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1 Corinthians 2:12-13 meaning...

The opening statement, "Now we received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God," underscores a fundamental shift in the source of influence for believers. It contrasts the Spirit of God with the spirit of the world, emphasizing the transformative nature of the Holy Spirit's presence in the life of a believer.

  • Purpose of Receiving the Spirit:

The purpose of receiving the Spirit is highlighted in the phrase "that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God." This points to a divine revelation—an unveiling of God's truths to those indwelt by the Spirit. The Spirit becomes the key to understanding and apprehending the abundant gifts bestowed upon believers by God.

  • Teaching of the Holy Spirit:

The subsequent verses illuminate the nature of the communication facilitated by the Holy Spirit. Paul emphasizes that the things they speak are not derived from human wisdom but are teachings imparted by the Holy Spirit. This implies a source of knowledge that transcends human understanding, rooted in divine revelation.

  • Comparison of Spiritual Things:

The phrase "comparing spiritual things with spiritual things" suggests a unique mode of understanding. The Spirit imparts a discernment that goes beyond mere intellectual reasoning. It involves a spiritual lens through which believers can comprehend and relate spiritual truths to one another.

  • Discernment Beyond Worldly Wisdom:

1 Corinthians 2:12-13 challenges the reliance on worldly wisdom and underscores the need for discernment that comes through the Spirit. This aligns with Proverbs 3:5-6, which encourages trust in the Lord and not leaning on our understanding. The Holy Spirit provides a different paradigm of understanding—one rooted in divine wisdom.

  • Revelation of God's Gifts:

The purpose of receiving the Spirit—to know the things freely given by God—implies a revelatory aspect of the Holy Spirit's work. Ephesians 1:17-18 echoes this, praying that God "may give to you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened." The Spirit unveils the depth of God's gifts to believers.

  • Non-Dependence on Human Wisdom:

The contrast between "not in words which man’s wisdom teaches" and "which the Holy Spirit teaches" highlights a reliance on divine wisdom over human intellect. This resonates with Isaiah 55:8-9, emphasizing that God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The Spirit's teaching transcends human limitations.

  • Spiritual Discernment:

The phrase "comparing spiritual things with spiritual things" points to a unique form of discernment facilitated by the Holy Spirit. This aligns with 1 Corinthians 2:14, which states, "Now the natural man doesn’t receive the things of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to him, and he can’t know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The Spirit enables believers to discern spiritual truths in a way that surpasses natural understanding.


1 Corinthians 2:12-13 serves as a profound reflection on the transformative role of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. It challenges reliance on worldly wisdom, emphasizes the revelatory nature of the Spirit's work, and underscores the unique form of discernment facilitated by the Spirit. As we engage with these verses, may we open ourselves to the transformative teachings of the Holy Spirit and embrace a wisdom that goes beyond human understanding.

See also: vs 9-10


1 Corinthians 2:12-13. We received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God, that we might know the things that were freely given to us by God. Which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual things.