1 Corinthians ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 3. In weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. We must not think, says St. Chrysostom, that this made the virtue of St. Paul less commendable. It is natural to every man to fear persecutions and torments. We admire the apostle, who amidst these fears, was always ready to expose himself, was always fighting, and always victorious. (Witham) — During the stay I made with you at Corinth, I saw myself daily exposed to injuries, affronts, and persecutions. I had then the opportunity of practising the lessons which our expiring Redeemer delivered to us from the wood on which he died, and the daily contradictions I met with obliged me to think of other things than fine discourses, and elegant harangues. (Theophylactus)

Ver. 4. In the shewing of the spirit and power, &c. The gifts of the Holy Ghost bestowed on those that believed, and the miracles which God wrought by his apostles, were the means God made use of to convert the world, which were of much greater force than human eloquence. (Witham)

Ver. 5. That your faith, &c. Had we employed the subtleties, the reasonings, and eloquence of men, some might perhaps be induced to believe that you had been seduced by artifice. But none can reasonably say so; your faith is founded on the force and evidence of truth, and upon the virtue and power of the Holy Ghost, who has bestowed upon you both the light of knowledge, and the fire of love. (Theod.)

Ver. 6. &c. Wisdom among the perfect. That is, when we first came amongst you, you were incapable of understanding the great mysteries of our religion: we therefore preached to you Christ crucified; (Calmet) but to the true perfect disciples of Christ we reveal the most sacred mysteries. (St. Chrysostom) — By wisdom, here seems to be understood a more sublime doctrine concerning the most abstruse mysteries of faith, which the ignorant could not understand. To the same purpose he tells them in the next chapter and in the 5th chapter to the Hebrews, that milk is the proper food of little children, not solid meat, which is proper for those that are perfect. — Yet we speak not the wisdom of this world, nor of the great men, and princes of this world, because the doctrine of the Christian faith, which we preached, is not esteemed wisdom, but folly by them, who pretend to worldly wisdom. — We speak then in a mystery, or after a mysterious manner, according to the capacity of those that hear us, the great wisdom of God, which hidden, and not understood by the wise men of this world, God hath manifested by the incarnation of his Son, and by our redemption; which mystery, and which wisdom, none of the princes of this world knew, that is, the devils, according to the common interpretation; or Pilate, Herod, Caiphas, &c. according to St. Chrysostom, or they would never have crucified, nor have permitted others to crucify, the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ, who by his divine person is truly the Lord of glory. See St. Augustine, lib. i. de Trin. chap. 12. &c. He may also be called the Lord of glory, because of that glory, which from eternity he predestinated, and decreed to give his elect; and of which it is written, that the eye hath not seen, &c. (Witham)

Ver. 8. It appears from the gospel, that they suspected Jesus might be the Son of God; but the major part of interpreters judge from this text, that they had not a certain knowledge. (Bible de Vence)

Ver. 10. But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit; these mysteries, and secrets of the divine wisdom. — For the Spirit searcheth all things: the divine Spirit, the Holy Ghost, searcheth all things, and none but this Spirit of God, that is, this Spirit, which is God, knoweth the things that are of God, as none but the spirit that is in man, knoweth the things of man, knoweth his thoughts and interior affections. But by the Spirit of God, we may understand the spirit of grace, of knowledge, of prophecy, which God hath given to his faithful, and particularly to his apostles, to raise them to a higher knowledge of the divine mysteries. (Witham)

Ver. 11. For what man? As the secrets of man’s heart are known only to himself, so the mysteries of the divinity are known only to the Spirit, who is God, and who proceedeth from the Father and the Son. (Theophylactus)

Ver. 13. Which mysteries and divine truths, we apostles (even when we speak to the more perfect sort of men) deliver not in the learned words of human wisdom, not in the fine language, studied periods and sentences arranged by the art of rhetoric, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, that is, as the Spirit of God within us teacheth us for the good of those that hear us. — Comparing spiritual things with spiritual, that is, treating of spiritual things with persons that are more spiritual and more perfect, adapting our discourses to the capacity of those we speak to. Others will have the sense to be: we compare spiritual things with spiritual things, that is, we treat of such matters after a spiritual manner, with proofs and examples out of the revealed Scriptures, &c. (Witham) — St. Paul seems in this place to answer an objection that might be brought against him. If, as you say, you are gifted with a knowledge of mysteries, who do you not reveal those mysteries to us? To this he seems to answer, because to spiritual persons, we impart spiritual knowledge. (Calmet)

Ver. 14-15. But the sensual man, &c. They who are led away by sensual pleasures, do not even perceive or understand spiritual things; they seem foolish to them, and a folly to seek after them; because such things must be spiritually examined, that is, examined by the Spirit of God, which they have not. — But the spiritual man judgeth all things, passeth a right judgment, not only of the things of this life, as carnal men can do, but even of spiritual things, which concern his eternal salvation. — And he himself is judged by no one, that is, by no one, who is not spiritual, or who is not taught by the Spirit of God, to pass a right judgment: the sense also may be, that he cannot be justly blamed or condemned by any worldly man, who knows not how to judge of such spiritual things. (Witham) — The sensual man is either he who is taken up with sensual pleasures, with carnal and worldly affections: or he who measureth divine mysteries by natural reason, sense, and human wisdom only. Now such a man has little or no notion of the things of God. Whereas the spiritual man, in the mysteries of religion, takes not human sense for his guide; but submits his judgment to the decisions of the Church, which he is commanded to hear and obey. For Christ hath promised to remain to the end of the world with his Church, and to direct her in all things by the Spirit of truth. (Challoner)

Ver. 16. For who among the sensual men of the world, hath known the mind of the Lord, so as to be able to instruct him, or them, whom he guides by his spirit. — But we, whom he has chosen to be his apostles, have the mind of Christ; having been taught and instructed by the Spirit of Christ. Some enthusiasts and fanatics pretend from this passage of St. Paul, that they being led and inspired by the spirit, can be judged by no one in matters of faith and religion. They pervert and wrest the words of St. Paul, as they do also other Scriptures, to their own perdition. (2 Peter iii. 16.) First, because no one knows by his pretended private spirit, that he is truly such a spiritual man, who has the Spirit of God in him: and many have too much reason to know by their sensual carnal lives, that they have it not. Secondly, St. Paul here speaks only of spiritual men in opposition to sensual men, and only says that they who are spiritual, have the spirit of discretion to judge what things are spiritual, and what are not; and that none can judge rightly of these matters, but they who are spiritual, guided by the Spirit. Thirdly, as to controversies about religion, the proper spiritual judges appointed by our Saviour, Christ, are the bishops, whom he has appointed to govern his Church, with an entire submission of every man’s private judgment, and private spirit, to the judgment of the Catholic Church, which he has commanded us to hear and obey, with which he has promised to remain to the end of the world, and to direct her in all things by the spirit of truth. (Witham)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

His preaching was not in loftiness of words: but in spirit and power. And the wisdom he taught was not to be understood by the worldly wise, or sensual man, but only by the spiritual man.

1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, *came not in loftiness of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of Christ.

2 For I judged not myself to know any thing among you, but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

3 *And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling:

4 *And my speech, and my preaching was not in the persuasive words of human wisdom, but in the shewing of the spirit and power:

5 That your faith might not stand on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

6 Howbeit, we speak wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the princes of this world, who are destroyed:

7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, which is hidden, which God predestinated before the world, unto our glory,

8 Which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

9 But as it is written: *That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him:

10 But to us God hath revealed by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, even the profound things of God.

11 For what man knoweth the things of a man, but the spirit of a man that is in him? So the things also that are of God no man knoweth, but the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God, that we may know the things that are given us from God:

13 *Which things also we speak, not in the learned words of human wisdom, but in the doctrine of the Spirit, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

14 But the sensual man perceiveth not the things that are of the Spirit of God: for it is foolishness to him, and he cannot understand: because it is spiritually examined.

15 But the spiritual man judgeth all things: and he himself is judged of no one.

16 *For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that we may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.



1: 1 Corinthians i. 17.

3: Acts xviii. 3.

4: 2 Peter i. 16.

9: Isaias lxiv. 4.

13: 1 Corinthians i. 17. and ii. 1. and 4.; 2 Peter i. 16.

16: Wisdom ix. 13.; Isaias xl. 13.; Romans xi. 34.