1 Corinthians 2:1-5
1. How does Paul describe his preaching?
The kind of preaching that Paul did is difficult to find today. He talked about God and specifically about His Son Jesus who came to earth and died on a cross to save us from our sins.
2. What is Paul’s message?
At the center of Paul’s message is the reality of the cross. He wants his listeners to understand that Jesus is God and that He died on a cross to save us from our sins.
3. What does Paul rely on when he preaches?
Paul relies on the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t just rely on the Holy Spirit to give him words to say. He also relies on the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of those who hear him. Jesus tells us that the Spirit, who He call the Advocate, has a specific role He will play.
7 But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 about sin, because people do not believe in me; 10 about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. (John 16:7-11 NIV)
The Spirit works in a variety of ways. The most obvious way is that the Spirit gave Paul the words to say which accomplished the purposes Jesus lists above. The Spirit also works on the heart of the unbeliever. The unbeliever always has free will and it is the Spirit who makes it clear what is being chosen.
Jesus mentions three things that the Spirit will prove that the world is wrong about. Many do not believe in God. If there is no God, then there is no sin. Societies still create laws, but the laws we create don’t come close to describing the holiness of God. Also, the law is always changing. Things that were unacceptable just 100 years ago are now both common and acceptable.
Jesus showed the disciples what was right. They were privileged to follow around a living, breathing human being who always chose the right thing to do. It was easy for the disciples to compare their actions to Jesus’ actions to see how they were doing. After Jesus returned to heaven the Holy Spirit came to perform that function in our lives. Even unbelievers have a conscience and I believe that their conscience is a result of the Holy Spirit’s activity in the world.
Jesus had a very real opponent while He was on earth. Jesus call Satan the prince of this world in this passage in John. When Jesus died on the cross the final result of the battle between Satan and Jesus was decided. Satan thought he had won, but the resurrection proved that he had lost. He now stands condemned and the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers demonstrates that Satan’s fate is sealed, and his power constrained.
4. Who is the Holy Spirit?
Paul is going to have much to say about the Holy Spirit in this letter. The Holy Spirit is God in the form of a spirit who lives inside believers. His role is to be someone who serves as an advocate for the believer when the believer is being accused by Satan. One of Satan’s principle names is the accuser. Defending God’s children against these accusations is the advocate, the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:6-10
1. What happens to those who live by worldly wisdom?
Eventually, the wisdom created by the world fails. Often, those who think they have discovered a secret wisdom no one else has figured out end up doing great evil. Paul’s example is the wisdom of the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who ending up killing Him.
2. What mystery is Paul referring to?
We think of a mystery as a puzzle to be figured out. In the Bible a mystery is something that was hidden before, but how has been revealed. Paul is talking about Jesus. There were clues to Jesus coming all through the Old Testament, but only after His resurrection was the truth about Jesus totally revealed.
3. What is required to understand the mystery?
Paul tells us that the mystery is only understood by those who love God. It isn’t that the good news cannot be understood by the mind, but deep understanding comes through the Spirit to spirit connection that exists for those who love God.
4. Why do so many people not understand the mystery?
I am convinced that there are many very smart people who do not understand what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. From a natural human perspective God coming to earth as a baby with the purpose of dying on a cross does not make sense. In addition to that the teaching of Jesus is upside down from everything that the world teaches us about significance and success. Few are willing to accept the truth that God is God and we are not.
1 Corinthians 2:11-13
1. What is one thing the Holy Spirit does that is very important to us?
The Spirit is a communicator. His role in the trinity is to understand or hear the mind of God and then communicate it to believers through their spirit. Paul makes a direct connection between the Holy Spirit which indwells the believer and the spirit of the believer. Some of that communication is provided through the words of the Bible that were inspired by the Holy Spirit. In addition, the Holy Spirit communicates directly with us through our spirit. What is communicated through our spirit will never contradict was has already been communicated through the Bible.
I do not want to diminish the activity of the Spirit in our lives today. However, it is important to remember that the only New Testament scriptures this congregation would have would be these letters from Paul. The congregation and its leaders were very dependent on the communication of the Spirit for guidance.
2. Why is Paul making this point at the beginning of this letter?
False teachers would often present persuasive arguments attempting to attract followers to a belief system that they thought up. These belief systems might contain some truth, but always added something to make the teaching unique or more attractive. Paul was not interested in impressing people with persuasive arguments or a charismatic preaching style. He wanted the Corinthians to know that what he was communicating to them had first been communicated to him by God through the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14-16
1. Who are the two types of people that Paul describes?
The contrast throughout this chapter has been between a person without the indwelling Spirit of God and the person who has the indwelling Spirit of God. We may not understand how the Holy Spirit works in our lives, but Paul makes it clear that the presence of the Spirit makes a difference.
2. How important is the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer?
Anyone can read the Bible, listen to a sermon, or participate in a Bible study. How we think about and respond to what we read or hear will depend whether the Holy Spirit is present in us. Without the Holy Spirit we are simply processing information the same way we think about anything coming into our minds. With the Holy Spirit we have help in several ways. The Holy Spirit can help us discern what is from God and what is not. The Holy Spirit can prompt us to respond to what we read or hear in a specific way. Paul clearly tells us that if we have the Holy Spirit we will understand things we might consider foolishness without the Spirit.
3. Why is the last sentence significant?
There are apparently multiple voices competing for the attention of the Corinthians believers. When he says, “we have the mind of Christ,” he is making a statement of authority. He is going to answer some difficult questions and he is going to tell the Corinthians that there are things they must do. How they respond will depend on how much credibility they give to Paul’s message.