By Hoyt H. Houchen
Question: Please explain 1 Corinthians 2:10,11.
Reply: The passage to be considered reads: “But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God. For who among men knoweth the things of a min, save the Spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.”
In chapter one, Paul had contrasted human wisdom and divine wisdom (1:18-30) and he continues to make this contrast in chapter two. The Greek doted on philosophy, looking with great pride upon such philosophers as Socrates, Aristotle and Plato. Paul had already pointed out that human wisdom was foolish and would be destroyed (1:19-21). He reminds his brethren at Corinth, “And I, brethren, when I came unto you, came not with excellency of speech, or of wisdom, proclaiming unto you the testimony of God” (2:1). Paul did not come to Corinth with eloquence, such as characterized the Greek orators; nor did he employ human wisdom. His speech was rather “in demonstration of the Spirit and power” (v. 4). His words demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit, not the power of man. The wisdom which the apostles spoke was not of this world (human wisdom, v. 6). Then he says in verse 7, “but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden.” The gospel is God’s wisdom and it is provided for man’s salvation. Heretofore it had not been revealed; therefore, it was a mystery. Even the prophets of the Old Testament had prophesied of things about salvation which they themselves did not understand (1 Pet. 1:10, 11).
It was a mystery. A mystery was not something that could not be explained or understood, but something unrevealed and unknown. It became known when it was revealed. Paul’s use of the word “mystery” is also seen in other passages (Rom. 16:25,26; Eph. 3:1-3; Col. 1:24-29). The blessings of this salvation, which in times past, had been hidden are mentioned in verse 9: “but as it is written, Things which eye saw not, and ear heard not, and which entered not into the heart of man, whatsoever things God prepared for them that love him.” These things had been a mystery. Some have used this verse to describe the glories of heaven. Preachers have preached sermons on heaven, using this verse to describe the glories of heaven that await man. Paul is not giving a description of heaven here, therefore to so use this verse to misapply it. The verse refers to the blessings of salvation which come through our Lord Jesus Christ. They had not been revealed to man in times past, so man did now know what was awaiting him. Now they have been revealed. How were they revealed? Paul tells us in verse 10. “But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit.” The King James Version says “by his Spirit” but there is no Greek pronoun in the text for “his.” Since revelation was the function of the Holy Spirit, it is obvious that “the Spirit” is the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the apostles that the Holy Spirit would teach them and guide them into all truth (Jn. 14:26; 16:13). Thus the Holy Spirit revealed the mind of God, that which before had been a mystery. How was the Holy Spirit able to make such a revelation? Paul answers: “for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.” God revealed the salvation of man through the agency of the Holy Spirit.
To help us better understand what he has been saying in verse 10, Paul gives an illustration in verse 11. “For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.” Simply, who can know the thoughts of a man’s mind unless the man himself reveals them? Paul is not saying that man’s spirit is the same as God’s Spirit. The point is: just as God’s Spirit alone knows what is in him, so a man’s spirit alone knows what is in him. God has revealed to us through the Spirit what in time past had been a mystery. It is the wisdom of God for man’s salvation. We can be thankful to God that we have divine revelation whereby we can learn what we must do to be saved and live eternally with him in heaven.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 10, p. 295
May 19, 1988