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

Father de Piconio’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians 2:6-12

Posted by Dim Bulb on January 28, 2017

2:6  But we speak a wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, who are being destroyed.
2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God, in mystery, which is hidden, which God predestined before the ages to your glory.
2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.

There is an inner or esoteric wisdom in the Christian faith, sublime and lofty mysteries of which St Paul here declares he was not ignorant, and of which he had freely spoken among the perfect, those whose fervor in faith enabled them to embrace and understand them.  It is possible that in these words he reflects somewhat upon the method of Apollo, who with the best intentions, may have somewhat rashly enlarged upon the sublimer truths of theology in the hearing of persons scarcely as yet able to understand them.  Modern commentators, and among them Cornelius a’ Lapide, join in mystery in verse 7 with the verb we speak; we speak of these things only in secret.  Theodoret, however, says: The meaning is not, we speak in mystery; but we tell to men the wisdom which is hid in mystery.  This seems more likely, for if the Apostle talked of these subjects only among the perfect, it would be unnecessary for him to add that he did so in mystery.

What is this hidden wisdom?  First, it is not of this world, secular and mundane; nor like the systems of philosophy accepted by the world.  Nor is it of the princes of this world, from the inspiration of demons and fallen spirits, who are so called in Jn 12:31.  Not a dark system of magian philosophy, the practice of divination and the magic art: all whcih were often imposed, in those days, upon the simplicity of the ignorant and credulous, and were even cultivated by the learned and powerful.  This power over the minds of men, founded in trickery and falsehood, it was one of the objects of the Gospel of Christ to overthrow, and its overthro was one of the results of the spread of the true faith.  Thr princes of this world are being destroyed.  If by the princes of this world is understood earthly rulers and great men, then these are continually passing away, as each dies in turn.

This is what the hidden wisdom is not.  It is, the wisdom of God, and therefore true; and it is hidden in the mystery: that is, the mystery of the incarnation; the splendor of God hidden in the flesh.  Christ, therefore, is the wisdom of Go hidden in mystery.  Not that St Paul concealed from any one the great mystery of the incarnation, which was, on the contrary, the center of all his preaching, ad the most important part of the message he had to deliver: but he treated it in a different manner, according to the capacity of his hearers, as he explains below.  The incarnation, death, and passion, and resurrection of Christ, were proclaimed to all men, as the ground of their redemption.  But the full intent, meaning, and end of Christ’s incarnation, the full significance of the adoption of the sons of God; possibly a prophetic view of the victory of the faith in the coming time; these perhaps were among the sublime mysteries of which the apostle spoke among the perfect, but which all could not at first comprehend.  And this further, that God has foreordained this mystery, from the beginning of time, for our glory-our glorification by the gift of the Spirit of God now, and in eternal life hereafter.  That God was hidden, and as it were annihilated, in the flesh, for the glory of that flesh which he assumed, that is for us human beings, was one of those mysteries which none of the princes of this world knew.  The powers of darkness did not comprehend, and would not believe, the depth of humility and charity in the character of God, which rendered this possible.  Had they known it, they would not have crucified him; because it was his cross which was the instrument of his victory, and gave him his irresistible power over the hearts of men.  Rather than this, they would have allowed him to reign in earthly power and glory, in which case he could not have so completely overthrown their empire among men.  It must be admitted, however, that this interpretation of verse 8 is open to some difficulty, since it implies that the Devil was either ignorant of, or would not believe, the Deity of Christ.  It may be more simple to understand by the princes of this world, in this verse, earthly rulers, as in the expression of St Peter, in Acts 3:17: I know that in ignorance you did it, as also your princes.  If Herod and Pontius Pilate had known that Jesus was the creator of the world, it is hardly to be believed that they would have put him to death,  Not that their ignorance of this truth was sufficient to excuse them, after the miracles Christ had wrought, and the evidence they had of his innocence and sanctity.

2:9  But as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor has ascended into the heart of man what God has prepared for those who love him:
2:10  But to us God has revealed by his Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God.
2:11  For who among men knows what belongs to a man, except the spirit of the man, which is in him?  So also what belongs to God, no one knoweth, but the Spirit of God.
2:12  But we have received not the spirit of this world, but the spirit which is of God; that we may know what is given to us of God:

See Isaiah 64:3 (64:4 in some translations): “From the beginning of the world they have not heard, nor received with their ears, eye hath not seen, O God, without thee, what thou hast prepared for those who wait for thee.”  That is, the great mystery of the Incarnation, beyond human intelligence and expectation; not to be understood or believed without thee, otherwise than by God’s revelation.  And in the Incarnation is included its result, the salvation and ultimate glory of man.  This the Spirit of God has revealed to us, and no other could reveal.  As none knows the secret of a human heart, other than his own, so only the Spirit of God knows, and he knows fully, all the secrets of God.  And this Spirit we have received, no earthly spirit, but the spirit coessential and consubstantial with God (St Athanasius, Theophylact), under whose teaching we know the full extent of the great gifts which have been given to us of God, his Son to redeem us, his Spirit to sanctify us.  And of these mysteries and gifts of God we speak, not in philosophical language, but in words taught us by the Spirit of God.


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