Sunday, March 18, 2012

Old Interpreter's Bible Explanation of 1 Corinthians 2:10

An often used text to support the Trinity doctrine is 1 Corinthians 2:10ff. This blog entry seeks to address some of the arguments that revolve around that passage.

The Holy Spirit In The NT

by Edgar Foster

Concerning 1 Cor. 2:10ff, we read:

"Paul turns next to the place of the Spirit in imparting this true wisdom. He does not say that the Spirit teaches all things; but that he searches everything or investigates. The only other place where Paul uses the word is in Rom. 8:27, where he speaks of the searching of the hearts of men by God. That activity is an aspect of the omnipresence of the Spirit. Yet we must not make the mistake of confusing Paul's idea of the Spirit, the supernatural gift to believers, and to them only, with the Stoic idea of a reality permeating the entire natural universe. Paul uses the word PNEUMA in a wise variety of ways. sometimes it seems more like an impersonal power. Here it is the self-consciousness of God, by analogy to the human PNEUMA, which is man's self-consciousness. The passage suggests the possibility of a psychological interpretation of the Trinity, paving the way for Augustine's approach. In these verses the word PNEUMA is used in more than the usual variety of ways. Paul speaks of the spirit of man, the spirit of the world (KOSMOS, not AIWN) and the Spirit of God. The English texts attempt to make the distinction clear by the use of capitals for the last. But since the Greek has no such indication, we cannot be sure when Paul means the divine Spirit and when he means simply this faculty in human nature. He nevertheless makes a tremendous claim in this passage. In the bestowal of the Spirit men have received nothing less than God's self- consciousness. Therefore they are able to understand his secret wisdom"
(Interpreter's Bible, Vol. 10, pp. 39-40, Emphases Mine).


1 Cor. 2:10ff was one of Rudolph Bultmann's favorite passages, and it is also one of mine. In 1 Cor. 2:10, Paul makes it very plain that God--that is, the Father--teaches Christians (cf. John 6:45). The Father does not teach us, however, apart from His holy spirit: "It was to us that God made known his secret." How? "By means of his spirit" (TEV).

Continually throughout the book of 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul identifies God as the Father (1 Corinthians 8:5-6; 11:3; 15:24-28). To Paul and the entire Primitive church, there was one God (the Father). This deity conveys His divine secret to those who worship God in spirit and truth. The holy spirit is the omnipotent God's vehicle for teaching. God's dynamic invisible force acting powerfully upon Christians discloses the will of God in a lucid manner. The Father lovingly reveals Himself and discloses information about His Son and eternal purposes through the power of the spirit. 1 Cor. 2:10 suggests that the spirit is not a person, but a force or potentially consciousness.

The Greek word translated "searches" (TEV) is EREUNAO. This word, according to J.H. Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon means "[to] search, examine into." In Rom. 8:27 we read: "And He Who searches [EREUNAO] the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints" (Amplified Bible. Words in brackets found in the original Amplified Bible).

In Rom. 8:26, 27, the Father is said to be the one who searches and hears the figurative pleas of the holy spirit. God searches the human heart, as the spirit examines the "depths of God's purposes." While the Interpreter's Bible may choose to view 1 Cor. 2:10ff as a precursor to Augustine's psychological Trinity, I personally see no such import within this Pauline account.

No comments: