3 I came to you in weakness 2 and fear and much trembling,
4 and my message and my proclamation were not with persuasive (words of) wisdom, 3 but with a demonstration of spirit and power,
7 Rather, we speak God's wisdom, 5 mysterious, hidden, which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
8 and which none of the rulers of this age 6 knew; for if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
14 Now the natural person 8 does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually.
15 The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment 9 by anyone.
1  The mystery of God: God's secret, known only to himself, is his plan for the salvation of his people; it is clear from 1 Cor 1:18-25; 2:2, 8-10 that this secret involves Jesus and the cross. In place of mystery, other good manuscripts read ＂testimony＂ (cf 1 Cor 1:6).
2  The weakness of the crucified Jesus is reflected in Paul's own bearing (cf 2 Cor 10-13). Fear and much trembling: everential fear based on a sense of God's transcendence permeates Paul's existence and preaching. Compare his advice to the Philippians to work out their salvation with ＂fear and trembling＂ (Philippians 2:12), because God is at work in them just as his exalting power was paradoxically at work in the emptying, humiliation, and obedience of Jesus to death on the cross (Philippians 2:6-11).
3  Among many manuscript readings here the best is either ＂not with the persuasion of wisdom＂ or ＂not with persuasive words of wisdom,＂ which differ only by a nuance. Whichever reading is accepted, the inefficacy of human wisdom for salvation is contrasted with the power of the cross.
4 [2:6-3:4] Paul now asserts paradoxically what he has previously been denying. To the Greeks who ＂are looking for wisdom＂ (1 Cor 1:22), he does indeed bring a wisdom, but of a higher order and an entirely different quality, the only wisdom really worthy of the name. The Corinthians would be able to grasp Paul's preaching as wisdom and enter into a wisdom-conversation with him if they were more open to the Spirit and receptive to the new insight and language that the Spirit teaches.
5 [7-10a] God's wisdom: his plan for our salvation. This was his own eternal secret that no one else could fathom, but in this new age of salvation he has graciously revealed it to us. For the pattern of God's secret, hidden to others and now revealed to the Church, cf also Romans 11:25-36; 16:25-27; Eph 1:3-10; 3:3-11; Col 1:25-28.
6  The rulers of this age: this suggests not only the political leaders of the Jews and Romans under whom Jesus was crucified (cf Acts 4:25-28) but also the cosmic powers behind them (cf Eph 1:20-23; 3:10). They would not have crucified the Lord of glory: they became the unwitting executors of God's plan, which will paradoxically bring about their own conquest and submission (1 Cor 15:24-28).
7  In spiritual terms: the Spirit teaches spiritual people a new mode of perception (1 Cor 2:12) and an appropriate language by which they can share their self-understanding, their knowledge about what God has done in them. The final phrase in 1 Cor 2:13 can also be translated ＂describing spiritual realities to spiritual people,＂ in which case it prepares for 1 Cor 2:14-16.
9  The spiritual person . . . is not subject to judgment: since spiritual persons have been given knowledge of what pertains to God (1 Cor 2:11-12), they share in God's own capacity to judge. One to whom the mind of the Lord (and of Christ) is revealed (1 Cor 2:16) can be said to share in some sense in God's exemption from counseling and criticism.