For the next couple of chapters, we are discussing the third reason that Paul wrote this letter. This reason is that the Congregation had splintered into factions based upon different teachers. In this chapter we see Paul describing the style of teaching and preaching that he used. In the following two chapters we see that Paul shows how each different type of teaching comes together to help mature the body of Messiah.[Read 1 Cor. 2][i]
(Vs. 1-5) Paul starts by explaining that the simplicity of what he taught, “Messiah, and Him Crucified” was deliberate. Just prior to coming to Corinth, he had been teaching in Athens. There he had sought to use the wisdom of this world as a springboard to preach about Yeshua. However, very few actually believed (Acts 17:34). Here Paul begins to show the difference between the world’s “wisdom” and Adonai’s wisdom. Paul is contrasting the “highly polished rhetoric”[ii] of the traveling Greek philosophers, and the power of the simple message of Messiah, Yeshua. Paul’s preaching was not “excellency of speech,” or “wisdom” or “persuasive words” but rather he was in “weakness and fear and in much trembling, but demonstrated the power of the Spirit.
(Vs. 6-8) Before we go much further, we need to unpack the word “Mystery” and what Paul means by it. A mystery is a secret that is revealed through Yeshua. It is not unknowable but does require or did require Adonai to reveal it. Arnold Fructenbaum shows that this concept comes from the Aramaic word Raza and the Hebrew word sod.[iii] This refers to the hidden meaning in the text. Paul shows that there is a wisdom that comes from Adonai that differs from the wisdom of this world. Paul then says that if the Sanhedrin and Pilate had understood the mystery of how Yeshua would establish His kingdom through His death, burial and resurrection, then they would not have crucified Him. The reality is that many within the Sanhedrin were scholars of the Tenach. And yet they still did not understand that the Messiah had to suffer and die. Paul was in that camp before Yeshua knocked him off his donkey. Paul says of himself, “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man. Yet I was shown mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed with the faith and love that are in Messiah Yeshua.” (1 Tim. 1:12-14)
(Vs. 9) Paul now reaches back to Isaiah and paraphrases two different verses. The first is from the 4th Servant song in (52:15) and (64:3). But as with all quotes of Scripture we need to go back and see the context. [Isa. 52:13-15] on is the 4th servant song that leads directly into Isa. 53. We can certainly see that this passage refers to the mystery of the Messiah dying and rising from the dead. Isa 64 is a little more difficult. [Isa. 64:3-6] also speaks of our sinfulness, but the mystery is shown in the first verse of 65. Chapter 64 ends with a question to Adonai, and 65 is the Devine response. [Isa. 65:1] was used by Paul in His letter to the Romans (10:20) and speaks of the mystery of the Gentiles seeking Adonai, when the children of Israel partially harden their hearts toward Yeshua.
(Vs. 10-13) Paul now explains how the mysteries of Adonai are revealed to us, and it is through the power of the Ruach. It is only by the Ruach that we can have full understanding of the deep wisdom of God. Therefore, meditating on the Word of God, praying in the Spirit, and seeking the face of Adonai through worship is so important. These are ways that the Ruach can reveal the wisdom of Adonai to us.
(Vs. 14) Concerning the wisdom and mysteries that Adonai shares with us, we should be careful who we in turn share it with. Yeshua said it this way, “Do not give what is holy to dogs or throw your pearls before pigs; otherwise they will trample them under their feet, then turn and rip you to shreds.” (Matt. 7:6) We must take the precious things that Adonai entrusts to us and give them to those who are spiritually discerning. Otherwise they will simply be considered foolish by those who are of the world.
(Vs. 16) Paul closes this section about the wisdom of God with another reference from Isaiah. What is interesting is that again this passage from [Isa. 40:13] is surrounded by the mystery of the New covenant. The chapter starts by the commissioning of Yochanan the Immerser. And then talks of the Good Shepherd coming to rescue the people.
We will close by reading this passage of Isaiah 40.
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the Tree of Life (TLV) version unless otherwise noted.
[ii] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Rev. Ed., Vol 11 pg. 274.
[iii] The Eight Mysteries of the New Testament, Arnold Fructenbaum.