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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

1 Corinthians 2:5-12 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 52 secs

DVP Mechanics of Learning Spiritual Truth; 1 Corinthians 2:5-12


What Paul is saying in chapters 1-3 is that until the Corinthians understand that they have to think differently, they have to get rid of the human viewpoint frame of reference that they have, that they brought into the church from their past life in Greek culture, and until they get rid of that they are still going to have the problems that they have because they're thinking like unbelievers, not like believers, according to divine viewpoint. The problem is that they have to recognize that there is a radical difference between the way God thinks and the way man thinks, a radical difference between divine viewpoint and human viewpoint; it is not merely a matter of exchanging a few points or sort of polishing things up. Scripture says that autonomous, independent man based on his sin nature has constructed an entire frame of reference in his thinking that is false. It is built on a false foundation and therefore everything built on that foundation is wrong, even though there may be many things in there that may be good and valid.

Take the analogy of building a house. Let's say a contractor comes in and lays a foundation but the concrete that he uses is somehow flawed. It has a bad mixture of sand and water and so it is an unstable foundation. He may build on that with extremely good products—good wood, quality brick, excellent paint. The problem is that the whole thing was built on a false foundation, and even though some of the elements built on that foundation are in and of themselves good and correct, because they are fitted now within a framework that is based on wrong foundation they have become a liability as opposed to something positive. So everything has to be torn down and rebuilt. That is the way the Scripture talks about the believer's renovation of his mind, his thought (Romans 12:2). It means a 100 per cent change that needs to take place. There has to be a radical shift from what man thinks to what God thinks, and this is what Isaiah is getting at in chapter 55. 

Isaiah 55:8,9 NASB "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. For {as} the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."

So there is this emphasis that the thinking of God and the methodology— "ways" refers to His methods, the way he does things. So often we, because of our pragmatism, want to draw a distinction between thinking and methodology. We adopt methods for doing things that are practical, that seem to work, and we validate the procedure and the methodology because it produces results. You can go out and buy books on witnessing and evangelism but they are nothing more than salesmanship applied to the gospel because they seem to produce a vast number of at least overt converts, therefore this must be blessed by God, and God's blessing is defined and discovered on the basis of how successful something is. What you've done is you've come to Christianity and imported into your value system, into your norms and standards, the value systems of the pragmatic business world that produces results and produces numbers, therefore it is assumed it must be from God and it must be correct. But what God says is that there is a definite connection between how you do what you do and how you think, and Paul is getting at the same point in 1 Corinthians.

The issue is to conform out thinking to the absolutes of God's Word. So Paul emphasizes that the content of the gospel and the thinking of the Word affects how you do what you do, whether it is evangelistic methodology or how you run a church or how you live your life. It starts with thinking. The question that should come to us as believers is, Okay, how does this process begin? How do we understand Scripture and how do we come to orient our thinking to absolute truth? This is what Paul addresses in the second part of chapter two, beginning in verse 6. He is going to explain what divine viewpoint wisdom is, where it comes from, and why the unsaved person can't comprehend it.

1 Corinthians 2:6 NASB "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away." He is recognizing a general principle of truth here, that those who are mature, those who have a frame of reference in the Word, will understand the truth of what he has just said. Immature believers who have not yet fully gone through that process of understanding how Scripture addresses things and how God's Word is completely and radically different from man's thinking, how divine viewpoint is a radical break from human viewpoint, will not fully comprehend this truth. They have not arrived yet to that point in their growth but Paul recognizes that those who are mature will grasp the principle. The wisdom of which Paul speaks is what we call divine viewpoint, is "not of this age." That is a genitive of source and indicates that the source of the wisdom is not of this age, and "age" here is a term that is not related to a dispensation but is related to this world. It is a temporal concept and it is related to the same term that is used of Satan in 2 Corinthians 4:4, that he is the god of this age. That is not a term that is related to a dispensation per se but is related to this world's system and this time frame from the fall in Genesis chapter three up to the return of Jesus Christ at the second advent. So this wisdom does not have its source in this age, in this time period, in the culture that dominates the world system which has its origin in Satan. "…nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away [coming to nothing]." The "rulers" here has to do with the phrase that refers to those who are first and foremost. The root in the Greek is ARCHON [a)rxwn], which means first or foremost and can apply to rulers and also to primary thinkers, human viewpoint philosophers. Paul is saying that you add up all that they are saying, and even though there are elements of truth there, all comes to nothing because their whole framework, their frame of reference, is false. It is nothing compared to what God has said. That is why it is so important for believers to not just exchange the details of their thinking but the framework of their thinking.

In contrast: [7] "but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden {wisdom} which God predestined before the ages to our glory." Mystery is a key term here and Paul is beginning to use a double entandre here, the reason being that in Greek culture the term "mystery" [musthrion] was a kind of catch phrase for a group of religions that they had called the Greek mystery religions. It was the idea of secret fraternities which had initiation rites. Once you went through the initiation rites and were a member of that group then you automatically had a higher level of spirituality. The Corinthians had come out of that background and one of the mystery religions that dominated in Corinth was the worship of Dionysius. So Paul is addressing their problem there in very subtle ways by using these words that they had brought along from their Greek culture, and he is redefining them in terms of divine viewpoint. So we have to be careful here because he is very subtle in the way he is addressing their particular background and problems. He is emphasizing here that this is the wisdom of God, a musthrion; but biblically, and in terms of the technical definition, it refers to a previously unrevealed truth. So he introduces by the use of the word the concept of revelation, that God is the one who is involved in revealing Himself to man. This is a basic proposition, a) that God exists, and b) that God is a God who communicates clearly about Himself to His creatures; that if God can communicate, and if He is communicating to His creatures, then He is communicating in a way that can be understood by His creatures. "…the hidden {wisdom} which God predestined before the ages to our glory." In this context this mystery is not so much how Paul uses it in Ephesians when he is talking about the unrevealed truths related to the church age, but here he is talking about the fact that God's revelation is a mystery to unbelievers; it is unrevealed to unbelievers. How do we know that? Because in verse 9 is a quote to substantiate this point from the Old Testament. If the use of musthrion here was a reference to church age truth, then he wouldn't be going to an Old Testament passage to substantiate it, because the whole point that Paul making in Ephesians when he uses the word is that church age doctrine, even the reality of the church age, was not present, not known, not revealed, in the Old Testament. The prophets were not aware that there would be this intercalation between the first advent of Christ and the second coming of Christ, and that there would be a special age between the two. So here he is using musthrion in a much broader sense in terms of the fact that there is revealed truth that has not been revealed to the Gentiles; they have not understood this.

[8] {the wisdom} which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." This is the same term we had back in v. 6, that is, all of the philosophers, all of the thinkers, all of the great men of the ancient of the ancient world who were probing the mysteries of the universe, did not understand any of this. They may have come up with some great ideas but they lacked absolute truth. If they had been aware of what had been revealed and understood its true import—that would include both the Gentiles and the Jews in their involvement in the crucifixion of Christ. The inference here is that even the Jews did not accurately understand and interpret that which had been revealed to them. It was still a mystery to them. Why? Because they were unbelievers, and unbelievers do not understand the truth of God's Word because they are incapable of doing so. There has to be a special work of God the Holy Spirit to make it clear and that is going to start with the gospel. What this passage is going to say is that it is not that unbelievers can't come to some knowledge or level of understanding of what the Scripture says but he can't come to an applicational level, he can't put these things together and come up with a true frame of reference because the missing ingredient is that he is spiritually dead and spiritually ignorant. What this passage is saying is that the unbeliever is basically spiritually brain dead and that there will always be certain elements missing. Because he is living in God's world and according to God's laws he is going to have to operate according to those eternal laws to some degree.

[9] "but just as it is written, "THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND {which} HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM." This is a quote from Isaiah 64:4 and it emphasizes two things. First, absolute or that frame of reference of divine viewpoint can't be understood through empiricism. Empiricism is that philosophical system of knowledge which says that we can know absolute truth on the basis of sense knowledge. It always falls apart because the basic presupposition of empiricism is that the finite mind of man us capable of moving from finite truth to infinite truth, and that has been disproven in many different cases. So empiricism is always bankrupt, you can't get to God and the absolutes of God on the basis of empiricism alone. "The "heart of man" is the Greek word KARDIA [kardia] which usually applies to the heart of rhe matter, the very core or essence of something, so when it refers to the soul is refers to that which is at the core of the soul, our thinking. The Psalmist said, "As a man thinks in his soul, so is he." The core of what makes us what we are is how we think. The Bible uses two different words to talk about the thinking of the soul. The innermost is the KARDIA where our most deeply held positions and beliefs are, and there is the outer core of this thinking which is called the NOUS [nouj]. So there are two areas where there is intellection or thinking going on inside of the soul. So Paul says the starting point isn't the heart either—"not entered into the heart of man." In other words, this is the position of rationalism, that man can start with just the first principles of his thinking alone, and then on the basis of reason alone move from finite thought to infinite reality. That always falls apart because, once again, the basic assumption or presupposition is in the ability of human intellection to come to infinite truth. It leaves out the fact that human thought is always distorted by the fall of Adam and by original sin and therefore man, while he may arrive at certain truths related to creation, he can't ever make that leap from the creation to the creator on his own. That doesn't mean that man doesn't know that God exists but it doesn't give him any contact. Non-verbal revelation, the fact that there is a creation that tells us there is order in the universe, doesn't tell us anything about Him: that he is a God of love, that he is eternal, that He has given us His Son. Man can know that He is there but he doesn't know anything about Him. So man through rationalism and empiricism can't get to the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

In this quote from the Old Testament we have to pay attention to a couple of key ingredients or we are going to have a real problem when we get down to the rest of this passage. It starts off in the Greek with "things which eye has not seen," and the first word in the Greek HA [a(], a neuter plural relative pronoun. Then it is repeated again: "things which God has prepared for those who love him." So the "things" here refers to doctrine, special revelation, the content of Scripture. This quote comes from the Old Testament, and that means that this is not talking about specifically church age procedure, it is something that is true in the Old Testament dispensation of Israel before the cross. The basic dynamic of what this verse is talking about has to be something that is true in the pre-Pentecost era as well as the post-Pentecost era. This should be noted because the key word throughout the whole passage is the Greek word PNEUMA [pneuma], and there are various meanings for this word in Greek. The basic meanings are wind and breath. In some places it has the idea of thought. It refers to the immaterial part of man in a very general sense. It can also refer to the Holy Spirit, the PNEUMA HAGIOS [pneuma a(gioj]. It can also refer to something that man lost when Adam fell and that he recovers at salvation, and that is the human spirit. We have to be careful, the context will determine which meaning PNEUMA has, because there are various places in Scripture, and this is one of them, where Paul uses the word within four or five verses of each other in four or five different ways. If we are not careful and don't think though and compare other Scripture with this Scripture we can easily come to some wrong conclusions about what Paul is saying here. That is why it is important to understand that the things God has prepared for those who love Him, the doctrine that is revealed, is Old Testament as well as New Testament revelation. Therefore at the core level the key element here is not going to be the Holy Spirit but the human spirit.

[10] "For to us God revealed {them} through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God." "For to us God has revealed," constative aorist tense, referring to an event in the past without regard to its continuation, without regard to its process. Literally, "through the Spirit." There is no "his" in the Greek text. That is the Holy Spirit. The "them" is Old Testament revelation. It is the Holy Spirit because God the Holy Spirit who is the member of the Trinity who revealed Old Testament truth and was the agent of inspiration and revelation in the Old Testament.

[11] "For who among men knows the {thoughts} of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the {thoughts} of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." Here we use "spirit" in a different sense. Literally in the Greek this reads, "Who among men—a genitive that refers to one among many—knows the things of men." Again here "things" is neuter plural, so the things of man here is going to refer to thought, to content. "Spirit" here refers to the immaterial part of man, just a general term for his thinking, his inner nature; it is not a technical use at all. The reason Paul uses the word PNEUMA here for the innermost thinking of man is because he is going to se it in parallel with the Spirit of God in order to draw a contrast. So it is an extremely subtle stylistic device to get out attention. He then goes on to say, "Even so the {thoughts} of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." Here we have the phrase in the Greek, TA PNEUMA TOU THEOU [ta pneuma to qeou]. TOU THEOU is a genitive of source—"from the source of God."

[12] "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the [human] Spirit [spirit] who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God." In this verse "spirit of the world" equals the thinking of the cosmic system, human viewpoint thinking. We haven't received that, we are in contrast to that; "but the Spirit who is from God." This is important because above we said that TA PNEUMA TOU THEOU equals the Holy Spirit. There are three other times in this section where Paul uses this same phrase. Here he says TA PNEUMA EK TOU THEOU [ta pneuma e)k tou qeou]. Why does Paul in this one instance use a preposition that he doesn't use in those other phrases? EK is the preposition for source or origin; TOU THEOU gets you that, it is the genitive of source or origin. So why does he insert EK? Because it is a different spirit. Here it is TA PNEUMA EK TOU THEOU. What is the spirit that comes from the source of God? The EK here is going to emphasize that this is a different spirit, the human spirit. We have received the human spirit at the instant of salvation. The human spirit allows us to have a relationship with God and understand spiritual truth. We "have received," and this is the aorist tense of LAMBANO [lambanw] which emphasises an event that occurred in the past. Most Bibles have this word "spirit" capitalized here but it should be a lower case "s." "…so that we may know the things freely given to us by God." It has to be lower case because if this was upper case Paul would be saying you can't understand Old Testament revelation without the Holy Spirit, and the Jews in the Old Testament were not given the Holy Spirit to teach them. Therefore the implication would be, if this is the Holy Spirit, that Old Testament believers couldn't understand the truth of God's Word; and that is false. So whatever we received that helps us to understand this revelation is something that is common to believers in the Old Testament and believers in the New Testament. For that reason this must be understood as a lower case "s".