What does 1 Corinthians 2:8 mean?
ESV: None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
NIV: None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
NASB: the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory;
CSB: None of the rulers of this age knew this wisdom, because if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
NLT: But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord.
KJV: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
NKJV: which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
Verse Commentary:
Paul has written that God's secret wisdom for the world, established before time began, included His plan to sacrifice His Son for the sins of humanity. In the previous verse, Paul wrote that God decreed this for our glory.

Our sin made it impossible for us to share in Christ's glory. We fell far short of it (Romans 3:23). God's plan, His secret wisdom, would make it possible for our sin to be forgiven by Christ's death instead of our own and for us to be declared righteous based on Christ's righteousness and not our own.

All of this hinged on the crucifixion of Jesus, whom Paul now calls the "lord of Glory." The rulers of this age—the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman government that killed Jesus—did not, of course, understand this. They didn't know that they were fulfilling a role in God's plan. If they had known, they would never have killed Jesus.

It's unclear whether Paul means that they would not have wanted to bring God's plan to pass or that they would not dared to kill the Son of God. In either case, their blindness to God's secret wisdom caused them to do exactly as God had decreed.
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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