We only know how Paul gained his incredible insights by things he writes in his letters, or items we are privy to in the book of Acts. Some of his remarks are gloriously cryptic leaving us to ponder the apostle’s own experience of gaining revelation. We need to develope our own gifts and inclinations in the search for revelation and understanding.
In 1 Corinthians 2:4-10, for instance Paul writes: “(4) The manner of speech with which I spoke, and the contents of the message I delivered to you was not in any way clever speech, subtle arguments or philosophical persuasion, but in the powerful, miraculous demonstration of the Holy Spirit and in the power that rested upon me. (5) This was so that your faith would not be birthed, or sustained to stand in the cleverness of man or the worldly wisdom of men, but in the power of God Himself. (6) However, I have to say that for those who are full grown in Christ we do speak wisdom. It is not the wisdom of this age, this world or this time, all of which is to clearly pass away and become nothing but past history and gone without thought at the end of the ages. (7) What we speak is wisdom because it is all about secret mysteries that God has kept hidden from man until now. God has kept these mysteries a secret since before time began, waiting to reveal it all to us people of faith. It is a secret kept four our sakes and our glory. (8) It is a wisdom that none of the leaders of this world knew or had a clue about, because if they did, they would never have crucified He who is the Lord of glory, the person who fills the divine mysteries with his presence. (9) But in the words of Isaiah (64:4. 65:17) Nobody has ever seen the things, nor have they even heard of them, neither has it ever entered their hearts or imaginations, the things that God has prepared and made ready for them that love Him. (10a) But God has given us the full and total revelation, unveiling and disclosing everything by and through His Holy Spirit.” (1 Corinthians 2:4 – 10a LEPB My own paraphrase)
The apostle is here explaining that there were things written in the scriptures of his day (meaning the whole of the Old Testament) that pointed towards the revelation that Paul himself is declaring in Ephesians 1:3. He is making several points that, even though they do not include the full statement of Ephesians 1:3, nevertheless they give us an understanding concerning the deep revelation that Paul carried.
- Because he carried heavenly revelation, he did not feel it at all necessary to expound scripture like some intellectual academic. His explanation of scripture was simple and plain. Revelation from heaven does not need clever talk, nor does it require heavy learning. Revelation is all about what one has seen, as opposed to having academically learned. Academic learning is purely subjectively gained intellectual expansion. Revelation is externally brought to us. The data is external and objective as if somebody else showed us a photograph or a movie or spoke to us giving us new information.
- My own experience of men and women of God that carry or have carried profound revelation is that academic learning was definitely not a strong item on their CV. I am not suggesting that many of them were not bright or intelligent, far from it. But their minds were generally lacking in what we would call an all round education. Perhaps that is a secret of it. Not that I am in anyway suggesting anything negative about study and learning. I am merely thinking aloud that learning spiritual issues, even scripture itself, with man’s prejudicial and pejorative presuppositions may interfere with what we see when we see God’s revelationary pictures or statements. Again, some of the people in the last generation or two that had profound revelation and very influential ministry were not able to speak with worldly wisdom or philosophy because of a lack of worldly education. I refer to people like William Branham, Smith Wigglesworth and TB Joshua. The education that carried them was mostly “in God,” and in that aspect these people were giants. Academically they had not progressed well through the grades at school.(verse 4)
- The revelation that Paul carried was vindicated by the demonstration of the Holy Spirit amongst them. This refers to the ministry of the miraculous amongst the Corinthians. Signs and wonders followed the preaching of the word through Paul. According to Paul’s own logic, the “demonstration” of the Spirit was the very vindication of the truth of the revelation he carried. The “pointing out” of the Spirit (for that is what the word translated “demonstration” literally means) was the seal or stamp of approval of the Holy Spirit on what was preached to the Corinthians.
- With the thoughts that are immediately above in our minds, one cannot but query that if the level of personal revelation is related to the measure of the miraculous that follows the preaching of the word, how great must the revelation have been that was delivered to the Ephesian and Asian people that resulted in “extraordinary miracles” being ministered in the School of Tyrrannus in Ephesus (Acts 19). What we refer to as “Paul’s letter to the Ephesians” is surely a resume and exhortation of all that he had taught during his three year mission there. My point is that he would have undoubtedly dialogued or preached the very details of the contents of Ephesians 1:3 on the back of which God graciously granted the signs and wonders that followed Paul.
- What Paul is explaining here is the very definition of New Testament ministry; In the Spirit, of the Spirit, by the Spirit and filled with content revealed through the Spirit. This is the very thing that is required so that the hearers of the preaching and the recipients of the revelation walk and stand in the power of God and not in the wisdom of man.
- The apostle adds the rider that even though his speech and message were not very “clever” or “intellectual” or “academic,” to the mature in Christ it was satisfying, thought nourishing wisdom that took them deeper into relationship with Christ. It was a wisdom and an insight filled world-view that was given Paul by the Spirit. Other mature and Spirit filled believers would find it wise and faith building beyond the basics of the message that Paul delivered. The wisdom was all about what Christ had attained and given to those that trusted Him. It was a wisdom that God had been keeping secret from before the beginning of time. It was a wisdom that would only benefit those that were in a wilful relationship of faith and love with Christ. It was a wisdom that was objectively revealed by God. It was objective truth that Paul had to internalise intellectually and academically, but the fact that it was a heaven sent revelation is what gave his message the explosive power that transformed the recipients, along with the miracles, signs and wonders that accompanied the preaching.
- Paul does throw in the wonderful cryptic insight that if the leaders and the wise men of this world had understood or even known a little of these spiritual revelations, they would not have taken the steps the initiated to crucify the Lord of glory. Christ was crucified because of ignorance, spiritual darkness and a complete lack of revelation of the invisible. Without that kind of revelation the world is at the manipulative end of Satan’s schemes. Revelation is what is needed to give the new birth, cause growth and minister strength in God.
- As to giving an explanation as to why the leaders of this world had no knowledge of this wisdom, Paul has to resort to Isaiah. “As it is written,” says the apostle, inferring if not declaring plainly that the prophet Isaiah saw what Paul and the church of Jesus Christ would be carrying, if not in detail at least in skeletal form. “No eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, neither has it ever entered into any man’s heart what God has prepared for those that love Him.” Whatever Isaiah meant when he wrote those words, however clear or foggy his prophetic foresight was, it cannot be argued against that what he is saying is that God had prepared something far far greater than anybody could imagine before Christ’s death and resurrection. Isaiah’s message to his own generation, and those before and up to the birth of the church of Christ, was that nobody was even capable of imagining what God was going to endow people with and put into their very mortal frames.
- We know that Isaiah was talking about what would happen in the church age. How do we know that? Simply because Paul writes at the end of these thoughts, “But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit.”
- And that is the first clue we have about the biblical basis of Paul’s reception of the revelation of Ephesians 1:3. It was and still is a glorious revelation of something invisible.
The point of our thoughts today is to begin to give some kind of indication of how Ephesians 1:3 was hinted at, and occasionally, more than hinted at in the Old Testament scriptures. Revelation and its weight and value all stands or falls on the content and the veracity of the scriptures, and the place any particular revelation assumes in the narrative. The revelation of the scripture, of both Old and New Testaments is the rock upon which Christianity stands.
- Why Christians need to fit together the Bible’s pieces (biblicalexegete.wordpress.com)
- Paul Keith Davis: The Light of Revelation – The Revelation of Jesus Christ (downundernewsblog.wordpress.com)