1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(14) But the natural man.—To understand this and other passages in which St. Paul speaks of “natural” and “spiritual” men, it is important to recollect that our ordinary manner of speaking of man as consisting of “soul and body”—unless “soul” be taken in an un-technical sense to denote the whole immaterial portion—is altogether inaccurate. True psychology regards man as a trinity of natures. (See Note on Matthew 10:28.) In accordance with this, St. Paul speaks of man as consisting of body (soma), soul (psyche), and spirit (pneuma); the soma is our physical nature; the psyche is our intellectual nature, embracing also our desires and human affections; the pneuma is our spiritual nature. Thus in each of us there is a somatical man, a psychical man, and a pneumatical man; and according as any one of those parts of the nature dominates over the other, so is the character of the individual person. One in whom the soma is strongest is a “carnal,” or “fleshly,” man; one in whom the intellect or affections pre-dominate is a “natural,” or “psychic,” man; and one in whom the spirit rules (which it can do only when enlightened and guided by the Spirit of God, which acts on it) is a “spiritual” man. (See 1Thessalonians 5:23.)

Natural.—That is, literally, that part of our nature which we call “mind,” and hence signifies that man in whom pure intellectual reason and the merely natural affections predominate. Now such a one cannot grasp spiritual truth any more than the physical nature, which is made to discern physical things, can grasp intellectual things. Spiritual truth appeals to the spirit of the man, and therefore is intelligible only to those who are “spiritual,” i.e., in whom the pneuma is not dormant, but quickened by the Holy Pneuma.

1 Corinthians 2:14. But the natural man — The man who has only the powers of nature, the faculties derived from Adam, but not a supernatural principle of saving grace; who has a soul in his body, (as the word ψυχικος, derived from ψυχη, a soul, implies,) but no divine inspiration in that soul; or who is not truly enlightened and renewed by the Word and Spirit of God, and therefore has no other way of obtaining knowledge but by his senses and natural understanding; receiveth not — Does not understand or apprehend; the things of the Spirit of God — Whether relating to his nature or kingdom. For they are foolishness to him — He is so far from understanding, that he utterly despises them. Neither can he know them — As he has not the will, so neither has he the power; because they are spiritually discerned — They can only be discerned by the aid of that Spirit, and by those spiritual senses which he has not. Some commentators consider these declarations of the apostle as being only applicable to mere animal or sensual persons, who are under the guidance and government of their natural senses, appetites, and passions; and it must be acknowledged that the word above mentioned, rendered natural in the beginning of this verse, is translated sensual James 3:15; Jdg 1:19. And yet it is certain that the word ψυχη, from which it is derived, frequently signifies the rational and immortal soul; even that soul which they that kill the body, cannot kill, Matthew 10:28; Matthew 10:39; and therefore the epithet formed from it may justly be considered as referring to the powers of the mind, as well as to the inferior faculties. Besides, though the word is rendered sensual, in the before-mentioned passages, yet in the latter of them (Judges 19) it is explained as signifying those who have not the Spirit. And it is evident that in this verse St. Paul is not opposing a man that is governed by his appetites and passions, or by his mere animal nature, and his prejudices arising therefrom, to one that is governed by his reason; or one destitute of consideration and judgment, and of amiable, moral qualities, to one possessed of them; but a carnal to a spiritual man; or a mere natural and unrenewed, to a truly enlightened and regenerated man. Indeed, “the apostle’s argument,” as Mr. Scott justly observes, “absolutely requires that by the natural man, we should understand the unregenerate man, however sagacious, learned, or abstracted from sensual indulgences, for he opposes him to the spiritual man: and the pride of carnal reasoning is at least as opposite to spirituality, as the most grovelling sensuality can be. No man, as naturally born into the world, and not supernaturally born again of the Spirit, can see the kingdom of God, or receive, in faith and love, the spiritual mysteries of redemption by the cross of Christ. To all unregenerate men, these things will, in one way or other, appear foolishness, uninteresting, unnecessary, inconsistent, absurd: and doubtless proud reasoners have scoffed at them, more than ever mere sensualists did. No ingenuity, address, or reasoning of the preacher can prevent this effect: no application of a man’s own mind, except in humble dependance on the teaching of the Holy Spirit, can enable him to perceive the real nature and glory of them. For they are spiritually discerned — That is, by the illuminating and sanctifying work of the Spirit of God upon the mind, by which a spiritual capacity is produced, which discerns, loves, admires, and delights in, the divine excellence of heavenly things. When this change has taken place, and a man’s spiritual senses have been matured by growth and exercise, he may be called a spiritual man: and he perceives the spiritual glory and excellence of every truth and precept in the Word of God; he distinguishes one object from another by a spiritual taste, or a kind of extempore judgment, and so he becomes a competent judge in these matters.”

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.But the natural man - ψυχικὸς, δὲ ἄνθρωπος psuchikos de anthrōpos. The word "natural" here stands opposed evidently to "spiritual." It denotes those who are governed and influenced by the natural instincts; the animal passions and desires, in opposition to those who are influenced by the Spirit of God. It refers to unregenerate people; but it has also not merely the idea of their being unregenerate, but that of their being influenced by the animal passions or desires. See the note on 1 Corinthians 15:44. The word "sensual" would correctly express the idea. The word is used by the Greek writers to denote that which man has in common with the brutes - to denote that they are under the influence of the senses, or the mere animal nature, in opposition to reason and conscience - Bretschneider. See 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Here it denotes that they are under the influence of the senses, or the animal nature, in opposition to being influenced by the Spirit of God. Macknight and Doddridge render it: "the animal man."

Whitby understands by it the man who rejects revelation, the man who is under the influence of carnal wisdom. The word occurs but six times in the New Testament; 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:46; James 3:15; Jde 1:19. In 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:46, it is rendered "natural," and is applied to the body as it exists before death, in contradistinction from what shall exist after the resurrection - called a spiritual body. In James 3:15, it is applied to wisdom: "This wisdom - is earthly, sensual, devilish." In Jde 1:19, it is applied to sensual persons, or those who are governed by the senses in opposition to those who are influenced by the Spirit: "These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit." The word here evidently denotes those who are under the influence of the senses; who are governed by the passions and the animal appetites, and natural desires; and who are uninfluenced by the Spirit of God. And it may be observed that this was the case with the great mass of the pagan world, even including the philosophers.

Receiveth not - οὐ δέχεται ou dechetai, does not "embrace" or "comprehend" them. That is, he rejects them as folly; he does not perceive their beauty, or their wisdom; he despises them. He loves other things better. A man of intemperance does not receive or love the arguments for temperance; a man of licentiousness, the arguments for chastity; a liar, the arguments for truth. So a sensual or worldly man does not receive or love the arguments for religion.

The things of the Spirit of God - The doctrines which are inspired by the Holy Spirit, and the things which pertain to his influence on the heart and life. The things of the Spirit of God here denote all the things which the Holy Spirit produces.

Neither can he know them - Neither can he understand or comprehend them. Perhaps, also, the word "know" here implies also the idea of "loving," or "approving" of them, as it often does in the Scripture. Thus, to know the Lord often means to love him, to have a full, practical acquaintance with him. When the apostle says that the animal or sensual man cannot know those things, he may have reference to one of two things. Either:

(1) That those doctrines were not discoverable by human wisdom, or by any skill which the natural man may have, but were to be learned only by revelation. This is the main drift of his argument, and this sense is given by Locke and Whitby. Or,

(2) He may mean that the sensual the unrenewed man cannot perceive their beauty and their force, even after they are revealed to man, unless the mind is enlightened and inclined by the Spirit of God. This is probably the sense of the passage.

This is the simple affirmation of a fact - that while the man remains sensual and carnal, he cannot perceive the beauty of those doctrines. And this is a simple and well known fact. It is a truth - universal and lamentable - that the sensual man, the worldly man, the proud, haughty, and self-confident man; the man under the influence of his animal appetites - licentious, false, ambitious, and vain - does not perceive any beauty in Christianity. So the intemperate man perceives no beauty in the arguments for temperance; the adulterer, no beauty in the arguments for chastity; the liar, no beauty in the arguments for truth. It is a simple fact, that while he is intemperate, or licentious, or false, he can perceive no beauty in these doctrines.

But this does not prove that he has no natural faculties for perceiving the force and beauty of these arguments; or that he might not apply his mind to their investigation, and be brought to embrace them; or that he might not abandon the love of intoxicating drinks, and sensuality, and falsehood, and be a man of temperance, purity, and truth. He has all the natural faculties which are requisite in the case; and all the inability is his "strong love" of intoxicating drinks, or impurity, or falsehood. So of the sensual sinner. While he thus remains in love with sin, he cannot perceive the beauty of the plan of salvation, or the excellency of the doctrines of religion. He needs just the love of these things, and the hatred of sin. He needs to cherish the influences of the Spirit; to receive what He has taught, and not to reject it through the love of sin; he needs to yield himself to their influences, and then their beauty will be seen.

The passage here proves that while a man is thus sensual, the things of the Spirit will appear to him to be folly; it proves nothing about his ability, or his natural faculty, to see the excellency of these things, and to turn from his sin. It is the affirmation of a simple fact everywhere discernible, that the natural man does not perceive the beauty of these things; that while he remains in that state he cannot; and that if he is ever brought to perceive their beauty, it will be by the influence of the Holy Spirit. Such is his love of sin, that he never will be brought to see their beauty except by the agency of the Holy Spirit. "For wickedness perverts the judgment, and makes people err with respect to practical principles; so that no one can be wise and judicious who is not good." Aristotle, as quoted by Bloomfield.

They are spiritually discerned - That is, they are perceived by the aid of the Holy Spirit enlightening the mind and influencing the heart.

(The expression ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος psuchikos anthrōpos; has given rise to much controversy. Frequent attempts have been made to explain it, merely of the animal or sensual man. If this be the true sense, the doctrine of human depravity, in as far at least as this text may be supposed to bear upon it, is greatly invalidated. The apostle would seem to affirm only, that individuals, addicted to the gross indulgences of sense, are incapable of discerning and appreciating spiritual things. Thus, a large exception would be made in favor of all those who might be styled intellectual and moral persons, living above the inferior appetites, and directing their faculties to the candid investigation of truth. That the phrase, however, is to be explained of the natural or "unregenerate" man, whether distinguished for intellectual refinement, and external regard to morals, or degraded by animal indulgence, will appear evident from an examination of the passage.

The word in dispute comes from ψυχή psuchē, which though it primarily signify the breath or animal life, is by no means confined to that sense, but sometimes embraces the mind or soul "as distinguished both from man's body and from his πνεῦμα pneuma, or spirit, breathed into him immediately by God" - See Parkhurst's Greek Lexicon. The etymology of the word does not necessarily require us, then, to translate it "sensual." The context therefore alone must determine the matter. Now the "natural man" is there opposed to the spiritual man, the ψυχικὸς psuchikos to the πνευματικὸς pneumatikos, and if the latter be explained of "him who is enlightened by the Holy Spirit" - who is regenerate - the former must be explained of him who is not enlightened by that Spirit, who is still in a state of nature; and will thus embrace a class far more numerous than the merely sensual part of mankind.

Farther; the general scope of the passage demands this view. The Corinthians entertained an excessive fondness for human learning and wisdom. They loved philosophical disquisition and oratorical display, and may therefore have been impatient of the "enticing words" of Paul. To correct their mistaken taste, the apostle asserts and proves the utter insufficiency of human wisdom, either to discover spiritual things, or to appreciate them when discovered. He exclaims "where is the 'wise'? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?" 1 Corinthians 1:17, 1 Corinthians 1:31. Now it would be strange indeed, if in bringing his argument to a conclusion, he should simply assert, that "sensual" people were incapable of spiritual discernment. So lame and impotent a conclusion is not to be attributed to the apostle. The disputed phrase, therefore, must be understood of all unregenerate persons, however free from gross sin, or eminent in intellectual attainment. Indeed it is the "proud wisdom" of the world, and not its sensuality, that the apostle? throughout has chiefly in view. Add to all this; that the simplicity of the gospel has "in reality" met with more bitter opposition and pointed scorn, from people of worldly wisdom, than from people of the sensual class. Of the former, is it especially true that they have counted the gospel "foolishness" and contemptuously rejected its message.

continued...

14. natural man—literally, "a man of animal soul." As contrasted with the spiritual man, he is governed by the animal soul, which overbears his spirit, which latter is without the Spirit of God (Jude 19). So the animal (English Version, "natural") body, or body led by the lower animal nature (including both the mere human fallen reason and heart), is contrasted with the Spirit-quickened body (1Co 15:44-46). The carnal man (the man led by bodily appetites, and also by a self-exalting spirit, estranged from the divine life) is closely akin; so too the "earthly." "Devilish," or "demon-like"; "led by an evil spirit," is the awful character of such a one, in its worst type (Jas 3:15).

receiveth not—though they are offered to him, and are "worthy of being received by all men" (1Ti 1:15).

they are foolishness unto him—whereas he seeks "wisdom" (1Co 1:22).

neither can he—Not only does he not, but he cannot know them, and therefore has no wish to "receive" them (Ro 8:7).

There are great disputes here, who is meant by the natural man, qucikov anyrwpov. Some think that by the natural man here is meant the carnal man: thus, 1 Corinthians 15:44, the natural body is opposed to the spirtiual body; besides, they say, that in the constant phrase of holy writ, man, who is made up of flesh and spirit, as his essential parts, hath constantly his denomination from one of them, and all men in the world are either carnal or spiritual, and that the Greek word quch signifies that soul and life which is common to all men, from whence all common motions and affections are, and is opposed to the Holy Spirit, which dwells in the souls of them that are sanctified, by which they are led and guided, &c. Thus, say they, the natural man is one who is a servant to his lusts and corruption, under the perfect government of his soul considered merely as natural, all whose motions in that estate of sin and corruption are inordinate. Others think that the apostle here speaks of such as are weak in the faith, little ones, babes in Christ, who had need of milk, not of strong meat, and are natural men in comparison of those more spiritual and perfect. In this sense indeed the apostle, 1 Corinthians 3:4, calleth them carnal. But there is nothing more plain, than that the apostle, under the notion of qucikov anyrwpov (which we translate natural man) here, understands all such as were not perfect and spiritual, such to whom God hath not by his Spirit revealed the deep things of God, 1 Corinthians 2:10; such as had only received the spirit of the world, not the spirit of God, by which alone men come to know the things that are freely given them of God, as 1 Corinthians 2:12.

Receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: all these, though some of them are much better than others, having their minds more cultivated and adorned with worldly knowledge and wisdom, yet do not in their hearts (though they may with their ears) receive, that is, believe, embrace, and close with or approve of, spiritual and Divine mysteries, such doctrines as are purely matters of faith, standing upon a Divine revelation.

For they are foolishness unto him; for men of wit and reason count them all foolishness, being neither demonstrable by sense or natural reason.

Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned; neither can any man, no otherwise taught and instructed, so comprehend them, as to give a firm and fixed assent to them, or in heart approve them, because they are only to be seen and discerned in a spiritual light, the Holy Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, enlightening their understandings, that they may know the hope of his calling, and what is the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to them that believe, according to the working of his mighty power, & c., Ephesians 1:17-19. Thus the apostle gives a reason of what he had said, 1 Corinthians 2:8, that none of the princes of the world knew the wisdom of God.

But the natural man,.... Not a babe in Christ, one that is newly born again, for though such have but little knowledge of spiritual things, yet they have a taste, and do relish and desire, and receive the sincere milk of the word, and grow thereby; but an unregenerate man, that has no knowledge at all of such things; not an unregenerate man only, who is openly and notoriously profane, abandoned to sensual lusts and pleasures; though such a man being sensual, and not having the Spirit, must be a natural man; but rather the wise philosopher, the Scribe, the disputer of this world; the rationalist, the man of the highest attainments in nature, in whom reason is wrought up to its highest pitch; the man of the greatest natural parts and abilities, yet without the Spirit and grace of God, mentioned 1 Corinthians 1:20 and who all along, both in that chapter and in this, quite down to this passage, is had in view: indeed, every man in a state of nature, who is as he was born, whatever may be the inward furniture of his mind, or his outward conduct of life, is but a natural man, and such an one

receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: not the things relating to the deity, personality, and perfections of the Holy Spirit, though these the natural man knows not, nor receives; nor the things done by him, particularly the operations of his grace on the souls of men in regeneration, concerning which he says, as Nicodemus did, "how can these things be?" but the truths of the Gospel before spoken of; so called, because they are contained in the Scriptures edited by the Spirit of God, are the deep things of God, which he searches into and reveals; and because they are made known by him, who is given and received for that end and purpose, that the saints might know them; and because they are delivered by the preachers of the Gospel, in words which he teacheth; now these the natural man receives not in the love of them, so as to approve of and like them, truly to believe them, cordially embrace them, and heartily be subject to them, profess and obey them, but on the contrary abhors and rejects them:

for they are foolishness unto him; they are looked upon by him as absurd, and contrary to reason; they do not agree with his taste, he disrelishes and rejects them as things insipid and distasteful; he regards them as the effects of a crazy brain, and the reveries of a distempered head, and are with him the subject of banter and ridicule:

neither can he know them: as a natural man, and whilst he is such, nor by the help and mere light of nature only; his understanding, which is shut unto them, must be opened by a divine power, and a superior spiritual light must be thrown into it; at most he can only know the literal and grammatical sense of them, or only in the theory, notionally and speculatively, not experimentally, spiritually, and savingly:

because they are spiritually discerned; in a spiritual manner, by a spiritual light, and under the influence, and by the assistance of the Spirit of God. There must be a natural visive discerning faculty, suited to the object; as there must be a natural visive faculty to see and discern natural things, so there must be a spiritual one, to see, discern, judge, and approve of spiritual things; and which only a spiritual, and not a natural man has.

{13} But the {p} natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are {q} spiritually discerned.

(13) Again he anticipates an offence or stumbling block: how does it come to pass that so few allow these things? This is not to be marvelled at, the apostle says, seeing that men in their natural powers (as they call them) are not endued with that faculty by which spiritual things are discerned

(which faculty comes another way) and therefore they consider spiritual wisdom as folly: and it is as if he should say, It is no marvel that blind men cannot judge of colours, seeing that they lack the light of their eyes, and therefore light is to them as darkness.

(p) The man that has no further light of understanding, than that which he brought with him, even from his mother's womb, as Jude defines it; Jude 19.

(q) By the power of the Holy Spirit.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 2:14. To receive such teaching, however, in which πνευματικά are united with πνευματικοῖς, every one has not the capacity; a psychical man apprehends not that which is of the Spirit of God, etc.

ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος is the opposite of the πνευματικός who has received the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:12 f., 15); he is therefore one πνεῦμα (the Holy Spirit) μὴ ἔχων (Judges 1:19). Such a man—who is not essentially different from the σαρκικός (see on 1 Corinthians 3:1), but the mental side of whose nature is here brought forward by the word ψυχικός—is not enlightened and sanctified by the Spirit of God, but is governed by the ψυχή, the principle of life for the σάρξ, so that the sphere in which he works and strives is not that of the divine truth and the divine ζωή, but the purely human activity of the understanding, and, as regards practical things, the interests of the life of sense, the ἐπιθυμίαι ψυχικαί, 4Ma 1:32, the ἐπιθυμίαι ἀνθρώπων, not the θέλημα Θεοῦ, 1 Peter 4:2. Comp generally, Weiss, biblische Theol. p. 270 f. The higher principle of life, the human πνεῦμα,[419] which he has, is not laid hold of and quickened by the Holy Spirit; the regeneration by the Holy Spirit, who operates upon the human spirit and thereby brings about the renewal of the man (comp John 3:6), has not yet taken place with him; hence the psychical man is really the natural man, i.e. not yet enlightened and sanctified by the Spirit of God, not yet born again,[421] although, at the same time, ψυχικός means not naturalis (i.e. φυσικός in contrast to διδακτός, τεχνικός, and the like; comp Polyb. vi. 4, 7 : φυσικῶς καὶ ἀκατασκεύως), but animalis (Vulgate). Comp ψυχικὴ σοφία as contrasted with that ἄνωθεν κατερχομένη, Jam 3:15. Many have taken up the idea in a one-sided way, either in a merely intellectual reference (τὸν μόνοις τοῖς οἰκείοις ἀρκούμενον λογισμοῖς, Theodoret; see also Chrysostom, Theophylact, Beza, Grotius, Heydenreich, Pott; comp too, Wieseler on Gal. p. 451), or in a merely ethical one (a man obedient to sensual desires; so, and in some cases, with an exaggerated stress on the sinfulness involved, it is interpreted by Erasmus, Vitringa, Limborch, Clericus, Rosenmüller, Valckenaer, Krause, and others). The two elements cannot be separated from each other without quite an arbitrary act of division.

οὐ δέχεται] The question whether this means: he is unsusceptible of it, does not understand (Vulgate, Castalio, Beza, Piscator, Grotius, Rückert, et al[425]); or: he does not accept, respuit (Peschito, Erasmus, and others, including Tittmann, Flatt, Billroth, de Wette, Osiander, Ewald, Maier), falls to be decided in favour of the latter view by the standing use of δέχεσθαι in the N. T. when referring to doctrine. See Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; Acts 11:1; Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 2:13. Comp 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 8:17.

τὰ τοῦ πν.] what comes from the Spirit. This applies both to the matter and form of the teaching. See 1 Corinthians 2:13.

μωρία γὰργνῶναι] ground of this οὐ δέχεται κ.τ.λ[427]: It is folly to him, i.e. (as 1 Corinthians 1:18) it stands to him in the practical relation of being something absurd, and he is not in a position to discern it. The latter clause is not covered by the former (Hofmann), but appends to the relation of the object to the subject the corresponding relation of the subject to the object.

The statement of the reason for both of these connected clauses is: ὅτι πνευματικῶς ἀνακρίνεται: because they (τὰ τοῦ πνεύμ.) are judged of after a spiritual fashion (1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 14:24), i.e. because the investigative (ἀνα) judgment of them (the searching into and estimating their nature and meaning) is a task which, by reason of the nature of the subject-matter to be dealt with, can be performed in accordance with its own essential character in no other way than by means of a proving and judging empowered and guided by the Holy Spirit (a power which is wanting to the ψυχικός). ΠΝΕΥΜΑΤΙΚῶς, that is to say, refers not to the human spirit, but to the Holy Spirit (see 1 Corinthians 2:13) who fills the human spirit, and by the hallowing influence of divine enlightenment and power capacitates it for the ἀνακρίνειν of the doctrines of teachers filled with the Spirit who address it, so that this ἈΝΑΚΡΊΝΕΙΝ is an activity which proceeds in a mode empowered and guided by the Spirit. We may add that ἀνακρίν. does not mean: must be judged of (Luther and many others, among whom are Tittmann, Flatt, and Pott), but it expresses the characteristic relation, which takes place; they are subject to spiritual judgment. That is an axiom. But this very sort of ἀνάκρισις is what is lacking in the ΨΥΧΙΚΌς.

[419] The distinction between ψυχή and πνεῦμα, as that which separates from each other the agencies of the lower and the higher life, answers certainly to the Platonic threefold division of man’s nature into body, soul, and spirit (see, especially, Olshausen, de naturae humanae trichotomia N. T. scriptoribus recepta, in his Opusc. Berol. 1834, p. 143 ff.; and, on the other side, Hahn, Theol. d. N. T. I. p. 391 ff.). Not, however, as if Paul had borrowed this trichotomy (see, especially, 1 Thessalonians 5:23; comp. also Hebrews 4:12) from the Platonic philosophy, but this Platonic type of anthropology, current also with Philo and the Rabbinical writers, had, like the phrase ὁ ἔσω and ὁ ἔξω ἄνθρωπος (see on Ephesians 3:16), become popular (comp. Josephus, Antt. i. 1. 2, according to which God breathed τνεῦμα and ψυχήν into man when first formed), and subsisted alongside of the twofold conception and the corresponding mode of expression (1 Corinthians 5:3 f., 1 Corinthians 7:34; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Romans 8:10 f., al.). Comp. Lünemann on 1 Thessalonians 5:23. Luther, as early as 1521, has some excellent remarks on the trichotomy (printed also in Delitzsch’s bibl. Psychol. p. 392 f.). He likens the πνεῦμα to the Sanctum sanctorum, the ψυχή to the Sanctum, and the σῶμα to the Atrium. Against Hofmann’s arbitrary explaining away of a real threefold division (in his Schriftbeweis, I. p. 297 f.), see Krumm, de notionibus psychol. Pauli, p. 1 ff.; Delitzsch, loc. cit. p. 87 ff.; Ernesti, Ursprung d. Sünde, II. p. 76 f. We may add, that Hofmann is wrong in saying, with respect to this passage, that it has nothing whatever to do with the question about the dichotomy or trichotomy. It has to do with it, inasmuch as in virtue of the contrast between ψυχικός and πνευματικός, the ψυχή cannot be the seat and sphere of operation of the Divine Spirit, which is to be found rather in the human πνεῦμα, and consequently must be conceived as specifically distinct from the latter.

[421] Luther’s gloss is: “The natural man is as he is apart from grace, albeit decked out as bravely as may be with all the reason, skill, sense, and faculty in the world.” Comp. Calovius, who insists with justice against Grotius, that ψυχικός and σαρκικός differ only “ratione formalis significationis.” Paul might have used σαρκικός here too (see on 1 Corinthians 3:1); but ψυχικός naturally suggested itself to him as correlative to δέχεσθαι; for the ψυχή cannot be the receptaculum of that which is of the Spirit of God. According to Ewald, the word points to the Greek philosophers, being a gentle way of designating them. But the expression is quite general; and how easy it would have been for Paul to let it be definitely known that the reference was to the philosophers (by σοφός τοῦ κόσμου, for example, or in some other way)!

[425] t al. and others; and other passages; and other editions.

[427] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

1 Corinthians 2:14. With the App. all is spiritual—words and thoughts; for this very reason men of the world reject their teaching: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God” (cf. Romans 8:5; John 15:18-21, 1 John 4:5).—Of the vbs. for receiving, λαμβάνω (1 Corinthians 2:12) regards the object, δέχομαι the manner and spirit of the act—to welcome (see parls.); there is no receptivity—“non vult admittere” (Bg[426]). ψυχικός, in all N.T. instances, has a disparaging sense, being opposed to πνευματικός (as ψυχὴ is not to πνεῦμα), and almost syn[427] with σάρκινος or σαρκικός (1 Corinthians 3:1 f.). The term is in effect privativeὁ μόνην τ. ἔμφυτον καὶ ἀνθρωπίνην σύνεσιν ἔχων (Cm[428]), “quemlibet hominem solis naturæ facultatibus præditum” (Cv[429]),—positive evil being implied by consequence. Adam’s body was ψυχικόν, as not yet charged, like that of Christ, with the Divine πνεῦμα (1 Corinthians 15:44-49. syn[430] with χοϊκός, and contrasted with ἐπουράνιος). “The word was coined by Aristotle (Eth. Nic., III., x., 2) to distinguish the pleasures of the soul, such as ambition and desire for knowledge, from those of the body (ἡδοναὶ σωματικαί).” “Similarly Polybius, and Plutarch (de Plac. Phil., i. 9 ψυχικαὶ χαραί, σωματικαὶ ἡδοναί). “Contrasted with the ἀκρατής, the ψυχικὸς is the noblest of men. But to the πνευματικὸς he is related as the natural to the supernatural” (Ed[431]: see Cr[432], s. v.). This epithet, therefore, describes to the Cor[433] the unregenerate nature at its best, the man commended in philosophy, actuated by the higher thoughts and aims of the natural life—not the sensual man (the animalis of the Vg[434]), who is ruled by bodily impulse. Yet the ψυχικός, μὴ ἔχων πνεῦμα (Judges 1:19), may be lower than the σαρκικός, where the latter, as in 1 Corinthians 3:3 and Galatians 5:17; Galatians 5:25, is already touched but not fully assimilated by the life-giving Πνεῦμα.—μωρία γὰρ αὐτῷ κ.τ.λ., rendered by Krenkel (Beiträge, pp. 379 ff.), “For folly belongs (cleaves) to him, and he cannot perceive that he is spiritually searched” (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:24 ff., ἀνακρίνεται)—an ingenious and grammatically possible translation, but not consistent with the emphatic ref[435] of μωρία in ch. 1 to the world’s judgment on the Gospel, nor with the fact that “the things of God” (σοφία Θεοῦ, πνευματικά) are the all-commanding topic of this paragraph. We adhere therefore to the common rendering: “For to him they are folly; and he cannot perceive (them), for (it is) spiritually (that) they are tried”—and he is unspiritual. For γνῶναι, see note on ἔγνωκεν (1 Corinthians 2:8).—Ἀνακρίνω must be distinguished from κρίνω, to judge, deliver a verdict; and from διακρίνω, to discern, distinguish diff[436] things; it signifies to examine, inquire into, being syn[437] on the one side with ἐραυνάω of 1 Corinthians 2:10, and on the other with δοκιμάζω of 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (see parls.; also Lt[438] ad loc[439], and in his Fresh Revision3, pp. 69 ff.): “ἀνάκρισις was an Athenian law-term for a preliminary investigation—corresponding mutatis mutandis to the part taken in English law-proceedings by the Grand Jury” (cf. Acts 25:26). The Gospel appears on its trial before the ψυχικοί; like the Athenian philosophers, they give it a first hearing, but they have no organon to test it by. The inquiry is stultified, ab initio, by the incompetence of the jury. The unspiritual are out of court as religious critics; they are deaf men judging music.

[426] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[427]
synonym, synonymous.

[428] John Chrysostom’s Homiliœ († 407).

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

[430] synonym, synonymous.

[431] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.2

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

[433] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[434] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[435] reference.

[436] difference, different, differently.

[437] synonym, synonymous.

[438] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[439] ad locum, on this passage.

14. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God] The natural man—(animalis, Vulgate), that is, the man whose perceptions do not extend beyond the region of the intellect, the part of his being which he has in common with the animal creation,—can never attain to the things of the Spirit. The term must not be understood in the same sense as our word animal now bears, i.e. as equivalent to sensual. Cf. Judges 19, where the word is translated sensual in our version. See notes on 1 Corinthians 15:44.

because they are spiritually discerned] There is but little analogy between mental and spiritual discernment, or rather processes (see next note), which the Apostle has been contrasting throughout the whole of this chapter. The one is the result of knowledge, investigation, argument: the faculties which produce the other are sharpened by self-discipline, humility, communion with God, love of Him and the brethren. To those who are thus exercised many things are clear which are mysteries to the most learned and the most acute.

1 Corinthians 2:14. Ψυχικὸς, the natural [animal] man) whatsoever and how great soever he may be, who is without the Spirit of God. Ephraim Syrus well remarks: “The apostle called men, who lived according to nature, natural, Ψυχικοὺς; those who lived contrary to nature, carnal, σαρκικοὺς; but those are spiritual, πνευματικοὶ, who even change their nature into the spirit, i.e. conform their natural disposition to what is spiritual,” [μεθαρμοζόμενοι τὴν φύσιν εἰς τὸ πνεῦμα], f. 92. So flesh and blood, Matthew 16:17, note.—οὐ δέχεται, does not receive) although they be offered, yet he does not wish to avail himself of the offer; comp. δέξασθε, receive. Here presently after there follows the corresponding phrase, he cannot. Comp. Romans 8:7. The reason is added to each [aetiology, en.], by the words, for, and because. [Each forms an antithesis to the mind of Paul expressed at 1 Timothy 1:15, faithful and worthy of all ACCEPTATION, πιστὸς καὶ πάσης ἀποδοχῆς ἄξιος.—V. g.]—τὰ τοῦ πνεῦματος,[24] the things of the Spirit) In like manner, the things of God, 1 Corinthians 2:11.—μωρία, folly) Whereas he seeks wisdom, 1 Corinthians 1:22.—οὐ δύναται, he cannot) he has not the spirit and the power.—γνῶναι, to know) the things of the Spirit of God.—πνευματικῶς) only spiritually.

[24] The Germ. Vers. does not conceal that τοῦ Θεοῦ is added, although the omission on the margin of both editions is considered to be better established.—E. B. ABCD(Λ)Gfg Vulg. Orig. Hilary 64, read τοῦ θεοῦ. But Syr. Version, Iren. and Hilary, 344, omit the words.—ED.

Verse 14. - The natural man. The Greek word is ψυχικὸς (psychical); literally, soulish, i.e. the man who lives the mere life of his lower understanding, the unspiritual, sensuous, and egoistic man. He may be superior to the fleshly, sensual, or carnal man, who lives only the life of the body (σωματικὸς); but is far below the spiritual man (πνευματικός). St. Paul (1 Thessalonians 5:23) recognizes the tripartite nature of man - body, soul, spirit. Receiveth not; i.e. "does not choose to accept." He judges them by the foregone conclusions of his own prejudice. Because they are spiritually judged. The organ for the recognition of such truths - namely, the spirit - has become paralyzed or fallen into atrophy, from neglect; therefore the egoist and the sensualist have lost the faculty whereby alone spiritual truth is discernible. It becomes to them what painting is to the blind, or music to the deaf. This elementary truth is again and again insisted on in Scripture, and ignored by sceptics (Romans 8:6, 7; John 3:3; John 6:44, 45; John 14:17; 2 Corinthians 4:3-6). This verse is sometimes used to depreciate knowledge, reason, and intellect. On that abuse of the passage, see Hooker, 'Eccl. Pol.,' 3. 8:4-11, an admirable passage, which Bishop Wordsworth quotes at length. It is, perhaps, sufficient to say that if God has no need of human knowledge, he has still less need of human ignorance. 1 Corinthians 2:14The natural man (ψυχικὸς ἄνθρωπος)

See on Romans 11:4, on the distinction between ψυχή soul, life, and πνεῦμα spirit. The contrast is between a man governed by the divine Spirit and one from whom that Spirit is absent. But ψυχικὸς natural, is not equivalent to σαρκικός fleshy. Paul is speaking of natural as contrasted with spiritual cognition applied to spiritual truth, and therefore of the ψυχή soul, as the organ of human cognition, contrasted with the πνεῦμα spirit, as the organ of spiritual cognition. The man, therefore, whose cognition of truth depends solely upon his natural insight is ψυχικός natural, as contrasted with the spiritual man (πνευματικός) to whom divine insight is imparted. In other words, the organ employed in the apprehension of spiritual truth characterizes the man. Paul therefore "characterizes the man who is not yet capable of understanding divine wisdom as ψυχικός, i.e., as one who possesses in his ψυχή soul, simply the organ of purely human cognition, but has not yet the organ of religious cognition in the πνεῦμα spirit" (Dickson). It is perhaps impossible to find an English word which will accurately render ψυχικός. Psychic is simply the Greek transcribed. We can do no better than hold by the A.V. natural.

Receiveth not (οὐ δέχεται)

Not, does not understand, but does not admit them into his heart; thus, according to New Testament usage, when the word is used in connection with teaching. See Luke 8:13; Acts 8:14; Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:6; James 1:21.

Are foolishness

Not merely seem. To him they are.

Neither can he know (καὶ οὐ δύναται γνῶναι)

Rev., more strictly, and he cannot know. "It is an utter perversion of such statements to maintain that there is in the natural man any organic, constitutional incapacity of spiritual perception requiring to be created in them by the Holy Spirit .... The uniform teaching of Scripture is that the change effected in regeneration is a purely moral and spiritual one" (Brown).

Discerned (ἀνακρίνεται)

Rev., judged. Used only by Luke and Paul, and by the latter in this epistle only. By Luke, mostly of judicial examination: Luke 23:14; Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19; Acts 24:8; Acts 28:18. Of examining the Scriptures, Acts 17:11, but with the sense of proving or coming to a judgment on. The fundamental idea of the word is examination, scrutiny, following up (ἀνά) a series of objects or particulars in order to distinguish (κρίνω). This is its almost universal meaning in classical Greek. At Athens it was used technically in two senses: to examine magistrates with a view to proving their qualifications; and to examine persons concerned in a suit, so as to prepare the matter for trial, as a grand jury. The meaning judged is, at best, inferential, and the Rev. inserts examined in the margin. Bishop Lightfoot says: "Ανακρίνειν is neither to judge nor to discern; but to examine, investigate, inquire into, question, as it is rightly translated, 1 Corinthians 9:3; 1 Corinthians 10:25, 1 Corinthians 10:27. The apostle condemns all these impatient human praejudicia which anticipate the final judgment, reserving his case for the great tribunal, where at length all the evidence will be forthcoming and a satisfactory verdict can be given. Meanwhile the process of gathering evidence has begun; an ἀνάκρισις investigation is indeed being held, not, however, by these self-appointed magistrates, but by one who alone has the authority to institute the inquiry, and the ability to sift the facts" ("On a Fresh Revision of the New Testament"). See, further, on 1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:4.

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