What does 1 Corinthians 2:12 mean?
ESV: Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.
NIV: What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
NASB: Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God.
CSB: Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who comes from God, so that we may understand what has been freely given to us by God.
NLT: And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us.
KJV: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
NKJV: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
Verse Commentary:
Paul knows that the Corinthian Christians have received God's Holy Spirit, because they have come to genuine faith in Christ and have been saved (1 Corinthians 1:4–9). Every believer who trusts in Christ for salvation is given by God the gift of the Holy Spirit. Paul will state this clearly later in this letter (1 Corinthians 12:13), as he has in his other letters (Romans 8:9; Ephesians 1:13–14).

Paul writes that, as Christians, we have not received the spirit of the world. In other words, we have not been given an attitude that only accepts those things which we can observe for ourselves and work out with human wisdom and reason.

When we came to faith in Christ, that worldly spirit was replaced with the Spirit of God. Through Him, we gain the ability to understand what can only be understood spiritually, apart from our physical senses. God has freely revealed these things to us about His Son and the opportunity to be included in His family. He wants us to know them and trust them as true.

Put negatively, this knowledge from God and the ability to believe it is not available to those who do not have God's Spirit with them. Intellectual knowledge can never force a person to trust in God (James 2:19; Romans 1:18–23).
Verse Context:
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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