Connections 02.05.2023: Who Are We to Say?

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

For someone who claims to have come preaching to the Corinthians “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling” (v. 3), the Apostle Paul always seems to me to be very certain.

Paul, of course, points to the source of his certainty: God’s own Spirit, not Paul’s own cleverness. Paul can be certain because he is clear about where he’s getting his information. He discerns God’s Spirit searching and knowing and teaching the depths of God. He discerns that God’s Spirit comprehends God because the Spirit is in God—because the Spirit is God—and he discerns that the Spirit alone can give the gift of understanding God.

I wish I were as certain as Paul about the Spirit’s work and about who is spiritual. Paul makes the distinction between the spiritual and the unspiritual seem so simple, so clear, so certain. Paul describes how God’s Spirit offers teachings that are either received as gifts by the spiritual or rejected as foolishness by the unspiritual. It seems as simple, as clear, as certain as Check This Box. Am I (Check One) spiritual or unspiritual? Are you?

Who are we to say?

On any given day, we may have moments of spiritual-ness among hours of unspiritualness. We may catch glimpses of God’s Spirit amid the distraction of the world’s many spectacles, and we may get flashes of divine understanding through the thick fog of misinformation.

Who are we to say if (or when) we are truly spiritual?

And on any given day, people who are devoted Bible-readers, committed prayer warriors, and certain of their discernment of God’s Spirit think and act and speak and live in ways that are the opposite of other devoted, committed, discerning people.

Who are we to say who is truly spiritual?

I wish I were as certain as Paul, but perhaps the point isn’t the certainty, but the source. We can look where Paul is directing our attention: to the gift of God’s Spirit, the source of all our searching, source of all our knowing, source of all our learning. We can be certain of that.


  • How does Paul define who is “spiritual” and who is “unspiritual”? Do you think it is appropriate or inappropriate to try to determine who is “spiritual” and who is “unspiritual”? Why would it have been important for the Corinthian church to recognize these designations?
  • Do you think it is helpful to apply Paul’s criteria to your own life? Can you think of times in your life when you were “spiritual,” based on Paul’s understanding? Can you think of times when you know you were “unspiritual”? What characterized each of these times? How did you or how can you now move toward a more “spiritual” life?
  • Spend time in reflection about your understanding of the Spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2 Paul describes specific work that the Spirit does: understanding God and teaching the things of God to those who receive the gift of the Spirit. How have you experienced the Spirit as teacher?
  • What do you think is the role of humility in our spirituality?

Nikki Finkelstein-Blair is the lead editor of Connections. She is a graduate of Samford University and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and as a military spouse has had nine (at last count) different hometowns in the past 20 years. She and her husband Scott and sons Sam and Levi live in the Washington D.C. area. In recent years, Nikki has written Smyth & Helwys curricula as well as devotionals for and Baptist Women in Ministry. She weaves clergy stoles, knits almost anything, and dreams of making her dreadful novel drafts into readable books. She blogs about faith and making things at


For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email