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The Place of the Holy Spirit in the Exegetical Process


Paul continues in the same verse “for they are foolishness to him, (the things of God), and he cannot understand them.” The word that the Apostle uses here is a form of ginosko (know). Again Paul could have chosen another word oida to convey the idea of knowing something. Some argument can be made for the idea that where oida is used mere cognition is in mind, whereas when the word ginosko is used the idea of actualizing or embracing an object is in view.6 Making note of this distinction Zuck observes, “the Greek word that is used means ‘know by experience’ ginosko, as opposed to oida which means ‘know intuitively or intrinsically.’”7

One may further ask if Paul’s use of this word is not to be understood against the Old Testament concept of knowledge? In Hebrew, Da’at (knowledge), many times, is to be understood experientially rather than merely intellectually.8

Again we cite D. P. Fuller’s observation:

But in general, ginosko means not merely perceiving, but “embracing things as they really are.” If ginosko is used in this sense, the second half of I Cor. 2:14 would mean, “The natural man does not embrace the realities represented by the Bible’s teaching,” and this would be a close parallel to the earlier statement that “the natural does not welcome spiritual things.”9

We suggest that what Paul is saying here is that man does know what God is saying but refused to welcome the truth. To use the vocabulary that is in vogue today we might suggest that the “natural” man has Erklarung but no Verstehen. Or in other words a “head” knowledge but no “heart” knowledge.



“Only when we recognize our God-given ability to think rationally will we be on the road to discovering God’s Word afresh for our generation.”

The “natural” man cannot understand “existentially” the things of God, for as Paul says, “they are spiritually appraised.” An investigation of this word anakrino reveals some evidence for the inability of unregenerate man to appreciate the things of God. The word anakrino can be used in respect to the act “of discerning or determining the excellence or defects of a person or thing.”10

W. C. Kaiser Jr. notes this point well:

Thus, the natural man neither welcomes nor embraces the realities found in the biblical text because they are “discerned” (anakrino) that is, they are investigated and appraised to have a certain value or worth by a person who is aided by the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Now that Spirit’s ministry is one of aiding the believer to apply, to see the value, worth and significance of a text for his own person, situation, and times. But the natural man has, or wants, none of his help.11

The sad state of affairs is that man being unregenerate and unaided by the Holy Spirit is not able to comprehend the supreme worth and value of God’s words and deeds as revealed by Him.

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Category: Biblical Studies, Winter 1999

About the Author: William J. Pankey holds a M.A. in Christian Education from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary (Springfield, MO), a M.Div. equivalent from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, Ill.), a M.I.L.S. from Dominican University (River Forest, Ill.), and a D.Min. also from Trinity Evangelical. He has served as a spiritual leader in a Philadelphia Messianic congregation, and pastored at Bloomingdale (Ill.) Assemblies of God Church from 1986 till 1994. He is Professor and Coordinator of Library Technologies at William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Harper College Faculty page

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