Contrasts Between God and Man 1 Cor 2:1-16

1 Cor 2 1-16 A Comparison Between God and Man CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO

When Paul came to the Corinthians to declare the testimony of God [1 Cor 2:1], he simply preached “Jesus Christ, and him crucified,” [1 Cor 2:2].  He didn’t try to impress them with his wisdom; rather he tried to establish them in the words of God and the power of the Spirit of God [1 Cor 2:4-5].  He came to them in “weakness,” [1 Cor 2:3; 2 Cor 12:5, 9-10; 1 Cor 9:22] and in “fear, and in much trembling,” [1 Cor 2: 3; Phil 2:13; Eph 6:5, as a servant of Christ].

Evidently, the Corinthians had been approached by others, who came to them after Paul left. They were following these men because they appeared to be wiser and more impressive than Paul.  See 1 Cor 3:18-23; 4:6; 4:19-20; 2 Cor 10:8-12; 2 Cor 11:4-6.  

As a result, in this chapter, Paul contrasts the things of God with the things of men to show that the things of God, that he preached, are much more powerful and beneficial than the things of men that had so impressed them.

Paul contrasts the:

Words of men and the words of God – when men want to impress you they use “excellency of speech,” [1 Cor 2:1].  They speak with “enticing words,” [1 Cor 2:4] to get you to follow them.  When they speak with “good words and fair speeches,” [Rom 16:17-18] you need to mark them and avoid them if their words cause division in the body.  Paul referred to these speeches as “the word which man’s wisdom teacheth,” [1 Cor 2:13].  They sound scholarly and knowledgeable, but their words are worth little because they are taught by man’s wisdom. 

The words of God, on the other hand, are the words “which the Holy Ghost teacheth,” [1 Cor 2:13; Jn 14:26; Jn 16:13].  The words he gives are profitable and beneficial [2 Tim 3:16-17].   His words give life [Jn 6:63].  When the Holy Spirit teaches he compares “spiritual things with spiritual,” [1 Cor 2:13].  That is, he teaches primarily by cross referencing scripture with scripture.  As one preacher has said, “The Bible is the best teacher of itself.”

Wisdom of men and the wisdom of God – it’s not that men don’t have wisdom, it’s just that man’s wisdom is the “wisdom of this world,” [1 Cor 2:6].  So, it’s limited to things of this world.  And this world will pass away [Matt 24:35; 1 Jn 2:17]. The princes of this world, who speak with man’s wisdom, “come to nought,” [1 Cor 2:6].  The wisdom of men is contrasted to the the power of God [1 Cor 2:5].  The implication is that the wisdom of men is weak, by comparison.

The wisdom of God is a “mystery,” [1 Cor 2:7] to men.  Paul calls the wisdom of God “hidden wisdom,” [1 Cor 2:7].  You only know as much of the wisdom of God as God is willing to reveal to you [Deut 29:29].  To those who love his wisdom [Prov 8:17], pray for his wisdom [Jas 1:5], and diligently seek and apply their heart to his wisdom [Prov 2:1-7], he gives his wisdom.  The princes of the world didn’t know his wisdom [1 Cor 2:8], because they only had the wisdom of this world, and rejected God’s wisdom when Jesus preached it to them [Mk 7:5-13; Col 2:8]. 

The wisdom of God is revealed to us by his Spirit [1 Cor 2:9-10].  Apart from the revealed truth of God, you know nothing about what God has prepared for you.  You can’t see it, you can’t hear it and you can’t conjure it up in your heart.  If a scientist, philosopher, or priest, therefore, does not believe the word of God, he is totally lost when he tries to explain where we came from or where we are going.  His eyes, ears and thoughts just can’t come up with it.

Spirit of men and the Spirit of God – a man “knoweth the things of man,” [1 Cor 2: 11], by the spirit of man that is in him.  The spirit of man can give you discernment about another man, but is limited in that it cannot give you discernment about the things of God.  Like Paul said, “the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God [1 Cor 2:11].  

God, so that we might know the things he has freely given us, has not given us “the spirit of the world,” [1 Cor 2:12], but “the spirit which is of God,” [1 Cor 2:12].  If he had not given us his Spirit, we could never know these things [Jn 14:16-17].  

Natural men and spiritual men – the natural man “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” [1 Cor 2:14].  So, a natural man who tries to understand the spiritual things of God finds that they are “foolishness to him,” [1 Cor 2:14].  As a matter of fact, when natural men try to deal with spiritual things through their religions, they always include an element of works and self-righteousness as a means of finding acceptance with God.  They are wrong every time.  It’s foolish to the natural man to believe that God will accept him by faith in Christ’s work alone.   Instead, he devises religions of idolatry and sacrifice [Rom 1:21-25; 1 Cor 10:19-20].  Hence, Paul was concerned that whoever was preaching among the Corinthians might corrupt them from the “simplicity that is in Christ,” [2 Cor 11:1-6].

The things of the Spirit of God are “spiritually discerned,” [1 Cor 2:14].  Therefore, they must be revealed to you by the Spirit, through the words of God.  That’s how a spiritual man “judgeth all things,” [1 Cor 2:15].  He judges by the words of God [Jn 7:24].  And he is judged by the words of God [similar to Jn 12:48].  A spiritual man has “the mind of Christ,” [1 Cor 2:16; Phil 2:5].  We don’t instruct the Lord [Is 40:13-14]; he instructs us, when we come to him with a humble mind and a believing heart.