Wisdom In First Corinthians -- By: Gordon H. Clark

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 015:4 (Fall 1972)
Article: Wisdom In First Corinthians
Author: Gordon H. Clark


Wisdom In First Corinthians

Gordon H. Clark*

Colossians 2:3 says that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. In this verse the words wisdom and knowledge can be taken as synonyms. But I Corinthians 12:8, the final mention of wisdom in that epistle after a break since 3:19, is hard to interpret unless one assumes a difference between wisdom and knowledge: “To each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for his advantage. For to one through the Spirit is given [a, or the] word of wisdom, and to another a word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, [and] to another faith … “Of course faith is given to all Christians; and no doubt knowledge and wisdom are somehow connected because they are both expressed in words, in a logos: a discourse, sermon, or argument of wisdom and a discourse, sermon, or argument of knowledge. But since these two are in an enumeration of nine gifts of the Spirit, the two phrases can hardly be taken as completely synonymous.

What this distinction is has caused confusion among the commentators. A frequently made distinction is that wisdom refers to practical judgments and knowledge consists in theoretical understanding. H. A. W. Meyer, however, reverses this. Referring to 2–6 and 13:2 Meyer makes wisdom an elementary grasp of Christian doctrines, whereas knowledge is a deep and thorough elaboration of their connections. Much to one’s surprise Meyer then infers that wisdom (the elementary grasp of Christian doctrines) continues throughout the Parousia, but knowledge (the profound elaboration of their relationships) ceases (13:8). Surely this view, or, at least this conclusion has less to recommend it than the former does.

Charles Hodge makes the almost impossible suggestion that wisdom is the inspiration given to the apostles alone, and knowledge is the ability of lesser teachers to understand the apostles’ writings. The reason this seems impossible is the fact that I Corinthians 13:8 says that knowledge shall be abolished or made of no effect. Since the ability of lesser teachers to understand the apostles’ writings continues to the present day, the time prophesied must be the Parousia. But is it not strange that the lesser teachers should lose their ability to understand the Scriptures by reason of Christ’s return? One would expect them to understand better. There is something, however, that has already been abolished: viz., apostolic inspiration. B...

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