William Barclay's Daily Study Bible

Spiritual Things To Spiritual Men (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)

2:10-16 But God revealed it through his Spirit, for the Spirit explores all things, even the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of the man unless the spirit of the man which is in him? So no one ever knew the things of God except the Spirit of God. It is not the spirit of the world that we have received, but the Spirit which comes from God, so that we may know the things given to us by the grace of God. The things we speak we do not speak in words taught by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. A man who has no life but physical life cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. To him they are foolishness and he cannot understand them, because it takes the Spirit to discern them. But a spiritual man exercises his judgment on the value of all things, but he himself is under no man's judgment. For who ever understood the mind of the Lord so as to be able to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

There are certain very basic things in this passage.

(i) Paul lays down that the only person who can tell us about God is the Spirit of God. He uses a human analogy. There are feelings which are so personal, things which are so private, experiences which are so intimate that no one knows them except a man's own spirit. Paul argues that the same is true of God. There are deep and intimate things in him which only his Spirit knows; and that Spirit is the only person who can lead us into really intimate knowledge of God.

(ii) Even then it is not every man who can understand these things. Paul speaks about interpreting spiritual things to spiritual people. He distinguishes two kinds of men. (a) There are those who are pneumatikoi ( Greek #4152 ). Pneuma ( Greek #4151 ) is the word for Spirit; and the man who is pneumatikos ( Greek #4152 ) is the man who is sensitive to the Spirit and whose life is guided by the Spirit. (b) There is the man who is psuchikos ( Greek #5591 ). Psuche ( Greek #5590 ) in Greek is often translated soul; but that is not its real meaning. It is the principle of physical life. Everything which is alive has psuche ( Greek #5590 ); a dog, a cat, any animal has psuche ( Greek #5590 ), but it has not got pneuma ( Greek #4151 ). Psuche ( Greek #5590 ) is that physical life which a man shares with every living thing; but pneuma ( Greek #4151 ) is that which makes a man different from the rest of creation and kin to God.

So in 1 Corinthians 2:14 Paul speaks of the man who is psuchikos ( Greek #5591 ). He is the man who lives as if there was nothing beyond physical life and there were no needs other than material needs, whose values are all physical and material. A man like that cannot understand spiritual things. A man who thinks that nothing is more important than the satisfaction of the sex urge cannot understand the meaning of chastity; a man who ranks the amassing of material things as the supreme end of life cannot understand generosity; and a man who has never a thought beyond this world cannot understand the things of God. To him they look mere foolishness. No man need be like this; but if he stifles "the immortal longings" that are in his soul he may make himself like this so that the Spirit of God will speak and he will not hear.

It is easy to become so involved in the world that there exists nothing beyond it. We must pray to have the mind of Christ, for only when he dwells within us are we safe from the encroaching invasion of the demands of material things.

-Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT)

- William Barclay's Daily Study Bible