1 Corinthians 2:15
The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone's judgment.
The Judging FacultyJ. Waite 1 Corinthians 2:15
True WisdomE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 2:6-16
The Holy Spirit as the RevealerH. Bremner 1 Corinthians 2:10-16
The Natural and the Spiritual ManR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 2:14, 15
Natural Man and Spiritual ManC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 2:14-16
Authority in Matters of ReligionC. Gore, M. A.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
Spiritual JudgmentC. Hodge, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
Spiritual JudgmentJ. Ker, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Certainty and Solidity of the Experience of Christian BelieversJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Christly SpiritJ. Harries.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Mind of ChristD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Mind of ChristJ. Vaughan, M. A.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Mind of God IsJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Spiritual FacultyBishop Temple.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Spiritual ManJ. Lyth D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Spiritual ManJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Spiritual ManJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
The Spiritual Man Unknown to the WorldW. Jay.1 Corinthians 2:15-16
He that is spiritual is he in whom the Spirit of God dwells, pervading his spirit with a light and quickening it to a life above that of nature. This higher spirit life has many marks of distinction. It is one of these to which the apostle here gives prominence. Two things are affirmed of the spiritual man -

(1) His power to judge;

(2) his freedom from being judged.

I. HIS POWER TO JUDGE. The attitude of mind suggested is an inquiring, critical, testing attitude - an attitude in which it holds its faith in abeyance until perfectly convinced that that which claims it is divinely true, "proving all things" that it may "hold fast that which is good." The spiritual man brings everything thus to the secret tribunal of his own soul.

1. All forms of human teaching and influence, the various ways in which men seek to guide our opinions and our conduct. "Believe not every spirit, but prove," etc. (1 John 4:1). We may apply this to the whole action of the spirits of men upon us through the ordinary means of personal influence. The spirit of truth and the spirit of error, the spirit of good and of evil, come to us through these human channels; and our mental conditions, our daily habits of thought and life, are determined; often far more than we are aware of, in this way. The spirits of men are embodied in their works and words, and thus not merely when they are physically present with us, but when we have never seen them face to face, when oceans roll between us, when they have passed away to other worlds, we may feel their living touch upon our souls: Their sway over us is independent of the conditions of space and time. "Being dead, they yet speak." "They rule us from their urns." Their very names are instruments of persuasive spiritual power. The grand question in every such case is whether this power is on the whole favourable or otherwise to the cause of truth and righteousness. It is by some criterion of right and wrong in our own souls that this question must be determined, and what can the criterion be but the "spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind" that God gives? Books, sermons, newspapers, theories, systems of religious faith and ecclesiastical polity, the personal example and converse of others, the social sentiments and customs that prevail around us, - in short, everything that possesses a moral quality and wields a moral influence over us, must be subjected to this test. This is the Divine "right of private judgment," which in its highest aspect we cannot surrender if we would.

2. The revelation of God, coming to us as it does through human and. natural channels, must needs be amenable to the same law. According to its own teaching, the Divine in us can alone discover and recognize the Divine element in it. "He that is of God heareth the words of God" (John 8:47); "Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37); "Ye have an anointing of the Holy One," etc. (1 John 2:20). Men justly argue that the Bible, like every other book, must be brought to the tribunal of the "judging faculty." But what is that faculty? If they mean by it the Spirit of God given in his measure to every lowly Christian believer, the wondrous supernatural light that shines from heaven upon every soul that humbly and prayerfully looks up for it, - this is a principle to which all apostolic voices bear witness. But if they mean some native faculty, some light of natural reason, some power of spiritual discernment inherent in the very constitution of our being, - they are trusting to that which is the source of all confusion of thought and divergence of opinion, an ignis faluus, which leads through mazes of uncertainty to the darkness of doubt and of despair. The religious sensibility in every man to which revelation appeals is one thing; the interpretive and verifying faculty, which is the special gilt of the Spirit of God, which, indeed, is the Spirit of God in man, is another. How stroll we know that we have this power? In one view of it it is a self witnessing power, which no rival authority can gainsay; in another, it is a power that proves itself by its qualities and results. It is a lowly, loving, patient, trustful, obedient spirit. And its supreme characteristic is that it testifies to Christ as at once the Centre and Circumference of our highest thought, the Source and End of our noblest life. It is the "mind of Christ," and no "persuasion" can be in harmony with it that does not lead more or less directly to him.

II. HIS FREEDOM FROM BEING JUDGED. "He himself is judged of no man" who has not the same spiritual faculty. This follows as a necessary consequence of the superiority of his own gift. Take it in different ways.

1. No such man can understand him. The workings of his inner life, his deepest thoughts, affections, aspirations, conflicts, the powers that sustain and the principles that govern his whole spiritual existence, - these form a world into which the unspiritual man cannot enter. We arc all mysteries to each other in the individuality of our being. Each lives in his own world, and the painful sense of solitude will often seize upon the thoughtful spirit. Imperfect sympathies arising from imperfect mutual acquaintance are among the saddest features of our social existence, and will often awaken strange longings for a state of being in which we "shall know even as also we are known." In no case is this separation so complete as between the spiritual and the carnal man. Here lies a gulf which no artifice, no arrangement of outward circumstances, can bridge over. When a good man's lot is cast among uncongenial society, he is driven in upon himself, on the silent satisfactions of his own soul. Like the Master, he "has meat to eat which the world knows not of." Many a tender spirit has felt thus isolated in the midst of those most fondly loved. An atmosphere of natural affection and all natural endearments of life surround them, but in the deepest reality of their being they dwell alone.

2. He is not open, on the side of his religious thought and life, to the hostile criticism of any man. How shall others "judge" that with which they have nothing in common, and the very essential meaning of which they cannot understand?

3. No false influence from man can lead him fatally astray. Who shall unsettle the faith or shake the steadfastness of one who is thus bathed in the light and rooted and grounded in the life of God? Who is he that shall bring again into bondage one whom the "law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" has thus made free? Here lies the grand condition alike of mental assurance and. moral strength. - W.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

1. Enlightened.

2. Born of God.

3. Endued with the Spirit.


1. He judges all things.

2. Is exalted above the judgment of others.


1. Not natural.

2. But Divine. He has the mind of Christ.

(J. Lyth D. D.)

I. HIS CONDITION. "Spiritual."


1. Wherein it consists.

2. To what it extends.

III. HIS IMMUNITY from the judgment of others; because natural men —

1. Cannot appreciate Divine things.

2. Are incompetent to form a correct judgment upon them.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)


1. Arises out of an enlightened understanding.

2. Extends to all matters affecting his religious well-being.

3. And if not infallible, is guarded by the disposition to prove all things and hold fast that which is good.

4. Hence he is preserved from all serious error.

II. His IMMUNITY FROM JUDGMENT. He can despise the judgment of worldly men because they have no spiritual apprehension and their decisions are worthless, being over-ruled by the testimony of the Spirit within him.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

The religious or spiritual man, then, is characterised not by taking his religion from other men, not by living on a decision formed by others, but by a personal, private judgment of his own. Religious truth, like other truth, nay, much more than other truth, is a personal conviction, and not merely a conviction, but a judgment, part of man's own rational being — the very life of his rational being — that in which he looks out upon and judges of men and things, when he is most conscious of exercising his own faculties. Nay, more than this, he holds this truth, not merely on his personal private judgment, but with a certain strenuous insistence upon its independence in the face of other men, even within the Christian society.

1. What is the antithesis to this tenure in conscious, personal, and rational judgment of religious truth? It cannot be what is impossible — that we should hold a body of truth on the external authority of the Church, while it does not commend itself to our own deliberate judgment. We cannot disbelieve a thing in our own mind and accept it on an authority external to us. The most that is possible is that a man should take a body of truth as summarised in Church formulas, and without letting his mind work upon it at all, simply passively accept it, and externally laud it and conform to it. And no man can for a moment suppose that such an attitude towards religious truth is the attitude of the Christian. No religious truth, then, is held rightly "as a spiritual man" should hold it, which is held as a mere external dogma positively accepted. It is held only then in a way worthy of our personal responsibility when it is held with active personal apprehension, as that which is an indelible and irrefutable part of our own deliberate conviction, in the light of all the facts of experience.

2. But it is only in our shallowest moments that we shall suppose this repudiation of absolute and unconditional authority, which leaves room for an exercise of our judgment, to involve in any sense the repudiation of authority at all, or the denial that truth should be held finally on mere external authority, to involve the rejection of external authority from its proper place in the formation of our mind. Indeed, those portions of the truth which do not come under the verification of our own faculties, must permanently be held on external authority, but the authority itself must then come under verification. In no part of our life do we live so much by authority and legitimately in its own sphere as in scientific matters. I accept, for example, with no hesitation, a body of truths in physics which are considered well established, the evidence for which I not only could not produce myself, but though I believe it exists, I am, through want of sufficient training and capacity in mathematics, incapable even of understanding and appreciating. But I accept the results because on other grounds where scientific reliability is put to a test intelligible to the uninitiated, I am able to verify it, The verifications general and particular open to ordinary men appear to be quite as valid of their kind in the sphere of religion as in the sphere of science. But in religion, as in science, the authority verified in general must cover particulars beyond the scope of our personal verification. It is, for example, only reason to take on the authority of Christ truths about the future which cannot come under our present cognisance, if we have reason to believe that they come under His. But the true relation of authority and private judgment, in matters of religion, appears more clearly on a more cognate subject, the subject of morals. In morals there is a commonly recognised standard from which a man could not differ without being looked upon with almost universal suspicion — say, on the subject of personal purity and truthfulness. We hold up before each generation as it rises this authoritative standard, this "norma" of moral truth. We do not tell a man as he grows up not to think on moral subjects, not to exercise his own private judgment, but we do tell him that if he exercises it in every way aright he will arrive at an agreement with the authoritative "norma," though the norma is a very old one, which has not materially varied since Christianity first illuminated the moral conscience of mankind, and though on non-theological ground, the basis of this moral dogma is not easily formed and stated — and if a man comes to a conclusion on morals counter to the established dogmas of purity and truth, we condemn him, not for having exercised his private judgment, but for having exercised it wrongly, conformity to the highest standard of mankind on a particular subject being taken as the test of right thinking on that subject. Indeed, unless we are prepared to identify self-will with the exercise of will, and license with liberty, and eccentricity with strength of character, we have no justification at all for putting private judgment as a contradiction to orthodoxy. The place of authority, then, is primarily and mainly in helping us to form our own judgment, We ought to bring our thoughts and feelings, our desires, into the light of the established and recognised authority, which may provisionally, and in the light of common experience, be regarded as expressing the collective wisdom, and setting the standard on the subject, whether of taste, knowledge, or religion. Our judgment ought not to be formed in an isolated, individualistic manner. It is out of committing ourselves to authority that right reason normally and naturally grows. Behind holy teachers, behind our mother's influence, there should be the great mother, the "mother of us all." To receive in the Church of Christ in earliest years — in education, at the time of our confirmation — a body of truth, a system of practice emphasising and embodying holiness of life, to receive it on her loving authority, and to grow up, as our faculty develops, into the intellectual recognition of her truths and practices on our own judgment — this is the moral growth of man.

3. The general principle of authority admits of a great variety of applications in matters of religion. Let us apply it to one particular state of mind. There is a very widely spread fear of committing oneself in matters of religion. A man is often deeply impressed with the need of religion. He has little doubt that the Christian life is what he wants, and to his practical judgment it appears reasonably clear that the Christian life is indissolubly bound up with the Christian motives, and that Christian motives derive their only force from positive and supernatural facts. Why, indeed, should anybody deem that the life can be severed from the truth which has moulded the life? Christian holiness has reigned supreme and final in the world of morals since its origin. And it has come down indissolubly bound up with its environment of doctrines, sacraments, ministries in the Christian society. In the strength, more or less, of these thoughts, there is many and many a man who feels the attraction of the Christian Church: its appeal. It seems the true home of what is best in him and those about him. But it is so much to commit oneself to — is it all true? — Crede ut intelligas is the Church's reply. The understanding of spiritual things can result only from experience, and experience involves faith as its basis. "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine." "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent." The self-committal of faith must precede and be the basis of the satisfaction of the intellect. Well, is this unreasonable? Does it not appear on a little reflection that taking things on trust does in every department of life precede verification? The pure Pyrrhonist who professes to regard certainty about anything as unreasonable is the only person in theory who rejects the ultimate basis of faith. In the commonest knowledge of external nature is involved the taking on trust an objective reality which corresponds to the imitations of sensation. "It was pointed out," Mr. Spencer says, "when treating of the data of philosophy, that we cannot take even a first step (in knowledge)without making assumptions, and that the only course is to proceed with them as provisional, until they are proved true by the congruity of all the results reached. Apply this principle to the sphere of religion, where its application is more complete, and it gives just what we want, the crede ut intelligas. And do we suppose that we are in danger of really dwarfing our capacities for originality, our faculties of criticism, by such temporary suppression of them? On the contrary, is not the principle which Hegel used to inculcate in regard to education profoundly true — that we empoverish and reduce our faculties by a premature exercise of criticism, judgment, originality? Will, not intellect, is the basis of life. Self-conscious intellect belongs to the second stage, not the first. Faith is as legitimate a faculty of man as intelligence. It has its special exercise in realising man's moral and spiritual being. Why should we be ashamed of it? Why should it be apologised for? Thou shalt understand, but thou must first believe.

4. The scheme of Christian truth coheres. To a Christian believer who has advanced to any measure of understanding the whole is one and indissoluble. He recognises that it would be unreasonable to pick and choose; he recognises the coherence of the same sort of means by which we recognise the similar connection, far beyond our personal knowledge, in the department of science. Thus he abides under the shelter of the whole creed. He takes it on trust as a whole. The Christian Church seems to his spiritual faculties eminently trustworthy. He waits while the "Spirit leads him into all the truth." That is, he waits while in the growing experience of life, in the vicissitudes of failure and success, of joy and suffering, of growth and manhood, point by point, the truth becomes realised to his experience and his understanding. What was obscure is cleared up. What might have seemed at one time unnecessary is seen to have been wanted. If anything remains yet outside the sphere of his own personal verification, the processes of his past life warrant him in believing that the future will give it its place. There comes to hand — at this moment in a recent biography — a beautiful instance of the way in which one who stood wholly outside the Christian creed, and, as far as can be judged, by little or no fault of her own, came gradually within the bosom of the Church of Christ, and knew her Lord. Ellen Watson was a brilliant mathematician. When at the age of twenty she was a pupil of Professor Clifford, at University College, in London, and loved with the deepest respect and affection to speak of him as "the Master," he in his turn had a high admiration of her abilities, "believing," as we are told, "that she possessed the rare faculty for doing original work in his science; indeed, he even looked forward to her becoming known some day as a discoverer or originator in mathematics." Her position in regard to religion at that time is thus described: "The one absorbing passion of her mind was the love of positive truth, and this love was guarded by an almost severe morality of the intellect, which made her fear, above all things, every kind of illusion and self-deception. She dreaded, as an intellectual sin, the giving to a wish or a hope or a dream of the imagination the subject and influence of a conviction. Mathematics, by its strictly logical conclusions, and natural science, by its severe experimental tests, commended themselves to her high intellectual integrity as the greatest and best of all teaching, while at the same time they best satisfied the craving for positive truth which filled her soul, so that she delighted in resting on their conclusions as on an immovable basis. 'I do not need religion,' she often said at that time; 'science thoroughly satisfies me.' For, judged only as to the satisfaction afforded to the reason, religion appeared, by the side of positive science, as a collection of dim, uncertain facts mixed with conceptions of the imagination." The certainty of science "gave peace to her intellectual conscience; all else seemed misty — delusive." Within five years she died at Grahamstown, but with words very different on her lips, the words of triumphant faith and praise which make up the Church's "Gloria in excelsis," and with the Church's viaticum for her journey into the unseen world. The biography is mainly an account of the converson of her mind. It was a progress without a break. She lost nothing she had ever had. No part of her hold on scientific truth, her trust in scientific method, ever vanished. She did but, as she described it, gradually wake up in a larger world and found that the spiritual truths which she held by faith, though reached, it is true, by a different process, were still the "crowning knowledge of all that she had won before, perfecting and completing what was otherwise rudimentary and broken." The premature death of her master, Clifford, and the discipline of sorrow and suffering, rudely shattered the completeness which she had at first assigned to the life in the mere visible world. The imparious exigencies of an awakened spirit forced her into the sphere of spiritual and supernatural facts. The recognition of the Divine Fatherhood came slowly but surely upon the mind. Through Divine Fatherhood came the belief in the Divine Son. ship manifested in Christ, and while she was yet far off any clear grasp of the accuracies of the Christian faith, the Christian Church presented itself to her as embodying the truth, and satisfying man's obvious need for order, for spiritual shelter, for unity. She had none of that intellectual vanity which keeps clever people from confessing themselves wrong; none of that pride which makes us preserve our isolation. She desired to have perfect fellowship with the common Christian life. She accepted the Church in practice. She presented herself for confirmation. She sought and found in South Africa the fellowship of the saints in the Church. Authority presented itself to her, and was accepted by her just in the shape of something which embodied what her soul wanted. She recognised the truth, so hard to the natural will, that we must surrender ourselves, merge ourselves, if we are to find our true selves.

(C. Gore, M. A.)

The epithet pneumatikos as applied to believers is significant and comprehensive. It does not mean rational as opposed to sensual. It is the indwelling of the Spirit that gives character to the believer. The Spirit has an illuminating power, so that new discernment is imparted to the soul. This does not arise from light shed on the object, but from the effect produced on the mind. Its faculty of vision is restored; its eyes are opened. Before it was blind — not rationally so as not to perceive truth in its logical relations, nor morally so as to be insensible to moral distinctions, but spiritually so that it cannot discern the things of the Spirit. The case of the Jews in their judgment concerning Christ is an example. They saw that He was a wise man, that He was just, benevolent, and kind. They understood His words, but had no such discernment of His character as enabled them to see the glory of God as it shone in Him. The effect, therefore, produced in the mind is the ability to discern the things of the Spirit. Hence —

I. THERE IS A COINCIDENCE OF JUDGMENT BETWEEN THE BELIEVER AND GOD. What God declares to be true the believer sees to be true. He acquiesces in the judgment of God as to sin, the method of salvation, the person of Christ, the doctrines of grace, the reality and importance of eternal things. So in his judgments of men. Those whom God approves the believer approves. This is the ground —

1. Of the unity of faith among believers.

2. Of the unity of fellowship; so that all Christians recognise each other.

3. Of the authority of the Church, and of the only legitimate authority of tradition.

4. Why schism is a sin.

II. THERE IS ALSO A COINCIDENCE OF FEELING, i.e., the spiritual love what and whom God loves, and hate what and whom God hates. The friends of God are their friends. This is the reason why they have a common experience, and why they love each other as brethren.

III. THERE IS A CONFORMITY IN THE LIFE OF THE BELIEVER WITH THE WILL OF GOD. He does what is in accordance with the mind of the Spirit. This is the ground of the community of worship. They all walk by the same rule and worship the same God and Saviour.


(C. Hodge, D. D.)


I. "He that is spiritual judgeth all things."

1. It is not said that he judges all men, or any man; he has his opinion as to their views; but in regard to their persons, "to their own Master they stand or fall." "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Spiritual judgment, then, has to do not with persons, but with things. Still, does it absolutely judge all things? It is clear that it will not make a man acquainted with the truths of science, or the facts of history, or the details of business. Many a great statesman has had very little spiritual judgment. It will not make a man a skilful Biblical critic, nor a profound theologian.

2. Paul speaks of those things which come within the sphere of the spiritual nature. The Spirit of God reveals to the soul a world which lies both within the present and outside it. It is in a hidden chamber whose existence we dimly felt, but which God's Spirit makes known to us; and this chamber has in it a window which looks out on a new and infinite universe. We do not know ourselves, our fall and possible rise, our sin and salvation, until we are taken in there. This world may seem to those who have not been in it a narrow and poor and almost non-existent thing. But to those who have lived in it, it grows in certainty as its life grows, and it deepens and expands and rises, until it penetrates and comprehends the natural world on every side.

II. ITS INDEPENDENCE — "he himself is judged of no one."

1. This does not mean that the spiritual man is beyond the judgment of others when he has contravened human law. Nor is he exempt from judgment in his spiritual life. He can never be freed from the judgment of God, and his fellow-Christians may have it in their power to instruct and correct his judgment. And then, again, any man of the world can judge a Christian man's conduct, so far as it comes before the outward eye; he can approve it or he can condemn it, and he has a right to do so.

2. What, then, is meant by "he is judged of no man"?(1) The apostle is speaking of an inward, spiritual region into which the Christian man has been introduced by God's Spirit, and of the judgments which natural men, who have no experience of it, may form of it, and of him as he lives in it.(2) Perhaps the best way of illustrating this is to take Paul himself, and see how he had a whole world within him removed from the judgment of natural men around. Take(a) the great truth of salvation by grace without the works of the law. It was looked on by many then and since as an immoral doctrine. But they could not understand that in receiving this free grace there is a new nature received, the motions of which are always saying, "How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?"(b) Neither could he be judged as to the way his new life was supported. Men saw the persecutions, &c., to which he was exposed. The world could not understand how the spirit in him was sustained, and rose up in fresh flames of consuming zeal.(c) The mere natural man could not understand the happiness of his life. Let us only think of this chain which begins with hope and ends with it, like two golden nails fixed to the gate of heaven, while the links hang down into all the trials of life, which are touched and turned to gold by their Divine fastenings (Romans 5:2-5). Now this was not peculiar to the apostle. The experience of most Christian men will fall very far short of that of the apostle, but it is the same in kind; and they have a right to set this inner world, in which their spirit is living and moving, against all the arguments which the outer can advance.


1. It must never separate itself from its source — God's Spirit acting through God's Word. The spiritual judgment, if it is to be sound, can never be cut off from this fountainhead. "The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple," &c. But in order to this there are two things to be observed.(1) We must not form our judgment on single texts, but on the breadth of Scripture — the letter may kill, the spirit gives life; and I know no better way of reaching the breadth of Scripture than by carrying it up in its final issue to the Lord Jesus Christ. Many things that are doubtful become simple when we ask, What would the example and spirit of Christ lead us in this case to say and do?(2) We must ask the guidance of the Spirit which gave the Word, and which kindled any light in us that we may possess. To ask the Author of the book to explain it is the true way of being guided aright (Psalm 25:6).

2. After this guidance from the Source, there is that which we may receive from the new nature formed within, and from the growth of it in obedience to God's will.

(J. Ker, D. D.)

We have here —

I. A SPIRITUAL CHARACTER. The "natural man" is man in his unregenerate state, under the power and influence of those principles and affections which are natural; the spiritual man is man renewed by the Spirit of God.

1. Spiritual men have —(1) Spiritual appetites: they hunger and thirst after righteousness.(2) Spiritual senses, which are exercised to discern good and evil; spiritual eyes — they can see Him on His throne; spiritual ears — they can hear His voice.(3) Spiritual lips — they show forth His praise.(4) A spiritual taste — and therefore they can savour the things of God.

2. Let us particularise, and lay down a few tests by which the spiritual may be known. As regards —(1) The thoughts. They cluster around the Cross. Evil thoughts may enter, but they enter either by fraud or force. But they enter the mind of the natural man as friends and acquaintances.(2) The desires. "There be many that say, Who will show us any good?" They seek their happiness in the things of time and sense only. But "the spiritual" pray, "Lord, hit Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon me." These desires in the Christian may not arise so high as he could wish; but this is the current in which they flow, the end to which they move.(3) Gratitude. If ever a natural man feels anything like gratitude it is for some temporal favour. Now a spiritual man overlooks none of God's mercies. He blesses Him for his daily bread, but much more for heavenly bread. He blesses God for his civil freedom, but above all for the freedom with which the Son hath made him free.(4) The use of creature possessions. A natural man only uses them as bodily gratification; or, if mentally, as objects of curiosity and science. But a spiritual man sees God in everything.(5) Association. While here, we must have to do with the world; otherwise we must needs go out of it. But a spiritual man, when he is entirely free, will say with David, "I am a companion of all them that fear Thee, and of them that love Thy name."(6) Conversation. Spiritual discourse to a natural man is always uninviting, and even irksome. But the spiritual man encourages it and is at home in it.(7) Devotional exercises. The spiritual man does not draw nigh to God with his lips while his heart is far from Him.

II. AN ATTRIBUTE ATTACHED TO THIS CHARACTER. "The spiritual judgeth" (i.e., discerns) "all things." This must be qualified by being taken with four limitations. "All things" mean religious things, and apply —

1. To religious things only. True religion tends to make men wiser in other things — by arousing their faculties, by exciting their energies, by inducing them to redeem their time; but Paul does not refer here to the knowledge of nature, arts, science, &c., but to "the things of the Spirit," the things which are of God."

2. Only to religious things that are revealed. "Secret things belong to God," &c.

3. To religious things only of importance. Everything in religion is not equally momentous, though it is equally true. What you are required to know is not the decrees of God, but His commands; His promises, rather than His prophecies. A man may be spiritual and yet not able to judge what kind of creature the leviathan was; or know where is the locality of Ophir, or the length of a Jewish cubit. A man may be able to open the seals and blow the trumpets — that is, in his own imagination-and be no nearer to the kingdom of God than before.

4. Only to the knowledge of these comparatively; not absolutely and completely. For who by searching can find out God — who can find out the Almighty to perfection? Paul, after knowing so much of Christ for so many years, says, "That I may know Him.(See also Ephesians 3:18, 19.)

III. A DISTINCTION. "Yet he himself is judged of no man."

1. This distinction must be exemplified.(1) You have, perhaps, acquired a certain art, and a person, ignorant of the art, calls in question your proficiency in it, and you say, "I am not to be judged of by such as you." How could Handel be judged of properly by a novice in the principles of music? How could a statesman, in executing the complex concerns of a whole nation, be judged of by a man not able to manage his own family, or even himself?(2) It is always difficult to judge a man religiously. For we are ignorant of the heart and of a thousand things which may tend either to extenuate or condemn. For a man may be conscientious in certain things in which he is condemned. Therefore our Saviour says, "Judge not," and afterwards applauds judgment. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."(3) But the spiritual is absolutely inexplicable to the natural man. "He is a new creature," and not, therefore, to be judged of by the old rules and principles of natural men. He knows them, but they know not Him! He has been in their condition, but they have not been in His!

2. The spiritual are, therefore, said to be "men wondered at."(1) Others may think it strange that we "run not with them to the same excess of riot"; but they know not what it is that has weaned us from it all, viz., the discovery of something infinitely superior.(2) They wonder, that you, should find. such delight in the exercises of the Lord s day. While they say, "What a weariness it is! — when will it be over?" you are "made joyful in the house of prayer."(3) Their experience under affliction often perplexes the people of the world. They see their afflictions, but they do not see their consolations.(4) Their conduct is often equally puzzling to them. They wonder to see them following a course which exposes them to endure reproach and self-denial. They know not the lever that moves them, and are unacquainted with the machine — the love of Christ — that sets all in motion.(5) Neither can they judge of the system of doctrine which they hold. It may seem to them as though they may "continue in sin that grace may abound." But no, they hate the very "appearance of evil." How can we who are dead to sin live any longer therein?"Conclusion:

1. Our subject accounts for Christians not being very ready to communicate to men of the world of their religion and experience. They would not understand it. David said, "Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will tell you what He hath done for my soul." They could relish it, but others could not.

2. Christ accounts for the divers misrepresentations of Christians by men of the world. "The world knoweth them not," although they are very free in speaking of them. Let us learn, then, to be indifferent as to the judgment of the world.

3. But is there nothing by which the people of the world may judge you who are spiritual? Yes. They can judge of —(1) Your talents. They may, perhaps, be able to say to you, "You think more highly of yourself than you ought to think."(2) Your outward condition, and know that you live above your income, and that you had better lower some of your sails.(3) Your consistency as professors of religion. "What do ye more than others?" You profess more than others, and you are to be judged of by your own pretensions.(4) The moral and practical effects of your feelings and experience. You should, therefore, seek to abound in all the fruits of righteousness, and to adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.

(W. Jay.)

Nothing seems at first sight more reasonable than to expect that a revelation which is intended for all mankind should rest on such evidence as can be appreciated by all men. How otherwise can it be universal? Surely the evidence ought to be such as to bear the fullest and strictest investigation by all sound intellects; it ought to be impossible for any one who reasons exactly to fail to reach the right conclusion. Nay, there seems to be not only truth but justice in this claim. The revelation professes to be made not to perfect but imperfect men, not to the holy but to the sinful. To send such a revelation to men who have some peculiar power of appreciating the evidence for it, and to make the reception of it depend on their exercise of that power, seems to contradict not only rational expectation but the demands of equity. How are sinners to be saved if the means of their salvation cannot reach them on account of something in the very sinfulness from which it is the purpose to deliver them? Ought not religious knowledge to be treated as all other knowledge is treated? Ought it not to be considered a branch, in fact, of natural science? Ought not its evidence to be subjected to the same kind of investigation; ought not its basis to be observed facts, handled by strict reasoning; ought not its truth or falsehood to be decided in precisely the same way as the truth or falsehood of any other assertions. Nevertheless, in spite of all this, which is undeniably weighty, we find the revelation which we have received distinctly declining to submit its claims for recognition to these conditions. It appeals to a distinct faculty from those which decide on the truth or falsehood of assertions concerning the laws of nature. It insists that the spiritual man who accepts its teaching, while still keeping all his natural faculties and capable as ever of judging all questions which those natural faculties can handle and determine, has in him a faculty of judging of spiritual truth which is either wanting or dormant or possibly dead in others. It declares with St. Paul that if the gospel be hid it is hid to those who are blinded. How, then, can we call this reasonable or fair? Now, as regards the reasonableness, it must be plain that even in regard to natural phenomena there is a vast difference between one observer and another, and that not only as between the trained observer and the untrained, but between the capacity of one man for being trained and the capacity of another. There are men who cannot see for themselves the facts on which the inferences of science are based, and some cannot even see them when aided by having them pointed out by men of clearer sight than themselves. The conclusions rest on observations in the making of which men differ in power from one another, and, nevertheless, no man is allowed to plead that because his faculties cannot discern the fact, therefore the fact is no fact at all. Now, the same thing is unquestionably true as regards the fundamental facts of all real religion. The claim that the intellect and not the spiritual faculty shall judge of the truth or falsehood of a religious revelation is a claim that bad men and good men, men with aspirations to holiness and men content with their own moral and spiritual condition and desiring nothing higher, shall be on precisely the same level. And this is not so, and never can be so. The man who hungers and thirsts after righteousness sees truths which are not seen by men who have no such hunger nor thirst. He not only knows better what is meant by the beauty of self-sacrifice, of holiness, of unearthliness, but he knows too and sees as others do not see the eternity and supremacy of these things. And the perception of these facts makes an enormous difference in the inferences which he perpetually draws from the sum total of the facts before him. He draws different inferences because he takes into account different premises. He sees that the inferences drawn from the partial premises which alone are within the reach of bodily observation are of necessity incomplete, and be cannot be content with them. The question, whether there is a God at all, whether the Bible comes from Him, whether the history told in the New Testament is a true history, have to be determined with due regard to the insight which he ever has within himself into the eternal nature, into the absolute sovereignty, into the more silent but imperative command of the great law of duty. This will demonstrate to him the existence of God; this will largely determine his judgment on the true nature of the Bible; this will never be forgotten in his estimate of the historical truth of the New Testament. The value which he attaches to particular human testimony, the degree in which he will allow the possibility of exceptions to those generalisations which we call the laws of nature, but which after all are nothing but generalisations, must be and must rightly be gravely affected by his looking at the evidence taken as a whole from the point of view which belongs to his spiritual character. If his premises are different, it is inevitable that his conclusions must be different also. So true is this and so sure is the operation of the spiritual character upon the hold that a man has on religious truth, that we can trace it not only in the decision of the great question of all, Shall we believe in a God or not? but in the acceptance of particular doctrines contained in the revelation we have received. Thus, for instance, the doctrine of our Lord's Atonement is grasped with a strength by some Christians which is not to be traced in the convictions of others. And if we search for the reason we always find it in the conflict which these men have had to pass through which others have not known. St. Paul, from the agony of his struggle with his own lower nature, came to the Cross with a passionate conviction of his need of a Saviour which we cannot find expressed with the same fervour in any other writings than his. The man whose inner life has been comparatively calm and who has known nothing of such violence of battle, will not see with the same vividness that the Cross of Christ is his one hope, and while accepting the doctrine will not place it at the very height of all his faith. The varying spiritual characters give an insight into varying aspects of spiritual truth, but without the spiritual character such insight cannot be. When, therefore, it is seen that religious men decide differently from other men questions which have to be decided on evidence, there is nothing in this that is contrary to reasonable expectation. They are, of course, liable to make mistakes in the inferences, just as all men are liable to make mistakes. But the difference in their conclusion is not due to the fact that they reason differently from others, and set aside the ordinary canons of inference. It is due to their taking into account certain premises which others disregard and cannot help disregarding. But to deal with the other demand, namely, that a revelation to sinners ought to be appreciable to sinners: it is to be observed that the revelation was never intended to work mechanically without any demand on the moral action of those to whom it was made. It was intended to be effectual on those who were willing to use it, and, therefore, it was made to be appreciated in accordance with that willingness. It was offered to all, but it was offered without relieving or being intended to relieve any from responsibility for his own life. The responsibility of every individual moral being is a fundamental religious truth, never to be set aside. And in order that this responsibility may be complete, it must extend not only to action in obedience to revelation when accepted, but to the act of acceptance itself. Men shall not be prevented from accepting it because they have sinned; provided there still remain the power of longing for higher things, even though that longing be of the faintest and the feeblest. The revelation of God meets the aspiration of man. Where there is the upward spring of the soul, even though that soul be in the very blackest depths of evil, there shall penetrate the power of the voice of God, and shall give force to the effort, and shall touch the heart, and shall clear the insight, and shall revive the conscience, and shall make the will the master of the life, to go on ever and to go on upwards, in spite of falls and failures many, to the very presence of God Himself. But if now it be asked what judgment can be formed of those who, notwithstanding, have come to the conclusion that the revelation is not true, the answer is plain, no judgment can be formed by us. We are speaking all this time not of the application of the laws of the spiritual world to individual men, but of the laws as they are in themselves. It is conceivable that a man's spiritual faculty may be palsied by the concentration of his mind on the phenomena of sensible things. The possibilities travel beyond our conceptions, and leave us unable to say what exceptions to His general rules our heavenly Father may make. Of this we are sure, to begin with, that His justice is absolute, and we are told expressly that when all secrets are revealed this also shall be plainly seen. But until that day we must be content, in spite of apparent contradictions, to leave all judgment on men's souls absolutely to Him. These arguments are not to enable us to judge others, but to enable us with strong certainty to live in our own faith, and to show us in what direction we are to seek for that which will confirm that faith in us and aid the formation of that faith in others. There is nothing which will help either others or ourselves more than the perpetual reiteration of the majesty, of the eternity, of the supremacy of that which is the very essence of the nature of God Himself, the law of duty.

(Bishop Temple.)

For who hath known the mind of the Lord?... But we have the mind Of Christ.
I. UNFATHOMABLE. His thoughts are —

1. Vast.

2. Unsearchable.

3. Unbiased.


1. In Christ.

2. By His Spirit.

3. Through faith.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

We may have the mind of Christ —

1. Representatively. The minds of great men represent themselves —(1) Through the character of their disciples. Jesus put His disciples in possession of His mind — both its great ideas and governing sympathies. They faithfully represented His mind to others. They died; but their followers, in their turn, transmitted the mind which they received. We look at the true Church, and we can see in it the mind of Christ.(2) Through literature. A man's book is a kind of second incarnation of himself. Thus the mind of Jesus has come down to us in the New Testament.(3) In their historic influence. Christ's mind has come down to us in this way.

2. Personally. Christ has distinctly assured us that He — not His mere influence, but Himself — is with His Church always, even unto the end, to enlighten, sanctify, guard, and strengthen it. This fact gives the Bible a wonderful advantage over other books. I take up the work of a departed author, and I find many things which I cannot understand, but I have no help. But when I take up the Bible — though it has been written for centuries — its Author is by my side. If we have the mind of Christ, then —

I. WHETHER WE RIGHTLY ACT IN RELATION TO THAT MIND OR NOT, OUR OBLIGATION IS IMMENSE. Our obligation is ever regulated according to the powers and privileges with which Heaven has endowed us. "Unto whom much is given, of them much will be required." In connection with this principle note —

1. That the most precious thing in the universe is mind. Matter, in all its forms of life and beauty, is but the creature, symbol, and servant of mind. One human soul, though tabernacling in poverty, is of more essential worth than the sun. The sun has no feeling, thought, volition; it can neither form an idea of itself, nor of its Author. But the feeblest moral mind has all this, and can do all this,

2. That the most precious mind in the universe is the mind of Christ.(1) All human minds are not of the same relative value. The minds of such men as Newton, Bacon, Milton are worth the aggregate mind of their age. But he who is instrumental in restoring one soul to moral truth and God, may do a greater work for the universe than he who corrects a hundred inferior minds. But the most majestic intellects bear no comparison with the mind of Christ; His mind was "the image of the invisible God."(2) Now nothing enhances our responsibility so much as connection with minds of a high and holy order. But contact with the mind of Christ enhances our responsibility a thousandfold. "If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sin," &c. "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world," &c.


1. Mental vivacity. Mind is the quickener and developer of mind. The amount of vital energy and impulse, however, which one mind is capable of imparting to another will, perhaps, generally depend upon two conditions.(1) The character of the subjects of intercourse. Where they are tame commonplaces or vague abstractions, but a small amount of impulse will be imparted; but where they are of an opposite character, a powerful effect may be expected.(2) The native vigour of the mind that presents these subjects. The most moving subjects will produce little effect when presented by a lifeless mind; but where there is great native energy in the soul of the communicator, in any case, there must be a powerful effect. Now you have just these two conditions in the highest form in connection with the mind of Christ. His mind is life and light — condensed energy and focal flame. His mind broke the mental slumbers of humanity, put the world in action, and gave it an impulse that shall go on accumulating for ever. He, therefore, who is rightly connected with the mind of Christ must be a man of mental earnestness. A sleepy-minded Christian is a solecism — a contradiction.

2. Moral assimilation. "He that walketh with wise men shall be wise." Fellowship with a pre-eminently spiritual, holy, humble, benevolent, and devout mind is eternally incompatible with worldliness, impurity, pride, selfishness, and impiety.

3. True happiness. Christ's mind does two things towards human happiness.(1) It removes all obstructions. Sin is the great obstruction, and the great work of Christ is "to lint away sin"; to put it away in its —

(a)Idea form — the intellectual errors of men are sources of misery.

(b)Disposition form — the wrong and conflicting dispositions of men are sources of misery.

(c)Guilt form — the sense of guilt upon the conscience is a sore element of distress.(2) It supplies the necessary condition of happiness. A suitable object of supreme love. Our supreme affection is the fountain of our happiness; but for the supreme affection to yield perfect happiness it must be free from all moral defects, capable of helping us in all the contingencies of our being, ever reciprocating our affections, and one which will continue with us for ever. In Christ we have all this, and nowhere else. If, then, we are in right connection with the mind of Christ, we are happy. Melancholy and gloom are foreign to Christianity.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

A wonderful property, even for an apostle! And if it is within our reach that man must be a fool who does not give his mind to consider what it is, and how it is to be obtained. The expression is a full one — for you may take the words and actions of a man, and still fall short of his mind. For that is his spirit, the motive which actuates him, the feeling which moulds his conduct, the inner life which gives tone and character to his outer being. So you might copy Christ's example, and speak and act like Christ — but all the while be unable to say, "I have the mind of Christ." Note —


1. It was altogether human. It is an idle thought that the body of Christ was human, but the spirit or mind of Christ, was Divine. That which is Divine, being always infinite, is incapable of any growth or increase. But Christ "increased in wisdom." So complete was Christ's emptying of Himself here for our sakes that His mind became subject to all the laws by which our intellect is governed.

2. This is necessary for the truth of the history, to the integrity of His humanity, for the perfectness of His sympathy and power, for His being an exemplar that we may imitate.


1. This thought is the connecting link which unites our little minds with His. For this is exactly Paul's reasoning. "The spirit which is of God" is identified with the mind of Christ. That soul of Jesus, then, infinitely stored with the Holy Spirit, becomes a fountain from whence that Spirit is always pouring out into His own people; so that "out of His fulness have all we received." And this it is which makes a gift of the Spirit so very sweet to a Christian.

2. And, as that process goes on, every fresh communication of the Holy Ghost, passing as it does from the bosom of Jesus, enables us to say with greater and greater truth, "We have the mind of Christ."


1. As respects that great search after truth, no man can really understand the Bible who does not bring to the study of it "the mind of Christ." Now mark the apostle's reasoning. He says, no man can tell what is passing in any man's mind except that man himself. In like manner he says, no one can know what is passing in the mind of God but God only. But if only God knows God, how can we know God? By having "the mind of Christ." Thus, then, it is, by bringing the mind of Christ in our souls to "the mind of Christ" in the Bible that we can understand the mind of God.

2. The possession of "the mind of Christ" is a wonderful clue to the intricate windings of the labyrinth of life. There are thousands of points which require instantaneous decision. The juncture gives little space to go to some friend, or even to the Bible. At such moments a rapid perception of the right is an inestimable gift, and we shall have that if we have "the mind of Christ."

3. They have the benefit of "the mind of Christ" who wish to pray rightly. God has given us the license to "ask what we will, and it shall be done." But may not a man inadvertently ask and obtain a curse? Our security in that dangerous privilege is in the knowledge of the Bible — an acquaintance with God's promises. But we want something quicker. Those who bring Christ in them to their knees, having "the mind of Christ" in asking, know what is "the mind of Christ" in giving. And it is surprising to what an extent this may control and guide prayer. The Syrophenician woman had it, when she would not cease till she had obtained what she wanted. Abraham had it equally when he stayed his supplication for Sodom at "the ten." And doubtless Paul also, when he ceased to deprecate "the thorn" at the third petition.

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)

(Philippians 2:5, and text): — Let the thought, the aim, the spirit of Christ be in you and be yours. All that He did, wills, approves, and blesses, even in the details of every-day life. Observe here the Christly spirit —


1. Voluntary humiliation. "He emptied Himself," became obedient unto death." He who would study the grand pattern for the Christly life must begin in the valley of humiliation.

2. Absolute surrender for others — the perfection of self-sacrifice. "He came not to be ministered unto," &c.

3. Disinterestedness in benevolence — "Looking to the things of others."

4. The grand law of Christian discipleship. Though we may never be able to equal the incomparable humility, gentleness, and self-sacrifice of Christ, yet we may follow His example.

II. POSSESSED — AS THE DIVINEST INSPIRATION TO THE HIGHER LIFE. No man that would ascend to the loftiest moral excellence but must possess "the mind of Christ." By the indwelling of the Spirit of Christ there is imparted into us —

1. Strength to fight against sin and to achieve a victory.

2. Inspiration to spiritual power, beauty, excellence, and holiness.

3. Harmony of heart with the heart of God.

III. REALISED — AS THE CROWNING ENDOWMENT FOR THE NOBLEST SERVICE. "We have the mind of Christ." The conscious possession of the mind of Christ has led thousands to make the highest sacrifice and to render the noblest service — Luther to attempt the Reformation; Robert Raikes to establish the Sunday-schools; Charles of Bala to originate the British and Foreign Bible Society, &c. Lessons: The attainment is —

1. Possible.

2. Certain. "We have."

3. Let us all seek it afresh, for the glory of God, for the good of others, and our own happiness.

(J. Harries.)


1. Enlightening the understanding.

2. Assuring the conscience.

3. Informing the judgment.

4. Renewing the heart.


1. They do not know the mind of God.

2. Are incompetent to judge of spiritual things.

3. Much more to offer any instruction to those who have the Spirit of God.

(J. Lyth, D. D.).

1 Corinthians 2:15 NIV
1 Corinthians 2:15 NLT
1 Corinthians 2:15 ESV
1 Corinthians 2:15 NASB
1 Corinthians 2:15 KJV

1 Corinthians 2:15 Bible Apps
1 Corinthians 2:15 Parallel
1 Corinthians 2:15 Biblia Paralela
1 Corinthians 2:15 Chinese Bible
1 Corinthians 2:15 French Bible
1 Corinthians 2:15 German Bible

1 Corinthians 2:15 Commentaries

Bible Hub
1 Corinthians 2:14
Top of Page
Top of Page