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1 Corinthians 2:10-13

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

10. Nobis autem Deus revelavit per Spiritum suum: Spiritus enim omnia scrutatur, etiam profunditates Dei.

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.

11. Quis enim hominum novit, quae ad eum pertinent, nisi spiritus hominis, qui est in ipso? Ita et quae Dei sunt, nemo novit, nisi Spiritus Dei.

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.

12. Nos autem non spiritum mundi accepimus, seal Spiritum qui est ex Deo: ut sciamus quae a Christo donata sunt nobis:

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.

13. Quae et loquimur, non in eruditis humanae sapientiae sermonibus, sed Spiritus sancti, spiritualibus spiritualia coaptantes.

 

10. But God hath revealed them to us. Having shut up all mankind in blindness, and having taken away from the human intellect the power of attaining to a knowledge of God by its own resources, he now shows in what way believers are exempted from this blindness, — by the Lord’s honoring them with a special illumination of the Spirit. Hence the greater the bluntness of the human intellect for understanding the mysteries of God, and the greater the uncertainty under which it labors, so much the surer is our faith, which rests for its support on the revelation of God’s Spirit. In this, too, we recognize the unbounded goodness of God, who makes our defect contribute to our advantage.

For the Spirit searcheth all things This is added for the consolation of the pious, that they may rest more securely in the revelation which they have from the Spirit of God, as though he had said. “Let it suffice us to have the Spirit of God as a witness, for there is nothing in God that is too profound for him to reach.” For such is the import here of the word searcheth By the deep things you must understand — not secret judgments, which we are forbidden to search into, but the entire doctrine of salvation, which would have been to no purpose set before us in the Scriptures, were it not that God elevates our minds to it by his Spirit.

11. For what man knoweth? Two different things he intends to teach here: first, that the doctrine of the Gospel cannot be understood otherwise than by the testimony of the Holy Spirit; and secondly, that those who have a testimony of this nature from the Holy Spirit, have an assurance as firm and solid, as if they felt with their hands what they believe, for the Spirit is a faithful and indubitable witness. This he proves by a similitude drawn from our own spirit: for every one is conscious of his own thoughts, and on the other hand what lies hid in any man’s heart, is unknown to another. In the same way what is the counsel of God, and what his will, is hid from all mankind, for “who hath been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34.) It is, therefore, a secret recess, inaccessible to mankind; but, if the Spirit of God himself introduces us into it, or in other words, makes us acquainted with those things that are otherwise hid from our view, there will then be no more ground for hesitation, for nothing that is in God escapes the notice of the Spirit of God.

This similitude, however, may seem to be not altogether very appropriate, for as the tongue bears an impress of the mind, mankind communicate their dispositions to each other, so that they become acquainted with each other’s thoughts. Why then may we not understand from the word of God what is his will? For while mankind by pretenses and falsehoods in many cases conceal their thoughts rather than discover them, this cannot happen with God, whose word is undoubted truth, and his genuine and lively image. We must, however, carefully observe how far Paul designed to extend this comparison. A man’s innermost thought, of which others are ignorant, is perceived by himself alone: if he afterwards makes it known to others, this does not hinder but that his spirit alone knows what is in him. For it may happen that he does not persuade: it may even happen that he does not properly express his own meaning; but even if he attains both objects, this statement is not at variance with the other — that his own spirit alone has the true knowledge of it. There is this difference, however, between God’s thoughts and those of men, that men mutually understand each other; but the word of God is a kind of hidden wisdom, the loftiness of which is not reached by the weakness of the human intellect. Thus the light shineth in darkness, (John 1:5,) aye and until the Spirit opens the eyes of the blind.

The spirit of a man Observe, that the spirit of a man is taken here for the soul, in which the intellectual faculty, as it is called, resides. For Paul would have expressed himself inaccurately if he had ascribed this knowledge to man’s intellect, or in other words, the faculty itself, and not to the soul, which is endued with the power of understanding.

12. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world He heightens by contrast the certainty of which he had made mention. “The Spirit of revelation,” says he, “which we have received, is not of the world, so as to be merely creeping upon the ground, so as to be subject to vanity, or be in suspense, or vary or fluctuate, or hold us in doubt and perplexity. On the contrary, it is from God, and hence it is above all heavens, of solid and unvarying truth, and placed above all risk of doubt.”

It is a passage that is most abundantly clear, for refuting that diabolical doctrine of the Sophists as to a constant hesitancy on the part of believers. For they require all believers to be in doubt, whether they are in the grace of God or not, and allow of no assurance of salvation, but what hangs on moral or probable conjecture. In this, however, they overthrow faith in two respects: for first they would have us be in doubt, whether we are in a state of grace, and then afterwards they suggest a second occasion of doubt — as to final perseverance. 120120     The reader will find this subject treated of at greater length in the Institutes, volume 2, p. 143. — Ed. Here, however, the Apostle declares in general terms, that the elect have the Spirit given them, by whose testimony they are assured that they have been adopted to the hope of eternal salvation. Undoubtedly, if they would maintain their doctrine, they must of necessity either take away the Spirit of God from the elect, or make even the Spirit himself subject to uncertainty. Both of these things are openly at variance with Paul’s doctrine. Hence we may know the nature of faith to be this, that conscience has from the Holy Spirit a sure testimony of the good-will of God towards it, so that, resting upon this, it does not hesitate to invoke God as a Father. Thus Paul lifts up our faith above the world, that it may look down with lofty disdain upon all the pride of the flesh; for otherwise it will be always timid and wavering, because we see how boldly human ingenuity exalts itself, the haughtiness of which requires to be trodden under foot by the sons of God through means of an opposing haughtiness of heroical magnanimity. 121121     “Fondee en vne magnanimite heroique;” — “Founded upon a heroical magnanimity.”

That we may know the things that are given us by Christ. The word know is made use of to express more fully the assurance of confidence. Let us observe, however, that it is not acquired in a natural way, and is not attained by the mental capacity, but depends entirely on the revelation of the Spirit. The things that he makes mention of as given by Christ are the blessings that we obtain through his death and resurrection — that being reconciled to God, and having obtained remission of sins, we know that we have been adopted to the hope of eternal life, and that, being sanctified by the Spirit of regeneration, we are made new creatures, that we may live to God. In Ephesians 1:18, he says what amounts to the same thing —

“That ye may know what is the hope of your calling.”

13. Which things also we speak, not in the learned words, etc. He speaks of himself, for he is still employed in commending his ministry. Now it is a high commendation that he pronounces upon his preaching, when he says of it that it contains a secret revelation of the most important matters — the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, the sum of our salvation, and the inestimable treasures of Christ, that the Corinthians may know how highly it ought to be prized. In the meantime he returns to the concession that he had made before — that his preaching had not been adorned with any glitter of words, and had no luster of elegance, but was contented with the simple doctrine of the Holy Spirit. By the learned words of human wisdom 122122     “A similar rendering is given in some of the old English versions of the Scriptures. Thus, Wiclif’s version, (1380,) it is rendered “not in wise wordis of mannes wisdom:” in Tyndale’s version (1534) — “not in the connynge wordes of mannes wysdome: and in Rhemls version (1582) — “not in learned wordes of humane wisedom.” — Ed. he means those that savor of human learning, and are polished according to the rules of the rhetoricians, or blown up with philosophical loftiness, with a view to excite the admiration of the hearers. The words taught by the Spirit, on the other hand, are such as are adapted to a pure and simple style, corresponding to the dignity of the Spirit, rather than to an empty ostentation. For in order that eloquence may not be wanting, we must always take care that the wisdom of God be not polluted with any borrowed and profane luster. Paul’s manner of teaching was of such a kind, that the power of the Spirit shone forth in it single and unattired, without any foreign aid.

Spiritual things with spiritual Συγκρινεσθαι is used here, I have no doubt, in the sense of adapt This is sometimes the meaning of the word, 123123     “Es bons autheurs;” — “In good authors.” (as Budaeus shows by a quotation from Aristotle) and hence συγκριμα is used to mean what is knit together or glued together, and certainly it suits much better with Paul’s context than compare or liken, as others have rendered it. He says then that he adapts spiritual things to spiritual, in accommodating the words to the subject; 124124     Beza’s view is substantially the same — “Verba rei accommodantes, ut, sicut spiritualia sunt quae docemus, neque sinceritas doctrinae caelestis ullis humanis commentis est depravata, ita spirituale sit nostrum illius docendae ghenus: — “Accommodating the words to the subject, so that as the things at we teach are spiritual, and the purity of heavenly doctrine is not corrupted by human contrivances, our mode of teaching it may in like manner be spiritual.” — Ed. that is, he tempers that heavenly wisdom of the Spirit with a simple style of speech, and of such a nature as carries in its front the native energy of the Spirit. In the meantime he reproves others, who, by an affected elegance of expression and show of refinement, endeavor to obtain the applause of men, as persons who are either devoid of solid truth, or, by unbecoming ornaments, corrupt the spiritual doctrine of God.


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