Vincent's Word Studies
And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
With excellency (καθ ὑπεροχὴν)
Lit., according to elevation or superiority. The noun occurs only here and 1 Timothy 2:2, where it is rendered authority. The phrase expresses the mode of his preaching. For similar adverbial phrases, see καθ ὑπερβολήν exceedingly or according to excess, Romans 8:13; κατὰ κράτος mightily or according to might, Acts 19:20. Construe with declaring.
Some of the best texts read μυστήριον mystery. So Rev. See on Romans 11:25.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Emphatic. That which would be the main stumbling-block to the Corinthians he would emphasize.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
I was with you (ἐγενόμην πρὸς ὑμᾶς)
I was is rather I became. I fell into a state of weakness, etc., after I had come among you. With you, i.e., in intercourse with. See on with God, John 1:1. The implication is that his condition grew out of the circumstances in which he found himself in Corinth.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
In demonstration (ἐν ἀποδείξει)
Only here in the New Testament. Lit., a showing forth.
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
Howbeit 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:
Emphatic. Lest his depreciation of worldly wisdom should expose him and his companions to the charge of not preaching wisdom at all, he shows that they do preach wisdom, though not of a worldly kind, among matured Christians.
Them that are perfect (τοῖς τελείοις)
American Rev., them that are full-grown. Paul's term for matured Christians. See Ephesians 4:13, where a perfect (τέλειον) man is contrasted with children (νήπιοι, Ephesians 4:14). So 1 Corinthians 14:20 : "In malice children, in understanding men (lit., perfect);" Philippians 3:15. "This wisdom is the Christian analogue to philosophy in the ordinary sense of the word" (Meyer), and the perfect to whom he delivered it would recognize it as such.
That come to nought (καταργουμένων)
The A.V. states a general proposition, but the Greek present participle a fact in process of accomplishment: which are coming to nought. So Rev.
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
In a mystery
Connect with we speak. See on Matthew 13:11; see on Romans 11:25. The in (ἐν) has a kind of instrumental force: by means of a mystery; i.e., by delivering a doctrine hidden from the human understanding and revealed to us by God.
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Lord of glory
But 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.
Eye hath not seen, etc.
From Isaiah 64:4, freely rendered by Septuagint. The Hebrew reads: "From of old men have not heard, not perceived with the ear, eye has not seen a God beside Thee who does (gloriously) for him who waits on Him." Septuagint, "From of old we have not heard, nor have our eyes seen a God beside Thee, and Thy works which Thou wilt do for those who wait for mercy." Paul takes only the general idea from the Old-Testament passage. The words are not to be limited to future blessings in heaven. They are true of the present.
Have entered (ἀνέβη)
See on Romans 1:21.
But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
See on John 5:39. Not, searcheth in order to discover; but of the ever active, accurate, careful sounding of the depths of God by the Spirit.
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.
See on Romans 8:4. The things of God can be recognized only by the highest element of the human personality. They have not entered into the heart (καρδία, see on Romans 1:21), but into the spirit, which is the highest and principal point of contact with the Spirit of God.
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.
The spirit of the world (τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου)
For this use of πνεῦμα, see on Romans 8:4, under 7. Κόσμος world, is used with the ethical sense. See on John 1:9, under 4, e, The phrase means the principle of evil which animates the unregenerate world; not the personal spirit of evil or Satan, since Paul does not use πνεῦμα spirit, elsewhere in the personal sense of an evil spirit. See note on Ephesians 2:2.
Of God (ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ)
Lit., from God: proceeding forth from Him. "God in us reveals God in our nature" (Edwards).
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.
Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth
Lit., not in the taught words of human wisdom. Compare Plato: "Through love all the intercourse and speech of God with man, whether awake or asleep, is carried on. The wisdom which understands this is spiritual; all other wisdom, such as that of arts and handicrafts, is mean and vulgar" ("Symposium," 203).
Which the Spirit teacheth (ἐν διδακτοῖς πνεύματος)
Lit., in the taught (words) of the Spirit. Taught; not mechanically uttered, but communicated by a living Spirit.
Comparing spiritual things with spiritual (πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες)
Notice the paronomasia. See on Romans 1:29, Romans 1:31. The dispute on this verse arises over the meanings of συγκρίνοντες, A.V., comparing, and πνευματικοῖς spiritual. As to the latter, whether the reference is to spiritual men, things, or words; as to the former, whether the meaning is adapting, interpreting, proving, or comparing. The principal interpretations are: adapting spiritual words to spiritual things; adapting spiritual things to spiritual men; interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men; interpreting spiritual things by spiritual words. Συγκρίνοντες occurs only here and 2 Corinthians 10:12, where the meaning is clearly compare. In classical Greek the original meaning is to compound, and later, to compare, as in Aristotle and Plutarch, and to interpret, used of dreams, and mainly in Septuagint. See Genesis 40:8. The most satisfactory interpretation is combining spiritual things with spiritual words. After speaking of spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:11, 1 Corinthians 2:12, 1 Corinthians 2:13), Paul now speaks of the forms in which they are conveyed - spiritual forms or words answering to spiritual matters, and says, we combine spiritual things with spiritual forms of expression. This would not be the case if we uttered the revelations of the Spirit in the speech of human wisdom.
But 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.
The natural man (ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος)
See on Romans 11:4, on the distinction between ψυχή soul, life, and πνεῦμα spirit. The contrast is between a man governed by the divine Spirit and one from whom that Spirit is absent. But ψυχικὸς natural, is not equivalent to σαρκικός fleshy. Paul is speaking of natural as contrasted with spiritual cognition applied to spiritual truth, and therefore of the ψυχή soul, as the organ of human cognition, contrasted with the πνεῦμα spirit, as the organ of spiritual cognition. The man, therefore, whose cognition of truth depends solely upon his natural insight is ψυχικός natural, as contrasted with the spiritual man (πνευματικός) to whom divine insight is imparted. In other words, the organ employed in the apprehension of spiritual truth characterizes the man. Paul therefore "characterizes the man who is not yet capable of understanding divine wisdom as ψυχικός, i.e., as one who possesses in his ψυχή soul, simply the organ of purely human cognition, but has not yet the organ of religious cognition in the πνεῦμα spirit" (Dickson). It is perhaps impossible to find an English word which will accurately render ψυχικός. Psychic is simply the Greek transcribed. We can do no better than hold by the A.V. natural.
Receiveth not (οὐ δέχεται)
Not, does not understand, but does not admit them into his heart; thus, according to New Testament usage, when the word is used in connection with teaching. See Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 1:21.
Not merely seem. To him they are.
Neither can he know (καὶ οὐ δύναται γνῶναι)
Rev., more strictly, and he cannot know. "It is an utter perversion of such statements to maintain that there is in the natural man any organic, constitutional incapacity of spiritual perception requiring to be created in them by the Holy Spirit .... The uniform teaching of Scripture is that the change effected in regeneration is a purely moral and spiritual one" (Brown).
Rev., judged. Used only by Luke and Paul, and by the latter in this epistle only. By Luke, mostly of judicial examination: Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19; Acts 24:8; Acts 28:18. Of examining the Scriptures, Acts 17:11, but with the sense of proving or coming to a judgment on. The fundamental idea of the word is examination, scrutiny, following up (ἀνά) a series of objects or particulars in order to distinguish (κρίνω). This is its almost universal meaning in classical Greek. At Athens it was used technically in two senses: to examine magistrates with a view to proving their qualifications; and to examine persons concerned in a suit, so as to prepare the matter for trial, as a grand jury. The meaning judged is, at best, inferential, and the Rev. inserts examined in the margin. Bishop Lightfoot says: "Ανακρίνειν is neither to judge nor to discern; but to examine, investigate, inquire into, question, as it is rightly translated, 1 Corinthians 9:3; 1 Corinthians 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:27. The apostle condemns all these impatient human praejudicia which anticipate the final judgment, reserving his case for the great tribunal, where at length all the evidence will be forthcoming and a satisfactory verdict can be given. Meanwhile the process of gathering evidence has begun; an ἀνάκρισις investigation is indeed being held, not, however, by these self-appointed magistrates, but by one who alone has the authority to institute the inquiry, and the ability to sift the facts" ("On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament"). See, further, on 1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:4.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.