1 Cor. 2:15

Iver Larsen iver_larsen at sil.org
Sat Mar 23 03:45:22 EST 2002

> A year ago, I read through 1 Corinthians and this passage caught my
> attention and subsequently during last summer, I did a Sunday school class
> with our high school students on 1 Corinthians.  Part of the
> exercise was to
> teach the kids how to use the various tools (concordances, lexicons, etc)
> available to try to sort out what a passage is saying.   This
> passage 1 Cor.
> 2.15 is one we spent  a little time on.
> Here is an excerpt from my Sunday school notes:
> - Anyone have any ideas how to interpret 2:14 and 15?  What does
> it mean to say someone is 'discerned?'  Is that an insult?
> - In light of the words study, suggest alternate wording to
> clarify passage.
> Substitute the word 'judged.'


The English word "judge" does not convey the meaning of ANAKRINW very well.

Were you able to use a Greek concordance in your class?
If you did, you probably realized that Luke uses the word ANAKRINW six times
in Luke and Acts. Five times it is used in the context of a formal or
informal trial with the sense of cross-examination. Once it is used in the
sense of carefully examining and evaluating the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). At
the end of cross-examination, the person may be released since there was not
enough evidence to pronounce a sentence of judgment. If the result is
condemnation, the common Greek word is KATAKRINW. Thinking of the prefixes,
ANA- indicates that you first get everything up and out in the open, you put
the cards (up) on the table, you raise up questions. KATA- indicates thumbs
The Greek concordance also tells you that the only other occurrences (10 of
them) are all in 1 Corinthians. Very interesting. A lot of evaluation goes
on in 1 Corinthians.

For a fuller understanding of 1 Cor 2:15 I would look carefully at the whole
section from 2:6-16, and especially 11-16. The main theme is "spiritual
wisdom" and there is a contrast between two kinds of people who have two
kinds of spirits and speak in two kinds of ways about two kinds of wisdom:

1) spirit of man gives human wisdom/insight (v.11),
unspiritual/natural/ordinary people speak with human wisdom (13),
unspiritual/natural people do not receive/understand/accept the spiritual
things from God (14a) because these things need to be
examined/evaluated(ANAKRINW) spiritually (aided by the Spirit of God which
they do not have) (14b), unspiritual/natural people cannot evaluate/examine
(ANAKRINW) the spiritual person or by implication the spiritual wisdom that
he speaks (15b)

2) the Spirit of God gives spiritual/godly wisdom/insight (v.11), we who
have the Spirit of God have insight into the (spiritual) gifts of God (12),
spiritual people(we) speak with spiritual wisdom which we receive from the
Spirit of God (13), we interpret/explain (SUGKRINW) spiritual things to
spiritual people (13), spiritual people can evaluate/examine (ANAKRINW) all
things (both natural and spiritual) since they are both humans and in
possession of the Spirit of God (15a)

To touch on Mark's original question I would say: Yes, hUP' OUDENOS must be
understood from the context to be "no one among the unspiritual/natural
people". This is understood by the fronted AUTOS which refers back to hO
PNEUMATIKOS, and the contrastive (MEN) DE, so the contextual contrast is
between the spiritual and the unspiritual.
It is also supported by the larger context of 1 Corinthians where Paul
expressly says in 14:29 that (the words of) the prophets must be
evaluated/examined (DIAKRINW) by other spiritual people. So a spiritual
person should be evaluated by other spiritual people, but not by the
unspiritual ones.
One could also look at the other occurrences of ANAKRINW and DIAKRINW in 1
Corinthians, but I won't take time to do this here.

Iver Larsen

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