1

The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 1 Corinthians 2:15 ESV

In 1 Cor 2, Paul says the "natural person" can not understand God's truth, because it requires the Holy Spirit to be able to "discern" it. Then right after he says the "spiritual person" judges all things. I'm having a tough time understanding what he means by "the spiritual person judges all things".

My first thought was that believers live differently and now see things through different lens. I'm always evaluating my actions and others, thinking should I/they have done that? What would Jesus do?

However, it's immediately followed with, "BUT himself to be judged by no one." Which makes me think the first half is saying the spiritual person judges everyone else. That doesn't make sense to me.

migrated from christianity.stackexchange.com Oct 17 at 12:54

This question came from our site for committed Christians, experts in Christianity and those interested in learning more.

1

"Spiritual person" is a person filled with the Holy Spirit, who enjoys the presence of the Holy Spirit in himself and is led by the same Spirit towards cognition of the divine actions. One of those divine actions is judgment, for God-the Father judges (for if He does not, how could Jesus ask Him not to judge His murderers /Luke 23:35/?), and God-the Son judges with a true judgment (John 8:16), and God-the Holy Spirit judges (John 16:8), for the judgment is the sole prerogative of the Trinity only and not of any even highest of angels or creatures.

However, God through His Son and Spirit bestowed upon humans also the grace of judgment, and the reward of those who follow Jesus to the end is that they will be advanced to a divine status of "judging 12 tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28), and also Paul admits that the Spirit-bearing believers will be in a divine status of "judging even angels" (1 Cor. 6:3). But humans will possess this divine quality by participation, not essentially, as the Trinitarian Persons of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is a crucial difference. Just like the divine quality to forgive is in the Trinity essentially, but to humans God gives this quality by participation, that is to say, by grace of the Spirit (Matthew 18:18).

This is how the passage should be understood: Spirit-ual man, that is to say, a man possessing Holy Spirit is authorised to judge every thing and every person, because in virtue of being led by Spirit, and in virtue of being a co-actor with the Spirit, he judges not humanly but divinely. Human judgment of a natural man is sinful and wrong, because it is limited, cruel, devoid of love, distorted by passions and egotistic drives that beset all natural men. But a man who acts in Spirit is devoid of those passions and is a clean mirror that reflects a clear divine light to all. Such a man will necessarily judge and estimate all things, for God does so and he being endowed by God-Spirit's presence will do the same.

Moreover, such a man cannot be judged by anybody, for who can judge the actions of Spirit that he transmits by his spiritual life of co-action with the Spirit? The very principle of judgment is provided by Spirit's gift of understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and how can anybody judge a Spirit-led man, by what principle? If this principle is not from Holy Spirit, then it is stupid to base judgment on this non-Spiritual principle, but if it is from Holy Spirit, then this judging person will also be Spiritual and so will have no reason to judge another Spiritual person's actions, for Spirit does not oppose Himself. Thus, natural men are illegitimate to judge the Spiritual men, for the very principle of just judgment is provided by the presence of Spirit in us, of which presence a natural man is devoid.

  • To the multicultural congregation of Rome ,Paul makes it clear that Christians are not to judge each other on matters of conscience. Romans 14:4,10-11 . (ESV) "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? " "It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” – Ozzie Nicolas Oct 18 at 9:14
  • @OzzieNicolas That (Romans 14:4, 10-11) does in no way contradict Paul's other statement that "Spiritual person judges all". Paul in Romans addresses to Christians who engage in juridical affairs against each other in un-Spiritual way, like pagans, and for that reason reprimands them, for a Spiritual person would rather suffer deprivation from a brother than to callously, love-lessly struggle against him even in the name of holding justly his possession (cf. 1 Cor. 6-7), for Spiritual man rather will defend brotherly love than a possession of any material thing. – Levan Gigineishvili Oct 18 at 11:42
  • thanks, that helps! you lost me a little here: "But humans will possess this divine quality by participation, not essentially, as the Trinitarian Persons of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, which is a crucial difference. Just like the divine quality to forgive is in the Trinity essentially, but to humans God gives this quality by participation, that is to say, by grace of the Spirit (Matthew 18:18)." - but it is definitely more clear. thank you. – knarf74 Oct 18 at 21:07
  • @knarf74 Thanks for the comment. Just to give a clarifying analogy: if a painter has to burn a shape on a wooden board, he can use a devise that emits a trickle of fire, but if he has not such a devise, he can make a. campfire, put an iron stick on its flames and make encaustic on the wooden board by this fire-hot oron stick. Now, fire contains heat and burning quality essentially, while the iron stick has the same in virtue of participation in fire. The same here: the Trinity has the divine quality of judgement essentially, eternally and inseparably, while humans - in virtue of participation. – Levan Gigineishvili Oct 19 at 0:05
  • The Greek word "ανακρινει" is best translated as "examines" ,"appraises, discerns," rather than "judges" as in the ESV and KJV translations. And this is in harmony with Matthew 7:1-5, Romans 2:1, 14:13, and Galatians 6:4-5. Matthew 7:1 states. "Do not judge so that you may not be judged" The word "κρινετε" is " judged" – Ozzie Nicolas Oct 19 at 7:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.