vs. 6-7] Paul is stating that the “wisdom” he preaches is extremely different from the philosophers in Corinth. This wisdom, I believe, relates to God’s sovereign work in history – particularly, in the work of Christ. Paul already mentioned in 2:2 that he “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” Even more so, Paul declared that God had orchestrated all of history, that these plans were progressively revealed over time. “Our glory” probably is similar to the idea portrayed in 2 Corinthians 4:17, that despite earthly opposition and struggle, we will one day have a glorified body while dwelling in the presence of the King of Glory. [vs. 8] Just three decades prior to the writing of First Corinthians, Paul mentions how the people who were responsible in putting Jesus to death were ignorant to who Jesus claimed to be. They mocked him, calling him “King of the Jews” while nailing him to the cross. In chapter 1, Paul had just mentioned that the message of the Gospel is foolishness to the world. They did so, not because they lacked intelligence, but because they are dead in their sins and blind to the truth. [vs. 9] This verse sums up Paul’s point here is that what the world looks at as “foolishness” is actually the most magnificent wisdom ever revealed – we find this in the Scriptures. The Corinthian philosophers could not even come close to obtaining the wisdom of the one true God. [vs. 10-11] Paul is building his argument for he is about to state in verse 12. You see, verses 10-11 are simply clarifying that God has not revealed everything about Himself; in that every human being cannot know God based on their own intellect and thoughts. Philosophy teaches that we can know God (gods) based on study and observation. However, the Bible teaches that without the Holy Spirit we are completely lost. In fact, the only way to God is through the Son, by the Holy Spirit. [vs. 12-13] In these few verses we approach what is called the doctrine of “illumination. [vs. 14] You and I cannot argue, coerce, or trick someone into accepting the Gospel – it is…IMPOSSIBLE. [vs. 15-16] “Spiritual person” is someone who has the Holy Spirit within him; clearly, this is a Christian. Some of the wording here is difficult but is easier to understand with the example of the Church Father, Polycarp. In case you haven’t heard of him, Polycarp lived in the late 1st/early 2nd century under the Roman Empire. He would have escaped martyrdom if he professed, “Caesar is Lord.” Instead, he said, “Eighty-six years I have served Christ, and He never did me any wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Polycarp was a “spiritual person.” (“but is himself to be judged by no one”) The Romans were not able to judge (advise) his beliefs; the Romans government simply thought he was crazy. (“For…instruct him?”) That is a reference to Isaiah 40:13 – no one is able to advise or “counsel” the Lord into making a decision.
- 3 encouraging truths about illumination:
- 1) When we share the Gospel with others and they don’t accept, our text today reminds us why: our message is foolish in the eyes of the unsaved man. We cannot manipulate them with a message that is foolish to them.
- 2) The Holy Spirit is the only one who can open the eyes of the unsaved to truly grasp the message of the Gospel. People do not become Christians because we’re tremendous communicators – (READ 1:27-29)
- 3) The Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians who open up the Word. When we study the Bible in class, in Sunday School, at our church services, in our homes, we should be open to have the Holy Spirit take these 66 books of the Bible so that we might be conformed more to the image of Christ. That’s should be encouraging! God didn’t leave us on earth and say, “here’s a Bible, have at it.” No, we have the power and the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives.