on 1-corinthians 2 :13
Which things also we speak - We dare no more use the language of the Jews and the Gentiles in speaking of those glorious things, than we can indulge their spirit. The Greek orators affected a high and florid language, full of tropes and figures, which dazzled more than it enlightened. The rabbins affected obscurity, and were studious to find out cabalistical meanings, which had no tendency to make the people wise unto salvation. The apostles could not follow any of these; they spoke the things of God in the words of God; every thing was plain and intelligible; every word well placed, clear, and nervous. He who has a spiritual mind will easily comprehend an apostle's preaching.
Comparing spiritual things with spiritual - This is commonly understood to mean, comparing the spiritual things under the Old Testament with the spiritual things under the New: but this does not appear to be the apostle's meaning. The word συγκρινοντες, which we translate comparing, rather signifies conferring, discussing, or explaining; and the word πνευματικοις should be rendered to spiritual men, and not be referred to spiritual things. The passage therefore should be thus translated: Explaining spiritual things to spiritual persons. And this sense the following verse absolutely requires.
on 1-corinthians 2 :13
Which things we speak - Which great, and glorious, and certain truths, we, the apostles, preach and explain.
Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth - Not such as human philosophy or eloquence would dictate. They do not have their origin in the devices of human wisdom, and they are not expressed in such words of dazzling and attractive rhetoric as would be employed by those who pride themselves on the wisdom of this world.
But which the Holy Ghost teacheth - That is, in the words which the Holy Spirit imparts to us. Locke understands this as referring to the fact that the apostles used "the language and expressions" which the Holy Spirit had taught in the revelations of the Scriptures. But this is evidently giving a narrow view of the subject. The apostle is speaking of the whole course of instruction by which the deep things of God were made known to the Christian church; and all this was not made known in the very words which were already contained in the Old Testament. He evidently refers to the fact that the apostles were themselves under the direction of the Holy Spirit, in the words and doctrines which they imparted; and this passage is a full proof that they laid claim to divine inspiration. It is further observable that he says, that this was done in such "words" as the Holy Spirit taught, referring not to the doctrines or subjects merely, but to the manner of expressing them. It is evident here that he lays claim to an inspiration in regard to the words which he used, or to the manner of his stating the doctrines of revelation. Words are the signs of thoughts; and if God designed that his truth should be accurately expressed in human language, there must have been a supervision over the words used, that such should be employed, and such only, as should accurately express the sense which he intended to convey.
Comparing spiritual things with spiritual - πνευματικοῖς πνευματικὰ συγκρίνοντες pneumatikois pneumatika sugkrinontes. This expression has been very variously interpreted; and is very difficult of explanation. LeClerc renders it "speaking spiritual things to spiritual men." Most of the fathers rendered it: "comparing the things which were written by the Spirit of the Old Testament with what is now revealed to us by the same Spirit, and confirming our doctrine by them." Calvin renders the word "comparing" by "fitting," or adapting ("aptare"), and says that it means "that he adapted spiritual things to spiritual people, while he accommodated words to the thing; that is he tempered that celestial wisdom of the Spirit with simple language, and which conveyed by itself the native energy of the Spirit." Thus, says he, he reproved the vanity of those who attempted to secure human applause by a turgid and subtle mode of argument.
Grotius accords with the fathers, and renders it, "explaining those things which the prophets spake by the Spirit of God, by those things which Christ has made known to us by his Spirit." Macknight renders it: "explaining spiritual things in words taught by the Spirit." So Doddridge - The word rendered "comparing" συγκρίνοντες sugkrinontes, means properly "to collect, join, mingle, unite together"; then "to separate or distinguish parts of things and unite them into one"; then "to judge of the qualities of objects by carefully separating or distinguishing"; then "to compare for the purpose of judging," etc. Since it means to compare one thing with another for the purpose of explaining its nature, it comes to signify to "interpret," to "explain;" and in this sense it is often used by the Septuagint as a translation of the Hebrew word פתר phathar, "to open, unfold, explain." (See Genesis 40:8, Genesis 40:16, Genesis 40:22; Genesis 41:12, Genesis 41:15); also of פרשׁ paarash, "to explain"; and of the Chaldee peshar, Daniel 5:13, Daniel 5:17. See also Daniel 2:4-7, Daniel 2:9,Daniel 2:16, Daniel 2:24, Daniel 2:26, Daniel 2:30, Daniel 2:36, Daniel 2:45; Daniel 4:3-4, Daniel 4:6,Daniel 4:16-17; Daniel 5:7-8, Daniel 5:13, Daniel 5:16, Daniel 5:18, Daniel 5:20; Daniel 7:16, in all which places the noun σύγκρισις sugkrisis, is used in the same sense. In this sense the word is, doubtless, used here, and is to be interpreted in the sense of "explaining, unfolding." There is no reason, either in the word used here, or in the argument of the apostle, why the sense of comparing should be retained.
Spiritual things - πνευματικὰ pneumatika. Things, doctrines, subjects that pertain to the teaching of the Spirit. It does not mean things "spiritual" in opposition to "fleshly;" or "intellectual" in opposition to things pertaining to "matter;" but spiritual as the things referred to were such as were performed, and revealed by the Holy Spirit - his doctrines on the subject of religion under the new dispensation, and his influence on the heart.
With spiritual - πνευματικοῖς pneumatikois. This is an adjective; and may be either masculine or neuter. It is evident, that some noun is understood. That may be either:
(1) ανθρωποις anthrōpois, "men" - and then it will mean "to spiritual men" - that is, to people who are enlightened or taught by the Spirit and thus many commentators understand it; or,
(2) It may be λόγοις logois, "words" - and then it may mean, either that the "spiritual things" were explained by "words" and illustrations drawn from the writings of the Old Testament, inspired by the Spirit - as most of the fathers, and many moderns understand it; or that the "things spiritual" were explained by-words which the Holy Spirit then communicated, and which were adapted to the subject - simple, pure, elevated; not gross, not turgid, not distinguished for rhetoric, and not such as the Greeks sought, but such as became the Spirit of God communicating great, sublime, yet simple truths to people.
It will then mean "explaining doctrines that pertain to the Spirit's teaching and influence in words that are taught; by the same Spirit, and that are suited to convey in the most intelligible manner those doctrines to men." Here the idea of the Holy Spirit's present agency is kept up throughout; the idea that he communicates the doctrine, and the mode of stating it to man - The supposition that λόγοις logois, words, is the word understood here, is favored by the fact that it occurs in the previous part of this verse. And if this be the sense, it means that the words which were used by the apostles were pure, simple, unostentatious, and undistinguished by display - such as became doctrines taught by the Holy Spirit, when communicated in words suggested by the same Spirit.
on 1-corinthians 2 :13
2:13 Which also we speak - As well as know. In words taught by the Holy Spirit - Such are all the words of scripture. How high a regard ought we, then, to retain for them! Explaining spiritual things by spiritual words; or, adapting spiritual words to spiritual things - Being taught of the Spirit to express the things of the Spirit.