We have received…the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
1 Corinthians 2:12
We live in a mixed-up kind of world in which many people are not at all sure of what they believe or what they ought to believe.
Some churches advertise that way—you do not have to believe anything: “Just be a seeker after truth.” Some actually settle for poetry, siding with Edwin Markham who “saw his bright hand sending signals from the sun.”
I, for one, never had any such signals from God. We have Bibles everywhere and the gospel is preached faithfully. Yet men and women seek God in old altars and tombs—in dark and dusty places, and finally wind up believing that God is sending signals from the sun.
Some folks get mad at me when I say that this kind of “seeking after truth” needs to be exposed. We need to double our efforts in telling the world that God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.
It must be the Truth of God and the Spirit of God! Far from being an optional luxury in our Christian lives, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit is a necessity!
Dear Lord, I pray that Your truth will go out into all the world with a mighty surge today. I especially pray for this to happen in Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu nations.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (2:12–13)
The process of the Spirit’s transmission of God’s truth is called inspiration. His truth cannot be discovered by man; it can only be received. In order to be received, something must first be offered. God’s truth can be received because is it freely given. The Spirit who is from God, not the spirit of the world (that is, human wisdom) has brought God’s Word—which comprises the things freely given to us by God. The Bible is the Spirit’s vehicle for bringing God’s revelation.
The we’s and the us of verses 12–13 (as in vv. 6–7, 10) do not refer to Christians in general but to Paul himself. God’s Word is for all believers, but was revealed only to the apostles and the other writers of Scripture. Only those men properly can be said to have been inspired. The promise of John 14:26 (“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”) is for the benefit of all believers, but was given only to the apostles. Paul and the other writers of Scripture did not record their own ideas and interpretations. They recorded what God gave them and only what He gave them. We have received … that we might know. The Spirit used words that the human writers knew and used, but He selected them and arranged them in precisely the order that He wanted. The Bible, therefore, not only is God’s Word but God’s words.
It is not simply the “Word behind the words” that is from God, as many liberal and neoorthodox interpreters maintain. “All Scripture is inspired by God [lit., ‘God–breathed’]” (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture means “writings,” and refers specifically to what God’s chosen men wrote by His revelation and inspiration, not to everything they said and wrote. It refers, as Paul explains, to the things freely given to us by God, to the “God–breathed” words they recorded.
When Jesus responded to Satan’s first temptation in the wilderness, He said (quoting from Deut. 8:3), “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). God gave His own Word in His own words. “Every word that proceeds out the mouth of God” is revealed, inspired, and authoritative. Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
2:12 The we of verse 12 refers to the writers of the NT, although it is equally true of all the Bible writers. Since the apostles and prophets had received the Holy Spirit, He was able to share with them the deep truths of God. That is what the apostle means when he says in this verse: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Apart from the Spirit who is from God, the apostles could never have received the divine truths of which Paul is speaking and which are preserved for us in the NT.
12 The amazing thing is that such communication is indeed possible! For when one becomes a believer in Jesus, that person receives the Holy Spirit as a gift (see Ac 2:38; Ro 8:9b, 14–15). This is what Paul now reminds the Corinthians of—that believers have “received … the Spirit who is from God.” This reality enables us to understand the foregoing about how, through the cross and resurrection of Christ, the powers of this age are coming to nothing. Those, however, who have not received God’s Spirit—those who are still caught up in the “spirit of the world”—do not understand this “secret wisdom” (v. 7).
With this message, of course, the apostle is able to address on the deepest level possible those among the Corinthians who loved the sophisticated rhetoric and wisdom of the world. If that is the level on which they desire to operate, says Paul, they will miss out on the full meaning of Jesus Christ, the purpose of his coming into the world, the salvation he has to offer, and the many gifts he has to offer. “What God has freely given” is actually a passive participle of the verb charizomai (GK 5919), with God as the expressed agent (called a “divine passive”; cf. NASB, “the things freely given to us by God”). It denotes in the broadest way possible all communication of teachings and gifts from God to us.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 62–63). Chicago: Moody Press.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1753). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
 Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 279). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.