Comparing Spiritual Things with Spiritual Things

Searching the scriptures to understand God's word

"Spiritual Things"

1 Corinthians 2:13 13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

What are Spiritual Things?

"Spiritual" always "connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power". If I were to re-word 1 Corinthians 2:13, I might say something like "comparing understandings from the bible with understandings from the bible", or more simply "comparing the bible with the bible".

It is important to quickly reject the idea that 1 Corinthians 2:13 is speaking of "higher truths", which would place the exegete in danger of mysticism or gnosticism.

Spiritual Things:

Romans 7:14 14 For we know that the law is spiritual (4152): but I am carnal, sold under sin.

Romans 15:27 27 It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things (4152), their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.

1 Corinthians 3:1 1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual (4152), but as unto carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.

1 Corinthians 9:11 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things (4152), [is it] a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

1 Corinthians 10:3-4 3 And did all eat the same spiritual (4152) meat; 4 And did all drink the same spiritual (4152) drink: for they drank of that spiritual (4152) Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Galatians 6:1 1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault ye which are spiritual (4152), restore such an one in the spirit 4151 of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

Ephesians 5:19 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual (4152) songs, singing and making melody in yourheart to the Lord;

Ephesians 6:12 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual (4152) wickedness in high [places].

Colossians 1:9 9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual (4152) understanding;

1 Peter 2:5 5 Ye also, as lively 2198 stones, are built up a spiritual (4152) house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual (4152) sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.


[From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, pp. 308-319.]

B-1 Adverb Strong's Number: g4152 Greek: pneumatikos

Spiritual always connotes the ideas of invisibility and of power. It does not occur in the Sept. nor in the Gospels; it is in fact an after-Pentecost word. In the NT it is used as follows:


  1. the angelic hosts, lower than God but higher in the scale of being than man in his natural state, are 'spiritual hosts,' Eph 6:12;
  2. things that have their origin with God, and which, therefore, are in harmony with His character, as His law is, are 'spiritual,' Rom 7:14;
  3. 'spiritual' is prefixed to the material type in order to indicate that what the type sets forth, not the type itself, is intended, 1Cr 10:3, 4;
  4. the purposes of God revealed in the gospel by the Holy Spirit, 1Cr 2:13, and the words in which that revelation is expressed, are 'spiritual,' 1Cr 2:13, matching, or combining, spiritual things with spiritual words [or, alternatively, 'interpreting spiritual things to spiritual men,' see (e) below]; 'spiritual songs' are songs of which the burden is the things revealed by the Spirit, Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; 'spiritual wisdom and understanding' is wisdom in, and understanding of, those things, Col 1:9;
  5. men in Christ who walk so as to please God are 'spiritual,' Gal 6:1; 1Cr 2:13 [but see (d) above], 1Cr 2:15; 3:1; 14:37;
  6. the whole company of those who believe in Christ is a 'spiritual house,' 1Pe 2:5;
  7. the blessings that accrue to regenerate men at this present time are called 'spiritualities,' Rom 15:27; 1Cr 9:11; 'spiritual blessings,' Eph 1:3; 'spiritual gifts,' Rom 1:11;
  8. the activities Godward of regenerate men are 'spiritual sacrifices,' 1Pe 2:5; their appointed activities in the churches are also called 'spiritual gifts,' lit., 'spiritualities,' 1Cr 12:1; 14:1;
  9. the resurrection body of the dead in Christ is 'spiritual,' i.e., such as is suited to the heavenly environment, 1Cr 15:44;
  10. all that is produced and maintained among men by the operations of the Spirit of God is 'spiritual,' 1Cr 15:46. . . .


The spiritual man is one who walks by the Spirit both in the sense of Gal 5:16 and in that of Gal 5:25, and who himself manifests the fruit of the Spirit in his own ways. . . .

According to the Scriptures, the 'spiritual' state of soul is normal for the believer, but to this state all believers do not attain, nor when it is attained is it always maintained. Thus the Apostle, in 1Cr 3:1-3, suggests a contrast between this spiritual state and that of the babe in Christ, i.e., of the man who because of immaturity and inexperience has not yet reached spirituality, and that of the man who by permitting jealousy, and the strife to which jealousy always leads, has lost it. The spiritual state is reached by diligence in the Word of God and in prayer; it is maintained by obedience and self-judgment. Such as are led by the Spirit are spiritual, but, of course, spirituality is not a fixed or absolute condition, it admits of growth; indeed growth in 'the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,' 2Pe 3:18, is evidence of true spirituality."

"spiritually," occurs in 1Cr 2:14, with the meaning as (j) above, and Rev 11:8, with the meaning as in (c). Some mss. have it in 1Cr 2:13.


primarily denotes "the wind" (akin to pneo, "to breathe, blow"); also "breath;" then, especially "the spirit," which, like the wind, is invisible, immaterial and powerful. The NT uses of the word may be analyzed approximately as follows: "(a) the wind, Jhn 3:8 (where marg. is, perhaps, to be preferred); Hbr 1:7; cp. Amo 4:13, Sept.; (b) the breath, 2Th 2:8; Rev 11:11; 13:15; cp. Job 12:10, Sept.; (c) the immaterial, invisible part of man, Luk 8:55; Act 7:59; 1Cr 5:5; Jam 2:26; cp. Ecc 12:7, Sept.; (d) the disembodied (or 'unclothed,' or 'naked,' 2Cr 5:3, 4) man, Luk 24:37, 39; Hbr 12:23; 1Pe 4:6; (e) the resurrection body, 1Cr 15:45; 1Ti 3:16; 1Pe 3:18; (f) the sentient element in man, that by which he perceives, reflects, feels, desires, Mat 5:3; 26:41; Mar 2:8; Luk 1:47, 80; Act 17:16; 20:22; 1Cr 2:11; 5:3, 4; 14:4, 15; 2Cr 7:1; cp. Gen 26:35; Isa 26:9; Eze 13:3; Dan 7:15; (g) purpose, aim, 2Cr 12:18; Phl 1:27; Eph 4:23; Rev 19:10; cp. Ezr 1:5; Psa 78:8; Dan 5:12; (h) the equivalent of the personal pronoun, used for emphasis and effect: 1st person, 1Cr 16:18; cp. Gen 6:3; 2nd person, 2Ti 4:22; Phm 1:25; cp. Psa 139:7; 3rd person, 2Cr 7:13; cp. Isa 40:13; (i) character, Luk 1:17; Rom 1:4; cp. Num 14:24; (j) moral qualities and activities: bad, as of bondage, as of a slave, Rom 8:15; cp. Isa 61:3; stupor, Rom 11:8; cp. Isa 29:10; timidity, 2Ti 1:7; cp. Jos 5:1; good, as of adoption, i.e., liberty as of a son, Rom 8:15; cp. Psa 51:12; meekness, 1Cr 4:21; cp. Pro 16:19; faith, 2Cr 4:13; quietness, 1Pe 3:4; cp. Pro 14:29 (k) the Holy Spirit, e.g., Mat 4:1 (see below); Luk 4:18; (l) 'the inward man' (an expression used only of the believer, Rom 7:22; 2Cr 4:16; Eph 3:16); the new life, Rom 8:4-6, 10, 16; Hbr 12:9; cp. Psa 51:10; (m) unclean spirits, demons, Mat 8:16; Luk 4:33; 1Pe 3:19; cp. 1Sa 18:10; (n) angels, Hbr 1:14; cp. Act 12:15; (o) divine gift for service, 1Cr 14:12, 32; (p) by metonymy, those who claim to be depostories of these gifts, 2Th 2:2; 1Jo 4:1-3; (q) the significance, as contrasted with the form, of words, or of a rite, Jhn 6:63; Rom 2:29; 7:6; 2Cr 3:6; (r) a vision, Rev 1:10; 4:2; 17:3; 21:10." * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, pp 204, 205.] Notes: (1) For phantasma, rendered "spirit," Mat 14:26; Mar 6:49, AV, see APPARITION. (2) For the distinction between "spirit" and "soul," see under SOUL, last three paragraphs. The Holy Spirit The "Holy Spirit" is spoken of under various titles in the NT ("Spirit" and "Ghost" are renderings of the same word, pneuma; the advantage of the rendering "Spirit" is that it can always be used, whereas "Ghost" always requires the word "Holy" prefixed.) In the following list the omission of the definite article marks its omission in the original (concerning this see below): "Spirit, Mat 22:43; Eternal Spirit, Hbr 9:14; the Spirit, Mat 4:1; Holy Spirit, Mat 1:18; the Holy Spirit, Mat 28:19; the Spirit, the Holy, Mat 12:32; the Spirit of promise, the Holy, Eph 1:13; Spirit of God, Rom 8:9; Spirit of (the) living God, 2Cr 3:3; the Spirit of God, 1Cr 2:11; the Spirit of our God, 1Cr 6:11; the Spirit of God, the Holy, Eph 4:30; the Spirit of glory and of God, 1Pe 4:14; the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead (i.e., God), Rom 8:11; the Spirit of your Father, Mat 10:20; the Spirit of His Son, Gal 4:6; Spirit of (the) Lord, Act 8:39; the Spirit of (the) Lord, Act 5:9; (the) Lord, (the) Spirit, 2Cr 3:18; the Spirit of Jesus, Act 16:7; Spirit of Christ, Rom 8:9; the Spirit of Jesus Christ, Phl 1:19; Spirit of adoption, Rom 8:15; the Spirit of truth, Jhn 14:17; the Spirit of life, Rom 8:2; the Spirit of grace, Hbr 10:29." * [* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 193.] The use or absence of the article in the original where the "Holy Spirit" is spoken of cannot always be decided by grammatical rules, nor can the presence or absence of the article alone determine whether the reference is to the "Holy Spirit." Examples where the Person is meant when the article is absent are Mat 22:43 (the article is used in Mar 12:36); Act 4:25, RV (absent in some texts); 19:2, 6; Rom 14:17; 1Cr 2:4; Gal 5:25 (twice); 1Pe 1:2. Sometimes the absence is to be accounted for by the fact that Pneuma (like Theos) is substantially a proper name, e.g., in Jhn 7:39. As a general rule the article is present where the subject of the teaching is the Personality of the Holy Spirit, e.g., Jhn 14:26, where He is spoken of in distinction from the Father and the Son. See also Jhn 15:26 and cp. Luk 3:22. In Gal 3:3, in the phrase "having begun in the Spirit," it is difficult to say whether the reference is to the "Holy Spirit" or to the quickened spirit of the believer; that it possibly refers to the latter is not to be determined by the absence of the article, but by the contrast with "the flesh;" on the other hand, the contrast may be between the "Holy Spirit" who in the believer sets His seal on the perfect work of Christ, and the flesh which seeks to better itself by works of its own. There is no preposition before either noun, and if the reference is to the quickened spirit it cannot be dissociated from the operation of the "Holy Spirit." In Gal 4:29 the phrase "after the Spirit" signifies "by supernatural power," in contrast to "after the flesh," i.e., "by natural power," and the reference must be to the "Holy Spirit;" so in Gal 5:17. The full title with the article before both pneuma and hagios (the "resumptive" use of the article), lit., "the Spirit the Holy," stresses the character of the Person, e.g., Mat 12:32; Mar 3:29; 12:36; 13:11; Luk 2:26; 10:21 (RV); Jhn 14:26; Act 1:16; 5:3; 7:51; 10:44, 47; 13:2; 15:28; 19:6; 20:23, 28; 21:11; 28:25; Eph 4:30; Hbr 3:7; 9:8; 10:15. The Personality of the Spirit is emphasized at the expense of strict grammatical procedure in Jhn 14:26; 15:26; 16:8, 13, 14, where the emphatic pronoun ekeinos, "He," is used of Him in the masculine, whereas the noun pneuma is neuter in Greek, while the corresponding word in Aramaic, the language in which our Lord probably spoke, is feminine (rucha, cp. Heb. ruach). The rendering "itself" in Rom 8:16, 26, due to the Greek gender, is corrected to "Himself" in the RV. The subject of the "Holy Spirit" in the NT may be considered as to His Divine attributes; His distinct Personality in the Godhead; His operation in connection with the Lord Jesus in His birth, His life, His baptism, His death; His operations in the world; in the church; His having been sent at Pentecost by the Father and by Christ; His operations in the individual believer; in local churches; His operations in the production of Holy Scripture; His work in the world, etc. [View Entry in Its Context] 3 Strong's Number: g4151 Greek: pneuma Wind (Noun): is translated "wind" in Jhn 3:8 (RV, marg., "the Spirit breatheth," the probable meaning); in Hbr 1:7 the RV has "winds" for AV, "spirits." See SPIRIT. Notes: (1) For pneo, "to blow" ("wind" in Act 27:40), see BLOW, No. 1. (2) For anemizo, Jam 1:6, "driven by the wind," see DRIVE, No. 8.