Thursday, November 20. 1 Corinthians 1 – 3

Who is Paul talking about in chapter 2 when he mentions those “without the Spirit?” Does he mean that if you don’t have the Spirit of God, you cannot understand the will of God?

Calvinism teaches the necessity of having the Spirit to even begin the journey to a relationship with God. 1 Corinthians 2:14 is one of the proof-texts for this.

But Paul isn’t talking about this at all.

Paul is addressing people who already have the Spirit of God, but whose lives are anything but spiritual. Theirs are lives led more by the worldly values than spiritual. They are “Christian,” but immature.

Paul would like to speak to these Christians, but though they have the Spirit, they are not led by him, and so they have difficulty understanding Paul’s message. This is Paul’s point. The Corinthians will not like that point. Spirituality is a big deal with them. They think they are spiritual, but they are not. Their behavior betrays them through their jealousy and quarreling. It is worldly behavior, lived by Christian people. Perhaps that’s why Paul doesn’t really write “The man without the Spirit” in 2:14, but “the worldly man,” using a term appearing only five times in the New Testament. James uses it to refer to his readers as unspiritual in the following passage: Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.” (James 3:13-15).