What does judged by no man mean in 1 Corinthians 2:15?

What does judged by no man mean in 1 Corinthians 2:15?                   by Jack Kettler

“But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” (1 Corinthians 2:15)

At first glance, this passage is perplexing. Regarding the spiritual one, the text says concerning a spiritual person, “yet he himself is judged of no man.” What could this possibly mean? It seems common knowledge that at some point, everyone is or has been judged by others, even spiritual persons.

Two cross-references that help to understand the Corinthians text:

“Evil men understand not judgment: but they that seek the LORD understand all things.” (Proverbs 28:5)

“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:1)

It appears from the cross-references a distinction emerges from a carnal man and a converted man. This distinction could also be described as the natural man and spiritual man.  

How does Strong’s Lexicon analyze the passage?

The

(ho)

Article – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3588: The, the definite article. Including the feminine he, and the neuter to in all their inflections; the definite article; the.

spiritual [man]

πνευματικὸς (pneumatikos)

Adjective – Nominative Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 4152: Spiritual. From pneuma; non-carnal, i.e. ethereal, or a spirit, or supernatural, regenerate, religious.

judges

ἀνακρίνει (anakrinei)

Verb – Present Indicative Active – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 350: From ana and krino, properly, to scrutinize, i.e. investigate, interrogate, determine.

all things,

πάντα (panta)

Adjective – Accusative Neuter Plural

Strong’s Greek 3956: All, the whole, every kind of. Including all the forms of declension; apparently a primary word; all, any, every, the whole.

but

δὲ (de)

Conjunction

Strong’s Greek 1161: A primary particle; but, and, etc.

he himself

αὐτὸς (autos)

Personal / Possessive Pronoun – Nominative Masculine 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 846: He, she, it, they, them, same. From the particle au; the reflexive pronoun self, used of the third person, and of the other persons.

is not subject to anyone’s judgment

ἀνακρίνεται (anakrinetai)

Verb – Present Indicative Middle or Passive – 3rd Person Singular

Strong’s Greek 350: From ana and krino, properly, to scrutinize, i.e. investigate, interrogate, determine.

ὑπ’ (hyp’)

Preposition

Strong’s Greek 5259: A primary preposition; under, i.e. of place, or with verbs; of place (underneath) or where (below) or time (when).

οὐδενὸς (oudenos)

Adjective – Genitive Masculine Singular

Strong’s Greek 3762: No one, none, nothing.

Strong’s Lexicon: Dictionaries of Hebrew and Greek Words taken from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong, S.T.D., LL.D. 1890

A survey of some learned commentators:

From Barnes’ Notes on the Bible on 1 Corinthians 2:15:
“But he that is spiritual – The man who is enlightened by the Holy Spirit in contradistinction from him who is under the influence of the senses only.

Judgeth – Greek: “Discerns.” (Margin); the same word as in the previous verse. It means that the spiritual man has a discernment of these truths in regard to which the sensual man was blind and ignorant.

All things – Not absolutely all things; or not that he is omniscient; but that he has a view of those things to which the apostle had reference – that is, to the things which are revealed to man by the Holy Spirit.

Yet he himself is judged – Greek, as in the margin, “is discerned;” that is, his feelings, principles, views, hopes, fears, joys, cannot be fully understood and appreciated by any natural or sensual man. He does not comprehend the principles, which actuate him; he does not enter into his joys; he does not sympathize with him in his feelings. This is a matter of simple truth and universal observation. The reason is added in the following verse, that as the Christian is influenced by the Lord and as the natural man does not know him, so he cannot know him who is influenced by him; that is the Christian.” (1)

 From Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “(15) He that is spiritual.—the spiritual man judges all spiritual truth, but he himself is judged by none who are not spiritual. (See 1Corinthians 14:29; 1John 4:1.)” (2)

 From Matthew Poole’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “He that is spiritual, in this verse, is opposed to the natural man, in the former verse, pneumatikov to qucikov. So that by spiritual here is understood, he that is taught by the Spirit of God, and is by him specially and savingly enlightened.

Judgeth or discerneth

all things, that is, of this nature, the mysteries of God, which concern man’s eternal life and salvation; not that every good Christian hath any such perfect judgment or power of discerning, but according to the measure of illumination which he hath received.

Yet he himself is judged of no man; it may as well be translated, of nothing; and the term judged might as well have been translated examined, or searched, as it is in Acts 4:9 12:19 17:11 24:8; or condemned. The wisdom that is of God is not to be subjected to the wisdom of men, nor to be judged of any man, but only the spiritual man. The truth, which the spiritual man owneth and professeth, dependeth only upon God and his word, and is not subjected to the authority and judgment of men, nor the dictates of human reason: so as the spiritual man, so far forth as he is spiritual, is neither judged by any man nor by anything. There are some that by he himself understand the Spirit of God; he indeed

is judged of no man, nor of anything; but that seemeth a much more strained sense.” (3)

 From the Pulpit Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:15:  “Verse 15. – Judgeth all things. If he can judge the higher, lie can of course judge the lower. Being spiritual, he becomes intellectual also, as well as more than intellectual. He can see into the difference between the dream and the reality; he can no longer take the shadow for the substance. He cannot only decide about ordinary matters, but can also “discriminate the transcendent,” i.e. see that which is best even in different alternatives of good. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him” (Psalm 25:14). He himself is judged of no man. He may be judged, condemned, depreciated, slandered every day of his life, but the arrow flights of human judgment fall far short of him. These Corinthians were judging and comparing Paul and Apollos and Cephas; but their judgments were false and worthless, and Paul told them that it was less than nothing to him to be judged by them or by man’s feeble transitory day (1 Corinthians 4:3). “Evil men,” as Solomon said, “understand not judgment” (Proverbs 28:5).” (4)

 The passage in 1 Corinthians 2:15 is merely saying that a non-Christian is unable to judge a Christian with spiritual judgment since they are non-spiritual.

 While not a big fan of the NIV, in this case, it captures the sense of the passage remarkably well. “The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments.” (1 Corinthians 2:15 NIV)

 For example, a real-life application:

 How could a non-Christian vote (a judgment) or understand if a man were qualified to be an elder in the church? What criteria would be used? The non-Christian may use criteria like hiring a manager at a grocery store. It should be evident that this criterion is not adequate biblically. Hence, non-Christians cannot exercise spiritual judgment since they are carnal and not spiritual.    

 “To God, only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.” (Romans 16:27) and “heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:28-29)

 Notes:

 1.      Albert Barnes, THE AGES DIGITAL LIBRARYCOMMENTARY, Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 2 p. 2454.

2.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, I Corinthians, Vol.7, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 294.

3.      Matthew Poole’s Commentary on the Holy Bible, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 3, (Peabody, Massachusetts, Hendrickson Publishers, 1985) p. 545. 4.      H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, The Pulpit Commentary, 1 Corinthians, Vol. 19, (Grand Rapids, Michigan, Eerdmans Publishing Company reprint 1978), p. 61.

Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of the book defending the Reformed Faith against attacks, titled: The Religion That Started in a Hat. Available at: www.TheReligionThatStartedInAHat.com

And the new book The Five Points of Scriptural Authority in Paperback,

The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura” Kindle eBook: The Five Points of Scriptural Authority: A Defense of Sola Scriptura

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