Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 2:6-9)

"But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery" (1 Cor. 2:7).

Many times in his epistles Paul asserts that he was not a preacher of human wisdom. Should we, then, infer that Paul despised knowledge, that he was an illiterate enemy of learning, or that he taught nonsense? Far from it! Paul taught the highest wisdom. “The objection urged against Paul was that he did not teach philosophy,” Hodge wrote. “His answer is, philosophy cannot save men. Whatever may be its value within its own sphere and for its own ends, it is worse than useless as a substitute for the Gospel. He was not for banishing philosophy from the schools, but from the pulpit. Let the dead bury the dead; but do not let them pretend to impart life.”

Remember that Paul lived in a day when philosophical debate was a popular pastime. Instead of dealing with the mundane issues of life, many people preferred to explore the speculative notions of philosophy. Many Corinthians had grown comfortable listening to the philosophical banter of rhetoricians. When Paul did not engage in these philosophical debates, or entertain them with human knowledge, they criticized him as unlearned and his teaching as irrelevant. But Paul refused to be intimidated by his critics and continued to preach the pure, simple truth of the Gospel.

As if to rebuke those who accused him of teaching no wisdom because he did not speak philosophically, Paul proclaimed in 2:6–9 that he preached to those who were mature, that he taught the wisdom of God, the hidden wisdom ordained before the ages for our glory. He did not teach human wisdom, but he taught a wisdom of much higher value: the wisdom of God.

Paul calls this wisdom a mystery because it is undiscoverable by human reason. The Gospel cannot be discerned by our fallen faculties. We cannot comprehend it, and if left to ourselves we would never find the way to salvation. Only those who have been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, “the mature,” will grasp this mystery of redemption in Christ because it has been revealed to them from above. The Gospel, the plan of redemption had been ordained of God since before the ages. Its power, its glory, is beyond us; yet God in His mercy has chosen some to know its secrets, and its mysteries have been brought to light for our salvation and our glory.

What are some reasons you do not share the Gospel with others? Is one of them that you are intimidated by the criticism that the Gospel is foolish, that it is not as sophisticated as philosophy? If so, what encouragement does Paul give you in today’s passage? Pray that you will be more confident in the power of the Gospel.