Summary: Spiritual truths can only be known by those who are born again believers!
HAVING THE MIND OF CHRIST
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
In this passage, Paul writes to the church of Corinth to explain how to discern what was wisdom from God versus that of this world. There were many false teachers. Were the Roman philosophers and their plethora of many gods correct concerning Christ? Was He truly but one god amongst many whose teachings were primitive? Were the Guardians of the Jewish Law correct when they said that Christ was not the Messiah but was yet to come? Even inside of the church, which leader’s teaching should they follow, after all many of them seemed to vary in their opinions? Being close to so many divergent points of view one cannot help but sympathize with a church left wondering how they could tell which one had the truth concerning Christ verses whom was a false teacher! Paul’s statement that one can only discern truth through aid of the Spirit of God is profound and has reaching implications for today’s society.
CHURCH OF CORINTH ISSUES
To interpret this passage correctly one must first understand some of the historical reasons why Paul wrote to the church at Corinth. Plagued with denominational politics, doctrinal disputes and liturgical preferences, one should not be surprised that this letter was addressed to the spiritual babies at the church of Corinth (3:1-2). Living in one of the most prosperous cities in the ancient world, one that prided itself on their lavish lifestyles and tolerance to new ideas, had a profound affect on church unity amongst those who embraced the divergent thoughts of both the Roman and Jewish cultures. Surrounded by numerous pagan religions meant that Christianity was constantly being challenged by the Roman philosophers of their age. To make matters worse factions formed that gave their allegiance either to Paul, Apollos, Cephas or perhaps Christ Himself. While the church of Corinth could boast that they were materially rich, they remained spiritually immature because they had given into the influences that did not know the truth concerning Jesus Christ.
We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.
1 Corinthians 2:6-7, NIV
Paul begins his argument concerning wisdom by pointing out the fact that there are two types of wisdom. First, there is a wisdom that only the mature speak. There is disagreement about what Paul meant by the term “mature.” Some scholars believe mature means those Christians who are no longer babies in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1) but instead have attained a higher level of spiritual maturity. Other scholars claim that since Paul does not talk about the babies of Christ until chapter three, he most likely is referring to any born-again believer. Either interpretation is possible but the “we” that begins this passage seems to favour the mature being Paul and the apostles. Paul later will explain in more detail this type of wisdom.
Second, there is the wisdom of this age. Paul contrasts both mature wisdom that he and the apostles speak against the wisdom of this world. When Scripture talks about worldly wisdom the references are always negative. For example, in dealing with the argument about who is the greatest in the church, Apollos, Cephas or himself; Paul states that while we get to plant seeds in the kingdom of God our service becomes nothing without its foundation Jesus Christ who makes the seeds grow. For Paul knowledge is only wisdom when it comes from our Lord. Paul then warns the church that if any of them believe themselves to be wise by the standards of this age then they should become fools for the “wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight” (vs 19). In talking about those given over to their reprobate minds Paul said “although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and reptiles” (1:22-23). Other authors also talk negatively about worldly wisdom. James calls worldly wisdom demonic (3:15), Isaiah warns against those who are wise in their own eyes (Isaiah 5:21) and Solomon states that worldly knowledge may seem right but in the end, leads to death (Proverbs 16:25).
WISDOM OF THE RULERS OF THIS AGE
To closer examine the contrast between these two types of wisdom lets first look at the wisdom of this world. When Paul refers to the “rulers of this age” to whom is he referring? Let me begin by saying there may not be a clear answer to this question. Numerous commentators have provided some rather convincing arguments for the following four groups of people: the Roman Authorities, Pharisees, demons or possibly a church leaders.