Exposition of 1 Corinthians 2:6–10a God’s wisdom revealed in Paul’s message

1 Corinthians 2:6–10a

We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him — 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

After his rejection of human wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1–5), Paul recounts his own “message of wisdom among the mature” (1 Cor. 2:6). In today’s passage, he presents:

  • The origin of the wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6b–9)
  • The means by which the wisdom is revealed (1 Cor. 2:10–13)
  • The recipients of this wisdom (1 Cor. 2:14–16a)
  • The outcome of this wisdom (1 Cor. 2:16b).[1]

Paul explains these four points using a series of contrasting statements. As we get into them, you will do well to keep in mind Fee’s insight: “The real contrast is therefore between Christian and non-Christian, between those who have and those who do not have the Spirit. Paul’s concern throughout is to get the Corinthians to understand who they are — in terms of the cross — and to stop acting as non-Spirit people.”[2]

First, the wisdom that comprises Paul’s message is not from this age or its rulers but comes from God (1 Cor. 2:6b–7). By “this age” he means the entire worldly arrangement of power, relationships, money and ideas that opposes God — an arrangement we still have in 2012 — which is already being replaced by the final age to come in which Christ reigns forever.

Fee defines the word mystery by saying that it “ordinarily refers to something formerly hidden in God from all human eyes but now revealed in history through Christ and made understandable to his people through the Spirit.”[3] Fee goes on the explain that the mystery is also paradoxical in that it consists of the crucifixion — an expression of the greatest shame and degradation — of “the Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). Before time began, God determined that his people would attain glory through union with a crucified Christ.

If the rulers of this age had known this mystery, they would never have sealed their own downfall by crucifying Christ (1 Cor. 2:8). The irony is sweet. Paul concludes this idea by quoting a semi-poetic statement of Jewish reflection on the Old Testament (1 Cor. 2:9–10 citing Isa. 64:4):

What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived [human wisdom, so treasured by the Corinthians, drew a complete blank] — the things God has prepared for those who love him [which is Christ crucified, to win glory for his people] — 10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit [Christ has been crucified and the significance is now unveiled to God’s people].

Copyright © 2012 Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003) 90.

[2] Gordon D. Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987) 101.

[3] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 105.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!