Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, ‘We have not received the spirit of the world’. Clearly, therefore, he intended to contrast the evil forces that control this world with God’s Holy Spirit.
Paul has already used the word ‘world’ with a similar meaning in 1 Corinthians 1:20-21. There, he said that the world knew a certain kind of wisdom. But that wisdom was the opposite of God’s wisdom. People who followed the world’s wisdom did not know God. But God saves people only by a kind of wisdom that those people consider foolish. That is, by Christ’s death on the cross.
So this wrong kind of wisdom that opposes Christ is not merely the result of people’s thoughts. It is something that they have learned from ‘the spirit of the world’. That is, from the devil, the spirit who now has power in this world (Luke 4:5-6; 2 Corinthians 4:4). But unlike God’s power, the devil’s power will not last. Both the devil’s power and his wisdom belong only to this present age (2:6).
The kind of wisdom that Christians have is also not merely the result of people’s thoughts. They have that wisdom because God has given his Holy Spirit to them. So God has shown them things that do not even belong to this world or to this present age (2:9-10).
God has shown them the real meaning of Christ’s death (1:22-23). He has shown them that Christ has changed their lives completely (1:30). And he shows what are his plans for them in the future age (2:7; 2:9-10).
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© 2014, Keith Simons.