1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.

6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God's wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.

11 For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God's except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. 13 And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. 14 Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.   Version: New Revised Standard Version.



  • I chapter 1, Paul directed the Corinthians to the Cross. We should be impressed with God, not with man. The thought continues in the present chapter.
  • When Paul brought the gospel to Corinth, he did not try to awe them with his wisdom, considerable as it was. Nor does it even seem he entered Corinth in confidence -- and certainly not cockiness. Paul wanted their faith to be in God, not himself (vv.1-5).
  • On the other hand, there is great depth and wisdom in the message of the Cross (v.6ff). Despite the simplicity of the message, it is intellectually satisfying, emotionally profound, and spiritually rich beyond all conception.
    • In general, the rulers of this age (the intelligentsia, the political powers, the nobility) did not "get it." Otherwise, they would not have crucified Christ. Paul is particularly referring to the Jewish and Roman leaders who collaborated in the execution of Jesus.
    • God's wisdom was secret, but has now been revealed; anyone can get it, provided the heart is right.
    • Verse 9 refers not to heaven or the afterlife, but the things we enjoy in Christ in this life.
    • God reveals truth through the Spirit (v.10).
  • God reveals his truth to man through the Spirit (vv.11-16).
    • His inspired word (2 Timothy 3:16) is how he shows us the truth.
    • "We" in verse 12 refers principally to the apostles, since it was to them that the message was revealed and it was they who conveyed it to others. (See also Hebrews 2:1-3.)
    • Having a knowledge of the truth, given to us through the Spirit in the Word, we are able to have the mind (perspective, understanding) of Christ (vv.15-16).


  • Verse 4 gives no comfort to those who are disorganized and undisciplined, "spontaneously" teaching the truth to others without doing the hard work of reflection and (for public speakers) preparation. The point is that we are to direct others not to ourselves, but to Jesus Christ.
  • The O.T. citation in verse 9 comes from Isaiah 64:4. This is a passage about ignorance and how unspiritual people fail to grasp the will of God.
  • I am in general agreement with the exegesis of 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 by John MacArthur.
  • The spiritual man makes judgments about all sorts of things (v.15). But aren't we told in other places not to judge? For a study of the various types of judging in the N.T., see my short piece Judge Not!
  • The O.T. citation in verse 16 is from Isaiah 40:13. Our understanding, compared to God's, is absolutely minuscule. But with the help of his Spirit (as we write his Word on our hearts) we become wise. Not wise in ourselves, but wise in Christ (1:30).

Thought questions:

  • Do I try to impress others with my sophistication, or do I rely on the gospel message itself to make an impact on them?
  • Do I have a truly biblical worldview? Is the Bible sufficiently impressed on my heart that I am really beginning to look at situations and people through the eyes of Christ?