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1 Corinthians 2:14

14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Let us look at the context:

1 Cor 2: 6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.

7 No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.

8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

9 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--

10 but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:

16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ.

2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

  1. You are still worldly.

Calvinists use this verse to show that "natural man" is incapable of understanding spiritual matters. They interpret "natural man," as man as he is born. The word used here is psuchikos which translated should mean soulish man or carnal man with the meaning one who is carnally minded, one who thinks in terms of the worldy values. This is clear from the context. Paul is talking to the Corinthian Christians and says that he cannot talk about these mature matters because, they are still worldly. This is brought out clearly by Barclay

"So in verse 14 Paul speaks of the man who is psuchikos. He is the man who lives as if there was nothing beyond physical life and there were no needs other than material needs, whose values are all physical and material. A man like that cannot understand spiritual things. A man who thinks that nothing is more important than the satisfaction of the sex urge cannot understand the meaning of chastity; a man who ranks the amassing of material things as the supreme end of life cannot understand generosity; and a man who has never a thought beyond this world cannot understand the things of God. To him they look mere foolishness."

One slight modification of the word taken out of context lead to a profound theology in Calvinism..

Paul’s intent is that the secret wisdom of God is given only to the discerning mature Christians. He cannot talk about it even to Corinthian Christians because even though they are in Christ, they are still babes. This whole subject matter is not related therefore to the saving knowledge at all. It is concerning the deeper things of God to which Christians are to grow into. If it says anything about ability it talks about the total inability of the Christians – not concerning the matters of salvation - concerning the matters of deeper things of God. Of course these are not given to the non-believers. How can it be if even those who have the spirit of God cannot understand it. They will be foolishness to them because they do not accept a spiritual realm of existence. It is like talking about the Kingdom of God to those who do not believe in a life beyond death.