to be partakers through that Divine wisdom. But is this thought Pauline? It may be doubtful. Unquestionably, however, this thought is, that God’s eternal purpose, which comprises His plan of salvation, or in other words His wisdom, which proposes salvation for its object and devises the best means for its accomplishment, has for its final end our glorification. (Com. Rom_8:29 ff.)

1Co_2:8, Shows more fully how thoroughly hidden this wisdom was—which none of the princes of this world (or age) knew.—[The relative “which” is taken by Billroth and Stanley and others to refer to “glory.” “That which belonged to eternity and was before the ages, was not likely to be known to those who lived in time or in this age,” and this is still further justified by supposing an allusion to this in the expression “Lord of glory.”] But we are neither compelled nor justified in adopting this construction. The main thought of the passage is “God’s wisdom,” and it is to this that the relatives refer both in this and in the previous verse. What the Apostle here brings to view is the concealment in which God’s wisdom was kept, by showing how entirely it remained unknown and unsuspected by even the leaders of this world, who were deemed persons of keen insight and took the management of affairs, and the argument for this was,—they would not otherwise have crucified the Lord of glory.—For it was through Him that this Divine wisdom, which devised the plan of salvation and aimed at the glorification of believers, was made known and carried out. And this, it were fair to suppose, they would not have done could they have seen the fulness of Divine wisdom and power which shone in him and which was flowing out upon others. “Paul here contemplates those who directly took part in the crucifixion as the representatives of that worldly spirit which was exhibited in the Greek philosophy. They acted in the name and in the entire spirit of the ancient world.”—Neander. “The Lord of glory.”—So also in Jam_2:1. This expression is not to be taken as equivalent to ‘glorious Lord,’ but, as in the analogous expressions, “Father of glory” (Eph_1:17); “The God of glory” (Act_7:2), “The Lord is the possessor of glory.” The genitive case used here in the Greek is the genitive of possession. “Lord of glory” is a title of Divinity. It means possessor of Divine excellence. “Who is the King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory” (Psa_24:10; Act_7:2; Jam_2:1; Eph_1:17). The person crucified, therefore, was a Divine person. Hence the deed was evidence of inconceivable blindness and wickedness. It was one that could only have been done through ignorance. “And now, brethren,” said the Apostle Peter to the Jews, “I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers,” Act_3:17. The fact, that the princes of this world were so blind as not to see that Christ was the Lord of glory, Paul cites as proof of their ignorance of the wisdom of God. Had they known the one, they would have known the other. This passage illustrates a very important principle or usage of Scripture. We see that the person of Christ may be designated from his Divine nature, when what is affirmed of Him is true only of his human nature. The Lord of glory was crucified; the Son of God was born of a woman; He who was equal with God humbled Himself to be obedient unto death. In like manner we speak of the birth or death of a man without meaning that the soul is born or dies, and the Scriptures speak of the birth and death of the Son of God without meaning that the Divine nature is subject to these changes. It is also plain that to predicate ignorance, subjection, suffering, death, or any other limitation of the Son of God, is no more inconsistent with the Divinity of the person so designated, than to predicate birth and death of a man is inconsistent with the immateriality and immortality of the human soul. Whatever is true either of the soul or body may be predicated of a man as a person, and whatever is true of either the Divine or human nature of Christ may be predicated of Christ as a person. We need not hesitate therefore to say with Paul, the Lord of glory was crucified; or even in accordance with the received text in Act_20:28, “God purchased the Church with His blood.” The person who died was truly God, although the Divine nature no more died than the soul of man does when the breath leaves his body.”—Hodge]

1Co_2:9. Confirmatory citation.—But, as it has been written, what things eye hath not seen, and ear hath not beard, and into the heart of man have not entered, what things God hath prepared for them that love Him.”—[We have here given a literal translation of this passage as nearly as possible in the order of the Greek text]. The first point to be considered here is the connection both logical and grammatical. This has been attempted in various ways. One is, by supplying a supposed ellipsis after “but,” either by inserting the words “it has happened,” be as to make it read, “but it has happened as is written” (Bengel); in which case a demonstrative clause would have been required after the relative clause; or by inserting “we speak,” taken from 1Co_2:7. It would be more correct, however, without supplying any thing, to go back directly to 1Co_2:7, and connect there, and to find in 1Co_2:9 an expansion and enhancement of what is said in 1Co_2:8. “which none of the princes knew,” so that ἀëëÜ instead of being translated “but” might be rendered “yea, rather.” [This rendering is adopted by Stanley], The reading would then be, “we speak God’s wisdom, which none of the princes knew, yea, which no eye hath seen.” In this case the clause, “for if they had known they would not have crucified, etc.” would be taken as a sort of parenthesis, in order to facilitate the connection with what precedes. We would then connect 1Co_2:10, “but God hath revealed them to us” directly with the previons words, “what things he hath prepared,” inserting only a comma after “him.” In this case, only, the repetition of the name “God” would appear strange, and would have to be regarded as done for the sake of emphasis. If this does not suit, then we may either assume an anacoluthon, so that in this break the sentence would seem to lose itself in mystery and distance inaudible (so de Wette and Osi.), or we may find the sentence completed in 1Co_2:10, the proper antecedent being introduced with äÝ , but, as in 1Co_1:23, to signify the antithesis there to 1Co_2:8. It would then read “but what eye hath not seen, etc.;” these, “on the contrary, God hath revealed to us” (so Meyer and Alford).—Since the last mentioned mode of connection seems forced, and the reason assigned for the anacoluthon is not very clear, we prefer to assume a climax as above stated, introduced by “yea, rather,” without joining 1Co_2:10 directly to the preceding clause. [Hodge prefers the anacoluthon, and very justly Bays, in reference to this citation and to that in 1Co_1:31, “in quoting the Old Testament the Apostle frequently cites the words as they stand, without so modifying them as to make them grammatically cohere with the context.”].—There is yet another difficulty to be considered. Whence is the citation taken? Since no passage in the Old Testament is found exactly corresponding to it, the patristic expositors supposed that the words were taken, either from some Old Testament Scripture now entirely lost, or from some apocryphal prophecy; and Z. Chrys. asserts that he had read these words in the apocalypse of Esaias. Grotius, however, supposes that they were taken from the writings of the Rabbis who had preserved them out of an old tradition. But in opposition to these opinions it must be regarded as settled that Paul uses the formula “as it is written” only in introducing citations from the Old Testament. Accordingly Meyer has adopted the solution that Paul quoted an apocryphal passage under the idea that the words were in the Old Testament. But before we resort to any such explanation, it is to be seen whether the dissimilarity between our passage and the Old Testament texts in question is so great, as to prevent us from supposing that he quoted freely here, as he has also done elsewhere, and as other New Testament writers have also occasionally done. Certainly Paul could hardly have had in mind Isa_52:15. “For that which hath not been told them should they see, and that which they had not heard, should they consider;” nor yet 65:17; “For behold I create new heavens, and a new earth, and the former should not be remembered nor come into mind,” unless perhaps the last clause, in the ring of the expression. But he may have had in mind Isa_64:4, according to the original text: “For since the world have men not heard, nor perceived, nor hath an eye seen, O God, besides Thee; he will do it for him who waits upon Him”—here there is a transition from the second person to the third, as is frequently the case in prophetic diction—since the formula, “as it is written,” admits of a free quotation, and Paul is not always precise in adhering to the words (1:19, 31; 14:21; Rom_9:33). We therefore unhesitatingly accord with Osiander in maintaining a reference here to Isa_64:4. The sense common to both passages is, that God has prepared for His people who wait for Him, things far exceeding all human experince or observation. ἐðὶ êáñäßáí ἀíáâáßíåéí Heb. òָìָä òַì ìֵá lit. to come upon the heart, to become a matter of experience and thought.—In the word, “prepare” we have the carrying out of the “fore-ordination” mentioned in 1Co_2:7.—But what does the Apostle mean by “the things prepared?” Meyer says the salvation of the Messianic kingdom (comp. Mat_25:34.) Very well, but not simply in its future glories. What is intended is the whole work of redemption in all its essential particulars, from the foundation laid for it in Christ, on unto its final consummation. They are the benefits never before known or imagined, and far transcending all conception and surmise which are contained in God’s revelation, and the glory aimed at and procured by it. “They are the gracious gifts and disclosures of blessedness, an insight into which, and an enjoyment of which are afforded us even here in faith, whose full fruition is reserved for a higher world.” Osiander. That deliverance from exile to which the passage in Isaiah primarily refers, is in truth only a faint image of that which is to be considered as the literal fulfilment of all such expression (comp. also Mat_13:17).

1Co_2:10-12. The revelation of this wisdom and its means.—But to us God bath revealed them through His Spirit.—“To us,” that is, Paul himself and his fellow-Apostles; for of Christians in general he is not speaking. See 1Co_2:6; 1Co_2:16—also 3:1. [So Hodge; Stanley, however, says “believers generally, but with a special reference to himself”]. The communication here is not of an external, but of an internal sort. (Comp. the expression, “to reveal in me,” Gal_1:15). This is clear also from the agency employed. This agency is the Spirit, who executes God’s purposes of redemption and is the means of enlightening them in the knowledge of their nature. He does this work so far as He is “freely given of God,” 1Co_2:12. The possibility of this revelation by the Spirit is shown in the following words—for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.—“The Spirit” here is evidently, by reason of the connection, the same as “His Spirit” in the previous clause. Only there He is introduced as proceeding outwards and working ad extra, but here and in what follows as imminent or existing within the Godhead. An analogous expression occurs respecting the Son of God in Joh_1:18, where the phrase “who is in the bosom of the Father” corresponds with “the Spirit searcheth all things,” etc.; and the word “declare” with “hath revealed by His Spirit.” The ability to make known the thoughts of God unto the Apostles is here grounded upon the knowledge the Spirit has of these things in their inmost source and profoundest depths. This is expressed by ἐñåõíᾷí : lit. to explore, to search through and through; but here, and wherever else it is used of Divine knowledge, it denotes the result of that exploring, i.e. a complete and thorough knowledge (comp. 139:1; Rom_8:27= êáñäéïãíþóôçò of Act_1:24; Act_15:8 and Rev_2:23. Chrys. ἀêñéâὴò ãíῶóéò êáôÜëçøéò .) ÂÜèçèåïῦ : inmost recesses of God, the otherwise unexplorable depths where His thoughts and volitions have free play, the hidden mystery of His personality which correspond to those mysteries of His kingdom and of all His works and ways which the Spirit reveals. The image is drawn from the sea, whose depths are supposed to be unfathomable and bottomless. (Psa_36:7; Psa_92:6; Job_11:8). Meyer says: “The entire abounding fulness which God has in Himself, every thing which goes to make up His being, His attributes, thoughts, plans, decrees.” (Not the latter exclusively). See also the phrase “depths of Satan,” Rev_2:24. That such must be the office of the Spirit, and of Him alone, is now illustrated by an analogy.

1Co_2:11. For who of men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God no one knoweth save the Spirit of God.—The logic is this: “The Spirit and only He can know the depths of God. For as the spirit of man which is in him can alone know what is of him, so only the Spirit of God can know what is of God.” The Apostle puts the first member of the comparison in the form of a question. “Who of men knoweth, etc.?” Here the gen., áíèñþðùí , of men, is not superfluous. The ignorance here implied is not an absolute one, inasmuch as God is to be excepted from it (Osi.); or, we may say, it carries a prominent emphasis: “no man knows what is of man” (Meyer)— ôὰôïῦἀíèñþðïõ not âÜèç : “the things of a man” in general; not his “depths.” According to the context, the things alluded to must be limited to those of his inner life, his secret thoughts and purposes. The “spirit” of man is the breath of God in him, “the candle of the Lord searching all the inward parts of his belly” (Pro_20:27), the inner eye or light (Mat_6:23), that whereby he becomes evident to himself, recognizes his own distinct individuality, is conscious of himself, and of his thoughts and acts as belonging to himself, the Divine image in man, the principle of his personality. (See Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, S. 116 ff.; Beck, Bibl. Seelenlehre, S. 947). By the words “which is in him,” the spirit, as the principle of self-consciousness, is distinguished from the spirit in others, as the principle of objective knowledge. A like additional qualification to “the Spirit of God” would be out of place, either because God is absolutely one, or because His Spirit is also dispensed to others, as seen in the next verse: “which is from God” (Meyer). De Wette says: “Paul conceives of the Spirit not as being in God, as though He were the principle of God’s self-consciousness; but he very wisely says merely “the Spirit of God” in order that he might thus hold the way open for saying afterwards “the Spirit from God.” The substance of the comparison is this: as the knowledge of the inward man is possible only through self-consciousness, so is the knowledge of God possible only through the consciousness of God obtained by means of the Holy Spirit. De Wette, however, overlooks an important element in the Apostle’s course of thought, in that the Apostle makes the immanent beholding of the depths of God on the part of the Spirit the ground of his function as a revealer. But the Spirit of God (in accordance with the analogy of the human spirit which is derived from Him and is his image) is the principle of the Divine self-knowledge, the ground of God’s life as a self-conscious existence—that whereby God is personal life, is the One who is eternally and absolutely cognizant of Himself in all His thoughts, volitions and decrees, in His doing and working,—the One who is revealed unto Himself and then reveals Him abroad to others—the One who sees through Himself and also shines through the human spirit and so qualifies it for looking into the work of God. [“The analogies of Scripture, however, are not to be pressed beyond the point they are intended to illustrate. The point here is the knowledge of the Spirit. He knows what is in God as we know what is in ourselves. It is not to be inferred from this that the Spirit of God bears in other points the same relation to God that our spirits do to us.” Hodge.] Having thus shown the ability of the Spirit to reveal the things of God, he reaffirms and corroborates the declaration of 1Co_2:10.—Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God.—The expression is antithetic. But what are we to understand by “the spirit of the world?” Certainly not any mental peculiarity; as most imagine, (Beza: ingenium humanum, [Barnes and others]: doctrina humana; [de Wette and Stanley: spirit of human wisdom; Hodge: a paraphrase for human reason]), since the thing contrasted with it cannot be explained in this manner. Neither can it be construed ironically, as denoting an utter want of that which is spiritual, or that show of spirit which the world calls spirit (see Osi.), nor yet as the finite spirit, in so far as it sets up independently for itself (Billroth). But it means that principle which controls the world in its thought and volition, and which is elsewhere termed “the prince of this world (Joh_12:31); also “the god of this world” (comp. Eph_2:2; Eph_6:11 ff.; 1Jn_4:3; 1Jn_5:19), Meyer says: “The diabolic spirit under whose control the world is held, and which profane humanity possesses.” Osiander discovers in it “a demonic element, blending in with, however, and manifesting itself in connection with splendid natural powers—a principle of selfish curiosity which excites and stimulates the mental faculties to knowledge, but does not overcome their weakness, and which, while alienated from God, ever remains involved, not merely in weakness and ignorance, but also in perverseness and error.”—but—Inasmuch as he is treating no more of operations imminent in the Godhead, but of acts of external revelation, the subject in contrast is denominated—the Spirit which is from God.—“He brings to view the spirit as having been already bestowed.” Neander. This spirit, coming as it does from God, and the bestowment of which conditions the knowledge of Divine things, and which belongs only to the children of God (comp. Rom_5:5; Rom_8:9 ff; Romans 14 ff.; Joh_15:26), is to be entirely distinguished from the “spirit of man” which belongs to us as men, and makes us akin to God (Act_17:29), and which constitutes our personality (1Co_2:11), and which is the immediate organ of the Spirit of God, needing, however to be renewed, and, because of its weakness, requiring to be strengthened. (Eph_4:23; Rom_7:22 ff.; 1Th_5:23; comp. Mat_2:15-16). The object of the bestowment of the Spirit is—that we might know the things which are freely given to us by God.—These things are the same as those spoken of in 1Co_2:9 as having been “prepared” for us (comp. 1:30; Rom_8:24; Rom_6:23; Eph_2:8-9). ôὰ÷áñéóèÝíôá , (from ÷áñßæåóèóé as Rom_8:32)=gifts of free grace. By these are meant the blessings of God’s kingdom which Christians already possess in faith and hope, but which they will enjoy in full perfection when the kingdom of God has been set up in glory. [Hodge very singularly says: “not so. The connection is with 1Co_2:10, and the subject is the wisdom of God, the Gospel as distinguished from the wisdom of this world.” But what are the topics of this Gospel but the spiritual blessings here seen and known in part, but afterwards to be known as we also are known? A distinction here is untenable]. The persons to whom they are given ( ἡìῖí ) are Christians generally, as must appear from the very nature of the case [and the knowledge they obtain is “the assurance of confidence.” Calvin. Those who receive the Spirit not only have a clear apprehension of the blessings God hath provided, but discern them as “freely given unto them.” This must be so, as knowledge in the Scriptures is one with experience. There is no real perception without possession].

1Co_2:13. Having indicated the source of Gospel-wisdom, Paul proceeds to show how he proclaimed it, taking up the thought of 1Co_2:4.—Which things we also speak.—That the speaking here is directly connected with the fact of having received of the spirit from the purpose of knowing and declaring, and proceeds from it, and is of a sort corresponding to the nature of the objects received, is shown by word, êáß : “also.” How he spake is exhibited antithetically.—Not in words taught of human wisdom, ïὐê ἐí äéäáêôïῖò áíèñùðéíçò óïößáò ëüãïéò —The Gen. here is governed not by ëüãïéò but by äéäáêôïῖò . (Comp. äéäáêôïὶ èåïῦ taught of God, Joh_6:45). [Most of the older English versions and Calvin construe the other way. Wiclif: not in wise wordes of mannes wisdom. Tyndale: not in the connyuge wordes of mannes wysdome. Rheims: not in learned wordes of humane wisedom. Cranmer and Geneva translate very nearly as the authorized version]. He means not in an artificial style of discourse, fashioned after the rules of scholastic rhetoric and dialetics, but in those taught of Spirit.— Ðíåýìáôïò without the article as in 1Co_2:4, because it is to be taken qualitatively as denoting a principle higher than that of human wisdom. We are not here to suppose that any actual dictation of the language is intended, but only an operation of the Spirit upon the mind, “which strongly pervades and controls even the speech and modes of exhibition:” in short a simple discourse which proceeds directly from a heart possessed by the Spirit of God. [Hodge says: “This is verbal inspiration, or the doctrine that the writers of the Scriptures were controlled by the Spirit of God in the choice of the words which they employed in communicating divine truth. This has been stigmatized as the mechanical theory of inspiration. It is objected to this, that it leaves the diversity of style which marks the different portions of the Bible, unaccounted for. But if God can control the thoughts of a man without making him a machine, why not also his language?—rendering every writer infallible in the use of his characteristic style? If the language of the Bible be not inspired, then we have the truth communicated through the discoloring and distorting medium of human imperfection. Paul’s direct assertion is that the words he used were taught by the Holy Ghost.” Wordsworth adds: “Here is a sufficient reply to the assertions of those who allege that the inspiration vouchsafed to St. Paul was limited to a general perception of divine truth and that he was left himself without divine guidance as to the form in which that truth was to be expressed. A caution also is thus supplied against the notion that there are verbal inaccuracies, and blemishes, and defects in St. Paul’s representations of the supernatural truths which he was commissioned to deliver. Comp. Hooker, II. 8:6, and Serm. 5:4; also Routh, Relequiæ Sacræ, Vol. V. pp. 336–341”]. This is clear from the explanatory clause [which we render—Combining spiritual things with spiritual.]— ðíåõìáôéêïῖò ðíåõìáôéêὰ óõãêñßíïíôåò . The interpretation of this depends on the explanation we give to óõãêñßíïíôåò . This signifies originally, to combine together with judicious selection, then to unite in general, to join, the opposite of äéáêñßíåéí ; with this then comes the idea to hold together, i. e., by way of comparison (2Co_10:12), [this is the meaning adopted in the E. V.]; out of this there follows the idea of measuring, estimating according to something; and then of interpreting or expounding, as it is used in Gen_40:8 and Dan_5:12 in reference to dreams, in which cases the signification to judge must be referred back to the idea of holding together the various elements of the process so as to get a proper view of them. At any rate there is nothing in these last passages to justify our taking the word in the text to mean unqualifiedly to explain [as Stanley does] whether we take ðíåõìáôéêïῖò as Masculine [rendering as Bengel, Rückert, Stanley: “to spiritual men”] (which is by no means required by the 1Co_2:14, since a new paragraph opens there), or as Neuter; rendering it “by spiritual things,” meaning thereby either the Old Testament types used to explain the New Testament (as Chrysostom and others), or the testimonies of the Prophets, which, being inspired by the Spirit, are the fit illustrations of the things which Christ has revealed, by His Spirit (as Grotius and others), both which ideas are remote from the connection, or “with spiritual words” (as Elsner and others). [Wordsworth interprets this clause comprehensively. “Blending spiritual things with spiritual,” i.e., not adulterating them with foreign admixtures (2Co_2:17; 1Pe_2:2) also “combining.” for the purpose of comparing and explaining, e.g., the things of the New Testament by the Old Testament, or one spiritual truth by another]. Nor yet do we agree with Neander’s view, “that which has been communicated to us by the Divine Spirit we explain in a form which is suited to that communication.” The only correct interpretation is to take óõãêñßíåéí in its original import, and ðíåõìáôéêïῖò as Neuter, and to render as above, carrying the meaning: uniting the spiritual matters which are the subject of our discourse ( ëáëïῦìåí 1Co_2:12) with words and forms that are taught of the Spirit. So Castalio, Calvin, Osiander, Meyer. [Hodge and Barnes]. Thus understood the clause serves to illustrate still further the suitableness of the style of discourse just before advocated, and as Osiander rightly observes, contains no tautology, since rather “the thought is here stated in the form of a fundamental principle, and is taken up and set forth with stronger emphasis.”

1Co_2:14. [Explains the reason why this higher spiritual wisdom is not indiscriminately imparted, but “spoken only to the perfect.” It is seen in the incapacity of multitudes to apprehend it, and to discern “the Divine impress it bears both on its contents and style of delivery.” It is an inability arising from “their essential character, which is as opposed to the Gospel as it is in every respect harmoniously consistent with itself.”].—But the natural (or psychical) man. øõ÷éêὸò äὲ ἄíèñùðïò . Here we have the character described. Luther explains it thus: “the natural man is one who, though he stands apart from grace, is still endowed to the fullest degree with understanding, sense, capacity and art.” He is the opposite of “the spiritual man,” see Jud_1:19. øõ÷éêïß , ðíåῦìá ìὴ ἔ÷ïíôåò lit.: “psychical, not having the spirit.” øõ÷Þ : Psyche, soul, Latin, anima, is the intermediate between ðíåõìá spirit, and óùìá body (1Th_5:23). It is the personal life of the individual (Ichleben) arising from the entrance of the spirit into the earthly organ of the body as its breath of life, in which personal life the spiritual and the sensuous elements are combined, the one entering into the other. The spiritual element, by becoming psychical or natural, forms a power of consciousness and volition, sinks into the life of sensation and impulse and embodies itself in the man and becomes organic. The sensuous element on the other hand (which taken out of the world of sense the soul fills with its life of sensation and impulse), being possessed by the spiritual power, becomes itself spiritualized in conscious self-directed activity and made capable of intelligent knowledge and volition. By reason of this its double nature, the soul becomes dependent on springs of life that belong as well to the world of sense as to the spiritual world. But, with particular individuals, the soul exercises a free choice in regard to the degree and order in which from time to time these influences from above and below shall be appropriated and employed. It depends on its pleasure whether it shall isolate itself, and, with this, sever its own spiritual part from the Divine life of the Spirit, or whether it shall receive this life into itself. Now in separating from the life of the spirit, man, as a natural or psychical creature, gets divested of his spiritual character and becomes fleshly. There is, indeed, in him still a spiritual element but then it no longer rules as a controlling principle, regulating his impulses and desires. On the contrary, being in subjection to the soul ( øõ÷Þ ), the spirit becomes more and more subservient to the soul’s perverse and carnal tendencies, from whence there springs deceit, falsehood, defilement in spirit, through contact with corresponding evil, and also that earthly and worldly wisdom spoken of in Jam_3:15. The soul, in itself robbed of the spiritual element, as a personal life (as spirit), is also unable to work out the spiritual things into a clear, intelligent apprehension by a free conscious effort of its own. Hence the mere soul-man, in other words the psychical or natural man, has neither inclination nor eye for the spiritual. He is closed up against all higher wisdom as if it were but folly. (Comp. Beck, Bibl. Seelenlehre, § 14 ff, 33 ff; Lehrwiss, §§ 207 and 213. From all this it will be seen that the translation “sensuous,” “sinnlich,” is not exhaustive. With this there is included also the idea of the selfish. Besides, both the intellectual and ethical aspects are also to be taken into account. See Osiander, de Wette, Meyer.—The ethical side of “the psychical man,” viz., his disinclination towards the higher sphere of life, appears in what is affirmed of him.—receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.—For äÝ÷åóèáé here is not=to understand, which thought is afterwards expressed by ãíῶíáé but it means: to accept, to receive, as always in the N. T. (Luk_8:13; Act_8:13; Act_11:1; Act_17:11; 1Th_1:6; 1Th_2:13, etc.). ïὐ äÝ÷åôáé = ἀðùèåῖôáé Act_13:46. “He will not accept them, although they are offered.”—Bengel. The phrase, “the things of the Spirit of God,” combines what was distinguished in 1Co_2:13, the Divinely spiritual both in form and substance. The reason of this rejection is explained,—because they are foolishness unto him.—“Whereas,” adds Bengel, “he is seeking after wisdom.” And these things seem foolish, because they conflict with his narrow, foregone conclusions and prejudices.—and he is not able to know them.—This clause is either to be joined to the previous one, as assigning an additional reason for the natural man’s not receiving spiritual things, q. d., “he considers it absurd, without being able to understand it” (Meyer, [Alford, Stanley, Tischendorf]); or to be taken as parallel to the clause, “he receiveth it not,” and expressing the intellectual side of the case in an independent manner, so that the following words stand related to it alone ([Calvin, Hodge, Barnes, and others, in accordance with 1 e. v.]). The first is the more correct. The natural man contemns spiritual things through prejudice and lack of apprehension,—because they are spiritually judged of.—The reason here assigned bears upon both the previous clauses which together explain why the Gospel is rejected. It appears all foolish and incomprehensible, alike from the fact that it requires to be looked at in a way for which the natural man in unfitted. ἀíáêñßíåéí , to judge of, as in 4:3; 9:3; 14:24. It denotes the result of investigation and proof, which it primarily in fact signifies (Act_17:11; Act_4:9; Act_12:19.) ðíåíìáôéêῶò : spiritually (i.e.) either by the spirit of man (not soul: øí÷Þ ) quickened and filled by the Spirit of God, or in a spiritual manner, so that the Holy Spirit, whose are the things to be judged of, both as to form and substance, directs likewise in the judgment of them by His illuminating grace. In either case, the sense is essentially the same, although the latter comports better with the use of the word “spirit” in the context. [While it is the office of the Spirit to take of the things of Christ and show them unto us, it is His also to purge the mental vision so that it can see the objects presented, for the eye of the natural man is blinded by the god of this world, and to him, however presented, the Gospel is hidden. Hence the manifestation towards the man must be supplemented by a change in him, rendering him spiritually minded, and so producing “a congeniality between the perceiver and the thing perceived.”]

1Co_2:15. Presents a contrast.—But the spiritual man. i.e. he who, in conformity with the image of God (Col_3:10), has been renewed to an existence in the Spirit, Who, in turn lives in him as his life and to a constant exercise of his power in the strength of the Spirit; in other words, he who has the Spirit as rule, guidance and might (Beck, Seelenl. S. 35 ff.);—judgeth of all the things ôὰ ðÜíôá [see Crit. obs.] all the things. By these we are to understand in accordance with the context, at least for the most part, or preeminently the things of the Spirit which the natural man is not in a condition to judge of. This reference is indicated yet more distinctly by the article ôÜ : the [if genuine]. Besides the saying of Beck (Lehrwiss S. 210) here holds good. “Only by being made spiritual is a man capacitated for the apprehension of spiritual objects. Such as God and Divine things, and only by the energy thus obtained is he able critically to test, and spiritually to govern all the remaining portion of his being as something inferior and subservient to the Spirit.” So also Meyer (ed. 3) [only giving the passage a much broader scope, since he refers the “all things” not simply to those of the Spirit, but includes under it “all objects which come within the sphere of his judgment”]. “On all this can the spiritual man pass a correct estimate by means of a judgment enlightened and controlled by the Holy Ghost.” [In illustration of this, Meyer alludes to instances of Paul’s nice spiritual discrimination, exhibited “in matters not belonging to doctrine, and under the most varied conditions, e. g. in his wise improvement of circumstances amid persecutions and prosecutions, and during his last voyage, etc.; also in his judgments respecting marriage cases, judicial causes, slavery, and the like; in all which he understood how to place every thing under the level of a higher spiritual point of view with wonderful clearness, certainty and impartiality; also in his estimate of different personages, etc.” But it may be fairly questioned whether Meyer does not here go beyond the proper scope of the passage. The object in view throughout the whole of it is a Divinely revealed spiritual “wisdom