Fifth Sunday After Epiphany: The Epistle Passage – Paul knows nothing?!

When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming the mystery of God to you in lofty words or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:1 – 2)

I have a wry puckish sense of humor, and it amuses me to no end to consider just leaving my posting and commenting to these two verses – the writer of I Corinthians/Paul knowing nothing except . . . ! But I realize it was not his intention to leave himself open like that, and that it was for a specific purpose that he said this. And the same purpose for the verse that follows!

“And I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling.” (Verse 3)

In fact, were I in a different mood, I might employ the same tactic. The purpose is to come before the reader/audience proclaiming no theological understanding but stating just the facts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and the message therein.

“My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God.” (Verses 4 – 5)

Any wisdom that any minister/preacher/teacher might bring pales in comparison to what Jesus and the Lord that sent him were about. Just simply telling the facts is enough – if one believes and understands the facts. The theology, Christology, apologetics, exegesis, and commentary are simply tools employed to explain the news of Jesus and the meaning of his life, death, and resurrection.

“Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, 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.” (Verses 6 – 8)

And it is not a farther stretch to say that some (I was going to say “many” but thought I would soften my comments) in this age, 2017, do not understand God’s wisdom and Jesus’ message. If they did, this age would not be what it is. But, that is my opinion showing through!

“But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For what human being knows what is truly human except the human spirit that is within? So also no one comprehends what is truly God’s except the Spirit of God.” (Verses 9 – 11)

Did you follow that beloved reader? No one knows what another person is thinking, unless they are that person. OR, that person has revealed their inner most thoughts and feelings, making plain to the outer world what their inner world is about. Paul goes on to say . . .

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God.” (Verse 12)

The Revised Common Lectionary suggests the verses that follow not necessarily be part of the lectionary reading. But Paul goes on to say some important things, explaining in more detail what he has said thus far. I guess contrary to his opening remarks, he is laying out what he knows!

And we speak of these things in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual things to those who are spiritual. Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else’s scrutiny. “For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (Verses 13 – 16)

Where does the dividing line come then? How much does one need to know and understand in order to receive salvation and blessing from God? How much understanding is needed to be called a follow of Christ? Questions such as these I will not even presume to answer. But they are important questions. And the answers lie within the Godself that both sent Jesus and was Jesus. May the Lord God Jesus Christ instruct your heart and soul on this. Selah!