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Wisdom from the Spirit June 25, 2011

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 1 Corinthians 2:6-16.

Summary: Paul begins by stating that the apostles teach true wisdom among believers; true wisdom is neither the wisdom of the world nor that of men of influence, who will be brought to nothing by God. Indeed, the apostles speak of wisdom that is revealed by God; He has predestined this wisdom in reference to our salvation and all of its blessings. None of the influential men of those days knew this wisdom; if this were not the case, they would not have crucified the One who possesses divine excellence. It can be inferred that Paul preaches truths that cannot be discovered by the human mind. Now God has revealed these truths to His apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit, who thoroughly knows the most hidden attributes of God. To support this assertion, Paul notes that no one knows the thoughts of a man except the man himself, so no one knows the thoughts of God except God Himself; it is evident, then, that the Holy Spirit does know the thoughts of God. Paul makes it clear that human reason is not the source of the truths that the apostles and prophets taught; instead, they are influenced by the Holy Spirit so that they can understand the Gospel that God has graciously revealed to them. They then communicate the truths revealed by the Spirit – yet not with words suggested by their own minds, but with words that are taught by the Holy Spirit so that they can properly explain these truths. Now the unbeliever rejects these truths because he regards them as being absurd; he cannot discern their excellence, because he needs the Holy Spirit to accomplish this. Believers can appreciate the truths revealed by the Spirit; moreover, unbelievers cannot judge believers. Paul concludes by noting that unbelievers cannot judge believers since no one can judge the Lord – and believers have the mind of the Lord.

Thoughts: In verse 8, we see that “none of the rulers of this age understood” the Gospel message. Hodge offers his thoughts on this phrase:

This refers principally to the rulers of the Jews, who were responsible for Christ’s crucifixion and were the representatives of their class. It was the world in its rulers who rejected Christ.

I then pondered the nature of the Jews’ response to Jesus – and why they responded to Him in that way. It should be noted that the Jews expected their Messiah to be an agent of political change; they believed that He would free Israel from the yoke of the Roman Empire and re-establish the Old Testament theocracy that they earnestly longed for. Then Jesus begins His public ministry – but He does not promise to fulfill these desires, at least in the manner that they expected. Indeed, He even commands the Jews to pay taxes to Caesar. He also gathers a band of followers who do not inspire confidence in the eyes of the Jews – they engaged in lightly regarded occupations including tax collecting and fishing. In addition, He “blasphemes” on a regular basis by claiming to be equal with God the Father. These facts provide us valuable insights regarding the hostility of the Jews to Jesus. In hindsight, we know that if the Jews had carefully studied the Old Testament predictions regarding the Messiah, they would have realized that Jesus perfectly fit the description of the Messiah. It should be noted, though, that God had pre-destined the Messiah to suffer and die at the hands of His own people.

A close study of verse 9 reveals some difficulties when trying to comprehend it in the larger context of the passage at hand. Hodge summarizes them as follows:

The first difficulty connected with this verse is a grammatical one, which does not appear in our version because of the freedom of the translation. Literally the passage reads, ‘What no eye saw, and no ear heard, and no heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.’ The sentence is incomplete…The second difficulty relates to the passage quoted. If we assume that he intended to quote Isaiah 64:4, there are two difficulties: first, the language or words are different, and, second, the sense is different…The meaning in Isaiah, as connected with what precedes, seems to be that the reason such fearful things as had been predicted were to be expected from Jehovah is that he alone had proved himself able to perform them.

Hodge does discuss some methods by which we can resolve these issues. Admittedly I initially read through this verse without giving it a second thought, so Hodge’s discussion was quite illuminating. It is important for Christians to know that valid disputes still occur among theologians regarding certain Biblical passages, and different translators will adopt different approaches in parsing the text in question. In such instances, it is important for believers to focus on the main point that the writer is trying to convey; in this case, Paul wants to show that God’s wisdom is higher than human wisdom and that the Holy Spirit communicates God’s wisdom to those who are ready to receive it.

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