The True Wisdom
1 Corinthians 2:9, 10
But as it is written, Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man…

Often in the Epistles there is a single word on which the whole discussion turns. In the letter to the Romans, it is "righteousness;" to the Colossians, it is "fulness;" to the Hebrews, it is "perfection." In the letter to the Corinthians, it is "wisdom." Those Greeks sought after wisdom. It was nothing to them that the gospel might relieve a troubled conscience or reform an unworthy life, if it did not correspond with their ideas of philosophy. But St. Paul had an answer to give them for which they were not at all prepared. He calmly affirmed that they were incompetent judges of a heavenly wisdom, and that in his gospel to the people there was a philosophy beyond their power of apprehension - "the manifold wisdom of God." Greek philosophy at its best sought to ascertain how man may, by knowledge and the pursuit of virtue, reach up towards the highest good. But the gospel taught that the highest Good had come down to dwell among men; and that, by union in faith to that highest Good, man becomes more than a philosopher - a saint.

I. THE INAPTITUDE OF MAN TO RECEIVE THE DIVINE WISDOM OF THE GOSPEL. This is expressed by a quotation from the Old Testament (Isaiah 64:4): "Eye hath not seen it." The reference is not, as in a well known poem, to "the better land," but to the wisdom of God. When Jesus, the incarnate Wisdom, was on earth, many eyes saw him that could not discern the glory of God in him. And many an eye today sees the position of Christianity in the world, the width of its influence, and the dignity of its institutions, yet does not "see Jesus," and the things which God has prepared in Jesus for those that love him. "Ear hath not heard it." That organ which receives so impartially all communications fails to drink in the wisdom of the gospel. It is closed by earthliness of mind, till the power of God's Spirit unstops it, so to hear that the soul may live. "Neither have entered into the heart," etc. (ver. 9). The heart is hardened, as well as the eye closed and the ear stopped. The spirit of a man of itself knows only "the things of a man," conceives of wisdom and goodness after the manner and measure of man, and so fails to conceive the ways and thoughts of God, and the things which are freely given by him. So the apostle denied that a man untaught by the Spirit, even though he were a Greek, could rightly estimate the gospel. He could remind the disputers and rhetoricians of Greece that their philosophy might sound as jargon to the unlettered, who could not bring to it a sufficient intellectual appreciation. In like manner, the gospel which he preached might seem to them a jargon or a piece of "foolishness," merely because they were out of moral sympathy with it, and had not sufficient spiritual enlightenment to discern and value it. It was the same lesson which our Lord impressed on Nicodemus, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." He can see Churches, preachers, forms of service, but not the kingdom which is "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost," till he is born again.


1. It was made known to holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit. By them it was communicated to the Churches. But all who heard them required the unction of the Spirit, that they might receive and know the truth. No one can say that this is unreasonable. Every kind of knowledge requires for its reception a healthy state of the human understanding; and, when it relates to morals, a healthy condition of the imagination, conscience, and affections, because of the effect which these have on the understanding. In like manner, spiritual things can be interpreted only to spiritual men. The all searching Spirit of God must act on the spirits of men to whom the gospel is proclaimed, and so enlighten and empower them to receive "the deep things of God." Thus boasting is excluded at every point. Boasting of our righteousness is excluded by the work of the Son of God, all sufficient for us; and boasting of our wisdom by the work of the Spirit of God, all sufficient in us. By the Spirit all things are made new. Eye and ear and heart are new. The eye can see, the ear hear, the heart conceive, "the things which are freely given to us of God." What a dignity is this! What a joy! "We have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God." We are taught of God, so as to enter with a new power of discernment into the secret of his covenant and the glory of his gospel. - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

WEB: But as it is written, "Things which an eye didn't see, and an ear didn't hear, which didn't enter into the heart of man, these God has prepared for those who love him."

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