1 Corinthians 2:10-16
But God has revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
In this section the apostle develops more fully the subject of revelation through the Spirit of God. The things prepared by God for them that love him have not been discovered by human wisdom, nor can they be apprehended by natural reason. As they come from God, they are made known to us by God through the operation of the revealing Spirit.
I. THE COMPETENCE OF THE REVEALING SPIRIT. "For the Spirit searcheth all things," etc. He is competent to reveal to us the things of God, because he has a thorough knowledge of them. There is nothing in God that is hid from him, not even the "deep things." The nature, perfections, purposes of the Almighty are patent to his eye. This is explained by an analogy between the spirit of a man and the Spirit of God. "For who among men knoweth the things of a man," etc.? The depths of my being do not lie open to the eyes of others. They cannot observe the hidden motive, the secret desire, and all the movements that precede the formation of a purpose. They see only what is without, and from that infer what is within. But to my own spirit all that inner region is unveiled. I am immediately conscious of all that is going on within me. "Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God." We can see a little of God's working in tile universe, and from that we can gather something of his mind; but we cannot by searching find him out. We can only make dark guesses at a few truths regarding him, whilst the matters of his grace are completely hidden from us. But the Spirit of God knows the things of God, as the spirit of a man knows the things of the man. He does not know them by inference. As dwelling in God and himself God, he knows them immediately, infallibly, and perfectly. The analogy is not to be pressed beyond this particular point. The apostle is not speaking of the relation between the Spirit and the Godhead, except in regard to the Spirit's perfect knowledge. From all this the fitness of the Spirit to be our Instructor in the things of God is manifest. The argument is not that he is superior to every other teacher, but that in the nature of things he is the only Teacher. He alone fully knows; he alone can fully reveal.
II. THE WORK OF THE REVEALING SPIRIT. The all knowing Spirit, proceeding from God, is imparted to believers. As "the spirit of the world" works in the sons of disobedience (Ephesians 2:2), the Spirit of God dwells and works in the children of faith. tits work appears in two ways.
1. In teaching us to know the things of God. "That we might know," etc. (ver. 12). The things prepared for them that love God arc the free gifts of his grace. They have been provided at infinite cost, but to us they are given "without money and without price." These things are taught us by the Spirit, who, as "the Anointing from the Holy One," gives us to know all things (1 John 2:20). How great a privilege to have such a Teacher! How far does it raise the Christian above the wise of this world! How accurate and assured should be our knowledge! And this knowledge is more than the apprehension of certain doctrines as true, or the persuasion that the gospel is God's way of salvation. We know his gracious gifts only in so far as we receive them. Justification and sanctification are verities only to the justified and sanctified. The way to spiritual knowledge is through faith and personal experience.
2. In teaching us to speak the things of God. Paul has in view, first of all, his own case. It was his work as a preacher to declare the glad tidings to men, and this he did, "not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth." He was not left to his own unaided skill in choosing the forms under which he presented the truth. The Spirit gave him utterance as well as knowledge, taught him the very words he was to employ. This statement covers both his oral and his written teaching. Apart from theories on the subject, inspiration must be held to extend to the verbal framework of apostolic teaching, as well as to the teaching itself; yet so as to give free play to the writer's own form of thought and style of expression. He fitted spiritual truth to words suggested by the Spirit (this is one probable meaning of πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες, ver. 13), and so interpreted spiritual things to spiritual men (according to another probable meaning). Does not this apply in measure to all speakers for Christ? The apostles had a special inspiration for their special work, but many in the Church at Corinth had a gift of utterance (1 Corinthians 1:5). May not preachers, teachers, writers, and all who tell the story of Christ crucified, expect similar help?
III. THE NECESSITY FOR THE REVEALING SPIRIT. This appears in the contrast drawn between the natural man and the spiritual man (vers. 14-16). The natural man (ψυχικός) is he who is in the fallen condition into which sin has brought mankind, and in whom the faculty of' knowing Divine things (the spirit, πνεῦμα) is dormant. Such a man is not necessarily sensual or brutish, but he is earthly - all his movements being governed by the lower part of his incoporeal nature (ψυχή), and directed to selfish ends. The spiritual man (πνευματικός) is he in whom the spiritual faculty (πνεῦμα), by which we discern the things of God, has been wakened into life and activity by the Spirit of God. This quickened spirit, dwelt in by the Holy Spirit, becomes the ruling part of his nature, to which thought, desire, purpose, passion, are in subjection (compare the threefold division of human nature in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, which may be illustrated by the threefold division of the tabernacle - the holy of holies, the holy place, and the outer court). Hence:
1. "The natural man
(1) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him." He fails to understand them, and, not thinking that the fault is in himself, he rejects them as absurd. They cross his prejudices and overturn his cherished principles. The doctrine of the new birth seemed foolish to Nicodemus. Every unconverted hearer of the gospel confirms the truth of this statement.
(2) This rejection arises from spiritual inability. "And he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged." The natural man is destitute of the faculty by which spiritual things are discerned, as a blind man cannot judge of colour. The tints of the rainbow, the gorgeous hues of sunset, awaken no sensation in him; and for a like reason the glorious things of God's grace call forth no appreciative response from the natural man. How humbling to human pride and human wisdom] How great the need for spiritual illumination!
2. The spiritual man
(1) "judgeth all things." This may be taken broadly as covering all the matters on which the spiritual man is called to decide. He alone is in the position where all things are seen in their proper relations, for he alone gives the spiritual element its place of paramount importance. But the apostle has specially in view the things of salvation, which are perceived and appreciated only by the renewed man. His inner eye has been opened, and he now lives and moves in the region of spiritual things, where the natural man stumbles and falls. Many an unlettered, Spirit taught Christian has a clearer insight into God's ways of grace than the man of mere learning. Hence every believer is called to exercise his own judgment as to Divine truth, and not to rest supinely on the judgment of another. The spiritual eye, like the natural, is given us to be used; and in the use comes greater clearness of discernment and accuracy of judgment. But:
(2) "He himself is judged of no man. A man with eyesight can judge of the matters of a blind man, but the blind man cannot judge of him. The spiritual man understands the language in which other men speak, but they do not understand his language. Paul understood Greek philosophy, but the philosophers did not understand him. Thou art mad," said Festus (Acts 26:24); "This babbler," said the Athenians (Acts 17:15); "Fool," said the Corinthians. None but a poet can criticize a poet; none but a painter can judge a painter; none but a believer can appreciate a believer. The spiritual man has the mind of Christ, of which the natural man is destitute; and for the latter to sit in judgment on the former would imply that he is capable of instructing the Lord. - B.
Parallel VersesKJV: But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.