1 Corinthians 2:12
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
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(12) We.—This must not be confined to the Apostles exclusively. Though referring primarily to them, it includes all the members of the Christian Church as one with its teachers and rulers. The “things freely given us of God” mean all spiritual things.

1 Corinthians 2:12-13. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world — Which suggests worldly wisdom; the spirit that is in worldly, carnal people, and which guides and governs them; a spirit which is earthly, sensual, and devilish. This spirit is not, properly speaking, received, for the carnal and unregenerate always had it; but true believers properly receive the Spirit of God, which before they had not. That we might know — Might discern, understand, form just ideas of, and be experimentally acquainted with; the things freely given to us of God — Which, without that Spirit, it is as impossible we should know, as it is that the inferior creatures should know the things belonging to man. Which things also we speak — Make it our business to communicate to others; not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth — To excite men’s curiosity, amuse their imaginations, or gain their applause; but which the Holy Ghost teacheth — And consequently must be best adapted to convey such ideas as he would impart; and to impress the hearts and consciences of men with a reverent and deep sense of those holy mysteries: comparing spiritual things with spiritual — Or rather, as the apostle seems to mean, explaining spiritual things by spiritual words; or, adapting spiritual words to spiritual things; being taught by the Spirit to express the things of the Spirit. The original word, συγκρινοντες, is rightly translated interpreting, or explaining, being used by the LXX. to denote the interpretation of dreams, Genesis 40:16; Genesis 40:22; Genesis 41:12-13; Genesis 41:15; Daniel 2:4; Daniel 5:7; Daniel 5:12. Pearce translates the clause, explaining spiritual things to spiritual men; a sense which the original will doubtless bear; but it does not agree so well with the first part of the verse, where words taught by the Holy Spirit are mentioned. This language of the apostle, as Doddridge justly observes, “may certainly convince us of the great regard which we ought always to maintain to the words of Scripture; and may especially teach ministers how attentively they should study its beauties, and how careful they should be to make it the support of their discourses.” Indeed, “this language, in which the doctrines of the gospel were revealed to the apostles, and in which they delivered these doctrines to the world, is what Paul calls the form of sound words, which Timothy had heard from him, and was to hold fast, 2 Timothy 1:13. Every one, therefore, ought to beware of altering or wresting the inspired language of Scripture, in their expositions of the articles of the Christian faith. Taylor, in the sixth chapter of his Key, explains the verse under consideration thus: Which things we speak, not in philosophical terms of human invention, but which the Spirit teacheth in the writings of the Old Testament; and contends that the apostle’s meaning is, that he expressed the Christian privileges in the very same words and phrases by which the Spirit expressed the privileges of the Jewish Church, in the writings of the Old Testament. But if the Spirit suggested these words and phrases to the Jewish prophets, why might not he suggest to the apostles the words and phrases in which they communicated the gospel revelation to the world? especially as there are many discoveries in the gospel, which could not be expressed clearly, if at all, in the words by which the prophets expressed the privileges of the Jewish Church. Besides, it is evident, that when the apostles introduce into their writings the words and phrases of the Jewish prophets, they explain them in other words and phrases, which no doubt were suggested to them by the Spirit.” — See Macknight, and 2 Timothy 3:16.2:10-16 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.Now we have received - We who are Christians; and especially we, the apostles. The following verse shows that he had himself and the other apostles chiefly in view; though it is true of all Christians that they have received, not the spirit of this world, but the spirit which is of God.

Not the spirit of this world - Not the wisdom and knowledge which this world can give - not the learning and philosophy which were so much valued in Greece. The views of truth which we have, are not such as this world gives, but are such as are communicated by the Spirit of God.

But the Spirit which is of God - We are under the teaching's and influence of the Holy Spirit.

That we might know - That we might fully understand and appreciate. The Spirit is given to us in order that we might fully understand the favors which God has conferred on us in the gospel. It was not only necessary that God should grant the blessings of redemption by the gift of His Son, but, such was the hardness and blindness of the human heart, it was needful that he should grant His Holy Spirit also, so that people might be brought fully to see and appreciate the value of those favors. For people do not see them by nature; neither does anyone see them who is not enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God.

The things that are freely given us - That are conferred on us as a matter of grace or favor. He here refers to the blessings of redemption - the pardon of sin, justification, sanctification, the divine favor and protection, and the hope of eternal life - These things we Know; they are not matters of conjecture; but are surely and certainly confirmed to us by the Holy Spirit. It is possible for all Christians to know and be fully assured of the truth of those things, and of their interest in them.

12. we … received, not … spirit of … world—the personal evil "spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph 2:2). This spirit is natural in the unregenerate, and needs not to be received.

Spirit which is of God—that is, which comes from God. We have received it only by the gift of God, whose Spirit it is, whereas our own spirit is the spirit that is in us men (1Co 2:11).

that we might know … things … freely given … of God—present experimental knowledge, to our unspeakable comfort, of His deep mysteries of wisdom, and of our future possession of the good "things which God hath prepared for them that love Him" (1Co 2:9).

By the spirit of the world some understand the devil, that evil spirit which is in the world, and ruleth those that are worldly, carnal men: others understand a mere human spirit, by which men understand and comprehend mere worldly things. The sense certainly is, we have not a mere worldly instruction and tutoring, we are not taught and instructed from the world; (so the spirit is put for the effects of the spirit of the world); but we are taught and instructed by the Holy Spirit, by which we are taught and

know the things that are freely given to us of God, whether they be Divine mysteries, or Divine benefits, both what God hath done for us, and what God hath wrought in us. Now we have received not the spirit of the world,.... Meaning either Satan, the god of the world, the spirit that is in it, and rules over it; or the sinful carnal disposition of the men of the world, which is a spirit of covetousness, uncleanness, pride, malice, and error; or rather the carnal wisdom of the world, which is common to worldly men, lies in the knowledge of worldly things, and is pursued and exercised for worldly advantages:

but the Spirit which is of God; the Holy Ghost, which proceeds from the Father and the Son, is the gift of God to his people, and whom they receive through the doctrine of faith into their hearts, as a spirit of illumination, faith, comfort, adoption, truth, and as a seal and earnest of future glory:

that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God; who has given himself, his Son, and all things freely along with him, as a justifying righteousness, remission of sins, adoption, and eternal life; all which were provided for them in the council and covenant of peace, and made up that grace given unto them freely in Christ before the world began; for there was not only an eternal purpose to bestow these gifts, in the mind of God, and a promise of them in covenant, but a real donation of them to them, as considered in Christ so early: besides, God gave his Son, and Christ gave himself for them before they knew anything of the matter; and therefore must be unknown, until made known by the Spirit of God, who is sent unto them, and into their hearts, for this purpose, to make them known; which he does, by showing all this grace, and by opening and applying the truths of the everlasting Gospel: and this knowledge is not a mere notional one, but spiritual, experimental, and approbational, joined with affection and admiration; and is a knowledge of interest in these things, and which makes both humble and obedient.

Now we have received, not the {m} spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; {11} that we might {n} know the things that are freely given to us of God.

(m) The Spirit which we have received does not teach us things of this world, but lifts us up to God, and this verse teaches us the opposite of what the papists teach: what faith is, from where it comes, and from what power it originates.

(11) That which he spoke generally, he confines now to those things which God has opened to us of our salvation in Christ: so that no man should separate the Spirit from the preaching of the word and Christ: or should think that those fanciful men are governed by the Spirit of God, who wandering besides the word, thrust upon us their vain imaginations for the secrets of God.

(n) This word know is taken here in its proper sense for true knowledge, which the Spirit of God works in us.

1 Corinthians 2:12. Δέ] leading on to the second half of the demonstration which began with τὸ γὰρ πνεῦμα in 1 Corinthians 2:10 (see on 1 Corinthians 2:10).

ἡμεῖς] as ἡμῖν in 1 Corinthians 2:10.

τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου] i.e. the spirit which unbelieving mankind has. This spirit is the diabolic πνεῦμα, that is, the spirit proceeding forth from the devil, under whose power the κόσμος lies, and whose sphere of action it is. See 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:11-12; Ephesians 2:2. Comp John 12:31; 1 John 4:3; 1 John 5:19. Had we received this spirit,—and here Paul glances back at the ἄρχοντες τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου in 1 Corinthians 2:6; 1 Corinthians 2:8,—then assuredly the knowledge of the blessings of eternity would have remained closed for us, and (see 1 Corinthians 2:13) instead of utterances taught by the Spirit we should use the language of the human wisdom of the schools. It is indeed the πνεῦμα τῆς πλάνης as contrasted with the πνεῦμα τῆς ἀληθείας, 1 John 4:6. Most commentators take τὸ πνεῦμα in the sense of mode of thought and view, so that the meaning would be: “Non sumus instituti sapientia mundana et saeculari,” Estius. So Theophylact, and after him Beza, Calvin, Grotius, and many others, including Morus, Rosenmüller, Flatt, Heydenreich, de Wette, Maier, and similarly Pott. But, according to 1 Corinthians 2:10, τὸ πνεῦμα must denote, in keeping with the context, the objective spirit opposed to the Spirit of God; and that is, according to the decided dualistic view of the apostle (comp esp. Ephesians 2:2), the diabolic πνεῦμα, which has blinded the understanding of the unbelievers, 2 Corinthians 4:4. Billroth’s explanation: that it is the non-absolute spirit, the finite, in so far as it persists for itself and does not resolve itself into the divine, is a modern un-Pauline importation; and this holds, too, of Hofmann’s exposition: that it is the spirit, in virtue of which the world is conscious of itself, knowing itself, however, only in that way in which alone its sinful estrangement from God leaves it possible for it to do so, not in God, namely, but out of God. If that is not to be taken as the diabolic spirit, then the conception is simply an un-Pauline fabrication, artificially worded so as to explain away the diabolic character. Lastly, Rückert’s view, that Paul meant: “we have received our πνεῦμα not from the world, but from God,” cannot even be reconciled with the words of the passage.

τὸ ἐκ τ. Θεοῦ] The ἐκ is employed by Paul here not in order to avoid the appearance of making this πνεῦμα the principle that determines the action of God (so Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 435), which were a needless precaution, but because this form of expression has a significant adaptation to the ἵνα εἰδῶμεν κ.τ.λ[396]; there can be no doubt about this knowing, if it proceeds from the Spirit which is from God (which has gone forth upon believers; comp 1 Corinthians 2:11, ΤῸ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ), John 15:26.

ἽΝΑ ΕἸΔῶΜΕΝ Κ.Τ.Λ[398]] the divine purpose in imparting the Spirit which proceeded forth from God. This clause, expressive of design, containing the object of the ἀπεκάλυψεν in 1 Corinthians 2:10, completely winds up the adducing of proof for the ἡμῖν δὲ ἀπεκάλ. ὁ Θ. διὰ τ. πν. αὐτ.

τὰ ὑπὸ τ. Θεοῦ χαρ. ἡμῖν] are the blessings of the Messianic kingdom, the possession of which is bestowed by divine grace on the Christians (ἡμῖν), not, indeed, before the Parousia as an actual possession, but as an ideal one to be certainly entered upon hereafter (Romans 8:24; Romans 8:30; Colossians 3:3-4); comp Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8-9. That to take it ideally in this way is correct (in opposition to Hofmann), is clear from the consideration that τὰ χαρισθέντα must be identical with ἃ ἡτοίμασεν ὁ Θεὸς κ.τ.λ[400] in 1 Corinthians 2:9, and with the ΔΌΞΑ ἩΜ. in 1 Corinthians 2:7.

[396] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[398] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[400] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 2:12. ἡμεῖς δέ, “But we”: cf. the emphatic ἡμῖν of 1 Corinthians 2:10 (see note) and the ἡμεῖς δὲ of 1 Corinthians 1:23, standing in contrast with the σοφοὶ and δυνατοὶ of the world. The κόσμος whose “spirit” the App. “did not receive,” is that whose “wisdom God has reduced to folly” (1 Corinthians 1:20 f.), whose “rulers crucified the Lord” (1 Corinthians 2:8), its spirit is broadly conceived as the power animating the world in its antipathy to God (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2, John 12:31, etc., 1 John 4:1-6). Others (Est., Cv[385], Bz[386], Hn[387], Sm[388]) read the phrase in a more abstract—perhaps too modern—sense, “sapientia mundana et sæcularis,” or “the world-consciousness” (Hf[389]), or “l’esprit de l’humanité … ce que les Païens appellent la muse et qui se concentre dans les génies” (Gd[390]).—“(Not the spirit of the world we received), but the Spirit which is from (issues from: ἐκ, antitheton ἐν, Bg[391]) God” (compare ὡς ἐκ Θεοῦ, 2 Corinthians 2:17); the phrase recalls the teaching of Jesus in John 14:26; John 15:26; see also Romans 5:5, Galatians 4:6. “The spirit of the world” breathes in men who are a part of the world; “the Spirit that is from God” visits us from another sphere, bringing knowledge of things removed from natural apprehension (see Isaiah 55:9). ἐλάβομεν implies actual, objective receiving (taking), as in 1 Corinthians 3:8, 1 Corinthians 11:23, etc.—ἵνα εἰδῶμεν κ.τ.λ. (see note on οἶδα, 1 Corinthians 2:11; and cf. the emphatic οἶδα of 2 Corinthians 5:1, 2 Timothy 1:12)—a bold word here—“that we may know (certo scire, Cv[392]) the things that by God were bestowed in His grace upon us”. τὰ χαρισθέντα, aor[393] ptp[394], points to the historic gifts of God to men in Christ, which would have been idle boons without the Spirit enabling us to “know” them: cf. Ephesians 1:17 ff., ἵνα δωῇπνεῦμαεἰς τ. εἰδέναι. χαρίζομαι (to deal in χάρις: see note on χάρισμα, 7), to grant by way of grace, in unmerited favour (cf. esp. Romans 8:32, Galatians 3:18).

[385] Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[386] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[387] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[388] P. Schmiedel, in Handcommentar zum N.T. (1893).

[389] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[390] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[391] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

Calvin’s In Nov. Testamentum Commentarii.

[393] aorist tense.

[394] participle12. Now we have received] Literally, we received, i.e. when we became disciples.

that we might know] The word here signifies to perceive, rather than to gather by the exercise of the reason. Such things as the Spirit reveals to us are discerned as clearly by our spirits as the things visible to sense are discerned by the eye.1 Corinthians 2:12. Τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου, the spirit of the world) Ephesians 2:2.—ἐλάβομεν) The spirit of the world is not received; but they are always under its influence, who are of the world. We have received the Spirit of God.—ἐκ, from [God]) an antithesis to in [him, man], 1 Corinthians 2:11.Verse 12. - The spirit of the world. The heathen world in its heathen aspect is regarded as under the power of the devil (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:11, 12). Freely given to us by God. The word "freely" is here involved in the verb (χαρισθέντα) "graciously bestowed." It is different from the phrase used in "Freely ye have received," which is gratuitously (δωρεὰν, Matthew 10:8). All God's gifts are "without money and without price" (Isaiah 55:1), and not "to be bought with money" (Acts 18:20). The spirit of the world (τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου)

For this use of πνεῦμα, see on Romans 8:4, under 7. Κόσμος world, is used with the ethical sense. See on John 1:9, under 4, e, The phrase means the principle of evil which animates the unregenerate world; not the personal spirit of evil or Satan, since Paul does not use πνεῦμα spirit, elsewhere in the personal sense of an evil spirit. See note on Ephesians 2:2.

Of God (ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ)

Lit., from God: proceeding forth from Him. "God in us reveals God in our nature" (Edwards).

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