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1 Corinthians chapter 2

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What does 1 Corinthians chapter 2 mean?

Paul begins 1 Corinthians chapter 2 by picking up a train of thought he left behind in the middle of chapter 1. There, he wrote that Christ did not send him to preach the gospel in Corinth with words of eloquent wisdom. To do so would risk emptying the cross of Christ of its power.

Coming back to that idea, Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians of what he was like when he first came to Corinth and started preaching the gospel. They should remember that he didn't make an impressive or showy presentation. He didn't wow them with big words or clever arguments or his vast knowledge. He decided ahead of time to only tell them what he knew about Christ and the crucifixion. In fact, Paul reminds them that he was fearful, weak, and trembling before them. We don't know if he was sick or especially nervous or if Paul was just generally unimpressive in person. In either case, Paul declares that it was for their benefit. He didn't want anyone to come to faith in Christ because of the way he packaged the message. Instead, the Corinthians believed because God demonstrated His own Spirit and power to the them (1 Corinthians 2:1–5).

It's not that wisdom is a bad thing, Paul insists. Other writings of the New Testament extol the value of intellect and knowledge (Acts 17:11; Colossians 2:8; 1 Peter 3:15). Importantly, there is a difference between human wisdom and the secret, hidden wisdom of God. God's wisdom includes His plan, established before the world was formed, to offer salvation to those who believe in Christ's death on the cross as the payment for their own sin.

Human wisdom is based on what can be observed with the senses and worked out with human reason. That wisdom simply cannot see or understand the truth of God. In order to believe God's wisdom, He must reveal it to us through His own Spirit. As our spirit knows our thoughts, God's Spirit knows His thoughts and helps us to believe His revelation of those thoughts to us.

The spirit of the world is limited to understanding and believing in only what can be observed with the senses. Christians have exchanged that spirit for God's Spirit, given to each person who comes to God through faith in Christ. Paul's work was to use human words—but not bare human wisdom—to help interpret the spiritual truths revealed to those who believe so that they could understand them more fully (1 Corinthians 2:6–13).

Those who are not helped by God's Holy Spirit are simply unable to comprehend anything spiritual. That's why they reject as foolish the things of God's Spirit, including the truth of Christ crucified for human sinfulness. The spiritual person, made spiritual by God's Holy Spirit, can judge or examine everything, both material and spiritual. Through the Holy Spirit, we have access to the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14–16).
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