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2. Wisdom From the Spirit

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6Howbeit 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: 7But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 8Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But 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. 10But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 11For 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. 12Now 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. 13Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14But 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. 15But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. 16For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

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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