The philosophers and orators of the age have drunk deeply from the world, but ironically, that hinders them from discerning the real wisdom.
"12 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. 13 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." (2:12-13)
Paul is referring again to his preaching -- "what we speak" (2:13a). As Paul told the Romans,
"You are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." (Romans 8:9)
The last part of 1 Corinthians 2:13 can be translated in several ways:
"... Comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (KJV)
"... Expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words." (NIV text)
"... Interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men" (NRSV, NIV margin)
Given the various translations, it isn't surprising that the verb is synkrinō (with the basic meaning of "to combine, to join together fitly") can be rendered three ways in Greek, depending upon the context: (1) "to bring things together so as to form a unit, combine," (2) to draw a conclusion by comparing, compare," (3) "to clarify on the basis of a compatible relationship, explain, interpret."57
There is debate about the proper rendering. What makes the most sense to me is definition 3, which involves comparing a new truth with what we already know, in order to interpret it correctly. People who haven't received the Holy Spirit have no frame of reference in which to understand spiritual things. They have nothing with which to make a meaningful comparison. Imagine being a child, trying to understand the intricacies of human behavior without knowing about sexual attraction. What understanding does the child have with which to compare anything to help understand what he or she is observing?
"14 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. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment." (2:14-15)
"Make judgments" (NIV), "discern" (NIV), "judge" (KJV) in verse 15a is anakrinō, "to examine with a view to finding fault, judge, call to account, discern."58 The same word is found in the second half of the sentence, translated "judgment" (NIV), "scrutiny" (NRSV), "judged" (KJV). Only those who have the Spirit are able to discern accurately.
The Spirit Communicates to Us the Mind of Christ (2:16)Paul concludes this section with an amazing reflection on a quotation from Isaiah 40:13.
"'For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct him?'
But we have the mind of Christ." (2:16)
The word "mind" is nous. It doesn't mean "brain," since the ancients didn't understand what that organ does in the way we do. Rather it refers to "the faculty of intellectual perception, mind, understanding." Here, our verse may have the nuance, "result of thinking, mind, thought, opinion."59
Who can know God's thoughts? Who has the temerity to think they can tell God something he doesn't already know? No one. (Though we often seem to do that in prayer, don't we?) Isaiah's prophecy refers to the era of the Law before the Spirit came to indwell the believer (verses 9-10). Now things are different. We have the Holy Spirit who can communicate and mediate our thoughts at their most basic level and communicate to our spirits God's guidance and truth.
How could Jesus know that the woman at the Samaritan well had five husbands previously, and was currently living with a man she wasn't married to (John 4:18)? By the Holy Spirit who conceived him and anointed him at his baptism (Luke 3:21-22; John 3:34; Acts 10:38; Isaiah 11:2). Jesus operated by the Spirit of God, demonstrating to his disciples how this was done. He was their Exemplar -- and ours too.
The Corinthians didn't understand what it meant to be spiritual. They confused speaking in tongues, for example, with spirituality (1 Corinthians 14). So Paul explains it to them.
Q5. (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). Explain how we can "have the mind of Christ." How does this work, according to these verses? How does having the Holy Spirit "circulating" through our minds explain spiritual gifts working through us?
Opening Your Spirit to the Mind of ChristFor you to understand this Corinthian letter, it is vital for you, too, to understand that through the Holy Spirit we can tap into the mind of Christ. This is the basis of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation, for example. Also the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are gifts of the Spirit, and all the other gifts, too (12:7-11).
I once met a person who said, "I'd rather have a verse than a voice." Cute. He prefers the written word of God, given as Holy Scripture for all eternity. Amen. It is our foundation! But at the same time he is uncomfortable with God speaking to him in the here and now. I understand his concern for purity of doctrine, to keep present-day prophecy from somehow replacing the authority of the Scripture. But what he is giving up is the intimate work of the Spirit to lead us personally and empower us for ministry.
Jesus told the earnest Pharisees and Scribes,
"You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5:39-40)
Jesus operated by the Holy Spirit himself. He said,
"I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19)
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you." (John 16:13-15)
Fortunately, we don't have to choose between the Spirit and the Word. We have -- and must have -- both! The Spirit clarifies the Scripture. And the Word confirms and is the authority to judge anything we may feel that the Spirit has shown us.
Available as a book in paperback, PDF, and Kindle formats.My dear friend. You know that I love the Word of God, and do not want to diminish its authority in the least. But I also long to know God more deeply, to let his Spirit probe me deeply and reveal more of Him as I receive the mind of Christ through the Spirit. This is the spirituality that the Corinthians needed to grasp. Yes, this may sound scary, but this is what the Spirit-led Christian life is all about. Don't miss out!
PrayerFather, some of this seems mystical to us -- and it is! But gently lead us to commune with you deeply by your Spirit. Speak to our hearts and to our minds. Guide us. And let us speak to you from the core of our beings. Don't let us miss out on this birthright of all Christians because of our fear of the unknown! In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.