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For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:16 - KJV

Paul quotes here Isaiah 40:13 from the LXX:

Who has known the mind of the Lord? and who has been his counsellor, to instruct him?

Brenton's Septuagint

It's common to focus on O.T. passages that do apply to Christ. However, this one strikes me differently. Even though there are various possible interpretations, is Paul essentially saying here that the O.T. passage does not apply to Christ?

In other words, is there any issue with reading the passage this way: "Nobody can understand the mind of Yahweh. But we can understand the mind of Christ"?

Or is it more of a trickle down effect like this: "Who can understand the mind of the Lord? Christ is really the only one who can and we have his mind"?

Hope this makes sense..

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Yes, the entire meaning is what you give in your second suggestion! Who can know God? Nobody but Spirit/(Mind) of God who searches, i.e. reaches even the deepest recesses of God leaving thus nothing unknown in Him (cf. 1 Cor. 2:10), and exactly this Spirit is termed as "Mind" in 1 Cor. 2:16 so that two terms are synonymous and interchangeable.

Thus, Christ has the all-knowing Spirit in an infinite way, with no measure (John 3:34), which means that not only Spirit is equal to the Father, but also the Son-Christ, because only one equal to God can receive the Spirit of God in an actual infinity, with no measure, whereas any angel or any other highest intelligent creature can have divine Spirit only in a measured and distributed manner (cf. 1 Cor. 12:11).

Therefore, if we through Christ have in us the Holy Spirit, i.e. the "Mind of Christ", who knows the very depth of God, it means that we also, through the presence of this all-knowing Spirit in us can get access to the secret things of God, to the measure we can contain and to the measure God will deem us capable to contain in accordance to our fitness to this or that amount of bliss, for stars differ from each other by the degrees of glory and bliss (cf. 1 Cor. 15:41-42).

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  • Thank you! Much appreciated! However, the main thrust of my question was whether or not Paul was saying that in this case, the OT passage does not apply to Christ. Sorry if I wasn't more clear. For example, in Romans 10:13 Paul applies the Joel passage to Christ. But in this one he seems not to with a specific purpose? Commented Mar 18 at 2:16
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    @Aleph-Gimel Paul says that to Christ the Mind of God belongs properly, but to us by participation, so that it is essentially impossible for Christ not to have God's mind and therefore Christ is God, while among humans are both Spirit-possessing and Spirit-devoid. In Isaiah in phrase "to instruct Him" the "Him" means God, while in Paul's quote "him" means a Spirit-possessing man whom a Spirit-devoid man cannot instruct. In Isaiah it is a rhetorical question saying that nobody can instruct God, in Paul it is a rhetorical question saying that natural man cannot instruct man having God's Spirit. Commented Mar 18 at 4:51
  • Thank you and, right, I understand that part - which is more of the meaning of the text in question. I didn't really want to pull the trinity in to this but since it's going that way, what I'm asking is: is the "mind" of Isa 40:13 is the Father's? And is the first case of the word "mind" in 1 Cor. 2:16 still the Father's and only the Father's to Paul? Obviously the second case of the word "mind" in that verse is Christ's, the Son. Hope that makes sense Commented Mar 18 at 19:50
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    @Aleph-Gimel The "Mind" of Isa 40:13 is that of the Son for in the entire chapter 40 speaks about the advent of the Sovereign Lord in power (Isa 40:10), which must imply the coming of Christ (cf. Matthew 24:30). Thus it is most likely that in ch. 40 Isaiah speaks about the Person of Son when speaking about His Spirit. Anyhow, "God's Spirit" is equated with the "Mind of Christ", for the entire logic of Paul is that Christians whom he addresses are not natural men, but Spirit-possessing men who through this Spirit know God, and this is said in the end that this same Spirit is also Mind of Christ Commented Mar 18 at 20:29
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    @Aleph-Gimel In 1 Corinthians Paul says this: Spirit-possessing man judges everything and all, while natural or Spirit-devoid man is unable to understand and judge Spirit-possessing man; thus, natural man neither can judge us, because we possess Mind of Christ, that is to say, we possess Spirit of God, the two expressions being interchangeable. Thus it is a different logic than in Isa 40, for here focus is not God but people who possess God’s Spirit in virtue of which they are exempt from being judged by the natural men. Commented Mar 19 at 3:14
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Read the context starting at 1 Corinthians 2:14, "But the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

In other words, a deaf man cannot accurately "judge" music; a blind man cannot accurately "judge" the landscape; and in like manner a natural man cannot receive or discern or "judge" spiritual things.

Vs15, "But the spiritual man is able to "judge" or compare and examine all things because his source of wisdom comes from God. Vs16, "For (or because) no man has ever given the Lord instruction, counsel, or advice, and no natural man is able to ascend to God or find out anything about Him apart from divine revelation. It must be implanted and exercised by the presence of the Holy Spirit. So what is the gift? It is the mind of Christ.

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  • Thank you! So...it wasn't clear in your answer - is Paul saying or not that Isaiah 40:13 applies to Christ? Commented Mar 18 at 2:19
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Let's place this in context to make it as clear as possible:

1 Cor. 2

6 We do speak a wisdom to those who are mature. We speak God’s wisdom, mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory... 10 This God has revealed to us through the Spirit.

As other answers have mentioned, Paul goes on to draw a distinction between the natural man and the spiritual man. He and mature Christians are in the latter category. Unenlightened people are those who do not understand.

Conclusion: The question "Who hath known the mind of the Lord?" is meant to suggest that human beings generally cannot fathom the mind of God. But God's mysterious wisdom has been revealed to Paul through the Spirit, and he has conveyed that wisdom to his hearers. Christ is the supremely spiritual man, to whom God's mysterious ways are known - even more than they were revealed to Paul. Since Christ is not included among those who do not know, the question "does not apply" to him. Or better yet, the question should be answered: "Mature Christians know. And Jesus knows better than anyone."

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  • Thanks Dan, short and sweet! Commented Mar 18 at 23:26
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There is no doubt at all!

Answer

In 1 Corinthians 2:16, Paul is saying that Isaiah 40:13 applies to Christ Himself.

Explanation

If at all there is an iota of doubt, a simple reading of the beginning part of Isaiah chapter 40 will alleviate that doubt.

Let me give the evidences.

1.

“The voice of him who cries in the wilderness: Prepare the way of Jehovah; make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3).

Wow, hear what Matthew says:

“Now in those days John the Baptist came preaching in the deserted places of Judea, and saying, Repent! For the kingdom of Heaven has drawn near. For this is he spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord! Make His paths straight!" (Mat 3:1-3).

The unmistakable truth is very clear here: John the Baptist is identified clearly as the one who made the way for Yahweh God, that is, Jesus Christ!

John the Baptist himself declared:

I (John the Baptist) am a voice crying in the wilderness:" "Make straight" "the way of the Lord," as Isaiah the prophet said” (John 1:23).

No wonder, he said, “I am not worthy that I should loose the thong of His sandal” (verse 27). John knew Jesus was Yahweh of the Old Testament!

The truth was so profound that even he himself faltered at it! (Mat 11:3).

2.

“Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the knoll shall be a level place, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed” (Isaiah 40:4-5).

This time Luke responds. After quoting Isaiah 40:3, he continues:

“Every valley shall be filled up, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked places shall be made into straight, and the rough into smooth ways and all flesh shall see the salvation of God." (Luke 3:5-6).

“Go up for yourself on the high mountain, one bearing good news to Zion; lift up your voice with strength, one bearing good news to Jerusalem. Lift up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, Behold! Your God!” (Isaiah 40:9).

Good news means Gospel!

No wonder Jesus roamed around Judea and Jerusalem and proclaimed the Gospel (good news) to the whole Jews.

Behold, God in flesh (1 Tim 3:16) proclaiming good news to the Jews!

4.

“Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come with strength, and His arm rules for Him. Behold, His reward is with Him, and His wage before Him”. (Isaiah 40:10).

This is exactly what Jesus says:

“And, behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is” (Rev 22:12).

“He shall feed His flock like a shepherd; He shall gather lambs with His arm; and carry them in His bosom; those with young He will lead” (Isaiah 40:11).

Yahweh is a Shepherd (Psalms 23:1). Then what about Jesus? Well, this is His popular image.

“I am the Good Shepherd! The Good Shepherd lays down His life on behalf of the sheep“ (John 10:11).

Now comes the OP verse in Isaiah:

Isaiah 40:13

“Who has known the mind of the Lord (Yahweh)? and who has been his counsellor, to instruct him?” (OP quote).

Paul says:

“For "who has known the mind of the Lord (Yahweh)?" "Who will teach Him?" But we have (known) the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:6).

If we apply the “ellipse” of English grammar, we see:

Who has known the mind of Yahweh = We have known the mind of Christ.

Therefore, Christ = Yahweh.

Conclusion

The context of Isaiah as explained above, the parallel verses as applied by the Apostles in the NT, the ellipse of English grammar, all point to the fact that Jesus is the Yahweh of the OT as per Is 40:13 and 1 Cor 2:16.

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  • Thank you, appreciate that. So you don't see the verse in Is 40:13 as a rhetorical question with an answer of, "nobody"? Commented Mar 23 at 0:59
  • Is 40:13 could have been a rhetorical question with an answer of “nobody” until the NT times. Paul answers your question: “But God has revealed those things to us (apostles in the NT) by his Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor 2:11). Commented Mar 23 at 3:32
  • Fair enough - thanks! Commented Mar 23 at 16:17

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