God’s secret wisdom
Preparing to preach on 1 Corinthians 2 this weekend took me back into some old notebooks of previous research. I came across this article I wrote for Faith and Life Resources in 2006.
An ancient person might hold several ideas about what Paul meant when he spoke of having God’s secret wisdom. Jews may have thought one thing, Greeks and Romans another. Those with Gnostic commitments were also fond of speaking about secrets and mysteries. Paul was very astute to use the phrase secret wisdom. It kept the vast potential audience of cosmopolitan Corinth with him.
But what was his secret wisdom? Looking at the full scope of his writing, we discover Paul spoke often of his calling to take the gospel where God sent him. The gospel for Paul was God’s secret wisdom. It should not, however, be mistaken for a body of doctrine or the replication of a denominational system. Paul is referring to the kerygma–the Greek term for a specific set of messages that tell the story of what Jesus Christ means to the world.
Joel Stephen Williams developed a succinct list of what was included in the kerygma Paul preached so faithfully. Here is a concise summary of it:
- The prophets foretold an age led by God’s special Servant, the Messiah.
- This age came in the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection and promised return of Jesus Christ.
- Jesus sits at the right hand of God and is the head of the spiritual Israel, the church, God’s people.
- The Holy Spirit is the sign of Christ’s power and glory until the promised return of Christ when Christ’s kingdom of peace and righteousness will come in entirety.
- All are invited to repent and enjoy the offer of forgiveness, salvation, and the Holy Spirit.