Which Things We Speak …

“But we received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is from God; that we might know the things that are freely given us of God which things also we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth; combining spiritual things with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:12-13).

Without doubt, the “we” of this text has reference to inspired men, primarily the apostles. Two things factor in this conclusion which is reached in this verse: 1) Things which eye had not seen of things God prepared for those who love him has been revealed by the Spirit; and, 2) only the spirit of man within himself knoweth the hidden things of that man and since we know the plans God has for man, it is evident that that revelation came through God’s Spirit, not the spirit of this world. Peter wrote, “No prophecy of scripture is of private interpretation. For no prophecy every came by the will of God: but men spake from God, being moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20f). We are told that the Scriptures are “God-breathed.” “Every scriptures is inspired of God and is profitably for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, furnished completely unto every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16f). But — what is the nature of inspiration? What confidence can we have that the words we have in the scriptures indeed are from God? Jesus promised His disciples they would not be left without help when they carried His gospel into all the world. He promised He would send the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth and that He would bring to their remembrance all things that He (Jesus) had taught them (Jn. 14:26; 16:7). They were commanded to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit would come upon them (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:4, 8). It was on Pentecost when Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the apostles “and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

When Paul said, “Which things we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Spirit teacheth, combing spiritual things with spiritual words,” he tells the exact nature of the Holy Scriptures. They are not just spiritual thoughts suggested to the minds of the prophet allowing him latitude to express those thoughts in his words; the scriptures are the result of the Holy Spirit giving both the thought and word to the prophet which he was to speak “holy men spake from God as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). Such was the promise of Jesus. “But when they deliver you up, be not anxious how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you” (Mt. 10:19f).

Some reject this truth because they see different styles of writings in the Scriptures. And it is true that one can almost discern from which writer a teacher quotes from because it “sounds like …” However, acknowledging this fact does not remove the truth that our God knows man better than man knows himself and it would present no difficulty to God’s Spirit to dictate His words in the words or styles characteristic of the prophet He spoke through. It is a comfort to man to know that the words the prophet spoke were the ones the Holy Spirit had chosen him to say. Thus Paul’s words, “Which things we speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teacheth but which the Spirit teacheth, combining spiritual things with spiritual words,” is God’s assurance that the Holy Scriptures are a combination of both the thoughts and words of God.

Jim McDonald

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