The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

1 Corinthians 2:6-10 by Cornelius a Lapide

Posted by Dim Bulb on July 4, 2009

2:6 Although we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
28  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
2:9  But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
2:10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, even the deep things of God.

Commentary on 2:6-10

6. Although we speak wisdom among them that are perfect. This wisdom that he speaks among the perfect, that is the faithful, is Christian wisdom, and is concerned with the Cross of Christ, with grace, salvation, and the eternal glory won for us by Christ.  And although the “faithful” are simple, yet in things which belong to salvation they are wiser than Aristotle or any other philosopher.  So St Chrysostom and Anselm.  Moreover, those who have not only been born again by baptism, but also confirmed by the Sacrament of Confirmation, have obtained the Christian perfection, and are perfectly made Christians.  For this reason St Dionysius and others call the Sacrament of Confirmation “the perfecting,” and they call those confirmed “the perfected.”  Irenaeus implies the same (lib. v. c. 6), when he says: “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect, that is, those who have received the Holy Spirit, and by that Spirit speak all tongues just as St Paul did.”

Secondly, and more simply, wisdom here denotes the more hidden and deeper mysteries of the faith, such as the Resurrection, Anti-Christ, Reprobation, Predestination; or a more profound and thorough explanation of the things of faith, such as the mode, counsel, and end of the Incarnation, Passion, and Redemption of Christ; for so St Paul explains wisdom in the verses immediately following.  He does not speak and discourse of this wisdom to beginners, but to those who have advanced and are perfected.  Hence in vs 15, he calls the perfect “spiritual,” and contrasts them with the natural man, with children and carnal men.  He is here impressing on them that, though he may seem to have no human wisdom, yet he has Divine; that although he has given to them, as to children, milk, that is, simple and easy teaching (3:2), yet amongst the perfect he speaks of hidden and Divine wisdom.  The Apostle by these words defends his authority over the Corinthians, who, hearing Apollos, and eloquent and learned speaker, seemed to hold St Paul in little esteem, as a speaker without eloquence or skill.

Yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world.  Anselm, Ambrose, Cajetan, and others understand the devils by the princes of this world, inasmuch as they have their power over the air, the ungodly, and the children of this world.  And they prove from here that the devil, before the Passion of Christ, although he knew that Christ was God, yet did not know that by His death his own empire was to be destroyed, and men redeemed (vs 8).  This is true, but it is truer still when understood of men.

Secondly, St Chrysostom, Theophylact, Anselm, Tertullian, Origen understand by the princes of this world the leaders who excel their fellows in wisdom, wealth, or power.  And therefore St Paul adds, that come to nought, i.e., are done away with, pass by, disappear.  These, too, crucified Christ (vs 8).  Such were Pilate, Annas, Caiaphas, and the other princes of the Jews and Gentiles.

7. but we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery. (1) This is a Hebraism for “the wisdom of the mystery,” that great secret of the Divine counsel, about the Incarnation of the Word, and the redemption of man by Christ, which cannot be attained to by man by any effort of reason-no, nor yet by the angels, as is clear from Eph 5:4-5.  Hence, in 1 Tim 3:16, this wisdom of the mystery is called the great mystery of godliness.  So Theophylact, Ambrose, Œcumenius, commenting on this verse, and Jerome and Leo Castrius on Isaiah 64; also St Leo.  (2) We may understand this wisdom to be concerned with the greatness of the glory of the Blessed, for this was the end of the Incarnation and suffering of the Word.

Secondly, it is simpler to connect the words “in a mystery” with “we speak” rather than with “wisdom.”  Then the meaning is, we speak secretly and to a few, viz., those who are perfect, the spiritual, of this deeper and more hidden wisdom.  Hence Ephrem and Tertullian render the passage: “We speak of the wisdom of God in secret.”  Hence also St Dionysius and others have written books on mystic theology.

8. Which none of the princes of this world knew.  The pronoun is better referred to glory than to wisdom, and the sense is: if this wisdom, or rather this glory and its being predestined in Christ, had been known by Pilate, Annas, Caiaphas, and the other princes of this world, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory, viz., Christ, by whose merits this eternal glory was predestined and prepared for us from eternity.  Gabriel Vasquez comments well upon this passage (lib. i disp. 2, c. 3).  The Apostle tacitly implies that none other of the princes of this world knew this glory and wisdom of Christ.  For, a fortiori, the Jews were wiser than the Gentiles, especially in Divine things; if, therefore, they did not know it, much more were the others ignorant of it.

9. But, as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.  After “but” there is an ellipsis, and we must supply, “this wisdom and the glory which was its end  were hidden from them,” as it is written, &c.  He then quotes Isaiah 64:4

1. Isaiah, in the passage quoted, is speaking of the Incarnation of Christ, and of this present life.  And hence Chrysostom, Ambrose, Theophylact, Œcumenius take this verse of the miracles of Christ, and of the wisdom, virtues, and grace which Christ by living here on earth has imparted to us.

2. It is more agreeable to the context to say that Isaiah seems to fly away in admiration from the Incarnation and manhood of Christ to the celestial glory, which is the fruit and end of the Incarnation of Christ; for such flights and sudden changes are common with the Prophets, because of the sublime and ample light of prophecy which they enjoyed.

This appears from the words used; as, e.g., “Him that waiteth for him,” and “Thou meetest him that worketh righteousness.” He is speaking then of the fruit of the works of the just, viz., the eternal life which we wait for; for the fruit of the Incarnation and faith does not meet them that work righteousness, but those that are sitting in darkness and sin.  So says St Jerome (in Isa 64), St Dionysius (de Cælest. Hierarch. 12), and Vasquez, in the passage above quoted.  Hence St Bernard (Serm. 4 on the Vigil of the Nativity) says: Eye hath not seen that unapproachable light, ear hath not heard that incomprehenisble peace…And why is it that it has not ascended into the heart of man?  Surely because it is a spring and cannot ascend.  For we know that the nature of springs is to seek the rivers in the valleys, and to shun the tops of the mountains; for God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.”

St Augustine, in his “Meditations,” ch. 22 et seqq., and “Soliloquies,” ch. 35 and 36, discourse most beautifully about the greatness of this bliss.  The author too of the ook on “The Spirit and the Soul” (which is found in vol. iii. ch. 36 of St Augustine’s works), very appropriately says on this passage of the Apostle: “As the outward man is affected by temporal things through his five senses, so the inward man, in the life of bliss, is affected by the five ineffable attributes of God through his ineffable love for Him.  For when he shall love his God, He will know him  as a certain light, a voice, a sweet odor, a food, and an inward embrace.  For there shines the lightwhich no place can contain; there sounds the music which no time steals away; there is the sweet odor which no wind can scatter; there is the food which is eaten and yet undiminished; there clings to us the good which knows no satiety; there is God seen without intermission, known without error, loved without disgust, and praised without wearying.”

These words of the Apostle were once the occasion of the conversion of St Adrian, and made him a martyr.  he was a soldier and in the flower of his age, viz., twenty eight years old, and when he beheld the constancy of the Christian martyrs in the tortures that they had to endure for the faith of Christ, he asked them what they expected in return for such sufferings, what enabled them to overcome such tortures.  They replied, “We hope for those good things which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”  by these words Adrian was touched and converted, and he hastened to get himself enrolled in the list of martyrs, and eagerly bore a cruel death at Nicomedia, with his wife Natalia looking on and encouraging him.  This was A.D.  306, under Diocletian.

3. The meaning of this passage will be complete if you combine the two interpretations given above thus: Those good things which Thou, God, through Christ, hast prepared for them that wait for Thee, surpass all our senses, experience, natural understanding, and all human desire, not only in this life in the case of those who have already caught some sounds of Thee, but also chiefly and most properly in future glory,  There will God, who is Himself all that good is, give Himself to the blessed, and will be all in all, as Anselm says.  For by these words of Isaiah, the Apostle proves what he had said, viz., that the wisdom as well as the glory of Christ was secret and hidden, as we saw above.

Neither have entered into the heart of man.  Has not come into the mind of man: no man can by nature think of or understand them.  The heart with the Hebrews stands for the mind.  For, what the heart is to the body-its chief and noblest part, the source and principle of life-that is the mind to the soul.  Moreover, the heart supplies the brain with its vigor, and so is a kind of  handmaid to the imagination and consequently the understanding.  hence Aristotle, though Galen and all other physicians, placed apprehension of external objects not in the brain but in the heart.  He distinguished the vital organs of man by their functions in these verse:

The heart give wisdom, the lung speech, and anger comes from the bile,
The spleen is the cause of laughter, and love comes from the liver.

Where Isaiah has “them that wait for Thee,” St Paul has “them that love Thee.”  The sense is the same, for love is one cause of expectation.

10. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit. St Paul here anticipates an objection.  It might be said, “If eye hath not ween, neither have entered into the heart of man, the wisdom and the glory that Christ has prepared for His friends, how is it that you boast yourself of its possession?”  Paul replies that he know them not by sight, sensation, or by the understanding, but by the inspiration and revelation of God.  Hence, Clement of Alexandria (Pedag. lib. i. c. 6) interprets the phrase, “ear hath not heard,” by adding, “except that ear which was taken up into the third heaven,” viz., Paul’s, who heard with the ear in Paradise mystic words which it is not lawful for a man to utter.  Paul means, then, that God has revealed these things to us by His Apostles and Prophets filled with His Spirit, in order that we may teach you and others.  It appears from this that not only is our longing for bliss and glory supernatual, but that our knowledge of them is also, whether that knowledge be of them in their essence, or merely the obscure and fragmentary knowledge of the Apostles and of all others who are still “in the way.”  Consequently there is not naturally in man any perfect and effectual desire, or appetite, for this bliss.

The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. That is, penetrates into and perceives everything.  For when men want to learn something of which they are ignorant, they are want to search and inquire about it.  But God, without any such searching, knows everything at a glance, and as it were by a single application of His mind (St Thomas, Theodoret, Theophylact).

The deep things of God are the most secret and inward counsels of God.  Amongst them the chiefest is this mystery of man’s glory and redemption by Christ.  All these the Holy Spirit penetrates into and clearly views, because He is of one essence and knowledge with God, and therefore He so “searches the deep things of God,” that nothing in God remains unknown to Him.  His knowledge and sight equal their object, and He knows God as He can be known; i.e., the Holy Spirit, because He is God, comprehends God and His Divinity as completely as He comprehends Himself (Molina part i. qu. 14, a. 3; Theodoret, St Thomas).  From this passage Ambrose and other Fathers prove the Godhead of the Holy Ghost against the Macedonians.  To sum up St Paul’s meaning: the Holy Spirit has revealed to us these mysteries and secrets og God, and therefore He searches and clearly views the deep things of God.


One Response to “1 Corinthians 2:6-10 by Cornelius a Lapide”

  1. […] Cornelius a Lapide on 1 Corinthians 2:6-10. […]

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