1 Corinthians 2:14

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Sean
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1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Sean » Sat Aug 30, 2008 4:12 am

1Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Paul goes on to say:

1Cor 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not carnal?

It seems to say that Paul could not speak to these people as spiritual people but as if they were carnal, mere (natural) men. Meaning that even though the Spiritual things are discerned by the Spirit, these people could not understand Spiritual things. But apparently they could understand "Christ and Him crucified".

However, the Calvinist can say that in chapter 1 Paul says: (1 Cor 1:18) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. This is then equated with the "foolishness" mentioned in 1 cor 2:14 so as to mean the message of the cross is foolishness to the natural man.

Any comments or thoughts?
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

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Sean
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Sean » Sat Aug 30, 2008 5:21 am

I had a few thoughts :)

Summary:
- These Corinthians were acting like "mere men" (as apposed acting "regenerated").
- They were able to understand/believe/accept Christ and Him crucified yet their actions have prevented Paul from speaking to them about deep things/spiritual things/solid food so only "milk" could be given.
- It is mentioned that they are still not ready, they are still carnal, as if this has been their condition since their conversion or before.
- Calvinist state that one must be regenerated before belief can occur, yet Paul says "we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches" But this is the very concern, that Paul could not speak this kind of wisdom to the Corinthians because they were not able to receive it.

So how does the Calvinist explain this? The Corinthians are not able to receive things that are spiritually discerned, yet they could receive Christ and Him crucified?

1Co 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God.
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
1Co 2:3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.
1Co 2:4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power,
1Co 2:5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.


And why is it that Paul did not use persuasive words but rather a demonstration of God's power. I thought all we had to do was preach the gospel and God provides the faith. Paul seems concerned with what they put their faith in (words or power). Why would this be so if God births the faith in the individual, which is suppose to be completely independent from anything man can do or contribute (such as Paul giving a demonstration so they will place their faith accordingly). It seems that the Corinthians placed their faith in God because of the demonstrations of the Spirit and of power and not because of a mere declaration of the testimony about God. (Except apparently Christ and Him crucified)

What is milk? What is it that they could receive? It seems that the only reasonable answer is "Christ and Him crucified" is milk.

Or perhaps Hebrews gives us a more complete answer about "milk" and "solid food":

Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. Heb 6:1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

However, the Calvinist can say that in chapter 1 Paul says: (1 Cor 1:18) For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. This is then equated with the "foolishness" mentioned in 1 cor 2:14 so as to mean the message of the cross is foolishness to the natural man.
Could it not be countered that Paul said:
Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?—

If the Galatians are so foolish then how did they accept "Christ and Him crucified"? Just because the term foolish is used, doesn't mean the same kind of foolishness is implied. There can be foolish Christians and foolish non-Christians.
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

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RickC
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by RickC » Sat Aug 30, 2008 8:51 am

Sean,

Some time back I got a Hell audio debate off the web. It was a panel discussion with team members. Calvinists represented the traditional view {eternal punishment}. A Christian guy and one who identified himself as a "former Christian" represented Conditional Immortality {aka, Annihilationism}.

At one point in the debate the Calvinists/traditional side said something like, "How can someone who's never been born again understand the Bible?" {in other words, the "former Christian" guy had never been truly saved, etc.}.

They quoted 1 Cor 2:14 to "prove" their [Ad Hominem] argument that a non-Christian cannot possibly understand what the Bible says.

The response was along the lines of: "This debate isn't about: Is Calvinism right? or: Who's qualified to debate the topic? It's about: What does the Bible say about Hell?"

To my mind, anyone can understand the Bible in terms of what its authors taught...without accepting what it teaches.

Calvinists "use" this verse out of context to fit their theological system: In Corinthians, Paul used rhetoric and polemics against the Corinthians for their behaviors since they became Christians. He wrote that he spoke to them "as if they were carnal" {merely unregenerate, except they were regenerate}! He's making a case against them. When he wrote "you are still carnal" he didn't mean that they had never received the Spirit of God or that they weren't truly saved: That's Calvinism thinking 15 centuries after Paul. It's a [true] polemical statement said with sarcasm and isn't about soteriology (doctrine of salvation}. The Corinthians' behaviors were as if they weren't saved...but they were saved!

What Paul meant in 1 Cor 2:14 was that an unregenerated person can't embrace the things of God while staying in that state, imo. In other words, a 'natural' person can resist what the Holy Spirit teaches and tells them to the point that what God says simply isn't received {due to the resistance}.

Is a man rising from the dead a foolish idea?
Or does the Holy Spirit say, "It happened"?
What one does with the testimony of the Spirit is up to them. He speaks to every one of us for the first time when we are in our 'natural' state.

Calvinists don't follow Paul's train of thought. And in discussing and/or debating with them, I've found that I can become so "distracted" {for lack of terminology} from the worldview of the Bible authors that I actually start "seeing" {terminology lack} the Bible like a Calvinist. This can lead so far away from what is written....

Authorial intention and meaning is my rule. Their "lens" {worldview} and only their lens is all that matters to me.
Thanks, :)

P.S. I rarely talk about Calvinism---or Arminianism, for that matter---these days.

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Sean
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Sean » Sun Aug 31, 2008 1:19 am

RickC wrote:
P.S. I rarely talk about Calvinism---or Arminianism, for that matter---these days.
Well I'm glad you did today Rick, thanks. :mrgreen:
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

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darinhouston
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by darinhouston » Sun Aug 31, 2008 3:10 pm

Calvinists don't follow Paul's train of thought. And in discussing and/or debating with them, I've found that I can become so "distracted" {for lack of terminology} from the worldview of the Bible authors that I actually start "seeing" {terminology lack} the Bible like a Calvinist. This can lead so far away from what is written....
This is so true -- in past years, as I have listened primarily to "teachers" on subjects like these, I usually came away believing whichever position was the last I heard/studied -- it was only when I tried to actually square what was being taught with what is written in the bible that I have stayed on a particular position -- I particularly like Steve's point that a position is best evaluated not by its affirmative position but by how it meets its critics. Though there are some difficult issues not fully resolvable, I find it telling that the closer I compare scripture to scripture like a Berean, the more I favor the non-Reformed perspectives on Soteriology. To me there is no proof text or grammatical point that is going to end the debate -- it is closer familiarity with the entirety of Scripture, its teachings, and the hearts and minds of Christ, the Prophets, the Apostles, and the other writers -- this is the thing I admire the most about Steve -- his "familiar"ity with the whole of Scripture. I pray it will be so familiar to me one day.

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Sean
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Sean » Sun Aug 31, 2008 5:41 pm

darinhouston wrote: this is the thing I admire the most about Steve -- his "familiar"ity with the whole of Scripture. I pray it will be so familiar to me one day.
Amen to that!
He will not fail nor be discouraged till He has established justice in the earth. (Isaiah 42:4)

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Homer
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Homer » Sun Aug 31, 2008 9:17 pm

It seems to me that any unbiased mind reading the first nine verses of 1 Corinthians 1 would conclude that those Paul addresses are, in his mind, saved Christians, and the exact same folks he begans chewing out in verse 10 and following. Of course if you have certain ideas that the text must be made to fit, you will see it otherwise.

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Paidion
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by Paidion » Mon Sep 01, 2008 4:00 pm

Sean, you quoted:
1Cor 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Sean, I would just like to point out that the word translated as "natural" is the Greek word
"ψυχικος" which is the adjectival form of the noun "ψυχη", which is usually translated as "soul". (The English word "psyche" is a direct transliteration). Thus the adjectival form could be translated as "soulish". Watchmen Nee, in fact, did so understand it, and frequently referred to "the soulish man".

The Greek word for "natural" is "φυσικος" from which we get the English adjective "physical". This word is not used in a negative way in the New Testament. For example there is a reference in Rom 1:26 to the "natural use" of sex. It's opposite is given in the same verse as "that which is against nature". So the opposite of "natural" is not "spiritual". It is "unnatural".

It is "soulish" which Paul contrasts with "spiritual".
Paidion

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RickC
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by RickC » Tue Sep 02, 2008 11:02 am

NET Bible translation note wrote: tn, Grk “natural person.”
Cf. BDAG 1100 s.v. ψυχικός a, “an unspiritual person, one who merely functions bodily, without being touched by the Spirit of God.”

Exegetical & Linguistic Key to Grk NT, Rogers & Rogers, Zondervan has:
Strong's #6035
"soulish, pertaining to the soul or life, pertaining to behavior which is typical of human nature, in contrast with that which is under the control of God's Spirit. It describes the natural man who does not posses the Holy Spirit."
Don,

I read Watcman Nee quite some time ago and recall him being "inspirational" but kind of weird. I'm guessing you know he was a trichotomist? {as opposed to the view you & I have: more holistic}. Not to go off into that here though....

Darin,

You prefer non-Reformed soteriology, eh?
Me too, from a long time before then: The Soteriology of Jesus and the Apostles! ;)
Last edited by RickC on Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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darinhouston
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Re: 1 Corinthians 2:14

Post by darinhouston » Tue Sep 02, 2008 9:01 pm

RickC wrote:Darin,

You prefer non-Reformed soteriology, eh?
Me too, from a long time before then: The Soteriology of Jesus and the Apostles!
Yep, I suppose I do.

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