What does 1 Corinthians 2 mean?
Chapter Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 2:1–5 begins with Paul asking the Corinthians to remember what he was like with them when he first came to Corinth. He did not tell them about Christ with impressive speaking skills and displays of knowledge. In fact, he was weak, fearful, and trembling. That was a deliberate tactic on Paul's part, for their good, so their faith would be based on God's power and not on any amount of impressive human wisdom.
First Corinthians 2:6–16 describes the difference between human wisdom and God's wisdom. Human wisdom is limited to what can be observed and worked out with human reason. Scripture points out the value of reason and knowledge (Colossians 2:8; 2 Timothy 2:15), while demonstrating a difference between what man's mind can achieve and what God's Spirit can reveal. God's wisdom, including His plan to offer salvation through Christ's crucifixion, must be received and believed spiritually through God's Holy Spirit. Without the help of the Spirit, people cannot believe what is spiritual, so they reject all spiritual truth as foolishness. Christians, though, have access to the mind of Christ because of God's Holy Spirit with us.
Chapter Summary:
When Paul first came to Corinth, he did not present the gospel to them with lofty speech and impressive arguments. He presented the truth as simply as he could so their faith would be based on God's power and not human wisdom. Only those with God's Spirit can understand the truths revealed by God, including Christ crucified for human sinfulness. Those without God's Spirit are limited to what can be observed and worked out with human reason. God's Spirit makes it possible for us to understand and believe spiritual things.
Chapter Context:
First Corinthians 2 picks up Paul's train of thought from the middle of the previous chapter. He reminds the Corinthians that he did not make an impressive display of his own speaking skills or knowledge when he first came to them. He wanted their faith to be in God's power, not human wisdom. God's ultimate wisdom can only be understood spiritually, revealed to human beings through God's Spirit. Those without God's Spirit cannot understand spiritual things. As a result, they reject the idea of Christ crucified for human sin as foolish. Through the Spirit, spiritual people have the mind of Christ.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
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