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1Corinthians 2 (web)

Relying on Wisdom from God

2:1 When I came to you, brothers,
I didn't come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.
2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
2:4 My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom,
but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
2:5 that your faith wouldn't stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
2:6 We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown;
yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing.
2:7 But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden,
which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory,
2:8 which none of the rulers of this world has known.
For had they known it, they wouldn't have crucified the Lord of glory.
2:9 But as it is written,
"Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, Which didn't enter into the heart of man, These God has prepared for those who love him." (Isaiah 64:4)
2:10 But to us, God revealed them through the Spirit.
For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so, no one knows the things of God, except God's Spirit.

2:12 But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God,
that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God.

2:13 Which things also we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches,
but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.
2:14 Now the natural man doesn't receive the things of God's Spirit,
for they are foolishness to him, and he can't know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
2:15 But he who is spiritual discerns all things, and he himself is judged by no one.
2:16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?" (Is 40:13)
But we have Christ's mind.

Discussion Questions

What was different about the way in which Paul communicated the gospel and the way in which the world communicates its humanistic philosophy?
vs 4 What did he mean by "Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds."? (2Cor 12:12)
vs 5 What is the basis of your faith, what does it "rest" on?
vs 6 What is the difference between the world's concept of maturity and the Biblical concept of maturity?
vs 7-10 What has God prepared for those who love him?
vs 14 Have you ever told someone a Biblical truth and they mocked you?
vs 15 In what way should a spiritual man be judgmental?


It's All about Jesus Christ

1Cor 2:1-2 When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

How much do we really need to know to do ministry? Do we really need to read all the commentaries? Need we go to semimary? Sometimes too much knowledge - too much preparation - gets in the way of carrying out the ministry and it leads to the neglect of the central message which is Christ, and in particular the implications of Christ's death. Paul writes, "For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:"1Cor 15:3,4

We note also that when the gospel was preached it wasn't about human philosophy, but its content was historical and prophetic in nature and centralized on the person of Christ. There's not really much to argue about with regards to the gospel as it's not about opinion or human philosophy. You either take or leave it.

How have you grown in your knowledge of Christ as a consequence of studying the Bible? And how have others grown in their knowledge of Christ as a result of you?

A Persuasive Message

1Cor 2:3-5  I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

While confidence communicates conviction, self-confidence misdirects the message. While we are commanded to be "anxious for nothing" Php 4:5a, we are also to fear God. For Jesus said, "I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him." Luke 12:4,5  Thus Paul writes, "Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men." 2Cor 5:11b For the destiny of men is determined by how they respond to the message. What an awesome responsibility.

What should our faith rest on? That is, why should we believe the message? Much a political speech rests on the charisma of the speaker, but it should not be so with the gospel message. There are those who think that by theatrics, by raising their voice or speaking in a charismatic fashion or adding catch phrases "Can I get an AMEN!" they persuade men, and indeed they may, but not in the manner Paul did. If it's God's message, then God is going to have to do the work of persuading.

The demonstration of the Spirit's power he speaks of may be two-fold. He said to the Thessalonians, "Our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." 1Th 1:5,6 The power of the Spirit is shown in the life of the messenger and in its effect upon those who receive it. Likewise the content of the message itself is to contain instances of the Spirit's power in the life of Jesus, such as in his resurrection from the dead. And Jesus said, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves." John 14:11

So in preaching the message, put your confidence in God to persuade people.

Secret Wisdom

1Cor 2:6-8  We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.  None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Concerning this "secret wisdom" Paul is not talking about the fundamentals of the faith, but rather of righteous living - discerning good from evil. Heb 5:13-6:2  "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." If the rulers of that age had trained themselves to distinguish good from evil, they would not have crucified Christ. Even Pilate declared him innocent and yet had him crucified nonetheless. Judas failed to distinguish good from evil in betraying Christ. The religious leaders failed to discern that Jesus was the Christ. Learn to distinguish good from evil.

One of the cultural influences which Paul is countering has as its basis the idea that there is a secret wisdom known only to a few elite. And indeed in the Christian community there are the immature and heretics who claim to have uncovered secrets so as to make much of themselves or their denomination. But the secret wisdom Paul speaks of is that which has been revealed, but which is only received among the mature. Revelation is a function of maturity, and maturity a function of obedience, as Christ said, "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him." John 14:21 Bible study should not be for the purpose of simply increasing your knowledge so that you will think of yourself superior to others, but rather it should be for the purpose of seeking applications so as to live a life worthy of the calling.

A Revealed Destiny

1Cor 2:9-10 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him" — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

Paul is paraphrasing Isaiah 64:4 which says, "Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."

While those who don't know God may argue that God is transcendent and that therefore Christians are arrogant in claiming to know God, God is transcendent but He has made himself known. Therefore "This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD." Jer 9:23,24

Now in particular among the many things he has revealed concerning this matter is the promise of eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, the adoption as sons of God, the receiving of the Holy Spirit who regenerates and matures us in our relationship with God, the promised resurrection of our bodies from the dead into new bodies freed from its sinful nature, temptation and corruption. We are given an inheritance to reign with Christ and a relationship as a bride to her husband. And we are given a relationship with one another among the saints to be united together with Christ and with one another. And our fate is secure.

God's Thoughts Revealed by His Spirit

1Cor 2:11-13  For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Effective communication of ideas involves both the speaker and the hearer. God has revealed his Word to his holy Apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit. In Eph 3:4,5 Paul writes, "In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets." And I would  warn Christians to not be too casual about claiming that God revealed something special to them apart from the Bible. For if that were how God normally operated then why the need for apostles and prophets? But God has given His Spirit to all his saints so that the message would be received in the same Spirit of which it was sent. And the Spirit teaches us to express the ideas he has revealed in the Bible with appropriate words. Prayer helps along this line. Thus Paul requests of the saints, "Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel." Eph 6:19

We have the Mind of Christ

1Cor 2:14-16  The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment: "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

While literally the greek says the "natural" or "sensual" man (psuchikos) the NIV translates the meaning as the man without the Spirit. Both elements are true in the sense that the kind of person he's talking about is a person without the Spirit who also is sensual. Likewise Jude, using this same word, says, "These are sensual (psuchikos) persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit." Jude 1:19 The sensual are those who walk according to the flesh. In contrast John writes, "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. " 1John 4:6a and Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." John 10:27

Accepting the message is much a function of receiving it in the spirit of which it was spoken. Likewise  messages are often misinterpreted because they are not received in the spirit of which they were delivered. The sensual cannot grasp the message. "For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith." Heb 4:2 It is not that the spiritually minded gullibly accept whatever they hear. For they judge all things.  "Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge." 1Cor 14:29 And "by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil." Heb 5:14 But the sensual do not appraise the saints correctly.

The saints have the mind of Christ, having Christ in mind with regards to all things. But if so, then what is it with this division among the Corinthian Christians, which is the reason why he writes these things? What Paul is alluding to is that their divisions are of a sensual nature. Likewise consider denominational or theological differences. If we have the mind of Christ, then why should there by any differences in the realm of ideas or applications of the Bible? There shouldn't be.

Seems generally speaking the saints have the mind of Christ, particularly concerning the fundamentals of the faith. But beyond that it seems a function of one's spiritual maturity. But if alleged Christians do not accept the things which come from the Spirit, all bets are off concerning their actual salvation status.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jan 28,2022