God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 ESV
Paul was a highly intelligent man. He was well-schooled in all things concerning the Law, having studied under Gamaliel, a well-known rabbi and expert in the Law. Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus did not diminish his intellectual capacity, but it did alter his perspective. After having come to believe that Jesus Christ was the long-awaited Messiah and Savior of the world, he found that he no longer had to rely solely on human reasoning and his own intellectual prowess. He had another resource on which to rely. There had been a time in his life when his oratory skills and debating talents were of great importance to him. But he reminded the believers in Corinth, “When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan” (1 Corinthians 12:1 ESV). In other words, Paul didn’t rely upon his highly-developed and well-honed speaking skills or his personal powers of persuasion. Instead, he said, “I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:3-4 ESV). In fact, his whole approach while ministering in Corinth was intentionally simplistic and one-dimensional. “For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:3 ESV). Why? He gives us the answer: “So that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5 ESV).
But what Paul shared with the Corinthians was anything but simplistic or sophomoric. He had not checked his intelligence at the door or dumb-downed his message. He shared a brand of wisdom that was not of this world. It was not based on human reasoning and could not be grasped by human intellect alone. Paul, who had been a student of the Scriptures and, as a former Pharisee, an expert in the Law, knew that his years of study had not revealed to him what he now knew about God and His plan of redemption. It had been disclosed to him by the Spirit of God. No, Paul explained, “I do speak with words of wisdom, but not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world, who are soon forgotten. No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began” (1 Corinthians 2:6-7 NLT). Had the “rulers of this world” – the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman governmental authorities – understood who Jesus was, they would not have crucified Him. But, in spite of all their collective power and wisdom, they were oblivious to the reality of Jesus’ identity and mission.
Paul makes it clear that the reality of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection were unknowable by men unless the Spirit of God revealed it to them. “These things” regarding Jesus had been revealed to Paul “through the Spirit.” He hadn’t ascertained it on his own. It had not been the result of careful study. His knowledge of the Scriptures had not prepared Him to recognize the Messiah when He came. Even Jesus told the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39 ESV). In their passionate desire to understand the Scriptures, they failed to see the One who is the fulfillment of those very same Scriptures. Paul’s claim was that his knowledge regarding was Christ was the work of the Spirit of God. “For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets” (1 Corinthians 2:10 NLT). It was the Holy Spirit who had revealed to Paul his understanding of and appreciation for the mystery of Christ’s coming and God’s gift of salvation through His Son. He refers to it as the “secret and hidden wisdom of God.”
Jesus accused the Pharisees of trying to find eternal life through the study of the Scriptures alone. But because of their arrogance and pride, they were looking right past the very focus of those Scriptures. It has been and always will be about God’s redemption of man. God is a redeeming God. From beginning to end, the Bible is the story of man’s redemption. And it all points to Jesus. In his letter to the believers living in Galatia, Paul writes, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4-6 ESV). At just the right time, according to God’s perfect, divine plan, He sent His Son. No man could have come up with this plan. And no man is capable of understanding it without help from the Spirit of God. But as Paul says, God has sent the Spirit into our hearts. We have divine assistance. We have been given the ability to understand the deep things of God. Because no one can comprehend the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We are dependent upon Him for all that we know. He is the one who made it possible for us to see and accept Jesus as our Savior. He is the one who makes it possible for us to understand the Scriptures and apply the to our lives. He makes it possible for us to grow spiritually and increase in the knowledge of God. We have within us a divine enabler who makes the deep things, the mysterious, unknowable things of God knowable.