By Roy Ciampa, Ph.D.
Armstrong Chair of Religion, Samford University
SET APART BUT NOT ALONE
1 Corinthians 2:6–16
We are privileged to have received the wisdom that came to the apostles and prophets through the Holy Spirit. That same Spirit lives within us and seeks to guide us each day.
As God’s children, we have something far greater than worldly wisdom. (6–9)
In Christ, God has shown us true wisdom. It is a wisdom that is at odds with any “wisdom of this age, or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing.”
This is the wisdom of the cross, the wisdom revealed in a crucified Messiah who, while seeming to be powerless and humiliated in the eyes of the world, is known by us to demonstrate the power and glory of God.
The truth of Christ makes no sense to unbelievers and if “the rulers of this age” had known it, “they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Notice the irony at the end of verse 8. Because they lacked knowledge of God’s wisdom, they couldn’t possibly imagine that the One being crucified could be the Lord of glory.
What they perceived in Christ was not glory, but shame. But all those who are mature in Christ find themselves awestruck by the glory of God revealed in Christ on the cross. The completely unexpected nature of God’s wisdom is stressed in Paul’s quotation in verse 9, which seems to be based on Isaiah 64:4.
The Holy Spirit helps us understand the things of God. (10–13)
Our knowledge of God’s world-confounding wisdom has been revealed to us by His Spirit, who knows all things. God has given us His Spirit so that we can know what He has chosen to reveal to us in Christ, “what has been freely given to us by God.” Paul and his apostolic team were able to share the deeper wisdom of God’s Spirit with Spirit-given words to all those who have God’s Spirit living within them, that is, all those who have come to faith in Christ.
Of course, this does not mean we are incapable of misrepresenting God and His truth. We must be careful to make sure we are actually living in light of the true wisdom revealed in Christ by God’s Spirit.
The Holy Spirit helps us see things from Christ’s perspective. (14–16)
The wisdom of God as revealed to us in Christ is confounding to unbelievers since they lack God’s Spirit and still cannot see the truth of God reflected in Christ and His death and seeming helplessness on the cross.
The same Spirit who helps us come to recognize Christ crucified (and resurrected) as the glory of God helps us understand the rest of God’s wisdom, the wisdom of Christ’s demonstration of power through weakness and self-sacrifice.
The person who is truly grasped by God’s Spirit will always seem out of step with the world and will judge all things in light of the truth revealed in Christ.
Unbelievers may seek to judge those who live by God’s wisdom, but they lack the capacity to do so since they don’t know God’s mind, which is revealed in and through Christ as He is mediated to us by the Spirit. In verse 16, Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13 to remind us that the Spirit who lives within us knows God’s mind and helps us discern and live by the mind of Christ.