This article is the translation of the article: W. Kosek, Jezus jako «Anathema» (1Kor 12,3) w świetle Didache 16,5 w tłumaczeniu A. Świderkówny, in:
B. Strzałkowska (ed.), Więcej szczęścia jest w dawaniu aniżeli w braniu. Księga pamiątkowa dla Księdza Profesora Waldemara Chrostowskiego w 60. rocznicę urodzin [It is more blessed to give than to receive. Memorial Book for Professor Waldemar Chrostowski in the 60th Anniversary of His Birth], Warszawa 2011, vol. 2, pp. 872-890.
This translation was first published
at Academia.edu on 8 Jul 2019.
DOI of this paper:
This translation was published here on 8 Jul 2019.
In detailed lexical and grammatical analyses, the present article proves that a correct understanding of the statement of St. Paul in 1Cor 12:3 is as follows:
Just as “there is no idol in the world, and there is no God but one” (1Cor 8:4), so also the spirit of no god (from among so-called gods – cf. 1Cor 8:5; 2Cor 11:4) will reveal the fullness of the mystery of neither Jesus-Anathema nor Jesus-Lord, but only the Holy Spirit, who is absolutely unique spirit of the only God. Thanks only to the Holy Spirit, a believer can proclaim with an understanding “Jesus is Anathema,” “Jesus is the Lord”!
Jesus is Anathema means that He accepted in His life and mission the position of a man cut off from the People by priests as the official representatives of God. Acclamation “Jesus is Anathema” is not a cursing thrown towards Jesus but a liturgical proclamation of the whole mystery of Him who humbled Himself by the acceptance of humiliation, contempt and finally crucifixion (cf. Phil 2:5-8), to receive from the Father the state of lordship/giving eternal life to those who believe in Him and love Him (cf. 2Cor 8:9; Phil 2:9-11). It is in a strict connection with the second acclamation, “Jesus is the Lord.”
Such an understanding of Jesus-Anathema in 1Cor 12:3 is the same as in Didache 16:5, where Cathathema-Jesus is the savior for those who believe in Him.
Table of content:
In the First Letter to the Corinthians (12:3), St. Paul wrote:
οὐδεὶς ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ λαλῶν λέγει· Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς
How to understand this text, and in particular the phrase Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς – it is a central problem of the present article.
In modern translations, one assumes the following understanding of this text:
Nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, “Jesus is Anathema,”
where the expression ‘Jesus is Anathema’ – Ἀνάθεμα – means ‘let Jesus be accursed.’
Is it a correct understanding?
The possibility of a new look at Paul’s sentence appears thanks to Professor Anna Świderkówna, died in 2008, who made a faithful translation of the Greek original of “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles” (Didache). For in Didache 16:5 there is the word κατάθεμα, similar to Paul’s Ἀνάθεμα:
Didache 16:5 with the words to be analyzed:
τότε ἥξει ἡ κτίσις τῶν ἀνθρώπων εἰς
τὴν πύρωσιν τῆς δοκιμασίας,
καὶ σκανδαλισθήσονται πολλοὶ καὶ ἀπολοῦνται,
οἱ δὲ ὑπομείναντες ἐν τῇ πίστει αὐτῶν σωθήσονται
ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ τοῦ καταθέματος.
In the translation of A. Świderkówna :
Then humanity will enter
the fire of trial,
and many will break down and die,
but those who persevere in faith will be saved
by the One who has become a curse for us.
καταθέματος – it is the genitive of κατάθεμα; the word κατάθεμα is equal in meaning to the word ἀνάθεμα .
One should note in the beginning that in the translation of A. Świderkówna the word κατάθεμα / ἀνάθεμα referred to the Savior is affirmative and therefore contrary to what is in the contemporary translations of Paul’s sentence 1Cor 12:3. In the understanding of A. Świderkówna, this term shows how Jesus saved those who believe in Him. Behold, the Savior allowed Jewish leaders to see Him as a deceiver of the People, and thus as a κατάθεμα / ἀνάθεμα / the curse. Jesus, sentenced by them to death on the cross, offered Himself as an atoning sacrifice for those who believe in Him as God’s Chosen One.
Before this article presents a new understanding of Paul’s sentence, made possible by Didache 16:5 in the translation of A. Świderkówna, it is worth proving the reliability of her translation.
One should note that the discussed text has an entirely different meaning in the translation by A. Lisiecki :
At that time, the humankind will go to the fire of trial, and many will be offended and perish, and those who persevere will be saved from this curse.
A significant difference concerns the translation of the phrase:
σωθήσονται ὑπ᾽ αὐτοῦ τοῦ καταθέματος, and in it especially: ὑπ᾽ αὐτου.
A. Lisiecki gives σωθήσονται ὑπ αὐτοῦ as ‘they will be saved from this…’, and A. Świderkówna as ‘they will be saved by Him who…’.
The following analysis will show the correctness of A. Świderkówna’s translation.
The compound ὑπ᾽ αὐτου one should understand as ὑπὸ αὐτου, that is ὑπὸ + genitive, which according to the dictionaries  means that the noun following ὑπὸ αὐτου represents the performer of an act (here: of an act of salvation expressed by the verb σωθήσονται, preceding that compound). It is, therefore, necessary to translate as: “they will be saved by this Catathema.”
It is also worth noting that σωθήσονται (they will be saved), contained in Didache 16:5, is the verb σῴζω for the third person plural future indicative passive voice. The passive voice, termed by biblical scholars as ‘passivum theologicum,’  points to the acting God, the Savior. So in Didache 16:5, the author talks about salvation by God Jesus – Catathema – the Savior.
The understanding of the compound ὑπὸ αὐτου is worth verifying in Septuagint. There are two places with the phrase “σῴζω + ὑπό + genitive” :
Blessed are you, o Israel! Who is like you, o People saved by the Lord?
μακάριος σύ, Ισραηλ· τίς ὅμοιός σοι, λαὸς σῳζόμενος ὑπὸ κυρίου;
Israel is saved by the Lord with an everlasting salvation
Ισραηλ σῴζεται ὑπὸ κυρίου σωτηρίαν αἰώνιον·
In the Septuagint, there is also one place with the analyzed compound, but in the reverse order :
Having been saved by God out of grave dangers…
ἐκ μεγάλων κινδύνων ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ σεσῳσμένοι
These three places confirm the correctness of the Didache 16:5 translation, made by A. Świderkówna.
In light of Didache 16:5, proclaiming Jesus as Catathema/Anathema does not mean insulting the Savior. It is to show Him as the One who voluntarily accepted death at the hands of the people who did not understand Him. He has thus become a Sacrifice acceptable to God, an Anathema in a positive sense. In the eyes of people condemning Jesus to death, He was Anathema in a negative sense – someone whom God rejected from Himself. However, people’s view was wrong: Jesus in the eyes of God was and is an Anathema – a sacrifice acceptable to God.
The positive meaning of Anathema as a sacrifice worthy of God is present in both the Old and New Testaments, although it occurs much less frequently than the negative one: this word, written as ἀνάθεμα or ἀνάθημα, appears in total 34 times (27 in the Old Testament, 7 in the New Testament), of which 5 (Lev 27:28n; Jdt 16:19; 2Macc 2:13; 9:16; Lk 21:5) in a positive sense (not counting 1Cor 12:3).
It is especially worth noting that Lev 27:29 says that every positive ἀνάθεμα is the most sacred thing for the Lord! The analogous positive sense of κατάρα, the other Greek word depicting somebody cursed – used in connection with the typology of scapegoat as a foretold of the death of Jesus – one can observe in the post-Pauline writings, namely of Barnabas (Epistle of Barnabas 7:7-10), Justin Martyr (Dialogue with Trypho 40.4 and 111.2), Tertullian (Adversus Marcionem 7:7) .
In the Old Testament, how meaningful is the command from Lev 27:28-29!: “28 And every Anathema which a man shall dedicate to the Lord of all that he has, whether man or beast, or of the field of his possession, he shall not sell it, nor redeem it: Each Anathema shall be holy of holies (ἅγιον ἁγίων, or the most holy thing) to the Lord. 29 Moreover, whatever of men shall be dedicated as Anathema (πᾶν ὃ ἐὰν ἀνατεθῇ), shall not be ransomed, but shall be surely put to death.”
Lev 27:29 in the Hebrew Bible states: “Every man consecrated as herem (חֵרֶם = Greek Anathema) cannot be redeemed; he must be killed.”
Jesus, as Anathema, really was not redeemed, but He became a redeemer by the death that He wanted to receive as a gift for us. Hanged on the tree of the cross, He saved us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (cf. Gal 3:13) .
Lk 21:5 – “some people were speaking about the temple as adorned with costly stones and votive offerings (ἀναθήμασιν)” – shows the currentness of the affirmative meaning of Anathema in the New Testament. Moreover, is not Jesus the greatest gift of the new temple?
In the writings of St. Paul, this dual dimension of the word Anathema is present, revealing the fullness of the mystery of Jesus: humiliated, despised by men, and exalted by God in a glorious resurrection. The Apostle reveals firstly in Phil 2:5-8 the necessity for the Son of God to humble himself, and immediately in the next verses 9-11 he shows the fruit of this: the exaltation of Jesus by the Father. In other places, the Apostle reveals that Christ is a curse (κατάρα – Gal 3:13), offense, scandal (σκάνδαλον – 1Cor 1:23, Gal 5:11), sin (ἁμαρτία – 2Cor 5:21).
This ‘shameful’ naming of the Lord Jesus hides in itself the Apostle Paul’s characteristic admiration for His mystery, which he ardently expressed in the First Letter to the Corinthians: “For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, an occasion of falling to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Cor 1:22-24).
The analysis carried out above shows that one can understand the Pauline sentence from 1Cor 12:3 in a new way: the naming of Jesus as ‘Anathema’ is not the act of cursing Him. However, does not this affirmative understanding contradict the whole of Paul’s sentence, οὐδεὶς ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ λαλῶν λέγει· Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς,” which the scholars commonly translated until now as “nobody speaking by the spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be accursed’”?
Probably a reader accustomed to the current translation will find the new one to be something contradictory. He will say at once: If it is right to call Jesus ‘Anathema’, Paul’s sentence would have to be: “Every one speaking by the spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is Anathema,’” which does not happen, however, because it is written: “No one speaking by the spirit of God says, ‘Jesus is Anathema.’”
The problem of exegesis of this sentence, however, is not only in the meaning of ‘Anathema’ but in the meaning of other issues, namely:
It is worth mentioning here, how biblical scholars commented on verse 1Cor 12:3 so far :
The answer is: The distinguishing mark between a true and a false prophet is whether he curses Jesus (i.e., he casts anathema upon Him) or praises Him (as the Lord)
In the Scriptures, the word θεός does not mean only the True God, but more than once ‘the gods’ of pagans, who worshiped their ‘gods.’
Acts 8:9-13 record the conversion of Simon, the magician, about whom the pagans were previously saying with admiration, “This man is the ‘Power of God’ that is called ‘Great’”(verse 10). It is worth noting that the Greek text does not speak about the power of the idol (it would have to be: ἡ δύναμις τοῦ εἰδώλου), but about the power of the god (ἡ δύναμις τοῦ θεοῦ).
In the New Testament, the word θεός for the description of pagans’ gods occurs 14 times  and not only in the statements of the pagans: the only God, the God of Israel, uses this word through the prophets to name the idols; some contemporary translations do not even reflect it.
For example, in Biblia Tysiąclecia, the prophet Amos, quoted by St. Stephen (quoted according to the Septuagint), states:
“You took up the tent of Moloch and the star of the idol Remphan” (Acts 7:43),
whereas according to the original the second verse should read: “and the star of your god Remphan” (τοῦ θεοῦ [ὑμῶν] Ῥαιφάν). English-language translations render this terminology correctly.
The use of the word θεός indicates the pedagogical approach of the prophet to the People: he uses the term consistent with the belief of unfaithful Israelites about the divinity of the idol.
Like Amos to the Israelites, so Paul to the Christians of pagan origin adapted the way of teaching to the thinking of the addressees. The Apostle familiarized himself with the mentality of many pagans, both the Corinthians themselves, for whom he proclaimed the Gospel for 18 months (cf. Acts 18:11), and of the inhabitants of Ephesus, where he edited the First Letter to the Corinthians .
In Ephesus, St. Paul experienced one of the most meaningful events: the vigorous reaction of the pagans in defense of the honor of the goddess Artemis of the Ephesians, because he, according to them, violated the goddess’s dignity. The pagan Demetrius cried out to the crowd of worshippers: “As you can now see and hear, not only in Ephesus but throughout most of the province of Asia this Paul has persuaded and misled a great number of people by saying that gods made by hands are not gods (θεοί) at all. The danger grows […] that the temple of the great goddess (τῆς μεγάλης θεᾶς) Artemis will be of no account” (Acts 19:26f).
For these words, the people cried “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” for almost two hours (19:34), which is an expressive disclosure of their religious thinking.
The people fell silent not before when the town clerk forced it on them and announced, “Citizens of Ephesus! Is there anybody who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the guardian of the temple of great Artemis and of her statue that fell from heaven?” (19:35), and when he stated about the Apostles, “they are neither sacrilegious nor blasphemers of our goddess (τὴν θεὸν ἡμῶν)” (19:37).
To illustrate the specificity of the Hebrews’ thinking about πνεῦμα θεοῦ (a spirit of God), it is worth quoting two texts from the First Book of Samuel. They show God as the first cause of all action  – it is God who sends every spirit of God, good and evil one:
1Sam 16:14-15: “14 And the spirit of the Lord (πνεῦμα κυρίου) departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord (πνεῦμα πονηρὸν παρὰ κυρίου) tormented him. 15 And Saul’s servants said to him: ‘Behold now, an evil spirit from the Lord (πνεῦμα κυρίου πονηρὸν) is tormenting you.’”
1Sam 19:9a And an evil spirit from God (πνεῦμα θεοῦ πονηρὸν) came upon Saul
Similarly, Judg 9:23 shows the dependence of the evil spirit on God: καὶ ἐξαπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς πνεῦμα πονηρὸν – And God sent an evil spirit.
The Old Testament connects the coming of the longed-for Messiah of God with God’s outpouring of His Spirit (see Joel 3:1-2). Although every Israelite was ‘the son of God,’ the Messiah was known to be the unique ‘son of God.’ The same is right about the expected Spirit – although Israelites experienced the activities of many spirits of God, they known that the Messiah is to be accompanied by the unique ‘spirit of God.’ God, speaking through the prophets, described Him as ‘My spirit’ (see Joel 3:1-2) .
The unambiguous term for this particular Spirit who has the power both to create (cf. Gen 1:2) and to inspire (cf. Joel 3:1-2) is the term ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘Holy Spirit of God’.
The last expression occurs three times in the Book of Daniel :
4:8: πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἔχει
4:9.18: πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον ἐν σοί
The specificity of the description of the evil spirit and the Holy Spirit as ‘the spirit of God’ or ‘the spirit of the Lord’ becomes understandable when compared to the descriptions of God: God of gods, Lord of lords, God of all spirit and body, God of every power, Ruler of spirits: Ex 15:11; Deut 10:17; Num 16:22; 2Macc 3:24; Psa 50:1; 84:8; 136:2; Jer 32:27; Dan 3:90. 93; 4:33. 34. 37; 11:36; 14:7; Dan (TH) 3:90.
When the reader realizes that in all nations some other ‘gods’ (‘their gods’) were worshiped (see Isa 36:20), then it becomes understandable that Israel preaches that only Yahweh is God and there is no other besides Him (see 1Kings 8:60).
In conclusion, one should state that:
There is no term ‘evil spirit of God’ in the New Testament. For the designation of the ‘evil spirit,’ St. Paul uses the term τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ κόσμου – the spirit of this world (1Cor 2:12).
St. Paul uses some compounds analogical to πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον:
Thus the apostle has an identical way of thinking about ‘the spirit of God’ as the books of the Old Covenant: the very expression ‘the spirit of God’ does not necessarily mean to him ‘the Holy Spirit,’ therefore he can add to it the term τὸ ἅγιον. Paul indicates in this way that he is speaking here about the Holy Spirit, not about some other spirit of God.
The Apostle does not write only to enrich the style. One should note yet that St. Paul always adapts his terminology to the mentality of the addressees (cf. 1Cor 8:5: “there are many gods and many lords”). The addressees in their pagan past were associating the term ‘spirit of God’ with the spirits of different gods – the inspired priests were passing on to them the will of these gods in the sanctuaries of these gods.
To the already mentioned texts, one should add a passage from the Revelation, which clearly shows the sending of spirits by demonic powers, spirits making deceptive signs, and thus being a factor of false inspiration for the pagan prophets.
Rev 16:13-14: “13I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come from the mouth of the dragon, from the mouth of the beast, and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 These were spirits of demons (πνεύματα δαιμονίων) who performed signs. They went out to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle on the great day of God the almighty.”
The Demonic Three from Rev 16:13, the opposite of the Triune God , desiring to take His place in the world, uses false prophets in the fight against Him, sending them a factor of inspiration – his spirits, πνεύματα δαιμονίων, which should be understood as the spirits of the gods of the pagans.
This understanding is visible in the juxtaposition of the following three texts:
In Deut 32:17, the synonymous parallelism “demons – gods” is important; the text identifies pagan’s gods with demons:
ἔθυσαν δαιμονίοις καὶ οὐ θεῷ,
θεοῖς οἷς οὐκ ᾔδεισαν
They offer sacrifices to demons, and not to God;
to gods whom they had not known before
πάντες οἱ θεοὶ τῶν ἐθνῶν δαιμόνια
For all the gods of the Gentiles are demons
Finally, one should note that the expression ‘the Spirit of God,’ good or bad one, can also be understood as ‘the spirit originating from God in being,’ not ‘in God’s acts,’ i.e., not in doing God’s will. Such an understanding is consistent with the analogous use of the genitive ‘of God’ in the expression ‘the son of God’ to indicate angels (cf. Psa 29:1; 89:7; Job 1:6) or somebody of Israelites, especially every king, including first of all King David . Israel expected that Messiah, a descendant of David, would be the Chosen of God and the Son of God in this broad sense.
Jesus Christ, the Messiah and the Son of God, turned out to be ‘the Only Begotten Son of God’ (ὁ μονογενής υἱός τοῦ θεοῦ – Jn 3:18), ‘His Only Begotten Son’ (ὁ υἱός αὐτοῦ ὁ μονογενής – 1Jn 4:9), in contrast to His believers, named ‘the sons of God’ (υἱοὶ θεοῦ – Mt 5:9; Rom 8:14; cf. Lk 20:36a; Rom 8:19) or ‘the sons of the living God’ (υἱοὶ θεοῦ ζῶντος – Rom 9:26) .
The following statement of the Son of God served for the analogous distinction between the fatherhood of God as His Father and the fatherhood of God as the Father of all people: “I ascend to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (Jn 20:17) .
Summary: The expression πνεῦμα θεοῦ may point out not only to the Holy Spirit but also – according to the biblical terms – to any spirit sent by God, including the evil one. Therefore, the Bible sometimes applies this expression supplemented by the third word to make it more precise: either πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον (Dan 4: 8.9.18) or πνεῦμα θεοῦ πονηρὸν (1Sam 19:9) .
A key point in the analysis of Paul’s sentence 1Cor 12:3 is the following observation: both Israelites and Gentiles understood the act of prophesying as a transmission of words from God to man, a transmission made possible by the fact that the prophet was influenced by some mysterious but real ‘spirit of God’, coming from God. This understanding was applied both in the Bible and in the works of pagan philosophers. Many biblical commentators notice that St. Paul referred to philosophical concepts, including Plato and Philo of Alexandria . Despite this, their studies do not take into account the fact that that Corinthians, the former pagans, had to understand πνεῦμα θεοῦ as a divine factor of inspiration. However, this is not right.
Characteristic for philosophy in the period from the first century before Christ to the sixth century after Christ was an intense search for a solution to the problems emerging in connection with the religious life of the people of that time . Some of the philosophers were at the same time priests , which not only favored the development of sublime reflection on religious life but contributed to the spread of philosophy among the ordinary people using the service of priests as intermediaries inspired by Greek “gods” to communicate the oracle to people.
One must know that Philo of Alexandria, the most eminent philosopher of the turn of centuries , has an exceptional contribution to building the philosophy of inspiration. Many thinkers of that time were devoted to proclaiming philosophical ideas to a broad audience within the so-called popular philosophy , so they did not neglect the philosophy of Philo, which describes inspiration as the influence of πνεῦμα θεοῦ on the prophet. After all, especially Stoics next to Cynics carried out the most intensive education of people . In the Stoics, the term πνεῦμα was a supernatural element, immanent towards the world . Stoics contributed to the popularization of this term. They must have known the philosophy of inspiration of Philo since he was the most famous philosopher of that time, and probably won the Stoics by the fact that he not only profusely drew from their thoughts , but in the description of inspiration he used their concept of a soul .
The expression πνεῦμα θεοῦ or πνεῦμα θεῖον (the spirit of God / the Divine Spirit) occurs among Greek philosophers , and in the New Testament with the Jewish philosopher writing in Greek, Philo of Alexandria . In his work “On the Giants,” Filon presented the fundamental role of the Spirit of God in leading man to mystical knowledge and union with God. Commenting on the Pentateuch, the author points out that only ‘a spiritual’ man (in contrast to ‘a bodily’ – ‘giant’) can enjoy the constant presence of the Divine Spirit.
In verses 22-23, Philo gave two definitions of this mysterious spirit:
In this work, Philo interchangeably uses two almost equivalent Greek expressions for God’s Spirit: πνεῦμα θεοῦ (the spirit of God), πνεῦμα θεῖον (the divine spirit, the divine pneuma). The first term was closer to the Jews, the second to the pagans . The pagans did not meet God in the same way as Israel did, so they had vague ideas about Him. The term ‘divine pneuma’ corresponds to their uncertainty; they understood the spirit as an emanation of the deity .
One should note that neither the authors of the Old Testament nor the ancient philosophers knew what ontological reality lay under the concept they were using. They did not know that the spirit of God is the God, a person . They only knew that it is something essential for the contact of God with the world, and especially with the people to whom God communicates His will. Pagans understood the term ‘God’ as referring to their ‘gods’; only the Israelites knew the true God.
The goal of the present item of analyses is to show that 1Cor 12:3 has an identical grammatical structure as 1Cor 8:4.
The two sentences of Paul, 1Cor 8:4 and 1Cor 12:3, have:
|b1||The first of two parallel negations|
|b2||The second of two parallel negations|
|d||An exception to what one negated before εἰ μη|
|a||An introduction: So about the eating of meat sacrificed to idols, we know|
|b1||ὅτι οὐδὲν εἴδωλον ἐν κόσμῳ|
|there is no idol in the world,|
|b2||καὶ ὅτι οὐδεὶς θεὸς|
|and that there is no God|
|c||εἰ μὴ – unless|
|d||εἷς – One|
|a||Introduction: Therefore I make known to you|
|b1||οὐδεὶς ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ λαλῶν λέγει· Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς|
|no one speaking in the spirit of God will say ‘Anathema Jesus’|
|b2||καὶ οὐδεὶς δύναται εἰπεῖν· Κύριος Ἰησοῦς|
|and no one can say ‘Lord Jesus’|
|c||εἰ μὴ – unless|
|d||ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ – in the Holy Spirit|
Comparing the parallel negations b1 and b2 in both sentences one can see that the second of the negations adds καὶ to ὅτι οὐδεὶς or οὐδεὶς respectively (in 8:4 οὐδὲν is a form of οὐδεὶς for a noun of the neuter kind εἴδωλον).
In 1Cor 8:4, the Apostle states that there are no idols or gods in the world except the Only One God. Analogically in 1Cor 12:3 he proclaims that no one can say in the spirit of any god that Jesus is the Anathema or that Jesus is the Lord unless he speaks in the Holy Spirit of God, that is, in the Spirit of the Only One God.
To confirm the comparison of 1Cor 8:4 with 12:3 one should add that where there is a structure with εἰ μὴ (or analogous with ἀλλά), often the segment after εἰ μὴ very clearly indicates what concretely is negated before εἰ μὴ. Namely, it does it clearly through the use of the same word or the same syntax (in 1Cor 12:3: ἐν πνεύματι – in spirit).
For example, in Mt 12:4 the segment after εἰ μὴ is in the dative case because the negated words are also in the dative case: in b1 αὐτῷ (to him: he was not allowed to eat), in b2 τοῖς (to them: they were not allowed to eat):
|a||… τοὺς ἄρτους τῆς προθέσεως ἔφαγον – he ate the showbreads,|
|b1||ὃ οὐκ ἐξὸν ἦν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν – which it is not lawful to him to eat|
|b1||οὐδὲ τοῖς μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ – nor to those with him|
|c||εἰ μὴ – unless / but only|
|d||τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν μόνοις – to the priests alone|
It is similarly in 1Cor 5:8, where ἀλλά occurs, the particle analogous to εἰ μὴ . The segment after ἀλλά has ἐν + the word in the dative case because ἐν + the word in the dative case appears in the negated segments b1 and b2: ἐν ζύμῃ (with the leaven):
|a||so that we may keep the feast,|
|b1||μὴ ἐν ζύμῃ παλαιᾷ – not with old leaven,|
|b2||μηδὲ ἐν ζύμῃ κακίας… – nor with the leaven of evil and wickedness|
|c||ἀλλά – but|
|d||ἐν ἀζύμοις εἰλικρινείας… – with unleavened food of sincerity and truth|
From the presented examples one can see that if in 1Cor 12:3 after εἰ μὴ is ἐν πνεύματι (in spirit), and the segment b2 does not contain ἐν πνεύματι, and at the same time the segment b1 contains ἐν πνεύματι, it means that it is the segment b1 that is undoubtedly the negated one. The negation of the segment b2 implies from the fact that it is a supplement to the negated segment b1 (b1 and b2 are the parallel segments according to the Hebrew rhetoric technique of synonymical parallelism).
The indicated relationship between b1 and the segment after εἰ μὴ is even more evident when considering the analysis made in point 5: the biblical πνεῦμα θεοῦ stands for πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον or πνεῦμα θεοῦ πονηρὸν. Because the expression πνεῦμα θεοῦ ἅγιον in the Bible usually occurs as shortened to πνεῦμα ἅγιον, and since the expression ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ is after εἰ μὴ, it means there is the expression ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ ἁγίῳ after εἰ μὴ. This indicates that ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ is the negated expression – it is the one which also occurs entirely in the segment b1. Therefore one can see that 1Cor 12:3 announces that no one speaking in the spirit of God, good or bad, can say “Anathema Jesus” / “Lord Jesus” unless he speaks in the Spirit of God the Holy One.
One can suppose the segment b2 contains the expression ἐν πνεύματι θεοῦ because b2, being the complement of b1, is in the parallelism relation with b1. Their parallelism is visible in the fact that the construction of the acclamation “Anathema Jesus” in b1 (Ἀνάθεμα Ἰησοῦς) and “Lord Jesus” in b2 (Κύριος Ἰησοῦς) are the same. Namely, both acclamations are composed of two nouns in the nominative case, none of which has an article, and each second is a proper name (the name Ἰησοῦς). Additionally, one must note that it follows from the rules of the Greek syntax that the noun Ἰησοῦς is the subject of acclamation, and the noun without the article is a predicative nominal . The two acclamations express the mystery of Jesus: ‘Jesus is the Anathema,’ ‘Jesus is the Lord.’
It is worth noting that the translation of the first acclamation as “Let Jesus be cursed!” has no basis in the grammar of the Greek language, which is moreover apparent in the commonly accepted translation of the second acclamation: “Jesus is Lord” and not “Let Jesus be Lord!”. The syntax of the imperative requires the word ἤτω (cf. 1Cor 16:22) or ἔστω (cf. Gal 1:8.9), the words translated as ‘let it be.’ 1Cor 12:3 does not contain any of these words.
To fully understand the revelation contained in 1Cor 12:3, one must ask whether the inability ‘to speak in the spirit of God’ is merely an inability to articulate the words of acclamation, or rather an inability to something else.
One should remind in the beginning that evil spirits in their meetings with the Lord Jesus were revealing that they knew who He is:
The Ephesus event (see Acts 19) reveals the cognitive abilities of the evil spirits. Especially educational is the passage: “Then some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those with evil spirits, saying, ‘I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.’ […] The evil spirit said to them in reply, ‘Jesus I recognize, Paul I know, but who are you?’ The person with the evil spirit then sprang at them and subdued them all” (Acts 19:13.15-16) .
The possibilities of the pagan prophets manifest themselves in the event of Paul’s second missionary journey, shortly before his arrival in Corinth: “a certain maid, having a spirit of Python, did meet us […] She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, ‘These people are slaves of the Highest God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation’” (Acts 16:16-17).
The text of Luke shows that the prophet inspired by the demon proclaimed the truth!
It is worth noting that to describe the prophetess, St. Luke used the expression ἔχουσα πνεῦμα πύθωνα – having a spirit of Python. Python is a mythical snake or dragon, proclaiming oracles. The term ‘the spirit of prophecy’ derives probably from Python . It testifies to the deep penetration of mythical thinking into the pagan mentality .
Therefore one must conclude that the Apostle explains in 1Cor 12:3: by the power of the spirit sent by the pagans’ god (that is, demon) it is impossible to know the full mystery of Jesus-Anathema. Understanding this powerlessness as an inability to say the phrase ‘Anathema Jesus’ would be a narrowing of Paul’s teaching.
Although the evil spirits of God (demons) were able to say, ‘Jesus is the Son of God, Messiah, the Holy One of God,’ they were not able to know the mystery of Jesus as the One who through death on the cross will gain eternal redemption and take full control over them (cf. 1Cor 2:7-8).
St. Paul was editing the First Letter to the Corinthians in the atmosphere of struggle against the religious thinking of pagans. The lexical-grammatical analyses carried out allow us to state that because the Apostle understood the difficulties of Corinthians on their way to a full Christian mentality, he not only referred to their pagan practices but above all adjusted the nomenclature and the way of argumentation to their religious habits. Speaking in the language of the addressees, Paul conveyed the content they did not fully know  – the novelty of Christian Revelation, the fullness of truth about God the Only One, the Giver of the Holy Spirit of God as the only spirit of God, who fully knows and reveals the mystery of the Only Begotten Son of God.
At the beginning of that Letter, the Apostle noted that only the Spirit of the true God (2:10), the Holy Spirit, could give the wisdom needed to know the glory of Jesus Crucified. No other spirit alone knows this mystery, and in particular ‘the spirit of this world’ does not (2:12; cf. 2Cor 4:4), that is, demons, under whose inspiration prophesize pagan prophets, and to whom offer they their sacrifices (cf. 1Cor 10:20) in order to gain their favorable oracles, and with whom vainly attempt they to unite through sacred feasts (cf. 8:7-8).
Only the Spirit of the true God can bring the union with God: He who leads the sons of God (cf. Rom 8:14; Gal 5:18), He who gives knowledge of the full mystery of Jesus (cf. 1Cor 12:3). In contrast, demons – the spirits of mute idols – lead in bondage (cf. 12:2) to the blindness of the mind: “And even though our gospel is veiled, it is veiled for those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, so that they may not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2Cor 4:3-4).
One should understand the full meaning of the statement of St. Paul in 1Cor 12:3 as follows:
Just as “there is no idol in the world, and there is no God but one” (1Cor 8:4), so also the spirit of no god will reveal the fullness of the mystery of neither Jesus-Anathema nor Jesus-Lord, but only the Spirit which is the spirit of the only God – the Holy Spirit.
Thanks only to the Holy Spirit, a believer can say with understanding “Jesus is Anathema,” “Jesus is the Lord”!
 Cf. A. Jankowski, Aniołowie wobec Chrystusa. Chrystocentryczna angelologia Nowego Testamentu [Angels Towards Christ. Christocentric Angelology of the New Testament], Kraków 2002, p. 78, 151.