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1 Corinthians 2:6–8

“We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (vv. 7–8).

Human wisdom has been squarely in focus in 1 Corinthians 1:10–2:5. Paul has labored to show that the cross is at odds with the worldly way of doing things and that those who speak the truth of the cross in weakness are the true servants of God, not those who are wise or clever in speech and use persuasive rhetoric according to the standards of the day. Yet, lest we think the Apostle disdains wisdom altogether, he turns in today’s passage to make it clear that there is a wisdom that is to be commended.

The Apostle states in 2:6–7 that he does teach a “secret and hidden wisdom of God” to the “mature.” The word “secret” is the Greek term myst rion, which is translated “mystery” in other New Testament texts (e.g., Eph. 3:6). In Paul’s letters, a mystery does not refer to something unintelligible or available only to those with a special knowledge. Instead, a mystery is something once hidden but now revealed. Even then, it is something that was not completely hidden but something present more obscurely in the Old Testament and now made crystal clear in the coming of Christ and the revelation of the New Testament. Paul’s use of the term “hidden” to refer to this “secret” wisdom (v. 7) confirms that he has in mind a wisdom that is known clearly only in the fuller new covenant revelation.

Of course, this wisdom consists of the truth that God saves people through the crucified and risen Savior (1 Cor. 1:23; 2:2). This wisdom is so contrary to the world’s wisdom that one can know and believe it only by divine revelation. God’s wisdom in the cross says that victory comes through apparent defeat, for only the defeated and disowned were crucified. God’s wisdom in the cross says that the way to life passes through death, the death of the Savior who bears the curse we deserve for our sin so that we can have eternal life (John 3:16; Gal. 3:13–14). Ironically, the enemies of the Lord thought they were thwarting His plan when they crucified Christ, the Lord of glory. However, they were actually fulfilling His purposes (Acts 4:27–28). Had they known they were achieving God’s ends, they never would have killed Jesus (1 Cor. 2:8).

Such wisdom can be received only by the mature (v. 6), by those who have been given new hearts and minds by the Spirit (John 3:3). The Corinthians were actually part of this group, for they had believed the gospel. But they had temporarily forgotten the wisdom of God in favor of the world and its wisdom.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Today’s passage is a reminder that ultimately, we will not believe in Christ unless the Holy Spirit gives us spiritual eyes to see the truth. That is why, as we work on apologetics and evangelism, we must also pray for the Spirit to give the people to whom we speak new hearts and minds to believe the gospel.


For Further Study
  • Ezekiel 36:26
  • Acts 8:26–40
  • Colossians 1:27–28
  • Hebrews 5:11–14

Christ and Him Crucified

Revelation through the Spirit

Keep Reading The State of Theology

From the January 2021 Issue
Jan 2021 Issue