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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 13

Verse 13. Which things also we speak. Which great, and glorious, and certain truths, we, the apostles, preach and explain.

Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth. Not such as human philosophy or eloquence would dictate. They do not have their origin in the devices of human wisdom, and they are not expressed in such words -of dazzling and attractive rhetoric as would be employed by those who pride themselves on the wisdom of this world.

But which the Holy Ghost teacheth. That is, in the words which the Holy Ghost imparts to us. Locke understands this as referring to the fact, that the apostles used "the language and expressions "which the Holy Ghost had taught in the revelations of the Scriptures. But this is evidently giving a narrow view of the subject. The apostle is speaking of the whole course of instruction by which the deep things of God were made known to the Christian church; and all this was not made known in the very words which were already contained in the Old Testament. He evidently refers to the fact that the apostles were themselves under the direction of the Holy Spirit, in the words and doctrines which they imparted; and this passage is a full proof that they laid claim to Divine inspiration. It is further observable that he says that this was done in such "words" as the Holy Ghost taught—referring not to the doctrines or subjects merely, but to the manner of expressing them. It is evident here that he lays claim to an inspiration in regard to the words which he used, or to the manner of his stating the doctrines of revelation. Words are the signs of thoughts; and if God designed that his truth should be accurately expressed in human language, there must have been a supervision over the words used, that such should be employed, and such only, as should accurately express the sense which he intended to convey.

Comparing spiritual things with spiritual. pneumatikoiv pneumatika sugkrinontev. This expression has been very variously interpreted; and is very difficult of explanation. Le Clerc renders it, "Speaking spiritual things to spiritual men." Most of the Fathers rendered it, "Comparing the things which were written by the Spirit of the Old Testament, with what is now revealed to us by the same Spirit, and confirming our doctrine by them." Calvin renders the word "comparing," by fitting, or adapting, (aptare,) and says that it means, that "he adapted spiritual things to spiritual men, while he accommodated words to the thing; that is, he tempered that celestial wisdom of the Spirit with simple language, and which conveyed by itself the native energy of the Spirit. Thus, he says, he reproves the vanity of those who attempted to secure human applause by a turgid and subtle mode of argument. Grotius accords with the Fathers, and renders it, "Explaining those things which the prophets spake by the Spirit of God, by those things which Christ has made known to us by his Spirit." Macknight renders it, "Explaining spiritual things in words taught by the Spirit." So Doddridge. The word rendered "comparing," sugkrinontev, means, properly, to collect, join, mingle, unite together; then to separate or distinguish parts of things, and unite them into one; then to judge of the qualities of objects by carefully separating or distinguishing; then to compare for the purpose of judging, etc. As it means to compare one thing with another for the purpose of explaining its nature, it comes to signify, to interpret, to explain; and in this sense it is often used by the LXX. as a translation of

HEBREW

Phathar—-to open, unfold, explain, (see Ge 40:8,16,22; 41:12,15;) also of

HEBREW

to explain, (Nu 15:34;) and of the Chaldee,

HEBREW, (Da 5:15,17.) See also Da 2:4-7,9,16,24,26,30,36,45

Da 4:3,4,6,16,17; 5:7,8,13,16,18,20; 7:16; in all which places the noun, sugkrisiv is used in the same sense. In this sense the word is, doubtless, used here, and is to be interpreted in the sense of explaining, unfolding. There is no reason, either in the word here used, or in the argument of the apostle, why the sense of comparing should be retained.

Spiritual things. (pneumatika.) Things, doctrines, subjects that pertain to the teaching of the Spirit. It does not mean things spiritual in opposition to fleshly; or intellectual in opposition to things pertaining to matter; but spiritual as the things referred to were such as were wrought, and revealed by the Holy Spirit—his doctrines on the subject of religion under the new dispensation, and his influence on the heart.

With spiritual. (pneumatikoiv.) This is an adjective; and may be either masculine or neuter. It is evident that some noun is understood. That may be either,

(1.) anyrwpoiv men—and then it will mean, "to spiritual men"—that is, to men who are enlightened or taught by the Spirit—and thus many commentators understand it; or,

(2,) it may be logoiv, words; and then it may mean, either that the "spiritual things" were explained by "words" and illustrations drawn from the writings of the Old Testament, inspired by the Spirit—as most of the Fathers and many moderns understand it; or that the "things spiritual" were explained by words which the Holy Spirit then communicated, and which were adapted to the subject—simple, pure, elevated; not gross, not turgid, not distinguished for rhetoric, and not such as the Greeks sought, but such as became the Spirit of God communicating great, sublime, yet simple truths to men. It will then mean, "Explaining doctrines that pertain to the Spirit's teaching and influence in words that are taught by the same Spirit, and that are fitted to convey in the most intelligent able manner those doctrines to men." Here the idea of the Holy Spirit's present agency is kept up throughout; the idea that he communicates the doctrine, and the mode of stating it to man. The supposition that logoiv (words) is the word understood here, is favoured by the fact that it occurs in the previous part of this verse. And if this be the sense, it means that the words which were used by the apostles were pure, simple, unostentatious, and undistinguished, by display—such as became doctrines taught by the Holy Spirit, when communicated in words suggested by the same Spirit.

{e} "not in the words" 1 Co 1:17

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