Question: One of my correspondents is saying that in 1st Corinthians 2:16 Paul is contrasting the mind of Christ with the mind of God, and that they are thus not one and the same (based on something in the Greek sentence structure with the word "but"). "But" usually implies a contrast. However, when the whole passage is read in context, I told him that Paul, in quoting Isaiah 40, is contrasting the mind of the natural man, with the mind of the spiritual man, who has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, enabling him to know the "mind of Christ", and do His will. Could you please look at this? Thanks for your help.
Response: Your take on this passage is absolutely correct. Indeed, "we have the mind of Christ" is another way of saying we DO know what God thinks/wants because we DO have the Spirit illuminating the Word of God (which is the very thinking of Jesus Christ). The "mind of Christ" here cannot bear any other meaning than that we are able to think like Christ, and, of course, the only way we can do that is through the Spirit working with the truth we know from scripture (the word of God from and through Him who is the Word of God). This is the essential point of what Paul has been saying throughout this chapter. Attempting to use this passage to distinguish between "Christ and the Father" is, in addition to disingenuously misinterpreting the entire context, somewhat ironic, because Paul's main point here is precisely to show the one-ness of the Father (the Isaiah reference: "who has known the mind of the Lord?"), the Son (the thinking of the Word of God Himself) and the Spirit (the clearly implied Agent in knowing our Lord Jesus Christ's thinking through His illumination of the Bible). Understanding the thinking of the Son is understanding the thinking of the Father, for they, along with the Spirit, are, indeed, "One".
As to the issue of the Greek conjunction, de ("but/and") versus gar ("for/because") - this is much ado about nothing. These are two of the most common particles/conjunctions in Greek. One could translate the de here as "now", but one thing is certain: no valid translation of it will make this verse mean what your correspondent wants it to mean. Knowledge of Greek is of great value in understanding the precise meaning of New Testament scriptures, and, it seems, also for guarding against those who would misuse a shallow knowledge of it to further their own misguided agendas by pulling wool over the eyes of those who don't happen to know the language at all.
For some information on Christian epistemology in general, please see the following links:
Epignosis, Christian Epistemology, and Spiritual Growth.
Epistemology and the human spirit
Pursuing a Deeper Relationship with Jesus and Christian Epistemology.
The source of truth.
Hope this helps,