This post opens with Fr. MacEvilly’s brief analysis of chapter 2 followed by his notes on the reading. Text in purple indicate his paraphrasing of the scripture he is commenting on.
ANALYSIS OF 1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 2
In this chapter, the Apostle shows how far he himself acted in accordance with the economy of God in excluding human wisdom in the work of redemption, when he came to preach the gospel to the Corinthians. His preaching was recommended neither by the graces of oratory, nor by the powers of reasoning, because he wished that their faith should rest on its proper basis, viz., the powerful grace of God (verses 1–5). He next asserts his own dignity, and says that, although he rejected all the aids derived from human wisdom in preaching the gospel among the Corinthians; still, he discoursed on another and more exalted kind of wisdom, on befitting occasions—a wisdom far different from that of men or demons (6)—a wisdom concealed from the world in all past ages, and now revealed for our temporal and eternal glory (7)—a wisdom unknown to the devils (8); and according to, the prophecy of Isaias, fully comprehended by God alone (9). But, though hidden and mysterious, it was made known to the Apostle by the revelation of God’s spirit, who is intimately acquainted with the divine secrets; and who alone knows the hidden thoughts of the divine mind (10, 11). This was the spirit from whom the Apostle received a knowledge of the general benefits and gifts conferred through Christ on his Church, of which gifts he treats in proper circumstances in a manner suited to the capacity and requirements of his hearers; he treats of the exalted truths of faith before those only, who are far advanced in Christian knowledge (12–13). Because it would be useless to treat of them before persons not sufficiently versed in the principles of faith. To such men, truths of this kind would appear folly. Hence, he declined proposing them to the Corinthians (14, 15). He should not be judged or undervalued for this line of conduct; for, to judge him, acting in this way, would be to judge and instruct God himself (16).
6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among the perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, neither of the princes of this world that come to nought.
It is not, however, to be imagined that we are devoid of wisdom. We discourse on the true and exalted wisdom contained in the Christian economy, but it is only before those who are advanced in spiritual knowledge—(a wisdom quite different from the wisdom of this world) which has been rejected by God, (chap. 1:20)—or from any description of wisdom introduced by the princes of the world—viz., the devils, whose power is destroyed.
In this verse, the Apostle asserts his own dignity, lest the Corinthians, despising him, might undervalue his teaching, and attach themselves to others who displayed more wisdom and oratorical skill in their discourses. He says, he was not devoid of true wisdom, but that they were not in a condition to hear it treated of. However, he discoursed on it before “the perfect,” i.e., those who were advanced in Christian knowledge, and were practised in the principles of faith. Similar is the idea conveyed by the word “spiritual man,” (verse 15), and also Hebrews (chap. 5 verse 14). By the “wisdom” of which he speaks in this verse are meant the abstruse truths of Christian faith—predestination, vocation, grace, &c., of which the Apostle treated in his Epistles to the Romans, Ephesians, Colossians—as also the various effects of redemption, and the mystical and moral meanings contained in the different mysteries of Christ’s Death, Resurrection, Sepulture, Ascension, which are fully explained on befitting occasions by himself, and by St. Peter, in his Catholic Epistles. “The princes of this world,” viz., the devils, who are frequently termed such in Scripture.
7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden, which God ordained before the world, unto our glory:
The wisdom of which we discourse before those advanced in Christian knowledge, is the wisdom of God hidden in mystery; or the wisdom of the mystery of God, which has been hidden; a wisdom which God has ordained from eternity, to serve our glory in Christianity here, and in heaven hereafter.
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, a wisdom which is hidden.” The “wisdom” refers to the mode in which the great mystery of man’s redemption was accomplished, and to the different consequences of the same. This “wisdom” was hidden “in mystery,” because no one could understand it, till it actually took place. Similar is the idea conveyed (Eph. chap. 3). The word “hidden” refers to “wisdom,” as appears from the Greek, σοφιαν ἐν μυστερίῳ, την αποκεκρυμενην. It was the wisdom contained in the mystery of the whole economy of redemption that was “hidden” and unknown, until it was revealed in time by its full accomplishment. Estius explains the words “in a mystery,” to mean privately, or to a few.—Secreto ct apud pauciores. This is rather an improbable meaning; for, the Apostle said this already, at least equivalently, by saying, he spoke it only “among the perfect,” who were but few.
8 Which none of the princes of this world knew. For if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.
A wisdom unknown to the devils, for, had they known it they would have never instigated the Jews to crucify the author of glory, from whose death such great benefits have accrued to the human race.
Of the wisdom contained in the mysteries of Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, and the effects following from them, and the secret ways of God in bringing about the great work of redemption, “the princes of this world,” that is to say, the devils, were ignorant; otherwise they would have never crucified the Lord of glory by the hands of the Jews: since, by this they destroyed their own dominion. There is another interpretation given of the words in the preceding passage, “wisdom of God,” which understands these words of the Son of God, hidden in the mystery of the Incarnation. This interpretation is not at all probable; for, it is by no means clear, that the devils did not know Christ to be the Son of God. The contrary is deducible from several passages of the gospel; it is even asserted by many that Satan’s pride arose from envy at the future Incarnation of the Son of God. Moreover, it is not clear, that he would not crucify him out of hatred and malice, although he should have known him to be the Son of God. It was the economy and designs of God in the crucifixion of his Son the devils were ignorant of.
9 But, as it is written: That eye hath not seen, nor ear heard: neither hath it entered into the heart of man, what things God hath prepared for them that love him.
But the wisdom of which we speak is that in which are fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaias (64:4): “Neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor the mind of any man conceived, what God has prepared for those that love him.”
Of this passage, taken from chap. 64, verse 4, of Isaias, which approximates nearest to the Hebrew, and, consequently, to our Vulgate version, the Apostle does not so much quote the words as the sense, which he accommodates to his present purpose. In the writings of the prophet, as here, the words refer both to the blessings conferred on us in this life, in the multifarious wisdom of God displayed in his Church, and to their final completion in heaven. They are quoted by the Apostle to prove, that the wisdom, of which he treats, is unknown to the devils, as in the preceding verse, since Isaias foretold, that no human experience or knowledge could fathom it. God alone could fully know it. “The eye hath not seen, O God, besides thee, what things thou hast prepared for them that wait for thee.”—(Isaias, 64:4). “O God, besides thee,” just qtioted, exclude every creature from a full knowledge of the wisdom in question. “For them that love him.” In Isaias it is, “them that wait for thee.” The sense of both is the same. These latter words are not opposed to the gratuitousness of predestination and of graces consequent on it; because, these graces are gratuitous, although the end of eternal life, to which, as means, they conduct us, is given in consideration of our good works; it is to their accomplishment in heaven that the Apostle principally refers in the words: “What things God hath prepared for them that love him.”
10 But to us God hath revealed them by his Spirit. For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
But, although this wisdom be mysterious, and for ages hidden from the world, it has been made known to us by the revelation of God’s spirit, who is intimately acquainted with all the secret counsels of God.
In this verse the Apostle answers an objection which might be made to him, viz.:—If these things be so hidden and mysterious, how came you to know them? He answers, that he has known them from the revelation of God’s spirit, who is intimately acquainted with the secrets of God. “Searcheth all things.” These words express perfect and intimate knowledge, and contain an allusion to the mode in which human knowledge is acquired; for the Holy Ghost sees all things intuitively without requiring to search for them.