My dear family, I want you to consider the manner in which I handled myself among you, especially in relation to how I declared the message of God. Did I ever speak in a way as to suggest I was somehow above you? Or did I ever demand that you needed more schooling in order to understand my true meaning? You know I didn't. The truth is that I had already made up my mind to recognize nothing among you except Jesus Christ, the one who because of the cross is deemed foolish by some and weak by others. 1 After all, weren't my own weaknesses and fears clearly revealed while I was with you? And didn't I let my guard down while speaking to you of Christ, to the point that I was often visibly shaken? For my words were not cleverly designed to manipulate you to follow me, rather both what I said and how I said it demanded that any results would have to be God's doing, so that there would be no possible way your faith could ever be rationalized by man's logic - whether scientific or religious - but would rest solely on the power of God!
It's not that our words are irrational, for we in fact speak knowledge among those who have been made complete. However, the knowledge we speak has no relation to man's highly-praised intellect - whether scientific or religious - nor that of its highest ranking members, who are passing away. Instead, we declare God's hidden knowledge as a secret revealed, a move predetermined by God before the dawn of man to our honor.
Know for a fact that not one of the superior members of this age has understood God's wisdom. After all, if they had understood it they would have never crucified the one who truly ranks first in everything and who is worthy of all honor. Of course, had the scholars of God actually figured him out they would have recognized what was written, "The eye has not seen, the ear has not heard, nor has the mind imagined what God has prepared for those who love him". But that which could not be seen, heard, or imagined has been revealed to us by God through his own spirit! For everything of God is exposed to his own spirit's gaze, even his deepest secrets. Isn't it the same with men? After all, who knows what makes a man tick and what it is that he hides, other than the spirit of that man? Well, the same holds true with God. For no one except the spirit of God knows the things of God. That makes God's spirit is the secret behind the secret knowledge of God.
What we have now been given in Christ is not the spirit of man's wisdom, it is in fact the very spirit of God. God has done this so that we may know what he has freely given to us. And this is what we also speak, not in formulated words crafted according to learned systems of man's reasoning, but in words freely spoken - taught by God himself. For spiritual resonates within spiritual. But a natural man has no receptor for the things of the spirit of God, making spiritual wisdom appear as ignorance to him; for he is not able to understand our words, because the things of which we speak are spiritually appraised. But he who has the spirit appraises all things, and yet he himself is appraised by no man, for as written, "who has known the mind of the Lord ... who will instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.
- 1. "For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
This has been one of my favorite statements for many years because it strips away any pretense in how I might regard others. It is one thing for Paul to say that he determined to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ, but it is often misunderstood why he added the part, "and him crucified." It is not a religious comment designed to keep believers ever sorrowful and mindful of the pains and suffering of Jesus' bloody death on the cross. Rather, it is added to filter out both the religious element of the Jew and the intellectual element of the Greek. With this simple added statement, Paul declares what he does not consider important in how he regards any of them, for it removes any distinction a man could hold above another. Of course, it would only be consistent for Paul to have shown how what he wrote just previous to this ties into how he sees them, wouldn't it? :)
To those believers who were Jews - and therefore, to the superior, authoritative religious mind - the statement "and him crucified" disregards any fleshly sense of superiority through power, authority, higher standing, righteousness, holiness, insight, etc. To those believers who were Greeks - and therefore, to the superior intellect mind - the statement "and him crucified" disregards any fleshly claims of superiority through intellect, science, advanced knowledge, etc. With three words, boom .... gone are all possible reasons one might use to lift himself above another.
Anyhow, as is my custom in considering how to restate what a Biblical author might have meant by his words, I have gone back and have been rephrasing a few things in chapter 2 after getting further along with 3 and 4. You might notice changes being made all the way through until I finish the whole letter. And very possibly more whenever I get into 2 Corinthians (because they tie very closely together). So, instead of leaving the phrase "and him crucified" as it was, I have expanded on it to keep it from being understood in its long-standing religious sense.
I changed it from this:
For the truth is that I had already made up my mind to recognize nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
The truth is that I had already made up my mind to recognize nothing among you except Jesus Christ, the one who because of the cross is deemed foolish by some and weak by others.