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1 Corinthians Chapter Two


1 Corinthians 2

It was in this spirit that Paul had come among them at first; he would know nothing but Christ, [1] and Christ in His humiliation and abasement, object of contempt to senseless men. His speech was not attractive with the carnal persuasiveness of a factitious eloquence: but it was the expression of the presence and action of the Spirit, and of the power which accompanied that presence. Thus their faith rested, not on the fair words of man, which another more eloquent or more subtle might upset, but on the power of God-a solid foundation for our feeble souls-blessed be His name for it!

Nevertheless, when once the soul was taught and established in the doctrine of salvation in Christ, there was a wisdom of which the apostle spoke; not the wisdom of this present age, nor of the princes of this age, which perish, wisdom and all; but the wisdom of God in a mystery, a secret counsel of God (revealed now by the Spirit), ordained in His settled purpose unto our glory before the world was-a counsel which, with all their wisdom, none of the princes of this world knew. Had they known it, they would not have crucified the One in whose Person it was all to be accomplished.

The apostle does not touch the subject of the mystery, because he had to feed them as babes, and only in order to put it in contrast with the false wisdom of the world; but the way in which this wisdom was communicated is important. [2] God had revealed by His Spirit, for the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. It is only the spirit of a man which is in him that knows the things which he has not communicated. So no one knows the things of God save the Spirit of God. Now it is the Spirit of God which the apostle and the other vessels of revelation had received, that they might know the things which are freely given of God. This is the knowledge of the things themselves in the vessels of revelation. Afterwards this instrument of God was to communicate them. He did so, not in words which the art of man taught, but which the Spirit-which God-taught, communicating spiritual things by a spiritual medium. [3] The communication was by the Spirit as well as the thing communicated. There was yet one thing wanting that this revelation might be possessed by others-the reception of these communications. This also required the action of the Spirit. The natural man did not receive them; and they are spiritually discerned.

The source, the medium of communication, the reception, all was of the Spirit. Thus the spiritual man judges all things; he is judged of no man. The power of the Spirit in him makes his judgment true and just, but gives him motives and a walk that are unintelligible to one who has not the Spirit. Very simple as to that which is said-nothing can be more important than that which is here taught. Alas! the Corinthians, whether when the apostle was at Corinth, or at the time of writing this letter, were not in a condition to have the mystery communicated to them-a grievous humiliation to their philosophic pride, but therefore a good remedy for it.


[1] Take notice here, that Paul does not say he would know nothing but the cross, as some persons-and even Christians-wrongly apply it. He would know nothing but Christ in contrast with philosophy among these Pagans, and Christ in the most humbled form, in order to overturn the pride of man. He goes on to inform us, that among those who were initiated into Christianity he taught wisdom, but it was the wisdom of God, revealed by Him who searches the deep things of God Himself. It is a very grievous abuse that is often made of this passage (incorrectly quoted besides).

[2] The passage is often quoted to shew the things are so great one cannot know them. Whereas it is a quotation from Isaiah to shew that what could not then be known (when the evil was there, and man was dealt with according to what he was) is now revealed, now that man is in glory in the Person of Christ, and the Holy Ghost come down to shew us what is there. Christianity is not Judaism.

[3] I have no doubt that this is the meaning of the passage. The means were of the same nature as the thing for which they were employed (v. 13).

── John DarbySynopsis of 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 2

Chapter Contents

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

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

(Read 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

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

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:6-9

(Read 1 Corinthians 2:6-9)

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

Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:10-16

(Read 1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

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

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on 1 Corinthians


1 Corinthians 2

Verse 1

[1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

And I accordingly came to you, not with loftiness of speech or of wisdom - I did not affect either deep wisdom or eloquence.

Declaring the testimony of God — What God gave me to testify concerning his Son.

Verse 2

[2] For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

I determined not to know anything — To wave all my other knowledge, and not to preach anything, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified - That is, what he did, suffered, taught. A part is put for the whole.

Verse 3

[3] And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

And I was with you — At my first entrance.

In weakness — Of body, 2 Corinthians 12:7 And in fear - Lest I should offend any.

And in much trembling — The emotion of my mind affecting my very body.

Verse 4

[4] And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

And my speech in private, as well as my public preaching, was not with the persuasive words of human wisdom, such as the wise men of the world use; but with the demonstration of the Spirit and of power - With that powerful kind of demonstration, which flows from the Holy Spirit; which works on the conscience with the most convincing light, and the most persuasive evidence.

Verse 5

[5] That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

That your faith might not be built on the wisdom or power of man, but on the wisdom and power of God.

Verse 6

[6] Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

Yet we speak wisdom — Yea, the truest and most excellent wisdom.

Among the perfect — Adult, experienced Christians. By wisdom here he seems to mean, not the whole Christian doctrine, but the most sublime and abstruse parts of it. But not the wisdom admired and taught by the men of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, Jewish or heathen, that come to nought - Both they and their wisdom, and the world itself.

Verse 7

[7] But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

But we speak the mysterious wisdom of God, which was hidden for many ages from all the world, and is still hidden even from "babes in Christ;" much more from all unbelievers.

Which God ordained before the world — So far is this from coming to nought, like worldly wisdom.

For our glory — Arising from the glory of our Lord, and then to be revealed when all worldly glory vanishes.

Verse 8

[8] Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

Had they known it — That wisdom.

They would not have crucified — Punished as a slave.

The Lord of glory — The giving Christ this august title, peculiar to the great Jehovah, plainly shows him to be the supreme God. In like manner the Father is styled, "the Father of glory," Ephesians 1:17; and the Holy Ghost, "the Spirit of glory," 1 Peter 4:14. The application of this title to all the three, shows that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are "the God of glory;" as the only true God is called, Psalms 29:3, and Acts 7:2.

Verse 9

[9] But 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.

But this ignorance of theirs fulfils what is written concerning the blessings of the Messiah's kingdom. No natural man hath either seen, heard, or known, the things which God hath prepared, saith the prophet, for them that love him. Isaiah 64:4

Verse 10

[10] But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

But God hath revealed — Yea, and "freely given," 1 Corinthians 2:12.

Them to us — Even inconceivable peace, and joy unspeakable.

By his Spirit — Who intimately and fully knows them.

For the Spirit searcheth even the deep things of God — Be they ever so hidden and mysterious; the depths both of his nature and his kingdom.

Verse 11

[11] For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

For what man knoweth the things of a man — All the inmost recesses of his mind; although men are all of one nature, and so may the more easily know one another.

So the things of God knoweth no one but the Spirit — Who, consequently, is God.

Verse 12

[12] Now 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.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world — This spirit is not properly received; for the men of the world always had it. But Christians receive the Spirit of God, which before they had not.

Verse 13

[13] Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Which also we speak — As well as know.

In words taught by the Holy Spirit — Such are all the words of scripture. How high a regard ought we, then, to retain for them! Explaining spiritual things by spiritual words; or, adapting spiritual words to spiritual things - Being taught of the Spirit to express the things of the Spirit.

Verse 14

[14] But 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.

But the natural man — That is, every man who hath not the Spirit; who has no other way of obtaining knowledge, but by his senses and natural understanding.

Receiveth not — Does not understand or conceive.

The things of the Spirit — The things revealed by the Spirit of God, whether relating to his nature or his kingdom.

For they are foolishness to him — He is so far from understanding, that he utterly despises, them Neither can he know them - As he has not the will, so neither has he the power.

Because they are spiritually discerned — They can only be discerned by the aid of that Spirit, and by those spiritual senses, which he has not.

Verse 15

[15] But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

But the spiritual man — He that hath the Spirit. Discerneth all the things of God whereof we have been speaking.

Yet he himself is discerned by no man — No natural men. They neither understand what he is, nor what he says.

Verse 16

[16] For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Who — What natural man.

We — Spiritual men; apostles in particular.

Have — Know, understand.

The mind of Christ — Concerning the whole plan of gospel salvation. Isaiah 40:13

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on 1 Corinthians


1 Cor. 2:14

The natural man may be educated and intellectually sharp, but he cannot receive the wisdom of the Spirit as well as a less knowledgeable, but faith-oriented believer.

It’s as if your next-door neighbor bought an expensive big-screen color television set and after it was delivered came over to your house to brag about his new acquisition. While he’s bragging he notices his favorite motion picture coming in on your little black-and-white K-Mart T.V. and exclaims: “Oh, no! They’ve got my favorite movie on and all you’ve got is that crummy little black-and-white job. I’ve got to go see it on my color set.” So he runs home and turns on his expensive set, only to find out that he can’t get the channel he wanted. Why? Well, he didn’t give you time to tell him that you had just subscribed to cable television. He may have the better equipment but you’re “cable ready” for the best shows.


Chapter 2. The Power of the Spirit

The Natural Man
The Spiritual Man

I. Paul's Attitude to Preach

  1. One Recalling
  2. Two Resolutions
  3. Three state of Mind

II. God's Secret Wisdom

  1. Wisdom of the World
  2. Preparation in Love
  3. The Enlightenment of the spirit

III. The Spirit as a Teacher

  1. Understand God's Grace
  2. The Spiritual Man
  3. Proclaim Christ
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Two General Review
1) To appreciate Paul's method of proclaiming the gospel
2) To see the need for inspiration and understand the process by which
   it took place
Continuing to demonstrate the folly of boasting in human wisdom, Paul 
reminds them of how he came to them.  Instead of depending upon 
excellent speech or persuasive words of wisdom, he proclaimed Jesus 
Christ and Him crucified, confirming his testimony with a demonstration 
of the Spirit and power (1-4).  This he did that their faith might rest 
in God's power, not in the wisdom of men (5).
He did proclaim a type of wisdom, however, that wisdom which comes from 
God (6-9).  He describes the process by which God has revealed this 
wisdom through His Spirit (10-13).  Paul then contrasts the difference 
between the "natural man" (one who depends upon his own human wisdom) 
who does not receive the things of the Spirit, and the "spiritual man" 
(one led by the Spirit of God, such as Paul) who has the mind of Christ 
      1. Declaring the testimony of God without excellence of speech or
         wisdom (1)
      2. Determined not to know anything among them but Jesus and Him
         crucified (2)
      3. Done in weakness, fear and much trembling (3)
      1. Not with persuasive words of human wisdom (4)
      2. That their faith would rest in the power of God, not the 
         wisdom of men (5)
      1. The apostles do speak a sort of wisdom (6)
         a. Among those who are mature (6a)
         b. But it is not the wisdom of this age or its rulers, which
            is coming to nothing (6b)
      2. The wisdom  of God they speak has been a "mystery" (7-9)
         a. Ordained before time began, but hidden (7)
         b. Unknown by the rulers of this age, which is why they
            crucified the Lord (8)
         c. Man had not discovered what God has prepared for those who
            love Him (9)
      1. Revealed through His Spirit (10-11)
         a. The Spirit searches for the deep things of God (10)
         b. Only the Spirit of God can know the things of God (11)
      2. Made known to the apostles (12)
         a. Who have received the Spirit from God (12a)
         b. So they might know the things freely given by God (12b)
      3. Spoken now by the apostles (13)
         a. Not in words according to human wisdom (13a)
         b. But in words taught by the Spirit, comparing spiritual
            things with spiritual (13b)
      1. The "natural man" (e.g., a philosopher) does not receive the
         things of the Spirit of God (14a)
         a. They are foolish to him (14b)
         b. Because they are "spiritually" discerned (14c)
      2. But with the "spiritual man" (e.g., an apostle), such is not
         the case (15-16)
         a. He is able to judge all things properly (15a)
         b. No one is able to properly judge him (15b)
         c. For he has "the mind of Christ" (16)
1) List the main points of this chapter
   - Paul's Manner Of Preaching (1-5)
   - The True Wisdom Of God (6-16)
2) How does Paul describe his preaching among them? (1-2)
   - Not with excellence of speech or of wisdom
   - Determined to preach only Jesus and Him crucified
3) How does Paul describe his feelings among them? (3)
   - In weakness, in fear, and in much trembling
4) What accompanied Paul as he preached the gospel? (4)
   - Demonstration of the Spirit and of power
5) What six phrases in verses 9-13 help to explain the process by which
   the hidden mystery of God was made known?
   - "Things which God has prepared"
   - "God has revealed...through His Spirit"
   - "We have received...the Spirit"
   - "That we might know the things...freely given to us by God"
   - "These things we also speak"
   - "In words...which the Spirit teaches"
6) What phrase teaches the concept of "verbal inspiration"? (13)
   - "not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit
     teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual"
7) What is said about the "natural" man? (14)
   - Does not receive the things of the Spirit of God
   - They are foolishness to him
   - He cannot know them, for they are spiritually discerned
8) What is said about the "spiritual" man? (15-16)
   - Able to judge all things
   - None can rightly judge him
   - Has the mind of Christ

--《Executable Outlines


The Power of the Spirit

The Natural Man

The Spiritual Man


I.  Paul’s Attitude to Preach

1.    One Recalling

2.    Two Resolutions

3.    Three State of Mind

II.God’s Secret Wisdom

1.    Wisdom of the World

2.    Preparation in Love

3.    The Enlightenment of the Spirit

III.       The Spirit as a Teacher

1.    Understand God’s Grace

2.    The Spiritual Man

3.    Proclaim Christ

-- Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament