Verse 16. "For who hath known the mind of the Lord" - Who that is still an animal man can know the mind of God? so as to instruct him, viz. the spiritual man, the same that is spoken of, 1 Cor. ii. 15. But the words may be better understood thus: How can the animal man know the mind of the Lord? and how can any man communicate that knowledge which he has never acquired, and which is foolishness to him, because it is spiritual, and he is animal? This quotation is made from Isa. xl. 13.
"But we have the mind of Christ." - He has endowed us with the same disposition, being born again by his Spirit; therefore we are capable of knowing his mind and receiving the teachings of his Spirit. These teachings we do receive, and therefore are well qualified to convey them to others.
The words, that he may instruct him, ov sumbibasei auton, should be translated that he may teach IT: that is, the mind of God; not instruct God, but teach his mind to others. And this interpretation the Hebrew will also bear.
Bishop Pearce observes: "The principal questions here are,, what sumbibasei signifies, and what auton is relative to. The Hebrew word which the Septuagint translate by these two is wn[ydwy yodiennu: now, since [ydy yodia signifies as well to make known as to know, (and indeed this is the most frequent sense of it in the Old Testament,) the suffix (postfix) wn nu, may relate to a thing, as well as to a person; and therefore it may be rendered not by him, but by it, i.e. the mind of the Lord. And in this sense the apostle seems to have used the words of the Seventy; for, if we understand auton here to be the relative to kuriou, Lord, this verse contains no reason for what went before; whereas, if it be a relative to noun, mind, it affords a reason for what had been said before, chap. ii. 14." The true translation of the passage, as used by the apostle, appears to be this: For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should TEACH IT? And this translation agrees with every part of the context, and particularly with what follows.
1. THIS chapter might be considered a good model for a Christian minister to regulate his conduct by, or his public ministry; because it points out the mode of preaching used by St. Paul and the apostles in general. This great apostle came not to the people with excellency of speech and of wisdom, when he declared unto them the counsel of God. They know little, either of the spirit of St. Paul or the design of the Gospel, who make the chief excellence of their preaching to consist in the eloquence of language, or depth of human reasoning. That may be their testimony, but it is not God's. The enticing words of man's wisdom are seldom accompanied by the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit.
2. One justly remarks, that "the foolishness of preaching has its wisdom, loftiness, and eloquence; but this consists in the sublimity of its truths, the depth of its mysteries, and the ardour of the Spirit of God." In this respect Paul may be said to have preached wisdom among those which were perfect. The wisest and most learned men in the world, who have seriously read the Bible, have acknowledged that there is a depth and height of wisdom and knowledge in that book of God which are sought in vain any where else: and indeed it would not be a revelation from God were it not so. The men who can despise and ridicule this sacred book are those who are too blind to discover the objects presented to them by this brilliant light, and are too sensual to feel and relish spiritual things. They, above all others, are incapable of judging, and should be no more regarded when employed in talking against the sacred writings than an ignorant peasant should be, who, not knowing his alphabet, pretends to decry mathematical learning.
3. A new mode of preaching has been diligently recommended,] "Scriptural phraseology should be generally avoided where it is antiquated, or conveys ideas inconsistent with modern delicacy." St. Paul did not preach in the words which man's wisdom teacheth] such words are too mean and too low for a religion so Divine. That which the Holy Spirit alone can discover, he alone can explain. Let no man dare to speak of God in any other way than he speaks of himself in his word. Let us take care not to profane his truths and mysteries, either by such low and abject ideas as are merely human, or by new and worldly expressions altogether unworthy of the Spirit of God.
4. It is the glory of God, and ought to be ours, not to be acceptable to carnal men. The natural man always finds some pretense to excuse himself from believing, by looking on the mysteries of religion as being either too much above man or too much below God; the spiritual man judges them to be so much the more credible, the less credible they are to the natural man.
The opposition, contempt, and blindness of the world, with regard to the things of God, render all its judgments concerning them liable to exception: this blindness in spiritual things is the just punishment of a carnal life. The principal part of the above is extracted from the reflections of the pious Quesnel.