1 Corinthians 2:16b
But we have the mind of Christ.
Such a short Scripture! It’s not even an entire verse. Yet some try to build an
entire theological structure on these seven words, usually presented as “You have
the mind of Christ!”
This is a problem. Most people quoting this sentence claim, “if I want something,
then God wants me to have it because I have the mind of Christ”. But if we read
the verses surrounding this sentence (remembering that the division into
chapters and verses were applied more than 1000 years after the Bible was
written), it is obvious this is not at all what Paul was saying.
At the beginning of chapter 2 Paul speaks about his coming to the Corinthians in
human weakness and Holy Spirit power, not in the wisdom of men but the
wisdom of God. Paul (and the other apostles, because he says “we”) “speak
wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the
rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in
a mystery” (v.6-7a). “These things we also speak, not in words which man’s
wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches…. But the natural man does not
receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him” (v.13-14a).
This is the context in which Paul says, “For who has known the mind of the Lord
that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (v.16).
To summarize, Paul says the apostles speak (1) wisdom among those who are
mature, (2) not the wisdom of this age or the rulers of this age, and (3) not in
words which man teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches.
After verse 16 Paul makes it even clearer. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you
as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. I fed you with milk and
not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now
you are still not able; for you are still carnal.” (ch.3, v.1-3a). Paul could not speak
this wisdom to the Corinthians because they were not – and still are not – mature.
They are carnal, still following the natural man. Paul had to speak God’s Word to
them in “baby-talk”, nursing them with milk rather than feeding them with solid
food because they would choke on mature food!
Paul was not saying, “you have the mind of Christ”, but rather “we apostles have
the mind of Christ, but you Corinthians have the mind of babes.”
What evidence does Paul give? They envy one another, each seeking what he
want for himself, fighting, choosing sides…they are acting like babies! This
describes perfectly those who claim, “if I want something, then God wants me to
have it because I have the mind of Christ”.
The mind of Christ is something all believers can have, but not all believers do
have. In order to have the mind of Christ we must want the mind of Christ more
than our own mind; we must seek the mind of Christ; and we must lay aside our
own desires, our own wisdom in order to receive the mind of Christ. We must
continually renew our minds, writing God’s Word over man’s words. “And do not
be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,
that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
We have the mind of Christ when we live as Jesus lived: always seeking to discern
what the Father is doing, and uniting ourselves with Him in doing it.
Word of God: speak!
Non nobis Domine+
by Fr. Dana Jackson