First Corinthians 2:11-16



τις      γαρ     οιδεν        ανθρωπων      τα του       ανθρωπου    ει  μη     το πνευμα     του ανθρωπου

what    For   knoweth        man         the things    of a man        if not e.     the spirit      of man



το         εν   αυτω ουτως και   τα       του          θεου   ουδεις    οιδεν      ει μη   το  πνευμα   του θεου
which is in   him    even    so       the things    of God no man knoweth     but   the Spirit      of God


The key to Paul’s argument is the presence of the Sprit of God in the born again believer.

To understand something you must be like that thing or “like is known by like”.

So the only way to understand God (and the mysteries of God) is by the Spirit of God.

Man can not understand God alone. 

In his natural state man can not perceive God except to know that there is a God (Rom. 1:18-19)

The Holy Spirit is the link between God and man. 

The Holy Spirit has always been the link between God and man.

a)       Genesis 1:2

b)       OT prophets

c)       OT anointed offices and service

The Corinthians have two problems with the Holy Spirit:

a)       they deny his purpose of revealing to them the wisdom of God and pursue the wisdom of man

b)       they consider the manifestation of spiritual ecstasy as a sign of maturity and the Holy Spirit. (Along these same lines they are denying the physical resurrection (ch.1 5) and their responsibility to live holy in the physical realm.)


Concerning “the things of God” or “deep things of God” (2:10) Romans 11:33-36 refers to “the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”


Paul uses a simple argument to prove his point.  No other person knows what a man thinks nor can they understand who and what he is in his heart.  You can only feel your own joy, your own pain, your own experiences at a deep level that no one else can.


Proverbs 14:10, “Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy.”


We have received the Spirit of God so that we can understand what God is sharing with us.



ημεις   δε       ου   το   πνευμα            του κοσμου             ελαβομεν                αλλα     

we    Now     not    the spirit               of the world             have received          but


το πνευμα    το       εκ        του  θεου   ινα    ειδωμεν               τα υπο    του χαρισθεντα         ημιν   θεου
the spirit    which  is out of    God       that   we might know   the things  that are freely given to us of God


This is the key to Paul’s argument.

Paul points out again the contrast of this present age and the age to come.

Emphasis here is because we have received the Spirit we have an understanding (or a

perspective, the divine viewpoint) that comes from God and is from eternity and is of the

coming age.

The Holy Spirit is not of this kosmos or world.


The reason for having been given the Spirit by God is “that we might understand what God has freely

            given us.”

“Freely Given” is χαρισθεντα “charizomai” means to grant as a favor as an act of kindness, pardon or           rescue.  It means to deliver, to forgive, to freely give or to grant.

a)       This picks up the thought of verse 9 “what God has prepared for those who love him.”

b)       The Greek word is built around the word for “grace” or “charis” cariV

“Know” or “Understand” is ειδωμεν “eido” means to see, to know.  This verb is also used in verse 11.




α και                    λαλουμεν   ουκ   εν     διδακτοις    ανθρωπινης    σοφιας      λογοις     αλλ

Which things also we speak   not   in      teacheth   which man's    wisdom    the words   but


εν         διδακτοις πνευματος αγιου          πνευματικοις        πνευματικα           συγκρινοντες
which the Holy Ghost teacheth +__        spiritual things      with spiritual             comparing


After establishing his point Paul returns to his ministry of teaching and the message that he teaches.

This is really what this argument is all about.  The Corinthians do not think Paul has a message for them.

Paul has been saying that he does and it is the only message.
The message and wisdom that they have been pursuing is of this world, from natural men and not

            comparable to Paul’s message.


The end of this verse is interpreted three ways:

πνευματικοις        πνευματικα           συγκρινοντες

spiritual things      with spiritual             comparing

a) “expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words” 

b) “interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men”

c) “comparing spiritual things with spiritual”


Two questions:

a)       συγκρινοντες “sugkrino”  means to judge of one thing in connection with another.  It also means to bring together, to combine, compare, explain to interpret.”  Josephus uses it as “to measure oneself against.”

a.       Which of these meanings goes here along with “spiritual things” and “with spiritual”

b)       πνευματικοις “pneumatikos” means spirit, supernatural, regenerate, religious, spiritual.

a.       Does this word refer to “words taught by the Spirit”

b.       Does this word refer to “spiritual people”

c.       If we read ahead into the next verse it may refer to spiritual people contrasted with the natural people of verse 14

d.       If we understand it to refer to the previous verse then it is explaining Paul’s teaching or his spiritual words.

I think Paul is saying that his teaching is an explanation of the spiritual truth from the God that was understood by him by the Holy Spirit’s empowerment.  So, spiritual truth communicated by the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit.



ψυχικος      δε    ανθρωπος ου δεχεται       τα   του       πνευματος   του θεου        μωρια          γαρ
the natural But   man          not  receiveth   the things   of the Spirit    of God      foolishness      for


they are   unto him   neither +__ can      he know them because they are spiritually discerned

εστιν       αυτω            και       ου δυναται  γνωναι          οτι          πνευματικως    ανακρινεται

Paul now begins the negative side of the same argument.

The natural man is called “psychikio”.   Usually, the flesh man is called “sarx” or “flesh”. 

Paul may be using one of the Corinthian’s self-flattering words of the philosophy in a reverse fashion.

Or, Paul may be using a Greek word from the LXX that is used to translate the Hebrew word “nepes” that

            is used to say man’s natural, physical existence.”

The spiritual man is called “pneumatikoi”


The natural man or the “psychikio” is negatively described as:

a.       they do not accept the thins that come from the Spirit of God.  The Greek word used here for “accept” does not mean they do not perceive these things they flat out reject them.

b.       The things of the spirit are “foolishness” to them.   Paul is still going after verses 1:18-2:5.  People who reject the cross and the revelation from God are “foolish” in their hearts.

c.       They can not understand.  They do not have the ability. Spirit can only be understood by spirit.

The reason the top three things are true is that spiritual truth is only “discerned” spiritually.



ο δε πνευματικος ανακρινει μεν παντα αυτος δε υπ ουδενος ανακρινεται
But he that is spiritual judgeth +__ all things yet he himself is judged of no man


These last two verses wrap up this argument but also lead us into chapter 3



τις  γαρ    εγνω           νουν     κυριου         ος     συμβιβασει   αυτον   ημεις δε νουν χριστου εχομεν
For who hath known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him     we   But have the mind of Christ


Isaiah 29:11, 18

Isaiah 40:13


In Isaiah 40:13 it is “the mind of YWHW.  Paul inserts “Christ” for YWHW