1 Corinthians 2:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 2:11, NIV: "For who knows a person's thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

1 Corinthians 2:11, ESV: "For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

1 Corinthians 2:11, KJV: "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."

1 Corinthians 2:11, NASB: "For who among people knows the thoughts of a person except the spirit of the person that is in him? So also the thoughts of God no one knows, except the Spirit of God."

1 Corinthians 2:11, NLT: "No one can know a person's thoughts except that person's own spirit, and no one can know God's thoughts except God's own Spirit."

1 Corinthians 2:11, CSB: "For who knows a person's thoughts except his spirit within him? In the same way, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

What does 1 Corinthians 2:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has written that the only way for any human beings to know God's hidden wisdom, including God's plan for the salvation of believers, is for the Holy Spirit to reveal it to them. It cannot be figured out through human observation and wisdom. Those fallible means can give us intellectual knowledge (Psalm 19:1; James 2:19), but not trusting faith (Matthew 7:7–8).

Now Paul describes God's Spirit working in a similar way to our own spirits. Nobody can use their human senses to know what other people are thinking, either (1 Samuel 16:7). Only our own spirit, and God, can be aware of our own thoughts. If our "spirit" does not tell what those thoughts are, they will remain secret.

In a similar way, nobody knows God's thoughts except His own Spirit. The difference is that, mysteriously, God can task His Spirit to come and reveal His thoughts and plans to us. That's the means by which we come to faith in Christ.