What does 1 Corinthians 2:15 mean?
ESV: The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one.
NIV: The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments,
NASB: But the one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is discerned by no one.
CSB: The spiritual person, however, can evaluate everything, and yet he himself cannot be evaluated by anyone.
NLT: Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others.
KJV: But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
NKJV: But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.
Verse Commentary:
No Scripture is intended to be read devoid of context. Some statements, more than others, are easy to misinterpret or abuse when cut away from their surrounding text. This verse presents that danger.

Paul has written that only those aided by God's Holy Spirit have the capacity to understand spiritual things, including God's plan of salvation through faith in the crucified Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those not helped by God's Spirit simply cannot comprehend spiritual truth. They can grasp things intellectually (Romans 1:18–23; James 2:19), but that does not mean they can attain spiritual understanding. They don't have the capacity to understand or believe anything beyond the material world (Isaiah 55:8–9).

The word translated as "judges" or "appraises" here is from the Greek root word anakrino. This is related, but not identical, to the word used when Jesus said "do not judge" in Matthew 7:1. In this context, the meaning is that of "investigates" or "examines." Paul seems to be saying that a spiritual person, given the ability to see and understand spiritual things, can examine everything. That is, spiritual people can assess both things of the material world, known by human wisdom, and spiritual things only known with the help of God's Spirit.

For the same reason, the spiritual person cannot be correctly examined or investigated by those who do not have the help of the Holy Spirit. Non-believers are not able to truly see the spiritual part of that person (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Some interpreters understand the word "judges" the same as in other passages. Within a certain context, such interpretation is parallel to the idea of discernment or examination. Spiritual people, those with God's Spirit, have the capacity to apply "right judgment" (John 7:24) because they see clearly both the physical and spiritual realities. That spiritual person, though, has already been judged by God, leaving no room to be judged by anyone else, especially those who are not spiritual.
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.
Accessed 5/20/2024 7:59:52 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.