1 Corinthians 2:9-12

But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.

11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.

it is written (v.9) — Isaiah 4:4 (Isaiah 65:17)

the heart of man (v.9) = understanding

love (v.9) = agape

We usually mistake this [v.9] to mean the things of a glorious hereafter. We understand it to mean the preparations of heaven which neither eye nor ear nor heart can now penetrate but which revelation sets forth. But this is not so. It has no reference to the unknown and unseen glories of heaven, but rather to the possible glories of our present life. It refers to the fruits of redemption to be experienced by men in the body. It refers to the spiritual experiences possible to believers who find them both promised and provided in the Bible. It refers to the things discussed in the context.

We have then two things: first, that which God “hath prepared” in verse nine; and that which God “hath revealed” in verse ten. Both are in the past tense and indicate something done. — Laurin, pages 55-56.

This [v.9] is generally taken to mean heaven, but although we may partially apply it to heaven, the right exegesis may not refer it to heaven and its glory, but to the glories of grace in the Church, for he clearly tells us that God has apocalyptically revealed them to us.

No eye of old had ever seen the mystery and no ear had ever heard it, and it never had entered the heart of an Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, or Daniel, but by His infinite, matchless grace we know about it. The hidden sacred secret is revealed only to the true lovers of God. While the word of Isaiah 64:4 only refers to those that wait for the Messiah, the Spirit in His own right applies it here to all lovers of God. — Bultema, page 17.

to us (v.10) — in ontrast to “the rules of this age” (v.8)

searches (v.10) — not investigation, but penetration and illumination

deep things of God (v.10) — Romans 11:33

The “excellency of speech” and the “persuasive words of man’s wisdom” of verses 1-8, stand in sharp contrast to the simple testimony Paul bore — and to the spiritual power it wielded. But it also stands in contrast to “the deep things of God” discussed in verses 9-13. How shallow and frivolous are “the words which man’s wisdom teaches” compared to the profound truths of “the deep things of God!” — Stam, page 61.

knows (v.11 — 1st use) = perceives from observation — knowledge of ideas and facts

spirit of the man (v.11) — that which perceives, reflects and desires

knows (v.11 — 2nd use) = discerns — understanding of ideas and facts in their relations

freely (v.12) = graciously

Now, in human affairs we are all on the human level and all capable by reason of a common equipment to understand the human mind. It is only by this spirit of man that we understand the things of man. By the same token it is only by the Spirit of God that we understand the things of God. Man must be lifted to the next level, which is the spiritual. On that level the Spirit of God communicates with the spirit of man through the intellect and he is enabled to understand the things of God.

You will be careful to notice that the basis of this communication is spiritual and then mental. The mind is the vehicle of both apprehension and expression, but it is such a mind as is sensitized and energized by the Spirit of God.

Since none but the human spirit can know what is in the human mind, so none but the divine spirit can know what are the thoughts, plans, and purposes of God. This makes the illumination of the Holy Spirit essential in understanding and living the Bible. — Laurin, page 59.

The things that are freely given to us of God [v.12] are of course enjoyed in this life; but they are also things eternal, and we will comprehend their fullness in much greater measure when we see Jesus face to face. However, we rob ourselves of our spiritual birthright if we do not seek to understand all we possibly can about these “things freely given to us of God” while we are here upon this earth in our terrestrial body, even though we will never fully understand until we see Him and are like Him. — Greene, page 110.

I have always assumed, without paying much attention to context, that verse 9 referred to heaven, but I’m now convinced I was wrong (although the glories of heaven certainly enter into it).  I now think that it clearly refers to the mystery of God’s grace as revealed to Paul, as he mentions in verse 7.  It reinforces the fact that salvation by faith alone through grace alone cannot be found in the Old Testament — God revealed this truth “to us by His Spirit” (v.10). The Spirit wasn’t indwelling believers in the Old Testament, or even during the period when Christ was on earth, except on special, temporary occasions. It is through the Spirit that we can understand the mystery. I think that failure to understand the distinctive nature of Paul’s message will result in failure to fully understand the deep things of God contained in the mystery.

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