Vol.IX No.X Pg.7
December 1972

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Bro. Turner:

Does 1 Cor. 2:12-14 teach that only spiritually minded people can understand the Scriptures; and how does one determine who is spiritually? D. B.


The answer to the first question is No! and that will prove to the Calvinist that I am not spiritual. These and others like them teach that man is wholly dead and unresponsive to truth until moved by a work of Grace, and they cite 1 Cor 2: and Rom. 8:7. (Of course only the spiritual can understand these passages.) Election and Predestination are at the root of this concept, but we can not go into all of that here.

In 1 Cor. 1: Paul contrasts worldly wisdom with the wisdom of trusting in the gospel of Christ. The so-called wise of this world are pride-filled and reject Christ, while Christians glory in the Lord. In Ch. 2: Paul says that when he brought the gospel to Corinth, it was not with excellency of speech or wisdom— not with enticing words of mans wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. (vs. 1-5)

Worldly wisdom, i.e., refusing to accept divine revelation— to believe anything except that which man can prove in his own reasoning, apart from revelation— can never reveal to us the things of God. That is why Paul came in demonstration of the Spirit... (See above.) Now, Paul says WE speak the wisdom of God. He has broadened the speaker (teacher) from to others like him, i.e. other inspired men who spake as they were moved by The Holy Spirit. The we and us of 1 Cor. 2:6-13 refers to the Apostles and Prophets of the New Testament, not to those whom they taught, or to those they teach today through the written word.

A companion passage (Eph. 3:2-6) is more specific. How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; as I wrote afore in few words; whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Paul knew by revelation, but we know by reading what he wrote. The others knew by revelation (the us and we of 1 Cor. 2:) are the apostles and prophets. (Eph. 3:5)

The context of 1 Cor, 1: 2: contrasts the human wisdom speaker and those speakers who speak only what was revealed to them by the Spirit of God; and it contrasts those who hear requiring a sign, and seeking human wisdom (i.e., measuring the message by worldly standards) and those who hear in faith, trusting the message because of its origin. (Your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.) This is the setting for vs. 14: the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit... (Cf. 3:19-23) He who trusts in human wisdom, apart from revelation, can not know the truth.

Of course, the greater ones desire for truth— the more humble his heart, and diligent his study— the more likely he is to learn truth. But this does not make a direct operation of the H.S. a prerequisite of faith.