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Answering The Atheist
March 17, 2002 / Volume 2, Issue 11

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:15 about the spiritual man making judgment, but being judged by any man. However, in 1 Corinthians 4:5, he says to judge nothing before the time when the Lord is appointed to come.

Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
I am unsure exactly what the questioner considers to be contradictory between these two passages, so perhaps the best approach would be simply to discuss the content of each verse.

Paul wrote, "But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one." (2:15). Perhaps a better rendering of the verse is found in Young's Literal Translation, "and he who is spiritual, doth discern indeed all things, and he himself is by no one discerned." The word translated as "judges"/"judged" in most translations is the same word as is used in the previous verse, rendered "discerned". Paul contrasts the spiritual man (v 15) with the natural man (v 14). The natural man cannot know the things of God, for they are spiritually discerned. The Spiritual man is able to discern all things revealed by God. In the words "...he himself is rightly judged by no one", it would seem that the apostle is saying that the natural man cannot understand the spiritual man. Those who have live and served before the Lord for any length of time, and dealt often with those outside Christ know this to be true.

Again, Paul penned, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God." (4:5). In the context, Paul mentions his stewardship before the Lord, and about the judgment of the Corinthians, a human court, or even himself on his stewardship. He cautions the Corinthians against making harsh judgments, which is especially needed in regard to motive and character. He identifies the Lord as being the judge (4:4), upon whom we wait, who will exercise the final judgment (2 Corinthians 5:11).

There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible