Paulís Entrance into Corinth

Paulís modus operandi, upon entering a new town, was to go into the Jewish synagogue first. Here he would find a people who were literate in the Old Testament scriptures, with whom he could reason about the passages prophesying of Christ. After the initial hearing of the gospel, the synagogues usually divided; a few followed the Paul and his fellow preachers into the teaching about Jesus, but most refused to the listen to Godís message of redemption and many became violently hostile to the Word. Hence Paul was hastened out of Macedonia before he finally found some permanence in Corinth. "And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath," is Lukeís recounting, "and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks" (Acts 18:5). The Greeks mentioned were those who actually entered into the synagogue to hear the word of the Lord, but the audience was primarily Jewish. Paul intensified his efforts when Silas and Timothy arrived with a fresh influx of cash, because he could now totally focus on preaching, "solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. And when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said, ĎYour blood be upon your own heads! I am clean. From now on I shall go to the Gentilesí " (Acts 18:5,6). And once he went to the Gentiles, then he directly encountered Greek wisdom and the Greek ways of impressing the audiences.

The apostle wants their faith to be real, since salvation is through faith in Christ. Hence he does not want them to confuse the wisdom of men with the power of God. And he desires that the brethren evaluate all future preaching on the same basis!

The Wisdom of God

Only truth-seekers are going to make it to heaven. God allows all kinds of false doctrines and worldly wisdom to exist, knowing that truth-seekers will be able to sift through the errant claims to get to the truth, and that people whose motives werenít pure will be shunted aside. The apostle Paul bluntly explained this to the Thessalonian brethren: "And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (II Thessalonians 2:11,12). In the wisdom of God, the gospel and its simple presentation are designed to accomplish Godís purpose in weeding out those who are not truth-seekers and letting the sons of the kingdom shine.

Christ "became to us wisdom from God." The saint needs to be educated in what this wisdom is, and what its value is. The wisdom of this age, used by the rulers of this age to establish and maintain their rule, is passing away. But the wisdom of God is eternal. And this is the wisdom the mature saints really desire to possess and use for the glory of God.

The Hidden Wisdom

Sometimes, as the saying goes, things are hidden in plain sight. Thus it is with the wisdom of God. The parables of Jesus, for example, are open and published for anyone to read, in nearly every language in the world. But their meaning is hidden from those who do not really desire to decode a couple of key words, and who do not really make an effort to see what the Lord of the universe is communicating to His disciples. Their meaning is in plain sight, but hidden from those who are spiritually blind. So while God used the signs and wonders to establish that Jesus is the Son of God, and that He is risen indeed from the dead and has ascended to the right hand of power, He wants to move those who now believe these truths toward maturity and an understanding of Godís wisdom.

"We do speak Godís wisdom among those who are mature," was Paulís annotation. Those of us who want to know the Father, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He sent will press on toward this maturity. Those of us who want to know the power of Christís resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings will diligently peruse the scriptures and pursue the sanctification without which no one will see God. For the rest, Godís wisdom will be hidden in plain sight.

Wisdom to our Glory

God has had His plan in motion "before the foundation of the world." The depths of that concept are incomprehensible to the mind of man, which is "time-dependent" in its operation. But the All Knowing affirms it is true, and based on our belief that Jesus is risen from the dead, we can accept it. In a similar fashion, "Godís wisdom, the hidden wisdom," was "predestined before the ages to our glory!" The author of the epistle to the Hebrew brethren brings forth an interesting point: "For it was fitting for Him," he says of the Christ, "for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings" (Hebrews 2:10). Jesusí purpose, for which He had to suffer greatly to accomplish, was to bring many sons to glory. The hidden wisdom of God has the same purpose; it was predestined before the ages to bring the saints to glory!

"Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard," are not references to the second coming of Christ and His taking His saints to heaven. These are references to the great blessings found in Christ, as Paul put it in his letter to the Ephesian brethren: God "has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3). The hidden wisdom is now revealed, and God is executing all these things which He prepared "for those who love Him." It is worth our time to make certain we love God, and are called according to His purpose!

Revealed to the Apostles

God has communicated His hidden wisdom to man in a very specific way. It came from Jesus through the Holy Spirit to the apostles. "I have many more things to say to you," said Jesus to the eleven as they made their way to Gethsemane, "but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:12,13). And when Jesus prayed on the west side of the Kidron as He approached Gethsemane, He invoked the Father, "I do not ask on behalf of these [apostles] alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word" (John 17:20). Everyone who would ever become a Christian would believe through the words of the apostles. No New Testament prophet, even, would have any new information doctrinally to add to what the apostles taught; they would only be given what had already been loosed on the world through the apostles, and they functioned only because there was no written word and because the apostles were already moving on to other locations. Another name for the new covenant teaching, then, is "the apostlesí doctrine" (Acts 2:42).

"Now we have received," averred the apostle, referring to other apostles as well as himself, "not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given by God" (I Corinthians 2:12). The spirit of the world would result in earthly, natural, and demonic wisdom, or the excesses of Greek sophistry. The grand claim here is that Paul and the others received their revelation directly from the Holy Spirit, and God gave them this information regarding His hidden wisdom and the new covenant so that they could teach it to others. No one today can make this kind of claim; the "we" is limited to the apostles. Hence what we are to know concerning the wonderful wisdom connected with the new covenant is all contained in what is written!

Bible Names for Bible Things

The amount of confusion in this world is staggering, and the obfuscation accelerates every day. And the stakes are high. There are only two possibilities: either there is an "afterlife," or there isnít. If there isnít, nothing matters; if there is, a person better know as much about that as possible. Hence it is that God instituted His plan, His "wisdom predestined before the ages," in order to, among other things, establish that Jesus Christ is indeed God, that He has been raised from the dead, and that He has the information and the authority to clear away all the confusion. "If I told you earthly things," said the Lord during the days of His earthly sojourn to Nicodemus, " and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things? And no one has ascended into heaven but He who descended from heaven, even the Son of Man" (John 3:12,13). There is an "afterlife." "An hour is coming," said the Lord in another place, "in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His [the Son of Manís] voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" (John 5:28,29). The stakes are high indeed! So God sent forth His Spirit with the information from Jesus to clear away the confusion, and that the sons of men may make an informed decision about their eternities.

What is really important is that we call Bible things by Bible names; false terminology leads to confusion and ultimately false doctrine. The Holy Spirit wrote the terminology of the Bible, and certainly can communicate His spiritual thoughts through spiritual words. Translations faithful to the original languages will still be able to bring the flow of logic from one language to another, and those definitions for key spiritual terms can be determined. "Whoever speaks," encouraged Peter, "let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God" (I Peter 4:11). Let us be faithful in our use of terminology, using words and wisdom from the Holy Spirit rather than making accommodations with the spirit of this world.

The Natural and the Spiritual Man

Adam was not a spiritual man. He was, as Paul described him later in this epistle to the brethren in Achaia, "from the earth, earthy" (I Corinthians 15:47). So God has to begin with what He calls the natural man, and through that produce a spiritual man, as the apostle Paul put it, "the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual" (I Corinthians 15:46). While natural man and the necessities for sustaining him were created in six days, it took God thousands of years of preparation to produce spiritual man. "When the fullness of the time came," the apostle commented to the Galatian brethren, "God sent forth His Son." The groundwork had been laid through the Jews, and the educational, economic, and political conditions were set for the spread of the gospel. Through the redemption accomplished through Jesus Christ, the Father was thus able to send "forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts" (Galatians 4:4,6). Those obedient to that gospel come forth from the waters of immersion as "born of the Spirit," and now have the potential to develop into the spiritual people that God has always wanted for His fellowship.

Not all saints are yet spiritual men. The goal is to get them to where they really will be walking as Jesus walked.