1 Corinthians 2:7 Commentaries: but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1 Corinthians 2:7
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world to our glory:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) In a mystery.—The writer explains in these words the plan on which his speaking of God’s wisdom proceeded, that he dealt with it as the ancient mysteries were dealt with, explaining certain truths only to the initiated, and not to all (1Corinthians 4:1; Colossians 1:26).

Hidden.—Heretofore unrevealed, but now made manifest in Christ and by His teachers (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:10). And this has been in accordance with what God ordained “before the beginning of time,” to our glory, as distinct from the humiliation of the world’s teaching, which is coming to nought.

2:6-9 Those who receive the doctrine of Christ as Divine, and, having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit, have looked well into it, see not only the plain history of Christ, and him crucified, but the deep and admirable designs of Divine wisdom therein. It is the mystery made manifest to the saints, Col 1:26, though formerly hid from the heathen world; it was only shown in dark types and distant prophecies, but now is revealed and made known by the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ is the Lord of glory; a title much too great for any creature. There are many things which people would not do, if they knew the wisdom of God in the great work of redemption. There are things God hath prepared for those that love him, and wait for him, which sense cannot discover, no teaching can convey to our ears, nor can it yet enter our hearts. We must take them as they stand in the Scriptures, as God hath been pleased to reveal them to us.But we speak - We who have preached the gospel.

The wisdom of God - We teach or proclaim the wise plan of God for the salvation of people; we make known the divine wisdom in regard to the scheme of human redemption. This plan was of God, in opposition to other plans which were of human beings.

In a mystery, even the hidden wisdom - ἐν μυστηρίῳ τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην en mustēriō tēn apokekrummenēn. The words "even" and "wisdom" in this translation have been supplied by our translators; and the sense would be more perspicuous if they were omitted, and the translation should be literally made, "We proclaim the divine wisdom hidden in a mystery." The apostle does not say that their preaching was mysterious, nor that their doctrine was unintelligible, but he refers to the fact that this wisdom had been "hidden in a mystery" from people until that time, but was then revealed by the gospel. In other words, he does not say that what they then declared was hidden in a mystery, but that they made known the divine wisdom which had been concealed from the minds of people. The word "mystery" with us is commonly used in the sense of that which is beyond comprehension; and it is often applied to such doctrines as exhibit difficulties which we are not able to explain.

But this is not the sense in which it is commonly used in the Scriptures; see the note at Matthew 13:11; compare Campbell on the Gospels, Dissertation 9; part 1. The word properly denotes that which is "concealed" or "hidden;" that which has not yet been made known; and is applied to those truths which until the revelation of Jesus Christ were concealed from people, which were either hidden under obscure types and shadows or prophecies, or which had been altogether unrevealed, and unknown to the world. The word stands opposed to that which is revealed, not to that which is in itself plain. The doctrines to which the word relates may be in themselves clear and simple, but they are hidden in mystery until they are revealed. From this radical idea in the word "mystery," however, it came also to be applied not only to those doctrines which had not been made known, but to those also which were in themselves deep and difficult to that which is enigmatical and obscure; 1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Timothy 3:16.

It is applied also to the secret designs and purposes of God; Revelation 10:7. The word is most commonly applied by Paul to the secret and long concealed design of God to make known his gospel to the Gentiles; to break down the wall between them and the Jews; and to spread the blessings of the true religion everywhere; Romans 11:25; Romans 16:25; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 3:9; Ephesians 6:19. Here, it evidently means the beauty and excellency of the person and plans of Jesus Christ, but which were in fact unknown to the princes of this world. It does not imply, of necessity, that they could not have understood them, nor that they were unintelligible, but that, in fact, whatever was the cause, they were concealed from them. Paul says 1 Corinthians 2:8, that had they known his wisdom, they would not have crucified him - which implies at least that it was not in itself unintelligible; and he further says, that this mystery had been revealed to Christians by the Spirit of God, which proves that he does not here refer to that which is in itself unintelligible; 1 Corinthians 2:10. "The apostle has here especially in view the all-wise counsel of God for the salvation of people by Jesus Christ, in the writings of the Old Testament only obscurely signified, and to the generality of people utterly unknown" - Bloomfield.

Which God ordained - Which plan, so full of wisdom, God appointed in his own purpose before the foundation of the world; that is, it was a plan which from eternity he determined to execute. It was not a new device; it had not been got up to serve an occasion; but it was a plan laid deep in the eternal counsel of God, and on which he had his eye forever fixed. This passage proves, that God had a plan, and that this plan was eternal. This is all that is involved in the doctrine of eternal decrees or purposes. And if God had a plan about this, there is the same reason to think that he had a plan in regard to all things.

Unto our glory - In order that we might be honored or glorified. This may refer either to the honor which was put upon Christians in this life, in being admitted to the privileges of the sons of God; or more probably to that "eternal weight of glory" which remains for them in heaven; 2 Corinthians 4:17. One design of that plan was to raise the redeemed to "glory, and honor, and immortality." It should greatly increase our gratitude to God, that it was a subject of eternal design; that he always has cherished this purpose; and that he has loved us with such love, and sought our happiness and salvation with such intensity, that in order to accomplish it, he was willing to give his own Son to die on a cross.

7. wisdom of God—emphatically contrasted with the wisdom of men and of this world (1Co 2:5, 6).

in a mystery—connected in construction with "we speak": We speak as dealing with a mystery; that is not something to be kept hidden, but what heretofore was so, but is now revealed. Whereas the pagan mysteries were revealed only to a chosen few, the Gospel mysteries were made known to all who would obey the truth. "If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost" (2Co 4:3), "whom the God of this world hath blinded." Ordinarily we use "mystery" in reference to those from whom the knowledge is withheld; the apostles, in reference to those to whom it is revealed [Whately]. It is hidden before it is brought forward, and when it is brought forward it still remains hidden to those that are imperfect [Bengel].

ordained—literally, "foreordained" (compare 1Co 2:9), "prepared for them that love Him."

before the world—rather, "before the ages" (of time), that is, from eternity. This infinitely antedates worldly wisdom in antiquity. It was before not only the wisdom of the world, but eternally before the world itself and its ages.

to our glory—ours both now and hereafter, from "the Lord of glory" (1Co 2:8), who brings to naught "the princes of this world."

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery; we preach the gospel, where the righteousness in which alone men can another day appear, and be accepted before God, is revealed from faith to faith. It is indeed a sacred secret, a mystery to many men, but it is the wisdom of God, a doctrine directing the best means to the best end of man.

Even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: it is hidden wisdom: it was ordained of God before the world unto our glory, the way of salvation for man, which he had from all eternity ordained and decreed; but it lay hidden in the secret counsels of God till the latter ages of the world, when it pleased God to send forth his Son into the world to publish it, and after him to appoint us to be the preachers and publishers of it. But we speak the wisdom of God,.... Not of men, not of the wise politicians, the learned philosophers and Rabbins; that which human wisdom has no hand in forming, nor in revealing, nor in propagating, and which is disliked and disapproved of by it: the Gospel is the sole produce of divine wisdom, and in which there is a glorious display of it; even in those doctrines which are the most charged with folly, as salvation by a crucified Christ, justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, satisfaction by his sacrifice, &c.

in a mystery; it is mysterious wisdom. The Gospel is full of mysteries; there is the mystery of God, of a trinity of persons in the divine essence; the mystery of Christ, of his person, as God manifest in the flesh, of his divine sonship, and incarnation in the womb of a virgin; the mystery of the Spirit's grace in regeneration, of the saints' union to Christ, and communion with him, the resurrection of the same body, the change of living saints at Christ's coming, with many others:

even the hidden wisdom; the Gospel lay hid in God, in the thoughts of his heart, in the deep things of his mind, the counsels of his will, and purposes of his grace; it was hid in Christ, in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; it was hid under the types and shadows of the ceremonial law; and is hid in the Scriptures, which must be diligently searched for it, as for hidden treasures. It was hid from angels, and from Adam, until revealed; it was in some measure hid from the Jews under the former dispensation, to whom it was made known; and in some sense from believers, under the present dispensation, who as yet know it but in part; and is entirely hid from natural men, even from the most wise and prudent among them. This epithet expresses the preciousness, secrecy, and also security of the Gospel; hidden things being commonly of value, and being kept secret, are also safe; hidden and secret wisdom has been always esteemed, both by Greeks and Jews: hence that saying (u) of the latter,

"he that would be rich in learning of the law, "and that wisdom which is hidden", in a hidden and secret place, should hide and secrete himself from the children of men.''

The apostle adds,

which God ordained before the world. The Egyptians and Grecians boasted much of the "earliness" of their wisdom, but neither of them are to be mentioned with the Gospel for the antiquity of it; it is the birth of God's counsels of old, the produce of his purposes, which he purposed in Christ before the world was; a scheme of things he drew in his eternal mind; it is a transcript of the council of peace and covenant of grace, which were from everlasting; what the Jews (w) say of the law, is much more true of the Gospel,

"that it was treasured up with God (they say two thousand years, and sometimes nine hundred and seventy four ages), before the world was created;''

and often speak of it as one of the seven things created before the world was (x). Moreover, this was to our glory; under the present dispensation, which by reason of the Gospel has a glory in it surpassing the former; it is to the glory both of the ministers of it, whose honour it is to be employed in preaching it, and in being by it the instruments of converting such who will be their glory another day, and to the glory of all believers who are by it called to the obtaining of the glory of Christ Jesus.

(u) Caphtor, fol. 81. (w) T. Bab. Zebacbim, fol. 116. 1. Zohar. in Exod. fol. 20. 4. & 35. 1, 2. & 66. 3. & in Numb. fol. 66. 3.((x) T. Bab. Pesachim. fol. 54. 1. Nedarim, fol. 39. 2. Zohar. in Lev. fol. 14. 4. Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Genesis 3.24.

{5} But we speak the wisdom of God in a {g} mystery, even the hidden wisdom, {6} which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

(5) He shows the reason why this wisdom cannot be perceived by those excellent worldly intellects: that is, because it is indeed so deep that they cannot attain to it.

(g) Which men could not so much as dream of.

(6) He takes away an objection: if it is so hard, when and how is it known? God, he says, determined with himself from the beginning, that which his purpose was to bring forth at this time out of his secrets, for the salvation of men.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 2:7. Θεοῦ σοφίαν] God’s philosophy, of which God is the possessor, who has made it known to those who proclaim it, 1 Corinthians 2:10. This Θεοῦ is with great emphasis prefixed; the repetition of λαλοῦμεν, too, carries with it a certain solemnity, comp Romans 8:15; Php 4:17.

ἘΝ ΜΥΣΤΗΡΊῼ] does not belong to ΤῊΝ ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ. (with which it was connected expressly as early as Theodoret; comp Grotius: “quae diu in arcano recondita fuit”), but to ΛΑΛΟῦΜΕΝ (Erasmus, Estius, Rückert, Schrader, de Wette, Osiander, Hofmann), not, however, in the sense: “secreto et apud pauciores” (Estius, Cornelius a Lapide), since there is no mention of a disciplina arcani (see on 1 Corinthians 2:6), but rather: by means of a secret, i.e. by our delivering what has been secret (a doctrine hidden from the human understanding, and revealed to us by God, see on Romans 11:25). To this is to be referred also the rendering of Rückert and Neander: as a mystery. Most interpreters, however, join ἐν μυστηρίῳ with ΣΟΦΊΑΝ, sc[362] οὖσαν: God’s secret wisdom (unknown but for revelation). So also Pott, Heydenreich, Billroth, Tittmann, Usteri, Ewald. But the article, although after the anarthrous σοφίαν not in itself absolutely necessary, would be omitted here at the expense of clearness. Paul would have expressed himself with ambiguity, while he might easily have avoided it by ΤῊΝ ἘΝ ΜΥΣΤΗΡΊῼ. On the other hand, if he joined ἘΝ ΜΥΣΤ. to ΛΑΛΟῦΜΕΝ, he could not, seeing that he wished to prefix λαλ. for the sake of emphasis, write otherwise.

ΤῊΝ ἈΠΟΚΕΚΡ.] as respects its nature, by virtue of which it not only had been hidden from all preceding generations, but remained unknown apart from divine revelation. Comp 1 Corinthians 2:9-10; Romans 16:25. The word, which in itself might be dispensed with, is added in order to introduce the following statement with completeness and solemnity.

ἫΝ ΠΡΟΏΡ. Ὁ ΘΕῸς Κ.Τ.Λ[364]] There is no ground here for supplying (with the majority of expositors, including Pott and Heydenreich) ἀποκαλύπτειν, γνωρίσαι, or the like, or (with Olshausen) a dative of the person; or yet for assuming, as do Billroth and Rückert, that Paul meant by ἥν the object of the wisdom, the salvation obtained through Christ. For προώρ. has its complete and logically correct reference in εἰς δόξαν ἡμ. (comp Ephesians 1:5), so that the thought is: “to which wisdom God has, before the beginning of the ages of this world (in eternity), given the predestination that by it we should attain to glory.” This εἰς δόξ. ἡμ. corresponds significantly to the τῶν καταργ. of 1 Corinthians 2:6, and denotes the Messianic glory of the Christians which is to begin with the Parousia (Romans 8:17; Romans 8:29 f.; 1 Thessalonians 2:12). That wisdom of God is destined in the eternal divine plan of salvation not to become (Hofmann) this glory, but to establish and to realize it. This destination it attains in virtue of the faith of the subjects (1 Corinthians 1:21); but the reference to the spiritual glorification on earth is not even to be assumed as included with the other (in opposition to de Wette, Osiander, Neander, and many older expositors), as also the correlative τῆς δόξης in 1 Corinthians 2:8 applies purely to the heavenly glory. Bengel says well: “olim revelandam, tum cum principes mundi destruentur.” It reveals itself then as the wisdom that makes blessed, having attained in the δόξα of believers the end designed for it by God before the beginning of the world.

[362] c. scilicet.

[364] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.1 Corinthians 2:7. “(We speak … a wisdom not of this world …) but (ἀλλά, of diametrical opposition) a wisdom of God, in (shape of) a mystery.”—ἐν μυστηρίῳ qualifies λαλοῦμεν, rather than σοφίαν (as Hn[340], Ev[341], Lt[342] read it—“couched in mystery”), indicating how it is that the App. do not speak in terms of worldly wisdom, and express themselves fully to the τέλειοι alone: their message is a Divine secret, that the Spirit of God reveals (1 Corinthians 2:10 f.), while “the age” possesses only “the spirit of the world” (1 Corinthians 2:12). Hence to the age God’s wisdom is uttered “in a mystery” and remains “the hidden (wisdom)”; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4; also Matthew 13:13 ff. (ἐν παραβολαῖςλαλῶ), Luke 10:21 f.: λαλῶ ἐν μυστηρίῳ = ἀποκρύπτω.—μυστήριον (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51) has “its usual meaning in St. Paul’s Epp.,—something not comprehensible by unassisted human reason” (El[343]; for a full account see Ed[344], or Bt[345], on the term). The Hellenic “mysteries,” which flourished at this time, were practised at night in an imposing dramatic form; and peculiar doctrines were taught in them, which the initiated were sworn to keep secret. This popular notion of “mystery,” as a sacred knowledge disclosed to fit persons, on their subjecting themselves to prescribed conditions, is appropriated and adapted in Bibl. Gr[346] to Divine revelation. The world at large does not perceive God’s wisdom in the cross, being wholly disqualified; the Cor[347] believers apprehend it but partially, since they have imperfectly received the revealing Spirit and are “babes in Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:1 ff.); to the App., and those like them (1 Corinthians 2:10 ff.), a full disclosure is made. When he “speaks wisdom among the ripe,” P. is not setting forth esoteric doctrines diff[348] from those preached to beginners, but the same “word of the cross”—for he knows nothing greater or higher (Galatians 6:14)—in its recondite meaning and larger implications,—as, e.g., in 1 Corinthians 15:20-27 of this Ep. (where he relents from the implied threat of 1 Corinthians 3:1 ff.), in Romans 5:12-21; Romans 11:25 ff., or Colossians 1:15 ff., Ephesians 5:22-32.—τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην expands the idea of ἐν μυστηρίῳ (see parls.): P. utters, beneath his plain Gospel tale, the deepest truths “in a guise of mystery”—“that (wisdom) hidden away (ἀπὸ τ. αἰώνων, Colossians 1:26), which God predetermined before the ages unto (εἰς, aiming at) our glory”. That the Gospel is a veiled mystery to many accords with past history and with God’s established purpose respecting it; “est occulta ante-quam expromitur: et quum expromitur, tamen occulta manet multis, imperfectis” (Bg[349]). The “wisdom of God” now revealed, was destined eternally “for us”—“the believers” (1 Corinthians 1:21), “the called” (1 Corinthians 1:24), “the elect” (1 Corinthians 1:27 ff.), “those that received the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10 ff.), as men who fulfil the ethical conditions of the case and whom “it has been God’s good pleasure to save” (1 Corinthians 1:21); see the same thought in Ephesians 1:4 ff. This δόξα is not the heavenly glory of the saints; the entire “ministry of the Spirit” is ἐν δόξῃ and carries its subjects on ἀπὸ δόξης εἰς δόξαν (2 Corinthians 3:8-18); His ἀπαρχὴ effects a glorious transformation, by which the base things of the world put to shame its mighty (1 Corinthians 1:27 ff.), and “our glory” overthrows “the rulers of this world” (1 Corinthians 2:6), “increasing as theirs wanes” (Lt[350]), cf. Romans 8:30. This present (moral) glory is an “earnest” of “that which shall be revealed” (Romans 8:18 f.). For προώρισεν, marked out beforehand, see parls., and notes to Romans 8:29 f.

[340] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[341] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[342] J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).

[343] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[344] T. C. Edwards’ Commentary on the First Ep. to the Corinthians.

[345] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[346] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[347]
Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[348] difference, different, differently.

[349] Bengel’s Gnomon Novi Testamenti.

[350]
J. B. Lightfoot’s (posthumous) Notes on Epp. of St. Paul (1895).7. the wisdom of God in a mystery] The distinction between faith wisdom and knowledge in St Paul’s writings would appear to be this. Faith is the fundamental principle of Christianity, whereby the life of God in Christ is received into the heart; wisdom is the power of insight into things Divine revealed to faith; knowledge the effect of Christian experience and study upon him who possesses the life of faith. For mystery see ch. 1 Corinthians 4:1.

hidden] Not only from men but also from angels and heavenly powers. See Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:10; 1 Peter 1:12.

which God ordained before the world] Literally, before the ages. Cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:26; Revelation 13:8. The whole scheme of man’s redemption was in the mind of God from all eternity. The fall of man and his restoration, the wondrous fact of salvation through Christ, were decreed in the counsels of the Most High before the world was.1 Corinthians 2:7. Ἐν μυστηρίῳ, τὴν ἀποκεκρυμμένην, in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom]) It is concealed before it is brought forward, and when it is brought forward, it still remains hidden to many, namely to those that are imperfect.—προώρισεν, ordained before) The allusion is to hath prepared, 1 Corinthians 2:9.—πρὸ, before) therefore it does not come to nought, 1 Corinthians 2:6. This wisdom very far surpasses worldly wisdom in antiquity.—αἰώνων, the ages [of the world]) in the plural. The antithesis to it is, of this world, 1 Corinthians 2:6.—εἰς, unto) that it may be our glory; comp. the following verse, and glorying, 1 Corinthians 1:31.—δόξαν) glory, from the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:8, afterwards to be revealed, at the time when the princes of the world shall come to nought. It is an antithesis to, mystery.Verse 7. - In a mystery; that is, "in a truth, once hidden, now revealed." The word is now used for what is dark and incomprehensible, but it has no such meaning in the New Testament, where it means "what was once secret, but has now been made manifest" (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:4, 9; Colossians 1:26; 1 Timothy 3:16). It implies the very reverse of any esoteric teaching. Hidden. It was "hidden from the wise and prudent, but revealed to babes" (Matthew 11:25). Before the worlds; literally, before the ages; before time began. Unto our glory. The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews clearly states that "the future age" is in God's counsels subjected, not to the angels, but to man. But "our glory" is that we are "called to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus" (1 Peter 5:10). In a mystery

Connect with we speak. See on Matthew 13:11; see on Romans 11:25. The in (ἐν) has a kind of instrumental force: by means of a mystery; i.e., by delivering a doctrine hidden from the human understanding and revealed to us by God.

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