But, as it is written - The quotation is taken from Isaiah 64:4. The sense is continued here from verse seven, and λαλουμεν, we speak, is understood - We do not speak or preach the wisdom of this world; but that mysterious wisdom of God, of which the prophet said: Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for them that love him. These words have been applied to the state of glory in a future world; but they certainly belong to the present state, and express merely the wondrous light, life, and liberty which the Gospel communicates to them that believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in that way which the Gospel itself requires. To this the prophet himself refers; and it is evident, from the following verse, that the apostle also refers to the same thing. Such a scheme of salvation, in which God's glory and man's felicity should be equally secured, had never been seen, never heard of, nor could any mind but that of God have conceived the idea of so vast a project; nor could any power but his own have brought it to effect.
But as it is written - This passage is quoted from Isaiah 64:4. It is not quoted literally; but the sense only is given. The words are found in the apocryphal books of Elijah; and Origen and Jerome supposed that Paul quoted from those books. But it is evident that Paul had in his eye the passage in Isaiah; and intended to apply it to his present purpose. These words are often applied by commentators and others to the future life, and are supposed by them to be descriptive of the state of the blessed there. But against the supposition that they refer directly to the future state, there are insuperable objections:
(1) The first is, that the passage in Isaiah has no such reference. In that place it is designed clearly to describe the blessedness of those who were admitted to the divine favor; who had communion with God; and to whom God manifested himself as their friend. That blessedness is said to be superior to all that people elsewhere enjoy; to be such as could be found no where else but in God. See Isaiah 64:1, Isaiah 64:4-5, Isaiah 64:8. It is used there, as Paul uses it, to denote the happiness which results from the communication of the divine favor to the soul.
(2) the object of the apostle is not to describe the future state of the redeemed. It is to prove that those who are Christians have true wisdom 1 Corinthians 2:6-7; or that they have views of truth, and of the excellence of the plan of salvation which the world has not, and which those who crucified the Lord Jesus did not possess. The thing which he is describing here, is not merely the happiness of Christians, but their views of the wisdom of the plan of salvation. They have views of that which the eyes of other people have not seen; a view of wisdom, and fitness, and beauty which can be found in no other plan. It is true that this view is attended with a high degree of comfort; but the comfort is not the immediate thing in the eye of the apostle.
(3) the declaration in 1 Corinthians 2:10, is conclusive proof that Paul does not refer to the happiness of heaven. He there says that God has revealed these things to Christians by his Spirit. But if already revealed, assuredly it does not refer to that which is yet to come. But although this does not refer directly to heaven, there may be an application of the passage to a future state in an indirect manner, which is not improper. If there are such manifestations of wisdom in the plan here; if Christians see so much of its beauty here on earth; and if their views so far surpass all that the world sees and enjoys, how much greater and purer will be the manifestations of wisdom and goodness in the world of glory.
Eye hath not seen - This is the same as saying, that no one had ever fully perceived and understood the value and beauty of those things which God has prepared for his people. All the world had been strangers to this until God made a revelation to his people by his Spirit. The blessedness which the apostle referred to had been unknown alike to the Jews and the Gentiles.
Nor ear heard - We learn the existence and quality of objects by the external senses; and those senses are used to denote any acquisition of knowledge. To say that the eye had not seen, nor the ear heard, was, therefore, the same as saying that it was not known at all. All people had been ignorant of it.
Neither have entered into the heart of man - No man has conceived it; or understood it. It is new; and is above all that man has seen, and felt, and known.
The things which God hath prepared - The things which God “has held in reserve” (Bloomfield); that is, what God has appointed in the gospel for his people. The thing to which the apostle here refers particularly, is the wisdom which was revealed in the gospel; but he also intends, doubtless, to include all the provisions of mercy and happiness which the gospel makes known to the people of God. Those things relate to the pardon of sin; to the atonement, and to justification by faith; to the peace and joy which religion imparts; to the complete and final redemption from sin and death which the gospel is suited to produce, and which it will ultimately effect. In all these respects, the blessings which the gospel confers, surpass the full comprehension of people; and are infinitely beyond all that man could know or experience without the religion of Christ. And if on earth the gospel confers such blessings on its friends, how much higher and purer shall be the joys which it shalt bestow in heaven!
“And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” Paul was a very great teacher; yet he felt that without the Spirit of God working with him, all the education he might obtain would be of little account. We need to have this same experience; we need to be afraid of ourselves. We need individually to sit at the feet of Jesus, and listen to His words of instruction (Manuscript 84, 1901). 6BC 1084.1
1-5 (Acts 9:3-6; 22:3, 4). Instruction for the Church Today—[1 Corinthians 2:1-5 quoted.] Paul was not an unlearned man, but the preaching of Christ was a new gospel to him. It was a work entirely different from that he had engaged in when he hunted the believers from place to place and persecuted them even “unto the death.” But Christ had revealed Himself to Paul in a remarkable manner at his conversion. At the gate of Damascus the vision of the Crucified One changed the whole current of his life. The persecutor became a disciple, the teacher a learner. 6BC 1084.3Read in context »
Though Paul had a measure of success in Corinth, yet the wickedness that he saw and heard in that corrupt city almost disheartened him. The depravity that he witnessed among the Gentiles, and the contempt and insult that he received from the Jews, caused him great anguish of spirit. He doubted the wisdom of trying to build up a church from the material that he found there. AA 250.1
As he was planning to leave the city for a more promising field, and seeking earnestly to understand his duty, the Lord appeared to him in a vision and said, “Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city.” Paul understood this to be a command to remain in Corinth and a guarantee that the Lord would give increase to the seed sown. Strengthened and encouraged, he continued to labor there with zeal and perseverance. AA 250.2
The apostle's efforts were not confined to public speaking; there were many who could not have been reached in that way. He spent much time in house-to-house labor, thus availing himself of the familiar intercourse of the home circle. He visited the sick and the sorrowing, comforted the afflicted, and lifted up the oppressed. And in all that he said and did he magnified the name of Jesus. Thus he labored, “in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” 1 Corinthians 2:3. He trembled lest his teaching should reveal the impress of the human rather than the divine. AA 250.3Read in context »
Let all that is beautiful in our earthly home remind us of the crystal river and green fields, the waving trees and the living fountains, the shining city and the white-robed singers, of our heavenly home—that world of beauty which no artist can picture, no mortal tongue describe. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”13 AH 545.1
Visions of Future Glory—With Jesus at our head we all descended from the city down to this earth, on a great and mighty mountain, which could not bear Jesus up, and it parted asunder, and there was a mighty plain. Then we looked up and saw the great city, with twelve foundations and twelve gates, three on each side, and an angel at each gate. We all cried out, “The city, the great city, it's coming, it's coming down from God out of heaven!” And it came and settled on the place where we stood. Then we began to look at the glorious things outside of the city. There I saw most glorious houses, that had the appearance of silver, supported by four pillars set with pearls most glorious to behold. These were to be inhabited by the saints. In each was a golden shelf. I saw many of the saints go into the houses, take off their glittering crowns and lay them on the shelf, then go out into the field by the houses to do something with the earth; not as we have to do with the earth here—no, no. A glorious light shone all about their heads, and they were continually shouting and offering praises to God. AH 546.1Read in context »