1 Corinthians 2
The Passion Translation
Paul’s Reliance on Spiritual Power
2 My brothers and sisters,[a] when I first came to proclaim to you the secrets[b] of God, I refused to come as an expert, trying to impress you with my eloquent speech and lofty wisdom. 2 For while I was with you I was determined to be consumed with one topic—Jesus, the crucified Messiah.[c] 3 I stood before you feeling inadequate, filled with reverence for God,[d] and trembling under the sense of the importance of my words.[e] 4 The message I preached and how I preached it was not an attempt to sway you with persuasive arguments but to prove to you the almighty power of God’s Holy Spirit. 5 For God intended that your faith not be established on man’s wisdom but by trusting in his almighty power.
Wisdom from God
6 However, there is a wisdom that we continually speak of when we are among the spiritually mature.[f] It’s wisdom that didn’t originate in this present age, nor did it come from the rulers of this age who are in the process of being dethroned.[g] 7 Instead, we[h] continually speak of this wonderful wisdom that comes from God, hidden before now in a mystery.[i] It is his secret plan, destined[j] before the ages, to bring us into glory.[k] 8 None of the rulers of this present world order understood it,[l] for if they had, they never would have crucified the Lord of shining glory.[m] 9 This is why the Scriptures say:
10 But God now unveils these profound realities to us by the Spirit.[p] Yes, he has revealed to us his inmost heart and deepest mysteries through the Holy Spirit, who constantly explores all things. 11 After all, who can really see into a person’s heart and know his hidden impulses except for that person’s spirit? So it is with God. His thoughts and secrets are only fully understood by his Spirit, the Spirit of God.
12 For we did not receive the spirit of this world system but the Spirit of God, so that we might come to understand and experience all that grace has lavished upon us. 13 And we[q] articulate these realities with the words imparted to us by the Spirit and not with the words taught by human wisdom. We join together Spirit-revealed truths with Spirit-revealed words.[r] 14 Someone living on an entirely human level[s] rejects[t] the revelations of God’s Spirit, for they make no sense to him. He can’t understand the revelations of the Spirit because they are only discovered by the illumination of the Spirit. 15 Those who live in the Spirit are able to carefully evaluate all things, and they are subject to the scrutiny of no one but God. 16 For
Christ has, and we possess Christ’s perceptions.[w]
- 2:1 Or “brothers.”
- 2:1 As translated from the Aramaic. Some Greek manuscripts have “testimony.” Paul, as a steward of the mysteries of God (1 Cor. 4:1), comes to them bringing a clear revelation of God’s mysteries. The Greek word mustērion (secret, or mystery) is found twenty-eight times in the New Testament.
- 2:2 Paul could have easily impressed the Corinthians with his vast knowledge of the Torah and the Jewish laws. But he was resolved to forget every other topic and stay focused on Christ and his cross. He wanted the power of the Spirit to work through his singular message.
- 2:3 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “I was with you in fear and trembling.”
- 2:3 Paul was not simply filled with dread or fear, but filled with how important it was to present the gospel clearly to the Corinthians. See also 2 Cor. 10:10; 11:6.
- 2:6 Or “those who have reached perfection.” The Greek term for “spiritually mature” in this verse is found in classical Greek, describing those who have been initiated into mysteries. It most likely refers in this context to those who believed Paul’s message containing the mysteries of God (2:1). Paul uses the word wisdom sixteen times in the first three chapters of 1 Corinthians.
- 2:6 Or “rulers who are doomed to come to nothing” or “the nullified overlords of this present age.” This does not refer merely to human governments, but to the dethroned rulers of darkness that know nothing of God’s secret wisdom.
- 2:7 Many times in 1 and 2 Corinthians when Paul uses the pronoun we, he is referring to the apostles of the church, gifts of Christ who are sent to teach the mysteries of God. See 1 Cor. 4:1; Eph. 4:11–13.
- 2:7 That is, something so profound it is beyond the scope of human ingenuity and unattainable by human reasoning. Wisdom comes from above and is given to those who love God and live in awe of him.
- 2:7 Or “decreed.” The Greek word proorizo means “to mark out the boundaries.” It is a form of the word horizon. God has marked out ahead of time the horizon of the ages and will finish his predetermined plan perfectly.
- 2:7 The Aramaic can be translated “for our glorification” or “so that glory may be ours.”
- 2:8 Although it is possible that this refers to human rulers, it is hard to imagine how Herod, Pilate, and the Jewish authorities could be equated to the words “rulers of [over] this present world order (aeon).” It seems clear that Paul is speaking of the principalities and powers of darkness, who were clueless about the efficacy of Christ’s crucifixion to realign the universe and initiate a new kingdom under our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 2:8 Or a genitive of quality, “the Lord, to whom glory belongs.” This is the only place in the New Testament with the term “Lord of shining glory.” The church father Augustine translated this “the Lord who dispenses glory” (an objective genitive: Augustine, On the Trinity, 1:12:24).
- 2:9 Or “entered the heart.”
- 2:9 See Isa. 64:4.
- 2:10 Or “God has provided us with a revelation through the Spirit.” This difficult-to-translate Greek sentence may contain an ellipsis, which would render it “Yet we speak [or we know] what God has revealed to us by the Spirit.”
- 2:13 It is possible that Paul uses “we” in reference to apostles.
- 2:13 Or “We explain spiritual realities to spiritual people” or “We interpret spiritual truths by spiritual faculties.”
- 2:14 Or “the natural man” or “the one without the Spirit.” The Aramaic can be translated “A man in his natural self cannot receive spiritual concepts.”
- 2:14 Or “does not have access to.”
- 2:16 As translated from the Aramaic.
- 2:16 See Isa. 40:13.
- 2:16 That is, we believers possess the Holy Spirit, who reveals the thoughts and purposes of Christ. The revelation of the kingdom of God that Jesus preached was not understood by the intellect of men but by those who welcomed his truth. Humanly speaking, no one can understand the mysteries of God without the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit now possess the perceptions of Christ’s mind and can implement his purposes on the earth.