1 Corinthians 2:14 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 2:14, NIV: "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

1 Corinthians 2:14, ESV: "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV: "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 2:14, NASB: "But a natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

1 Corinthians 2:14, NLT: "But people who aren't spiritual can't receive these truths from God's Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can't understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means."

1 Corinthians 2:14, CSB: "But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God's Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually."

What does 1 Corinthians 2:14 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The point made in this verse is crucial in our understanding of spiritualty, and how to interact with the non-believing world. In short, non-believers cannot be expected to think, or to act, like believers. The problem is not intellectual or moral; reason and evidence point towards God (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:18–23). The key difference is spiritual: those who are not guided by the Holy Spirit, thanks to faith in Christ, simply lack a godly spiritual perspective.

The only way to be believe the truths of God, including His plan for salvation through faith in Christ, is for God to communicate those truths through His Holy Spirit. Paul's work is to help people who have been given that spiritual ability to believe to understand what it means, but he knows that he cannot make anyone believe it. Intellectual knowledge and human reason cannot produce faith—at best, they can only impart facts (James 2:19).

Now Paul shows the negative. Those without God's Spirit cannot possibly "get it." God's truths must be understood and believed on a spiritual level. Those without God's Spirit don't have that level, Paul insists. Like a radio, television, or microphone tuned to the wrong signal, they are literally incapable of receiving that message.

So the natural person rejects as foolish anything that comes from the Spirit of God. Those who have only their human senses and human reason will never be able to comprehend the spiritual truths of God's revelation about sin, salvation, and Christ to His people. It's unreasonable to expect non-believers to process spiritual issues in the same way as believers. It's impossible to expect them to have the "mind of Christ" (1 Corinthians 2:16) when they don't have the Spirit of God.