1 Corinthians 2:10-16 – You have the Spirit and Mind of God!

Translation and Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan, KS Nov 2, 2008



6. Yet it is wisdom that we are uttering among the mature,

but a wisdom neither of this age

nor of the rulers of this age who are being brought to nothing.

7. Rather we are uttering GOD’S wisdom

which has been hidden in a mystery,

which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,

8. [and] which none of the rulers of this age have known

(for if they had known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory,)

9. but rather, just as it is written,

“What eye did not see, and ear did not hear

and [what] did not come upon the heart of mankind,”

what God prepared for those who love Him.

10. Yet to us God revealed through the Spirit,

for the Spirit searches out everything, even the depths of God.

11. For who of men has known the things of man except the spirit of man, the [spirit] in him?

So also no one has known the things of God except the Spirit of God.

12. Now, as for us, we received

 – not the spirit of the world, but rather –

the Spirit, the one which [came] out of God,

in order that we might have known the things freely given to us by God.

13. These are also what we are uttering,

not in learned words of human wisdom,

but rather in learned spiritual things from the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things.

14. Now, a natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God,

for they are stupidity to him.

He is not even able to know because it has to be figured out spiritually.

15. But the spiritual person figures everything out,

yet as for him, no [natural] person figures him out,

16. for who knew the mind of the Lord? Who will instruct Him?

Yet we, we have the mind of Christ!


INTRO – Eureka story of Archimedes

·         King Hiero paid an artisan to make a beautiful crown of pure gold. However, when the crown was presented to him, the king suspected that artisan had cheated him by putting silver inside the golden crown and charging him as though it were pure gold. So the king commissioned Archimedes to figure out a way to know for sure, without destroying the crown, whether he was being cheated. Archimedes puzzled over how to do this for some time and eventually stopped to take a bath. Dipping himself into a bath of water, he hit upon the idea of using water displacement to determine whether the king had been cheated. Weigh the crown, get a lump of gold of the exact same weight, then put the crown into a container of water and see if it displaced the exact same amount of water as the lump of pure gold. Legend has it that Archimedes got so excited about his idea that he jumped out of the bath and ran naked through the streets shouting, “Eureka,” which is Greek for “I searched and found it!”

·         The same Greek word appears in our text here – v.10. The Spirit “searches out / finds out” everything about God.

·         Last week, we learned how God’s plan of salvation was like a mystery book where the solution is revealed by the author as you read his book. Contrary to Thomas Aquianas’ theology, God’s plan of salvation and the meaning of the cross cannot be figured out by anybody apart from divine revelation. God has to reveal Himself for us to be reconciled to Him and know Him.

v.10 The Spirit is the Means of revelation

·         In this section of scripture, God teaches us the means by which He reveals Himself. v.10 He reveals things to us BY THE SPIRIT (His Spirit).

·         D.A. Carson wrote, “Paul’s point is… that the possibility of knowing God and of understanding His ways does not belong to any human being as an essential component of his or her being. The distance is too great, or self-centeredness is too deep. And nothing in the ‘wisdom of this age’ can help us… What is required, then, is revelation. The agent who brings such revelation to us is the Spirit of God.”

·         “Searches”: A.T. Robertson noted that this word is a professional term in Greek for a researcher or one who performs searches as a customs official.

·         “Revealed”Aorist tense speaks of a one-time event. I’m inclined to think this is referring to the Holy Spirit’s inspiration of the writers of the Holy Bible, although there is no consensus among commentators on this point. (ATR= entry of the Gospel into the world, Lightfoot = assurance at baptism)

·         “Depths”: Romans 11:33-36  O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past tracing out!  34  For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor?  35  or who has first given to Him, and it shall be reimbursed unto him again?  36  For of Him, and through Him, and unto Him, are all things. To Him be the glory for ever.” (Gordon Clark = “profound truths;” John Calvin = “the entire doctrine of salvation”)

v.11 The reason why the Spirit can be the means of revelation

·         Demonstration: Mind-reading card trick

·         Man’s “spirit” is the same as his “soul” or “intellectual capacity” (J. Calvin)

·         Proverbs 20:27  The spirit of man… Searches all his innermost parts.

·         The spirit of a person knows the intentions and plans and thinking of the person.

·         If we can link up with the Spirit of God, we can then know God’s intentions, plans, and thoughts!

·         What are the “things of God?” This plural neuter shows up over and over again from v.6 tov.15 – it is the hidden wisdom of God (vs.6-9), the words of the gospel (Clark), the way of reconciliation and forgiveness (Calvin), the truth about the cross (Brian Anderson), it is the mind of Christ (v.16)

·         Note that the Spirit of God is not described in the same way as the Spirit of a man in this verse. The spirit of a man is “in him” but the Spirit of God is not limited to being “in God.” This is because man cannot live if his spirit and flesh are not together, but God’s Holy Spirit is somehow a separate person within the Trinity, and the Spirit of God can act and be acted upon as a person. This is not something I can explain, but the point is not to imagine that the Holy Spirit is in the exact same relationship to the Trinity of God as your human spirit is to your self. There is a difference between you and God.

·         It is absolutely necessary to connect with the Spirit of God.

·         The things of God must be revealed by the Spirit of God. The good news is that Paul tells us in v.13 that he has written revelation from the Spirit of God.

·         We must also have the Spirit to know God. The good news comes in v. 12 – We have received the Spirit of God!

v.12-15 The way that the Spirit operates

·         God offers salvation as a free gift

o       Luke 11:11-13  And of which of you that is a father shall his son ask a loaf, and he give him a stone? or a fish, and he for a fish give him a serpent?  12  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he give him a scorpion?  13  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

o       Romans 8:32  He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not also with him freely give us all things?

·         The Holy Spirit proceeds out of God – from the Father and the Son

o       John 14:26  "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.  15:26  When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, 16:13  But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (cf. Gal 4:6)

·         v.13 The Spirit uses human words to reveal himself,

o       v.13 “which things we are uttering/speaking” parallels v.6 – “it is wisdom we are uttering”

o       2 Timothy 3:15 “…thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  16  Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness.”

o       2 Peter 1:21  “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man: but men spoke from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit.”

o       But words guided by Himself rather than guided by human wisdom.

§         Paul does not use faddish phraseology but rather the words of scripture and of the H.S.

§         When New Age philosophy started becoming popular in the United States, all sorts of new phrases borrowed from Hinduism started popping up in Christian pop culture. One such was, “Heaven is within you.” Another is, “Look deep inside yourself.” These are demonic falsehoods and are found nowhere in the Bible. We must be careful to be guided by God’s wisdom rather than the latest fads of human wisdom.

o       Contrast in v.13 b/w human wisdom and spiritual teaching. Source of truth is not from man, but from God.

§         Calvin: “adapting” teaching to the spiritual way by being “simple” and humble in teaching. Says the “we” is referring to “ministers” not so much to all Christians. I don’t think this is square on.

§         NAS, NIV, and most commentators I read: “combining spiritual thoughts/truths with spiritual words” But requires adding two extra words [“truths” and “words”], the former of which is not even in the nearby context.

§         Wycliffe, ESV, RSV – “interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual” – Verb “interpret” best matches LXX use of the greek word (interpreting dreams), but “those who are spiritual” is not grammatically sound.

§         My preference “learned spiritual things from the Spirit interpreting spiritual things” Paul learned spiritual truths from the Holy Spirit and taught those spiritual things to believers. The emphasis is on learning spiritual rather than worldly wisdom.

o       v.14-16 The revelation of the Spirit is exclusive
Matthew 13:10-11  “And the disciples came, and said unto [Jesus], ‘Why do you speak unto them in parables?’  11  And He answered and said unto them, ‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.’”

·         The Spirit is received by us:

o       Contrast b/w the spirit of the world which we did NOT receive and the Spirit of God which we definitely did receive.

o       v.14 – the natural man (“w/o the Spirit”-NIV-Jude 19, “unspiritual”-Phillips, “unregenerate”-ATR, “animal man” using only “the faculties of nature”- Calvin) cannot receive the Spirit. (cf. Rom. 8:9, James 3:15)

§         The natural man, the humanist, does not acknowledge that he/she is a bad person who is in danger of the wrath of God. That’s why they see no need for a savior, and that’s why the cross doesn’t make sense to them – it’s “foolishness.” So they miss out on the wonderful good news.

o       This giving of the Spirit was prophecied in the O.T.

§         Isaiah 59:21  "As for Me, this is My covenant with them," says the LORD: "My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring's offspring," says the LORD, "from now and forever."

§         Ezekiel 36:26  "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

o       This doctrine is underscored throughout the N.T.

§         John 14:17  that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.

§         Romans 8:9  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him… 11  But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you… 15  For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!"

§         1 Corinthians 3:16  Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

§         James 4:5  "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us"?

·         We “judge” spiritual truth to be true

o       end of v.13 If we have the Holy Spirit operating in us, then we can understand spiritual things

o       The natural man (v.14) cannot understand the things of God because they are spiritually discerned.

o       ILLUSTRATION: A deaf person could not figure out Sibelius’ “Swan of Tuonela”

o       The master Greek scholar of a century ago, A.T. Robertson, explains that this “discernment” is a “sifting process” to get at the truth. It involves “investigating” the witnesses like a judge.

o       The word “discerned” (NASB “appraises”) at the end of v.14 shows up twice again in v. 15: “the spiritual man discerns/judges/appraises all [these spiritual] things but is not discerned/ judged/apprised by any one.”

o       The “spiritual man” is NOT an elite class of super-Christians. Those who are spiritual are those who believe in Jesus, all Christians, all who have received the Holy Spirit and are having their thinking controlled by Him.

o       The spiritual man judges “all things.” (v.15)

§         This word in Greek is neuter and plural. It refers back to the plural neuter “things of the Spirit of God” in v.14, the “spiritual things” and the things “spoken” by Paul in v.13, and the things “freely given to us by God” in v.12.

§         We are qualified to decide rightly because “the eyes of our hearts have been enlightened” (Eph. 1:18) and not “blinded by the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4).

§         Our “discernment/judgment/appraisal” starts with spiritual things, As Christians we go to God to discern truth from falsehood; we go to God to discern right from wrong, and we go to God to discern safety from danger.

§         But our judgment does not stop in the esoteric spiritual realm. It should spill into the physical world.

§         Dr. Francis Schaeffer, in his book, How Should We Then Live? pointed out that the scientific revolution which brought on the modern age was NOT the result of Humanism but rather the result of the Reformation. Christians like Pascal, Newton, Faraday, and Bacon were able to make the scientific progress they did because their Christian faith gave them a foundation upon which to build knowledge of the physical world. Christianity teaches cause and effect, the uniformity of natural causes in an open system, and the significance of human choices.

o       But the “spiritual person is not judged by anyone”

§         This does not mean that Christians should avoid accountability and thumb their noses at authority.

§         What it does mean is that in spiritual matters, non-Christians cannot make authoritative judgments of us.

§         Martin Luther was condemned by his king and his church leaders for speaking out against the sale of indulgences where church leaders sold papers to people for exorbitant sums of money promising that the payment would keep them from having to experience God’s punishment against sin. Martin knew that the judgment was false and so he had the courage to stand up to them and say, “Unless I am convinced by scripture and plain reason, I cannot recant… I cannot go against my conscience.”

·         The purpose is in v.12 “that we may know the things freely given to us by God”

o       God wants us to have assurance of salvation and not be in doubt

o       Thinking is essentially Christian. We really may know some of the very thoughts of Jesus. How? Nous (mind) and logos (word) are related in thinking. Christ Jesus Himself is called the logos-word by John, and “we have the mind of Christ.”

o       Christians are not ignorant and narrow-minded; non-Christians are. They are the ones living in a closed system. Illustration of K-State biology prof. who was orienting a new prof. and responded to the question about religion intruding into science classrooms by saying, “Like the religious belief that all of life must have evolved from non-living matter?”

o       We see in color whereas the world sees in grayscale.

o       We are qualified by the Holy Spirit to comment on spiritual things. We can and we should.

o       Still this is no grounds for elitism.


1.      If you are unable to understand spiritual things – if Jesus and the cross don’t make sense to you – you do not have the luxury of passing the blame off on God. You are culpable. Spiritual insensitivity is due to rebellion against God. If you have not been willing to acknowledge a God who is bigger than you and more holy than you and who makes you out to be a sinner, then you need to stop resisting God and open yourself up to the influence of His Holy Spirit. God knows how to give good gifts. Seek the meaning of the cross and you will find.

2.      For all who are believers, Paul warns us that we will be misjudged. Natural, unspiritual people will look at us and jump to wrong conclusions. They will sneer at our faith. They cannot understand us. We should expect that and not get irritated at them for this. Instead, we should pity them and be gracious. “There, but for the grace of God go I!

3.      Our knowledge of God is a gift from God, so let us always thank God for this gift of spiritual life.

4.      We should also not let the misunderstanding of the world shake our faith. Calvin wrote “make no account of the contempt of… ignorant [men… Why] shut our eyes upon the brightness of the sun because it is not seen by the blind?” 1 Peter 4:14  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you believe in Jesus, you have the mind of Christ, you will be saved, you do know the truth, and you can be sure of it!

5.      If you have the mind of Christ, use your mind, sharpen it, and learn to think well. God could use you to be the next Archimedes or Newton or Galileo!