What Are the Deep Things of God? Find Out Here

man using magnifying glass to study scripture
Photo by Nathan Bingle
"But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10).

The gospel (Christ and His salvific work) are "the deep things of God" which are now "revealed by God through His Spirit" to the people of faith. Christ is the embodiment of the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," which are the deep things of God.

I like the article photo featured above. It's a photo that portrays a man holding a magnifying glass and seemingly engaged in a deep search of the word of God. This photo captures the spirit of this blog. It symbolizes the desire and determination of this author to dig deeper into God’s word.

However, in our search for truth, we need not use a physical magnifying glass. We only need the guidance of the Holy Spirit in our quest for biblical truth.

Our world is full of deep things. There are deep things in the natural world. For example, a natural phenomenon like the formation of rain is a deep thing. The changes in seasons are deep things. The physical laws that govern our universe are deep things that scientists are still investigating.

There are deep things in the spiritual or religious realm. For example, in the Christian faith, the incarnation, atonement, and redemption are deep things. In fact, spiritual matters are so deep that they can only be “spiritually discerned.” Why? Because in the spiritual realm, “we walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). 

A Brief Background 

A brief historical background may suffice to put everything into perspective.

The Greek Influences 

At the time when the words in 1 Corinthians 2:10 were penned down, Greek philosophy and culture had flourished for close to 400 years. This period witnessed the rise of prominent philosophers like Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. As a result of the influences of these philosophers, Greek society placed a high premium on intellect above other things.

Most of the inhabitants of Corinth, as well as in many other Greek cities, were committed to pursuing the philosophical wisdom and knowledge of the time. Most of them became ardent followers and disciples of the many philosophies and philosophers of the day.

It is probable that some new Christian converts at Corinth had been exposed to the works and discourses of the city’s residents and visiting philosophers. The apostle Paul admits that the Corinthian church was “enriched in all speech and knowledge” (1 Corinthians 1:5).

This endowment in “speech and knowledge” came with its own dangers. Some new converts to the Christian faith attempted to mix philosophical thinking and approaches into their beliefs. They rationalized faith and revelation to the extent that knowledge took the precedence of devotion.

And there lied the Corinthian church problem. 

The Challenging Times 

The Church at Corinth was facing internal and external challenges that threatened to divide it.

From within the Church were some who were disposed to “quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder” (2 Corinthians 12:20). Each quarreling party sought its own thing, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Sectarianism crept in and divided the church.

From outside the Church, the negative influences and trappings of the fertility cult of Diana with its many immoral ceremonies threatened to choke the faith of the Corinthian believers.

These were challenging times for the young Church at Corinth. And amid all these negativities, Paul still refers to this Church as, “The Church of God in Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). 

The Limitations of Human Wisdom 

In the second chapter of the first epistle to the Corinthian church, Paul reveals the following about human sophia (wisdom): 
  • Human wisdom was characterized by “lofty speech or wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:1) and, “plausible words of wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:4). 
  • Human wisdom boasted of having some unique or mystical knowledge which the apostle Paul warned would lead some of them to “rest faith in the wisdom of men” (1 Corinthians 2:5). 
  • Human wisdom clouded the judgment of rulers or leaders, “None of the rulers of this age understood it”(1 Corinthians 2:8). 
  • Human wisdom did “not accept the things of the spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

The Unlimited Divine Wisdom

Paul further reveals the following about divine wisdom:
  • Divine wisdom was decreed in advance, “God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Corinthians 2:7). 
  • Divine wisdom could not be comprehended by the rulers, “None of the rulers of this age understood this” (1 Corinthians 2:8). 
  • Divine wisdom could not be perceived through the natural learning processes of seeing, hearing, and thinking. For, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man” (1 Corinthians 2:9). 
  • Divine wisdom is now revealed through the Holy Spirit, “These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:10). Divine wisdom is “freely given us by God” (1 Corinthians 2:12). 
  • In the real sense, you cannot know God through human wisdom, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach” (1 Corinthians 1:21).
  • Divine wisdom is now a person "Christ... the wisdom of God" (Corinthians 1:24)

Revealed by the Holy Spirit

The natural man, apart from the Spirit-filled person, is limited in his or her knowledge of the Divine.

William Barclay describes the natural man in these terms:
"He is the man who lives as if there was nothing beyond physical life, and there were no needs other than material needs, whose values are all physical and material. A man like that cannot understand spiritual things."
Only those who are spiritual can discern and appreciate spiritual truth, 
"Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth, not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned," (1 Corinthians 2:13,14).
The divine mind then must be revealed. There is no other method of gaining spiritual knowledge except through revelation.

The Holy Spirit is the agency through which spiritual truth is revealed and imparted. It is the Holy Spirit alone who comprehends the mind of God and searches “everything” even the “depths of God” (v.1 Corinthians 2:11).

Through the Holy Spirit, we understand what God has revealed because: 

“What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God so we may understand what God has freely given us” (1 Corinthians 2:12). 

This is what Christ had promised before His ascension that when the Holy Spirit would come, He would, “Take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14). 

The Spirit Searches All Things 

What does it mean that the Holy Spirit “searches all things”? It means that the Holy Spirit has complete, intimate, and insider knowledge of the mind of God. He has a comprehensive, thorough, and accurate understanding of the whole counsel and purposes of God.

Albert Barnes, in his book Notes on the New Testament, explains it this way:
“It is not to be supposed that he searches, or inquires as men do who are ignorant; but that he has intimate and profound knowledge, such as is usually the result of a close and accurate search” (Notes on the New Testament, p. 36).
The Holy Spirit does not need Google to "search all things." His knowledge of the deep things of God is immeasurable.

What Are the Deep Things Of God? (Explained)

Christ is “the deep things of God" because the same verse that mentions "the deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10) also states that these things have been "revealed by God through His Spirit." That is past tense language which signifies a done deal. The deep things of God are no longer secret or hidden but are all revealed now to the people of faith. They can't be things in heaven as claimed by the common and prevalent schools of interpretation. They were revealed by God to the Church some 2000 years ago. How true is that? It is in the Bible and the context makes it clear just read on.

In first Corinthians chapter two, “the deep things of God” are given different names. They are called, “The testimony of God” (1 Corinthians 2:1) and, “The secret and hidden wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 2:7).

The preceding chapter that is 1 Corinthians chapter one is the ground upon which our key text (1 Corinthians 2:10) draws its thrust. As we read the verses in that chapter in context, we discover that “Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2) is the subject of the deep things of God.

The deep things of God are personified in Christ who is now wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. “And because of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30).

Gordon D. Fee, in his New International Commentary on the New Testament on the first epistle to the Corinthians, states that,
"Paul transformed "wisdom" from a philosophical, rhetorical term into a historical, soteriological [salvation study] one... he reassert(s) that the gospel he preaches is in fact the wisdom of God. But it cannot be perceived as such by those who are pursuing sophia; it is recognized only by those who have the Spirit." [Emphasis mine]
It then follows that the redemptive work of Christ from the beginning to the end is “the deep things of God.”  The apostle Paul is, therefore, telling the Corinthians not to seek mystical knowledge but to seek Christ the power and wisdom of God. 
"But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God" (1 Corinthians 1:24).
This exactly what the Corinthians congregation needed a Savior who was both the "power of God and the wisdom of God. To the Jewish believers who loved signs and wonders Christ was the "power of God." To the Greeks who loved knowledge and wisdom Christ was the "wisdom of God." This information was deep and life-changing for the Corinthians. Their minds were directed to Christ who was above human wisdom and mystical knowledge. Christ was and still is the solution to everything divisive in our Christian churches today.

Christ is the complete manifestation of God. James Hardy Flowers in A Prayer of St. Paul puts it this way:
“(We) do not need to seek the guidance of men or angels. Jesus contains the whole of God’s revelation in Himself. He is the consummation of all that went before, and the principle of all that is to follow. Through Christ alone, men enter into the knowledge of the saving purpose of God.”
Christ is the consummation of the whole counsel and revelation of God. Christ is the deep things of God in verity.

Spiritual Insight Not Worldly Wisdom

Just like the Corinthians, our faith is always in danger of being consumed by the world. We live in a world where the opinions and views of men openly compete and contradict those of God. In our quest for relevance and acceptance by the world, we end up embracing worldly methods and approaches which are contrary to the faith we profess. We put our trust in learning, rationalizing, and free-thinking instead of God. We philosophically present the truth to earn credit with people with little results.

What we need is an understanding of who Christ is, what He has done, what He is doing right now, and what He will do for us in the future. We don’t need some mystical knowledge. The knowledge of God is sufficient spiritual knowledge, which is the essential ingredient we need to exert positive influences at the home, workplace, and everywhere. Our salvation is hinged on this knowledge. 

“And this is life eternal, that they might know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Christ and Him crucified must be our all-absorbing subject. We must be intentional in seeking divine knowledge. We must share Christ's love and make Him known to the world.
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Recommended Books for Further Studies:

by Craig S. Keener

This commentary is a good resource for researching the existing cultural and historical information of the biblical text.

I personally use this biblical background commentary and other resources from my library to prepare my sermons and articles.

This commentary is deep yet written in simple and readable language. It is good for personal Bible study and a perfect gift for your church elder, study group leader, and pastor.

Wright in this book gives valuable insights on 1 Corinthians which “everyone” can appreciate. He explains each difficult passage in a simple and interesting way.

Wright does not use technical or scholarly jargons to explain truth so this book is for everyone. This makes the book a good read for individuals and small Bible study groups. It’s a short book but it tackles many issues that arose in Corinth and the lessons we can draw from this epistle.

I recommend it for anyone who is interested in getting deep insights from the deep things of God.

This book gives deep perspectives drawn from the first epistle to the Corinthians and how the cross of Christ impacts the Christian ministry.

It adheres to the text while giving relevant and practical application in day-to-day life.

It is a Christ-centered book. The goal of the book is to make the cross of Christ central in everything we do.

It is targeted at individuals, elders, pastors, and group leaders who want to gain deep insights into the deep things of God.

Just like the name suggests this book is for serious Bible students and pastors.

This book is also an excellent reference tool for ambitious laymen who have the desire to want to study the Bible deeply. The content in this book is valuable and indispensable for the beginner and the experienced Bible students.

The content in the book is systematically laid out in major exegetical steps. To fully appreciate its content you need a basic knowledge of Greek - at least the elementary level. This is because the book is aimed at giving you the ability to read and exposit a biblical text or passage for yourself without the aid of a translation.