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Chapter 2

2:1 Not with excellency of speech or of wisdom [ou kath’ huperochēn logou ē sophias]. [Huperochē] is an old word from the verb [huperechō] (Php 4:7) and means preeminence, rising above. In N.T. only here and 1Ti 2:2 of magistrates. It occurs in inscriptions of Pergamum for persons of position (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 255). Here it means excess or superfluity, “not in excellence of rhetorical display or of philosophical subtlety” (Lightfoot). The mystery of God [to mustērion tou theou]. So Aleph A C Copt. like 2:7, but B D L P read [marturion] like 1:6. Probably mystery is correct. Christ crucified is the mystery of God (Col 2:2). Paul did not hesitate to appropriate this word in common use among the mystery religions, but he puts into it his ideas, not those in current use. It is an old word from [mueō], to close, to shut, to initiate (Php 4:12). This mystery was once hidden from the ages (Col 1:26), but is now made plain in Christ (1Co 2:7; Ro 16:25f.). The papyri give many illustrations of the use of the word for secret doctrines known only to the initiated (Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary).

2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you [ou gar ekrina ti eidenai en humin]. Literally, “For I did not decide to know anything among you.” The negative goes with [ekrina], not with [ti]. Paul means that he did not think it fit or his business to know anything for his message beyond this “mystery of God.” Save Jesus Christ [ei mē Iēsoun Christon]. Both the person and the office (Lightfoot). I had no intent to go beyond him and in particular, and him crucified [kai touton estaurōmenon]. Literally, and this one as crucified (perfect passive participle). This phase in particular (1:18) was selected by Paul from the start as the centre of his gospel message. He decided to stick to it even after Athens where he was practically laughed out of court. The Cross added to the [scandalon] of the Incarnation, but Paul kept to the main track on coming to Corinth.

2:3 I was with you [egenomēn pros humas]. Rather, “I came to you” (not [ēn], was). “I not only eschewed all affectation of cleverness or grandiloquence, but I went to the opposite extreme of diffidence and nervous self-effacement” (Robertson and Plummer). Paul had been in prison in Philippi, driven out of Thessalonica and Beroea, politely bowed out of Athens. It is a human touch to see this shrinking as he faced the hard conditions in Corinth. It is a common feeling of the most effective preachers. Cool complacency is not the mood of the finest preaching. See [phobos] (fear) and [tromos] (trembling) combined in 2Co 7:15; Php 2:12; Eph 6:5.

2:4 Not in persuasive words of wisdom [ouk en pithois sophias logois]. This looks like a false disclaimer or mock modesty, for surely the preacher desires to be persuasive. This adjective [pithos] (MSS. [peithos] has not yet been found elsewhere. It seems to be formed directly from [peithō], to persuade, as [pheidos] [phidos] is from [pheidomai], to spare. The old Greek form [pithanos] is common enough and is used by Josephus (Ant. VIII. 9. 1) of “the plausible words of the lying prophet” in 1Ki 13. The kindred word [pithanologia] occurs in Col 2:4 for the specious and plausible Gnostic philosophers. And gullible people are easy marks for these plausible pulpiteers. Corinth put a premium on the veneer of false rhetoric and thin thinking. But in demonstration [all’ en apodeixei]. In contrast with the plausibility just mentioned. This word, though an old one from [apodeiknumi], to show forth, occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Spirit [pneuma] here can be the Holy Spirit or inward spirit as opposed to superficial expression and power [dunamis] is moral power rather than intellectual acuteness (cf. 1:18).

2:5 That your faith should not stand [hina hē pistis humōn mē ēi]. Purpose of God, but [mē ēi] is “not be” merely. The only secure place for faith to find a rest is in God’s power, not in the wisdom of men. One has only to instance the changing theories of men about science, philosophy, religion, politics to see this. A sure word from God can be depended on.

2:6 Among the perfect [en tois teleiois]. Paul is not here drawing a distinction between exoteric and esoteric wisdom as the Gnostics did for their initiates, but simply to the necessary difference in teaching for babes (3:1) and adults or grown men (common use of [teleios] for relative perfection, for adults, as is in 1Co 14:20; Php 3:15; Eph 4:13; Heb 5:14). Some were simply old babes and unable in spite of their years to digest solid spiritual food, “the ample teaching as to the Person of Christ and the eternal purpose of God. Such ‘wisdom’ we have in the Epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians especially, and in a less degree in the Epistle to the Romans. This ‘wisdom’ is discerned in the Gospel of John, as compared with the other Evangelists” (Lightfoot). These imperfect disciples Paul wishes to develop into spiritual maturity. Of this world [tou aiōnos toutou]. This age, more exactly, as in 1:20. This wisdom does not belong to the passing age of fleeting things, but to the enduring and eternal (Ellicott). Which are coming to naught [tōn katargoumenōn]. See on 1:28. Present passive participle genitive plural of [katargeō]. The gradual nullification of these “rulers” before the final and certain triumph of the power of Christ in his kingdom.

2:7 God’s wisdom in a mystery [theou sophian en mustēriōi]. Two points are here sharply made. It is God’s wisdom (note emphatic position of the genitive [theou] in contrast to the wisdom of this age. Every age of the world has a conceit of its own and it is particularly true of this twentieth century, but God’s wisdom is eternal and superior to the wisdom of any age or time. God’s wisdom is alone absolute. See on 2:1 for mystery. It is not certain whether in a mystery is to be taken with wisdom or we speak. The result does not differ greatly, probably with wisdom, so long a secret and now at last revealed (Col 1:26; 2Th 2:7). That hath been hidden [tēn apokekrummenēn]. See Ro 16:25; Col 1:26; Eph 3:5. Articular perfect passive participle of [apokruptō], more precisely defining the indefinite [sophian] (wisdom). Foreordained before the worlds [proōrisen pro tōn aiōnōn]. This relative clause [hēn] defines still more closely God’s wisdom. Note [pro] with both verb and substantive [aiōnōn]. Constative aorist of God’s elective purpose as shown in Christ crucified (Co 1:18-24). “It was no afterthought or change of plan” (Robertson and Plummer). Unto our glory [eis doxan hēmōn]. “The glory of inward enlightenment as well as of outward exaltation” (Lightfoot).

2:8 Knoweth [egnōken]. Has known, has discerned, perfect active indicative of [ginōskō]. They have shown amazing ignorance of God’s wisdom. For had they known it [ei gar egnōsan]. Condition of the second class, determined as unfulfilled, with aorist active indicative in both condition [egnōsan] and conclusion with [an] [ouk an estaurōsan]. Peter in the great sermon at Pentecost commented on the “ignorance” [kata agnoian] of the Jews in crucifying Christ (Ac 3:17) as the only hope for repentance on their part (Ac 3:19). The Lord of glory [ton Kurion tēs doxēs]. Genitive case [doxēs], means characterized by glory, “bringing out the contrast between the indignity of the Cross (Heb 12:2) and the majesty of the Victim (Lu 22:69; 23:43)” (Robertson and Plummer). See Jas 2:1; Ac 7:2; Eph 1:17; Heb 9:5.

2:9 But as it is written [alla kathōs gegraptai]. Elliptical sentence like Rom 15:3 where [gegonen] (it has happened) can be supplied. It is not certain where Paul derives this quotation as Scripture. Origen thought it a quotation from the Apocalypse of Elias and Jerome finds it also in the Ascension of Isaiah. But these books appear to be post-Pauline, and Jerome denies that Paul obtained it from these late apocryphal books. Clement of Rome finds it in the LXX text of Isa 64:4 and cites it as a Christian saying. It is likely that Paul here combines freely Isa 64:4; 65:17; 52:15 in a sort of catena or free chain of quotations as he does in Ro 3:10-18. There is also an anacoluthon for [ha] (which things) occurs as the direct object (accusative) with [eiden] (saw) and [ēkousan] (heard), but as the subject (nominative) with [anebē] (entered, second aorist active indicative of [anabainō], to go up). Whatsoever [hosa]. A climax to the preceding relative clause (Findlay). Prepared [hētoimasen]. First aorist active indicative of [hetoimazō]. The only instance where Paul uses this verb of God, though it occurs of final glory (Lu 2:31; Mt 20:23; 25:34; Mr 10:40; Heb 11:16) and of final misery (Mt 25:41). But here undoubtedly the dominant idea is the present blessing to these who love God (1Co 1:5-7). Heart [kardian] here as in Ro 1:21 is more than emotion. The Gnostics used this passage to support their teaching of esoteric doctrine as Hegesippus shows. Lightfoot thinks that probably the apocryphal Ascension of Isaiah and Apocalypse of Elias were Gnostic and so quoted this passage of Paul to support their position. But the next verse shows that Paul uses it of what is now revealed and made plain, not of mysteries still unknown.

2:10 But unto us God revealed them [hēmin gar apekalupsen ho theos]. So with [gar] B 37 Sah Cop read instead of [de] of Aleph A C D. “[De] is superficially easier; [gar] intrinsically better” (Findlay). Paul explains why this is no longer hidden, “for God revealed unto us” the wonders of grace pictured in verse 9. We do not have to wait for heaven to see them. Hence we can utter those things hidden from the eye, the ear, the heart of man. This revelation [apekalupsen], first aorist active indicative) took place, at “the entry of the Gospel into the world,” not “when we were admitted into the Church, when we were baptized” as Lightfoot interprets it. Through the Spirit [dia tou pneumatos]. The Holy Spirit is the agent of this definite revelation of grace, a revelation with a definite beginning or advent (constative aorist), an unveiling by the Spirit where “human ability and research would not have sufficed” (Robertson and Plummer), “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Ro 16:25), “the revelation given to Christians as an event that began a new epoch in the world’s history” (Edwards). Searcheth all things [panta eraunāi]. This is the usual form from A.D. 1 on rather than the old [ereunaō]. The word occurs (Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary) for a professional searcher’s report and [eraunētai], searchers for customs officials. “The Spirit is the organ of understanding between man and God” (Findlay). So in Ro 8:27 we have this very verb [eraunaō] again of God’s searching our hearts. The Holy Spirit not merely investigates us, but he searches “even the deep things of God” [kai ta bathē tou theou]. Profunda Dei (Vulgate). Cf. “the deep things of Satan” (Re 2:24) and Paul’s language in Ro 11:33 “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God.” Paul’s point is simply that the Holy Spirit fully comprehends the depth of God’s nature and his plans of grace and so is fully competent to make the revelation here claimed.

2:11 Knoweth [oiden, egnōken]. Second perfect of root [id-], to see and so know, first perfect of [ginōskō], to know by personal experience, has come to know and still knows. See First John for a clear distinction in the use of [oida] and [ginōskō]. The spirit of man that is in him [to pneuma tou anthrōpou to en autōi]. The self-consciousness of man that resides in the man or woman (generic term for mankind, [anthrōpos]. The Spirit of God [to pneuma tou theou]. Note the absence of [to en autōi]. It is not the mere self-consciousness of God, but the personal Holy Spirit in his relation to God the Father. Paul’s analogy between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God does not hold clear through and he guards it at this vital point as he does elsewhere as in Ro 8:26 and in the full Trinitarian benediction in 2Co 13:13. [Pneuma] in itself merely means breath or wind as in Joh 3:8. To know accurately Paul’s use of the word in every instance calls for an adequate knowledge of his theology, and psychology. But the point here is plain. God’s Holy Spirit is amply qualified to make the revelation claimed here in verses 6-10.

2:12 But we [hēmeis de]. We Christians like us [hēmin] in verse 10 of the revelation, but particularly Paul and the other apostles. Received [elabomen]. Second aorist active indicative of [lambanō] and so a definite event, though the constative aorist may include various stages. Not the spirit of the world [ou to pneuma tou kosmou]. Probably a reference to the wisdom of this age in verse 6. See also Ro 8:4,6,7; 1Co 11:4 [the pneuma heteron]. But the spirit which is of God [alla to pneuma to ek theou]. Rather, “from God” [ek], which proceeds from God. That we might know [hina eidōmen]. Second perfect subjunctive with [hina] to express purpose. Here is a distinct claim of the Holy Spirit for understanding (Illumination) the Revelation received. It is not a senseless rhapsody or secret mystery, but God expects us to understand “the things that are freely given us by God” [ta hupo tou theou charisthenta hēmin]. First aorist passive neuter plural articular participle of [charizomai], to bestow. God gave the revelation through the Holy Spirit and he gives us the illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand the mind of the Spirit. The tragic failures of men to understand clearly God’s revealed will is but a commentary on the weakness and limitation of the human intellect even when enlightened by the Holy Spirit.

2:13 Which things also we speak [ha kai laloumen]. This onomatopoetic verb [laleō] (from [la-la], to utter sounds. In the papyri the word calls more attention to the form of utterance while [legō] refers more to the substance. But [laleō] in the N.T. as here is used of the highest and holiest speech. Undoubtedly Paul employs the word purposely for the utterance of the revelation which he has understood. That is to say, there is revelation (verse 10), illumination (verse 12), and inspiration (verse 13). Paul claims therefore the help of the Holy Spirit for the reception of the revelation, for the understanding of it, for the expression of it. Paul claimed this authority for his preaching (1Th 4:2) and for his epistles (2Th 3:14). Not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth [ouk en didaktois anthrōpinēs sophias logois]. Literally, “not in words taught by human wisdom.” The verbal adjective [didaktois] (from [didaskō], to teach) is here passive in idea and is followed by the ablative case of origin or source as in Joh 6:45, [esontai pantes didaktoi theou] (from Isa 54:13), “They shall all be taught by God.” The ablative in Greek, as is well known, has the same form as the genitive, though quite different in idea (Robertson, Grammar, p. 516). So then Paul claims the help of the Holy Spirit in the utterance [laloumen] of the words, “which the Spirit teacheth [en didaktois pneumatos], “in words taught by the Spirit” (ablative [pneumatos] as above). Clearly Paul means that the help of the Holy Spirit in the utterance of the revelation extends to the words. No theory of inspiration is here stated, but it is not mere human wisdom. Paul’s own Epistles bear eloquent witness to the lofty claim here made. They remain today after nearly nineteen centuries throbbing with the power of the Spirit of God, dynamic with life for the problems of today as when Paul wrote them for the needs of the believers in his time, the greatest epistles of all time, surcharged with the energy of God. Comparing spiritual things with spiritual [pneumatikois pneumatika sunkrinontes]. Each of these words is in dispute. The verb [sunkrinō], originally meant to combine, to join together fitly. In the LXX it means to interpret dreams (Ge 40:8, 22; 41:12) possibly by comparison. In the later Greek it may mean to compare as in 2Co 10:12. In the papyri Moulton and Milligan (Vocabulary) give it only for “decide,” probably after comparing. But “comparing,” in spite of the translations, does not suit well here. So it is best to follow the original meaning to combine as do Lightfoot and Ellicott. But what gender is [pneumatikois]? Is it masculine or neuter like [pneumatika]? If masculine, the idea would be “interpreting (like LXX) spiritual truths to spiritual persons” or “matching spiritual truths with spiritual persons.” This is a possible rendering and makes good sense in harmony with verse 14. If [pneumatikois] be taken as neuter plural (associative instrumental case after [sun] in [sunkrinontes], the idea most naturally would be, “combining spiritual ideas [pneumatika] with spiritual words” [pneumatikois]. This again makes good sense in harmony with the first part of verse 13. On the whole this is the most natural way to take it, though various other possibilities exist.

2:14 Now the natural man [psuchikos de anthrōpos]. Note absence of article here, “A natural man” (an unregenerate man). Paul does not employ modern psychological terms and he exercises variety in his use of all the terms here present as [pneuma] and [pneumatikos, psuchē] and [psuchikos, sarx] and [sarkinos] and [sarkikos]. A helpful discussion of the various uses of these words in the New Testament is given by Burton in his New Testament Word Studies, pp. 62-68, and in his Spirit, Soul, and Flesh. The papyri furnish so many examples of [sarx, pneuma], and [psuchē] that Moulton and Milligan make no attempt at an exhaustive treatment, but give a few miscellaneous examples to illustrate the varied uses that parallel the New Testament. [Psuchikos] is a qualitative adjective from [psuchē] (breath of life like [anima], life, soul). Here the Vulgate renders it by animalis and the German by sinnlich, the original sense of animal life as in Jude 1:19; Jas 3:15. In 1Co 15:44,46 there is the same contrast between [psuchikos] and [pneumatikos] as here. The [psuchikos] man is the unregenerate man while the [pneumatikos] man is the renewed man, born again of the Spirit of God. Receiveth not [ou dechetai]. Does not accept, rejects, refuses to accept. In Ro 8:7 Paul definitely states the inability [oude gar dunatai] of the mind of the flesh to receive the things of the Spirit untouched by the Holy Spirit. Certainly the initiative comes from God whose Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to accept the things of the Spirit of God. They are no longer “foolishness” [mōria] to us as was once the case (1:23). Today one notes certain of the intelligentsia who sneer at Christ and Christianity in their own blinded ignorance. He cannot know them [ou dunatai gnōnai]. He is not able to get a knowledge (ingressive second aorist active infinitive of [ginōskō]. His helpless condition calls for pity in place of impatience on our part, though such an one usually poses as a paragon of wisdom and commiserates the deluded followers of Christ. They are spiritually judged [pneumatikōs anakrinetai]. Paul and Luke are fond of this verb, though nowhere else in the N.T. Paul uses it only in I Corinthians. The word means a sifting process to get at the truth by investigation as of a judge. In Ac 17:11 the Beroeans scrutinized the Scriptures. These [psuchikoi] men are incapable of rendering a decision for they are unable to recognize the facts. They judge by the [psuchē] (mere animal nature) rather than by the [pneuma] (the renewed spirit).

2:15 Judgeth all things [anakrinei panta]. The spiritual man [ho pneumatikos] is qualified to sift, to examine, to decide rightly, because he has the eyes of his heart enlightened (Eph 1:18) and is no longer blinded by the god of this world (2Co 4:4). There is a great lesson for Christians who know by personal experience the things of the Spirit of God. Men of intellectual gifts who are ignorant of the things of Christ talk learnedly and patronizingly about things of which they are grossly ignorant. The spiritual man is superior to all this false knowledge. He himself is judged of no man [autos de hup’ oudenos anakrinetai]. Men will pass judgment on him, but the spiritual man refuses to accept the decision of his ignorant judges. He stands superior to them all as Polycarp did when he preferred to be burnt to saying, “Lord Caesar” in place of “Lord Jesus.” He was unwilling to save his earthly life by the worship of Caesar in place of the Lord Jesus. Polycarp was a [pneumatikos] man.

2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord [Tis gar egnō noun Kuriou;]. Quotation from Isa 40:13. That he should instruct him [hos sunbibasei auton]. This use of [hos] (relative who) is almost consecutive (result). The [pneumatikos] man is superior to others who attempt even to instruct God himself. See on Ac 9:22; 16:10 for [sunbibazō], to make go together. But we have the mind of Christ [hēmeis de noun Christou echomen]. As he has already shown (verses 6-13). Thus with the mind [nous]. Cf. Php 2:5; Ro 8:9,27). Hence Paul and all [pneumatikoi] men are superior to those who try to shake their faith in Christ, the mystery of God. Paul can say, “I know him whom I have believed.” “I believe; therefore I have spoken.”

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