Art Toombs Ministries 

Online Bible Commentary

Understanding the Bible


1 Corinthians 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. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For "who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?" But we have the mind of Christ. (NKJV)


The writer of 1 Corinthians is the apostle Paul. He wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, Greece during his third missionary journey. The church was established by Paul during his second missionary journey when he ministered in Corinth for a year and a half during A. D. 51-52. 

Paul wrote this letter during his two year and three-month ministry in Ephesus, Asia in A. D. 54-56. It was actually his second letter to the church (1 Cor. 5:9). However, the first letter obviously was lost. The purpose of this letter is to emphasize that Jesus is our Lord and Master. 

In this verse Paul writes of the illumination of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit indwells every Christian the moment he or she becomes a Christian by placing their faith in Jesus Christ and receiving Him as their Lord and Savior. 

The Holy Spirit reveals the mind of God to those whom He indwells. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the mind of God. 

In this passage Paul writes of how to “receive the things of the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit)” (v. 14b). This would include understanding the Bible. 

“The natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them (v. 14a). The “natural man” is the person who is not a Christian. He is not indwelled by the Holy Spirit. 

Therefore, the non-Christian cannot receive or know the things of God. They “are foolishness to him.” Only the Christian, he who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, is able to understand God, and the Bible. He is “spiritually discerned” (v. 14c). He who says he will only become a Christian when he understands the Bible will never become a Christian, if he stays to that line of thinking. 

“He who is spiritual”, the Christian, is able to “judge”, discern, “all things” (v. 15a). “He himself is rightly judged by no one” (v. 15b), meaning the Christian cannot be rightly judged by the non-Christian. 

For the non-Christian is not informed by the Holy Spirit. He does not know “the mind of the Lord” (v.16a). He cannot judge, “instruct”, the Christian (v. 16b). Only Christians “have (know) the mind of Christ” (v. 16c). 

Those non-Christians who criticize Christians for their faith are just whistling in the wind. They have no idea what they are talking about. We are to pray for them that one day they will become Christians and be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. 

So, only Christians are able to understand the mind of God as expressed in the Bible. Only Christians are able to rightly understand the Bible. Understanding the Bible is a Christian thing.