In 1Corinthians 2, we learn two more important works of the Spirit: 1) revelation: The Spirit reveals the thoughts of God to His chosen messengers; and 2) understanding: The Spirit changes the hearts of believers so that we understand and embrace the claims of the gospel.
We saw 2 themes in the first podcast: 1) The Holy Spirit is God’s agent of change; and 2) one of his most crucial works is the inner transformation of the hearts of believers. Without that inner change, we cannot be saved.
In the second podcast, we made the distinction between “universal” and “individual” works of the Spirit. The universal work of the Spirit is the work that the Holy Spirit does in all believers to give us faith. The individual works of the Spirit are gifts and roles the Spirit gives one believer but not another.
That distinction between universal and individual works of the Spirit is crucial to understanding 1Corinthians 2.
- The Apostle Paul wrote 1Corinthians to the church he founded in Corinth.
- 1Corinthians 1-4 deals with the problem of factions in the church. Divisions have developed because some in the church reject Paul’s authority as an apostle and prefer the more eloquent style of Apollos.
- In 1Corinthians 2, Paul is defending his authority and the way he speaks.
2:1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1Corinthians 2:1-5
- The topic in 1Corinthians 2 is Paul’s authority and the way Paul spoke when he was in Corinth. The Corinthians want Paul to speak in a way the world considers “wise.”
- Paul argues that he didn’t seek to impress them with worldly wisdom; rather he taught them wisdom from God.
- The Corinthians should believe Paul’s message because God authenticated it through the miracles Paul performed by the Spirit, not the eloquence of his speech.
6Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. -1Corinthians 2:6-13
- As in many other passages (e.g. 2Corinthians 10:8-11), Paul refers to himself in the 1st person plural in this chapter.
- Paul’s gospel is true wisdom from God and the spiritually mature are his intended audience.
- If we are to understand the gospel, understanding must be given to us by God through the Holy Spirit.
- God gave Paul understanding. Paul speaks from that understanding.
- His wisdom is not deficient because he lacks eloquence. His wisdom is wisdom because it is a revelation from God through His Spirit to Paul.
- The most common work of the Spirit in Scripture is the Spirit as agent of revelation. The Spirit reveals God’s message to God’s chosen messengers.
- Paul’s job as an apostle is to explain the things God has made known to him to those listeners to whom God gives understanding.
14The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16“For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. -1Corinthians 1:14-16
- The “natural person” is a person in whom the Spirit of God has not been at work.
- The “spiritual person” a person in whom the Spirit of God has been at work.
- By nature we all reject the gospel. Only those in whom the Spirit of God has been at work accept it.
- Revelation and understanding are 2 different works of the Spirit.
- Revelation: The Spirit reveals the thoughts of God to God’s chosen messengers. Those messengers then speak their inspired understanding to everyone else.
- Revelation is an individual work of the Spirit granted to God’s chosen messengers.
- Revelation is something no one has understood until God chose to reveal it to His messenger.
- Understanding: The Spirit grants to understanding to believers so that they receive the truth with humility and understanding.
- Understanding is a universal work of the Spirit.
- Understanding is the receptivity to receive God’s message as wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives to all believers.
For more detail and explanation, please listen to the podcast.
Series: Who is the Holy Spirit?
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