First Corinthians - Part 6


Last time we looked at the wisdom of God and discovered that the book of Corinthians had a high density of words with the stem  σοφ, found in words like sophia. 

If you are interested in the subject of wisdom then the book of 1 Corinthians is a great place to start. It is also instructive to note that the second to last book on the list of high density wisdom books is the prison epistle of PAul, Colosiians. We reviewed our age and the surpassing riches lavashed on us by Christ and the wisdom that has been sent (apostled) to us through the prison ministry of PAul. The Lord's work has given us a great place in God also, our hope is unprophesied and our calling is higher than the heavens. 

In this lesson we will continue the subject of God's wisdom and particularly the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery.

Chapter 2:1-16

The first verse comes with a textual difference in the King James. τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Θεοῦ (1Co 2:1 TBT) as opposed to the word for mystery (musterion). We have no problem believing what God has preserved and honoured.

1 ¶  And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

 Κἀγὼ ἐλθὼν πρὸς ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ἦλθον οὐ καθ᾽ ὑπεροχὴν λόγου ἢ σοφίας καταγγέλλων ὑμῖν τὸ μαρτύριον τοῦ Θεοῦ. (1Co 2:1 TBT)

The sentence begins with Paul's temporal coming and emphasizing that when he came preaching the testimony of God it was NOT with excellence of speech, it was NOT with excellency of wisdom. This emphasis and urgency is seen in the putting off of the descriptives of what he did when he came till the last "declaring unto you the testimony of God." 


Leedy NT Diagram conformed to Textus Receptus

The diagram for the sentence shows this more clearly. The proclamation was not with excellency of word or wisdom. 

2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
2  οὐ γὰρ ἔκρινα τοῦ εἰδέναι τι ἐν ὑμῖν, εἰ μὴ Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. (1Co 2:2 TBT)

The point I wish to draw your attention to is the word "κρίνω" in the aorist tense here. This word means "to judge" and is used extensively in the book of 1 corinthians (the stem krin is used 31 times). Paul made a judgment that it was necessary to go no further than the gospel. It would be a mistake to take these passages and infer that we must always preach the baby food. The deeper things belong to the perfect, the Corinthians were divided and immature. They must wait till they grow in Christ before the deeper things of God should be ministered to them. They manifested real signs and wonders yet they were babies! Do you think we can learn from this in the age we live? I think there are some very sobering lessons we can take.


In Chapter 3 Paul says this

1 ¶  (AV) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
1  (TR) και εγω αδελφοι ουκ ηδυνηθην λαλησαι υμιν ως πνευματικοις αλλ ως σαρκικοις ως νηπιοις εν χριστω

2  (AV) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
2  (TR) γαλα υμας εποτισα και ου βρωμα ουπω γαρ ηδυνασθε αλλ ουτε ετι νυν δυνασθε

3  (AV) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
3  (TR) ετι γαρ σαρκικοι εστε οπου γαρ εν υμιν ζηλος και ερις και διχοστασιαι ουχι σαρκικοι εστε και κατα ανθρωπον περιπατειτε

The influence of the world was such that the Corinthians were drawn by the art of words and rhetoric and Paul now draws their attention to the simplicity of the Gospel for this is all they can take and further this is all they should have given their situation.

3  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
4  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
5  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

It is very clear here that Paul was concerned and drained, his responsibility to the Lord included making a judgment (krinw) concerning the degree and type of instruction and this meant that man's methods of words and rhetoric had no place at all.
Some would say that we should not judge, this is a false humility for in order to "not judge" in a given situation you must indeed "judge" Paul says that he that is spiritual judgeth all things" and since we are to be spiritual we should judge as Paul did, this resulted in deeper truths being withheld from the corinthian assembly.

It was the demonstration of the Spirit and power (repeated in verse 5) that these Corinthians needed (Jew first in the Acts) and this they would receive in large measure from the apostle. 

Paul said this in Romans:

Ro 15:19  Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God; so that from Jerusalem, and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.
19  ἐν δυνάμει σημείων καὶ τεράτων, ἐν δυνάμει Πνεύματος Θεοῦ· ὥστε με ἀπὸ Ἱερουσαλὴμ καὶ κύκλῳ μέχρι τοῦ Ἰλλυρικοῦ πεπληρωκέναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ Χριστοῦ· (Rom 15:19 TBT)

These are not available to us but were necessarily a part of the ministry in the Acts.

6 ¶  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
7  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

The word "perfect" here is τελείοις , someone brought to maturity. The truths (wisdom) that Paul would like the Corinthian believers to feed on could not be uttered because though manifesting signs and wonders they were babies. This wisdom did not derive from the world nor of its princes (rulers) all of which amounts to waste and is abolished. τῶν καταργουμένων·  In verse 7 Paul says of the wisdom that he would like the Corinthians to know and understand but at the moment are not ready - "We speak the wisdom of God in a mystery", this wisdom is hidden -- here is the greek:

 7  ἀλλὰ λαλοῦμεν σοφίαν Θεοῦ ἐν μυστηρίῳ, τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, ἣν προώρισεν ὁ Θεὸς πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων εἰς δόξαν ἡμῶν· (1Co 2:7 TBT)

Notice that it is the wisdom that is hid in a secret, this wisdom was hidden which God marked out before the ages "unto your glory". What an amazing thing that what was to be their glory and was carefully maintained for them was still to be a secret till they grew up, till they were perfected. The rulers could include spiritual beings as well as their human agents and emissaries (see John 12: 31; 14: 30; 16: 11 and Eph. 6: 12).

We are in a war and truths can be strategically released and kept secret in order so that the man of war can accomplish His purposes.

9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
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.
14  But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
15  But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
16  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.