The Expository Files

Who Has The Mind Of Christ?

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

First Corinthians chapter two is a text often mishandled. First, there is a context. Paul is writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the troubled church at Corinth. He knew they were divided (1:10), and that their division was a symptom of their exaggerated and carnal esteem for men. The term humanism would not be out of place to describe the culture in Corinth and the root of corruption in the church. Paul responds by exalting divine wisdom above human, and quoting the prophet who said, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord,” (1:31).

The second chapter begins with a memo (reminder) to the saints at Corinth, that when Paul delivered the gospel to them, the main thing was Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul’s work there (see Acts 18) was not about competing with the highly esteemed wisdom and oratory of men. Paul didn’t care to enter into competition with the highly acclaimed styles of public speaking in the Grecian culture. He came to tell them about Jesus Christ and Him crucified, that their “faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God,” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

Next (1 Cor. 2:6-16), Paul affirms the work of the Holy Spirit through the delivery of the gospel message (though Paul and other inspired men). When you come to verse 6 and the phrase, “we speak wisdom,” that “we” is not everybody or every Christian or every preacher. Based on the previous paragraph, the content of this passage and the teaching of the New Testament everywhere, “we speak wisdom” is a claim that pertains to the apostle Paul and the other inspired men through whom the truth of the gospel was delivered and written.

Who spoke the wisdom of God in the first century? Not everybody. Even some who were Christians spoke things that could not be classified as the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 15:12). Christ said the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles into all the truth (see John 16:13). The apostles and a limited number of people upon whom they laid their hands, were inspired by the Holy Spirit to deliver the message we have in the New Testament! (See 2 Tim. 1:6; Eph. 3:1-5). “…who are the we? Does every preacher speak the wisdom of God? Our own experience testifies that he does not. The ‘we’ must be understood contextually; the ‘we’ are those to whom God gave his revelation through the Spirit (2:10-13). These were the apostles and prophets,” (Mike Willis, A Commentary On First Corinthians, p.#55).

Now apply this to 1 Cor. 2:6-16, considering these examples:

The hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory (v.7) was revealed through the work of the apostles. See this in Romans 16:25,26 and Eph. 3:1-5.

Eye has not seen, nor ear hard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him (v.9). Men could not – through their original thought processes – know the content of the gospel (see 1 Cor. 1:21). Those things God prepared (the gospel plan) had to be revealed by God. The truths of the gospel had to be revealed (just as one human must reveal his thoughts in order for others to know them, see verse 11).

But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit (v.10). The pronoun “us” should not be opened up to take in all men or all Christians or all preachers. It has to do with the revelation of the truth through the apostles. We are privileged to have that body of truth today in written form (the New Testament).

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 (v.12). “We” is the apostles and inspired men through whom the gospel was given. Those men (which would include the writers of the New Testament) received the Spirit who is from God, not in hints or nudgings but “freely given.”

These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (v.13). The revelation of the gospel through these inspired men was not nebulous, subjective, vague or poorly defined. Human wisdom did not select the words, the Holy Spirit did. “The Holy Spirit is the member of the Godhead who did the work of revelation. The apostles and prophets did not speak their personal thoughts; they spoke what the Holy Spirit revealed for them to speak.” (Willis, p.#63).

So, “the natural man” in verse 14, who “does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,” is the uninspired man. The conclusion? The apostles and inspired writers and teachers guided by the Holy Spirit had “the mind of Christ.” We have the literary result of that work in our New Testaments.

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 13.5; May 2006