1 Corinthians 2:11
For what man knows the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knows no man, but the Spirit of God.
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(11) What man . . .—Better, Who of men knoweth the things of a man? but the spirit of the man which is in him knoweth them.

The things of God knoweth no man.—These words cannot be taken as an assertion that man cannot have any knowledge of the things of God; but the Apostle urges that man, as man, cannot know the things of God, but that his knowledge of these things is in virtue of his having the Spirit of God dwelling in him.

2:10-16 God has revealed true wisdom to us by his Spirit. Here is a proof of the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, 2Pe 1:21. In proof of the Divinity of the Holy Ghost, observe, that he knows all things, and he searches all things, even the deep things of God. No one can know the things of God, but his Holy Spirit, who is one with the Father and the Son, and who makes known Divine mysteries to his church. This is most clear testimony, both to the real Godhead and the distinct person of the Holy Spirit. The apostles were not guided by worldly principles. They had the revelation of these things from the Spirit of God, and the saving impression of them from the same Spirit. These things they declared in plain, simple language, taught by the Holy Spirit, totally different from the affected oratory or enticing words of man's wisdom. The natural man, the wise man of the world, receives not the things of the Spirit of God. The pride of carnal reasoning is really as much opposed to spirituality, as the basest sensuality. The sanctified mind discerns the real beauties of holiness, but the power of discerning and judging about common and natural things is not lost. But the carnal man is a stranger to the principles, and pleasures, and actings of the Divine life. The spiritual man only, is the person to whom God gives the knowledge of his will. How little have any known of the mind of God by natural power! And the apostles were enabled by his Spirit to make known his mind. In the Holy Scriptures, the mind of Christ, and the mind of God in Christ, are fully made known to us. It is the great privilege of Christians, that they have the mind of Christ revealed to them by his Spirit. They experience his sanctifying power in their hearts, and bring forth good fruits in their lives.For what man ... - The design of this is, to illustrate what he had just said by a reference to the way in which man acquires the knowledge of himself. The purpose is to show that the Spirit has an exact and thorough knowledge of the things of God; and this is done by the very striking thought that no man can know his own mind, his own plans and intentions, but himself - his own spirit. The essential idea is, that no man can know another; that his thoughts and designs can only be known by himself, or by his own spirit; and that unless he chooses to reveal them to others, they cannot ascertain them. So of God. No man can penetrate his designs; and unless he chooses to make them known by his Spirit, they must forever remain inscrutable to human view.

The things of a man - The "deep things" - the hidden counsels, thoughts, plans, intentions.

Save the spirit of man ... - Except his own mind; that is, himself. No other man can fully know them. By the spirit of man here, Paul designs to denote the human soul - or the intellect of man. It is not to be supposed that he here intends to convey the idea that there is a perfect resemblance between the relation which the soul of man bears to the man, and the relation which the Holy Spirit bears to God. The illustration is to be taken in regard to the point immediately before him - which is, that no one could know and communicate the deep thoughts and plans of God except his Spirit - just as no one could penetrate into the intentions of a man, and fully know them, but himself. The passage proves, therefore, that there is a knowledge which the Spirit has of God, which no man, no angel can obtain, just as every man's spirit has a knowledge of his own plans which no other man can obtain; that the Spirit of God can communicate his plans and deep designs, just as a man can communicate his own intentions; and consequently, that while there is a distinction of some kind between the Spirit of God and God, as there is a distinction which makes it proper to say that a man has an intelligent soul, yet there is such a profound and intimate knowledge of God by the Spirit, that he must be equal with him; and such an intimate union, that he can be called "the Spirit of God," and be one with God, as the human soul can be called "the spirit of the man," and be one with him.

In all respects we are not to suppose that there is a similarity. In these points there is - It may be added that the union, the oneness of the Spirit of God with God, is no more absurd or inexplicable than the union of the spirit of man with the man; or the oneness of the complex person made up of body and soul, which we call man. When people have explained all the difficulties about themselves - in regard to their own bodies and spirits, it will be time to advance objections against the doctrines here stated in regard to God.

Even so - To the same extent; in like manner.

The things of God - His deep purposes and plans.

Knoweth no man - Man cannot search into them - any more than one man can search the intentions of another.

11. what man, &c.—literally, "who of men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of that man?"

things of God knoweth no man—rather, "none knoweth," not angel or man. This proves the impossibility of any knowing the things of God, save by the Spirit of God (who alone knows them, since even in the case of man, so infinitely inferior in mind to God, none of his fellow men, but his own spirit alone knows the things hidden within him).

Look, as it is with a man, no man knoweth his secret thoughts, and counsels, and meanings, save only his own soul that is within him; so it is as to the things of God, until God by his Spirit hath revealed them to men, none knoweth them but the Holy Spirit of God. It is true as it is with man; when he hath by his tongue discovered his mind to others, they know it so far as he hath so delivered it; but there is no man that discovereth all his thoughts and counsels: so God having in his word revealed his will so far as he hath plainly revealed it men may know it; but there are deep things of God, mysteries in Scripture, which, till the Spirit of God hath revealed to men, they know not nor understand; for none knoweth them originally,

but the Spirit of God, who is himself God, and searcheth the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man,.... The thoughts of a man's heart, the conceptions of his mind, the schemes he is drawing there, his designs, purposes, and intentions; these can never be known by another man, no, nor by angels or devils; not by any creature; by none

save the spirit of a man which is in him? which is only conscious to, and can only make known the things that are in him:

even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God; and which, as it proves how secret, hidden, unknown, the mysteries of grace are, until revealed by the Spirit; so it gives full evidence to the deity of the Holy Ghost, and clearly shows he must be God, who is in him, knows the thoughts of his heart, the counsels of his mind, his purposes and decrees, and what is contained in them.

{10} For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the {l} spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

(10) He sets it forth in comparison, which he spoke by the inspiration of the Sprit. As the power of man's intellect searches out things pertaining to man, so does our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit understand heavenly things.

(l) The mind of man which is endued with the ability to understand and judge.

assigns the reason for the καὶ τὰ βάθη τοῦ Θεοῦ just mentioned, and that in such a way as to represent the searching of these βάθη as exclusively pertaining to the Spirit of God, according to the analogy of the relation between the spirit of man and man himself.

1 Corinthians 2:11 assigns the reason for the καὶ τὰ βάθη τοῦ Θεοῦ just mentioned, and that in such a way as to represent the searching of these βάθη as exclusively pertaining to the Spirit of God, according to the analogy of the relation between the spirit of man and man himself.

ἀνθρώπων] should neither, with Grotius, be held superfluous nor, with Tittmann, be suspected (it is wanting in A, Or. 1, Athan. Cyr. Vigil, taps.); on the contrary, it is designed to carry special emphasis, like τοῦ ἀνθρώπου afterwards (which is wanting in F G, and some Fathers), hence also the position chosen for it: ἀνθρώπων τὰ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου: no man knows what is man’s, save the spirit of the man which is in him.[392] Comp Proverbs 20:27. Were what is peculiar to him not known to the spirit itself of the man (who is made the object of contemplation), in that case no man would have this knowledge of the man; it would not come within the region of human knowing at all. The man’s own spirit knows it, but no other man.

We are not, with many expositors, including Pott and Flatt, to add βάθη by way of supplement to τὰ τοῦ ἀνθρ. or to τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ. This would be a purely arbitrary limitation of the universal statement, to which τὰ βάθη, as a qualitative expression, is subordinated. What are meant are the relations in general of God and of man, more especially, from the context, the inner ones. The illustration adduced by Grotius serves to bring out the sense more clearly: “Principum abditos sensus quis novit nisi ipse principis animus?”

ἔγνωκε] cognita habet. See Bernhardy, p. 378. For the rest, this οὐδεὶς ἔγνωκε is, as a matter of course, said not as in distinction from the Son (Luke 10:22), but from the creatures.

[392] The τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ is an argumentative definition.—In the man the subject knowing is the Ego of the personal self-consciousness, hence τὸ πνεῦμα, not ἡ ψυχή. comp. Delitzsch, biblische Psychologie, p. 198; Krumm, de notionib. psychol. Paul. p. 16 f.


The comparison in 1 Corinthians 2:11 ought not to be pressed beyond the point compared. We are neither, therefore, to understand it so that the Spirit of God appears as the soul of the divine substance (Hallet; see, on the other hand, Heilmann, Opusc. II.), nor as if He were not distinct from God (see, on the contrary, 1 Corinthians 2:10), but simply so that the Spirit of God, the ground of the divine personal life, appears in His relation to God as the principle of the divine self-knowledge, in the same way as the principle of the human self-knowledge is the πνεῦμα of the man, which constitutes his personal life. Hence God is known only by His Spirit, as the man is only by his spirit, as the vehicle of his own self-consciousness, not by another man. With τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεοῦ, Paul does not again join τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ, because the man’s spirit indeed is shut up in the man, but not so the Divine Spirit in God; the latter, on the contrary, goes forth also from Him, is communicated, and is τὸ τνεῦμα τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ. See 1 Corinthians 2:12.1 Corinthians 2:11. “For amongst men, who knows (οἶδεν) the things of the man, except the spirit of the man that is within him? So also the things of God none has perceived (ἔγνωκεν), except the Spirit of God.” Far from being otiose, ἀνθρώπων is emphatic: P. argues from human to Divine personality; each heart of man has its secrets (τὰ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου); “nor even the dearest soul, and next our own, knows half the reasons why we smile or sigh”; there is a corresponding region of inner personal consciousness with God (τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ). As the man’s own spirit lifts the veil and lights the recesses penetrable by no reasoning from without, so God’s Spirit must communicate His thoughts,—or we shall never know them. This reserve belongs to the rights of self-hood. Paul’s axiomatic saying assumes the personality of God, and man’s affinity to God grounded therein. P. does not in this analogy limit the Ἅγιον Πνεῦμα by human conditions, nor reduce Him to a mere Divine self-consciousness (τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, 1 Corinthians 2:12, guards us against this); the argument is a minori ad majus (as in Galatians 3:15, Romans 5:7, Luke 11:13), and valid for the point in question. The Ap. ascribes to a man a natural πνεῦμα (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5, 1 Thessalonians 5:23), which manifests itself in νοῦς and συνείδησις (Romans 2:15; Romans 7:25, etc.; see Cr[382] on these terms), akin to and receptive of the Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ; but not till quickened by the latter is the πνεῦμα ἀνθρώπου regnant in him, so that the man can be called πνευματικός (see note on 1 Corinthians 2:15).—On οἶδεν, as diff[383] from ἔγνωκεν, see note to 1 Corinthians 2:8 : “while οἶδα is simple and absolute, γινώσκω is relative, involving more or less the idea of a process of examination” (Lt[384]): “no one has got to know τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ”—has by searching (1 Corinthians 2:10) found Him out (Job 11:7; Job 23:9, etc.; John 17:25)—only His own Spirit knows, and therefore reveals Him.

[382] Cremer’s Biblico-Theological Lexicon of N.T. Greek (Eng. Trans.).

[383] difference, different, differently.

[384] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).1 Corinthians 2:11. Τίς γὰρ οἴδεν ἀνθρώπων τὰ τοῦ ἀνθρέπου; For who among men knoweth the things of a man?) The Alexandrian MS. and it alone omits Ἀνθρώπων, and yet Artem. Part I. cap. 47 desires it to be marked with a stroke as spurious.[21] But this variety of cases, viz. among, or of men, of man, of a man, is extremely appropriate to the purpose of the apostle here; for he notices the similarity of nature, which appears to give men the mutual knowledge of each other’s feelings as men, and yet does not give it; how much less will any one know God without the Spirit of God?—τὰ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the things of a man), the things that are within him.—τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, the spirit of that man). The Article τὸ evidently denotes the spirit peculiar to man, not that entering into him from any other quarter.—ΤῸ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ, which is in him) The criterion of truth, the conscious nature in man (conscience).—οὐδεὶς) not one, of all outside of [excepting] God. Not even his fellow-man knows a man; God is One alone, [having no fellow] and known to Himself alone.—τὸ πνεῦμα, the Spirit) The Godhead cannot be separated from the Spirit of God, as manhood cannot be separated from the spirit of man.

[21] BCD (Λ) Gfg Vulg. Orig. 1, 197a; 524a; 3, 571b; Hilary, read ἀνθρώ-πων. A and Orig. 2, 644c, omit it.—ED.Verse 11. - The things of God none knoweth. Some manuscripts have not the same word (οῖδεν) as that rendered "knoweth" in the earlier clause, but "hath learnt" (ἔγνωκεν); comp. John 21:17; 2 Corinthians 5:16. All that is meant is that our knowledge of God must always be relative, not absolute. It is not possible to measure the arm of God with the finger of man. Spirit (πνεῦμα)

See on Romans 8:4. The things of God can be recognized only by the highest element of the human personality. They have not entered into the heart (καρδία, see on Romans 1:21), but into the spirit, which is the highest and principal point of contact with the Spirit of God.

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