As Christians, knowing the Holy Spirit is vital to our walk with Jesus. In fact, we cannot have one without the other, because the Holy Spirit is one with Jesus just as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” The Holy Spirit was in the beginning of all things and was there when God spoke everything into existence (Genesis 1:1-3), meaning nothing is birthed without the Holy Spirit. To know the Holy Spirit we need to understand His character. Throughout scripture we are given an understanding of the functions and characteristics of the Holy Spirit including the teacher, (1 John 2:27) the counselor (John 14:16) and the guide into all truth (John 16:13). In another place, the Apostle Paul describes in more detail a function of the Holy Spirit. Paul says that He searches the deep things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). This is an interesting statement Paul makes because clearly, he does not mean the deepness of God in a physical sense. So, what does it really mean to search the deep things of God?
To help us understand, let us first take a look at the portion of scripture:
And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written:
“EYE HAS NOT SEEN, NOR EAR HEARD, NOR HAVE ENTERED INTO THE HEART OF MAN THE THINGS WHICH GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.
(1 Corinthians 2:4-10)
Here, Paul is quite straight-forward. He is saying that his preaching is not intellectual, it is not the wisdom we learn in school or university, or even at a bible college. It is the wisdom of God. Paul makes known that the wisdom of God comes only through the Holy Spirit revealing knowledge of the deep things of God. Delving into the definitions of the Greek and Hebrew translation of scripture, we can always find greater meaning than our fairly simple English translation.
In Greek, the word for deep things (used in 1 Corinthians 2:10) is ‘bathos’ which means “mystery” (1) and “the secret, unrevealed purposes of God”. (2) For the sake of understanding more, let us replace the words “deep things” with the definition in Greek and re-read the sentence: “For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the secret, unrevealed purposes of God.”
Wow! Doesn’t that make you want to learn more? Already, just with the Greek definition more is revealed, but still not all is revealed. Onto the Early Church Fathers.
First, we have a snippet of a writing by Clement of Alexandria, second-century Early Church Father:
But those who possess the Holy Spirit “search the deep things of God,” (1Co 2:10) – that is, grasp the secret that is in the prophecies. (3)
What Clement writes here is confirmation of the above definition of the Greek word ‘bathos’. He verifies that there are secrets hidden in the Word of God and the Holy Spirit is the revealer of these secrets.
Throughout the New Testament, we know that Jesus spoke in parables or hidden meanings (Matthew 13:34), and the understanding was only given to those disciples who came away with Jesus (Mark 4:34). But what most do not realise is that there is deeper meaning throughout all of scripture. In another of his writings, Clement of Alexandria unveils more:
For many reasons, then, the Scriptures hide the sense. First, that we may become inquisitive, and be ever on the watch for the discovery of the words of salvation. Then it was not suitable for all to understand, so that they might not receive harm in consequence of taking in another sense the things declared for salvation by the Holy Spirit. Wherefore the holy mysteries of the prophecies are veiled in the parables – preserved for chosen men, selected to knowledge in consequence of their faith; for the style of the Scriptures is parabolic. Wherefore also the Lord, who was not of the world, came as one who was of the world to men. For He was clothed with all virtue; and it was His aim to lead man, the foster-child of the world, up to the objects of intellect, and to the most essential truths by knowledge, from one world to another . . . But prophecy does not employ figurative forms in the expressions for the sake of beauty of diction. But from the fact that truth appertains not to all, it is veiled in manifold ways, causing the light to arise only on those who are initiated into knowledge, who seek the truth through love. (4)
Clement states that all of scripture has deeper meaning than face-value. He explains that the deeper meaning is unveiled to us (by the Holy Spirit), depending on our faithfulness to the Word. The hidden meanings are not just given out plainly to everyone, just like Jesus’ ministry we briefly discussed above. Clement plainly says that truth is not for everyone and that we have to be initiated into the deeper meaning of scripture. Meaning, those with a love for the truth will be introduced to the light of the mysteries of the Word and we then have to grow in that understanding and truth.
Lastly is Methodius, Early Church Father in the late third century. Methodius explains in greater detail why the secrets are hidden, hence why the scripture says they must be revealed by the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:10)
Wherefore let it shame the Jews that they do not perceive the deep things of the Scriptures, thinking that nothing else than outward things are contained in the law and the prophets; for they, intent upon things earthly, have in greater esteem the riches of the world than the wealth which is of the soul. For since the Scriptures are in this way divided that some of them give the likeness of past events, some of them a type of the future, the miserable men, going back, deal with the figures of the future as if they were already things of the past. As in the instance of the immolation of the Lamb, the mystery of which they regard as solely in remembrance of the deliverance of their fathers from Egypt, when, although the first-born of Egypt were smitten, they themselves were preserved by marking the door-posts of their houses with blood. Nor do they understand that by it also the death of Christ is personified, by whose blood souls made safe and sealed shall be preserved from wrath in the burning of the world; whilst the first-born, the sons of Satan, shall be destroyed with an utter destruction by the avenging angels, who shall reverence the seal of the Blood impressed upon the former. (5)
Here, Methodius uses the example of the Jews, who only viewed the scripture in the literal sense and completely missed the deeper meaning. They only saw the sacrifice of the lamb and blood being put on the doorpost of each home as an event in time (Exodus 12:13), and they missed the hidden meaning. They not only missed the prophetic understanding that the lamb was a foreshadow of the crucifixion of Jesus, but that only those souls sealed by the blood (the blood has a further hidden meaning in itself- we encourage you to go ahead and search it out) will be saved, and those who are not sealed by the blood will be destroyed. Methodius explains that the Jews missed the deeper meaning because they had a greater love for the cares of this world. We too, can miss the coming of Christ and the true wealth that is able to bring healing to the soul by putting our daily priorities above Jesus. He wants a sold-out Church, willing to give up all (Luke 14:33, Matthew 10:38). Jesus prophesied what happened with the Jews would happen again at the second coming of Christ in the parable of the Wedding Feast- those invited (the Church) did not come to the wedding feast because of the cares of this world (Matthew 22:5). Paul also warned regarding the great falling away that those who would perish would be those that heard, but did not receive a love for the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:10). This is a sober warning for all of us.
Knowing the Holy Spirit is understanding the deeper things, or hidden meaning of scripture, and this knowledge is not given to just anyone who professes to be a Christian, or someone who simply reads the Bible. The evidence shows that the Holy Spirit reveals the depths of scripture only to those with a fervent love for truth and those who are faithful. It is a process that takes time, not all can be revealed in one sitting. The Holy Spirit wants to reveal the Word, the nature of Christ, not only to us in writing, but through experiencing the deeper meaning which is the power to change our soul. Only through the Holy Spirit revealing the deep things of scripture to us will we be ready for the second coming of Christ.
1. Strong’s Bible Dictionary: ‘deep things’ (G899)
2. Complete Word Study Dictionary: ‘deep things’ (G899)
3. Clement, Stromata, Bk 2, Ch II [emphasis added]
4. Clement, Stromata, Bk 6, Ch XV [emphasis added]
5. Methodius, Ten Virgins, Part 4, Discourse IX, Ch I [emphasis added]
All scripture references from The Holy Bible: New King James Version: NKJV. Thomas Nelson, 2010. (Bold emphasis added throughout).