Are You Genuinely Seeking The Truth?
If we are genuinely seeking the truth we question all things, especially those that do not sound right. To do this, we are told is an intellectual pursuit and not a heart-felt pursuit of truth. In fact, many will people tell us to hang our hats at the door when we attend a meeting, and in so doing, we forget to take out brains out. For some reason people seem to disengage them when it comes to sitting down on a chair in a lecture hall or listening to a politician speak from the party for whom they vote or a preacher of the denomination they attend.
In the book of Isaiah, there is a scripture informing us we are to reason with God. This is what the scripture states:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says Yahweh: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Is There Only One Scripture That Refers To Reason?
Many people say that because there is only one scripture in the Bible that clearly states we are to reason with God that engaging our capacity to think is of little importance. Yet when we the scripture from Isaiah, it is obvious that God wants us to appreciate our position in relation to Him in that we are sinners and He has taken what was causing us to hemorrhage our blood, stop it and clean up the mess that we have made of our lives. Now it makes sense that if we have the capacity to reason, then we are not creatures who cannot reason. In the book of Jude we read about people who do not reason but function from instinctive. This is what Jude states:
But these speak evil of whatever things they don’t know. They are destroyed in these things that they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason.(Jude 1:10 WEB)
The natural understanding of man does not take into account that we did not ask to be born or that being born to die is futile. But the reasoning man begins to think about why he is here or why there is so much suffering on Earth. The natural understanding of man is darkened by the god of this world and therefore accepts that everybody is nothing but a chicken and does his best to survive by climbing as high as possible in the pecking order. The spiritual man begins to think like an eagle and see things that the chicken who is content to pick grubs from the ground cannot see.
When we being to ask questions and seek answers, we are doing what God expects us to do: exercising the capacity to think as to what is good and what is evil. Ideally, God would have us develop a hatred of evil. In fact, when we read the book of Hebrews, we find that people, who have acknowledged Lord Jesus Christ, as having died on behalf of their sins and having rose from the dead, are expected to become teachers because they have learnt how to exercise their faculties of reason to discern good from evil. This is what we read in the book of Hebrews:
But solid food is for those who are full grown, who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14 WEB)
To discern good from evil requires us to have the faculty to do so. We usually refer to this as our intellect or our brain. Sometimes we refer to the mind of a person, rather than the intellect or the brain, to indicate that this belongs to somebody who is demonstrating sound thinking or if not, the loss of the mind, as in: he has lost his mind.
Paul Crucified With Christ
Now let us use our powers of reasoning and have a look at the following text:
When I came to you, brothers, I didn’t come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and myself crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith wouldn’t stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing. But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:1-8)
Did you notice anything odd about that text? The Apostle Paul is the person writing this. Essentially, we would have to agree that he would have nothing known among the people except the power of God in Jesus Christ and that he himself is crucified with Lord Jesus Christ.
However, verse 2 reads a little different in most versions of the Bible, stating:
For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
Instead of Paul being crucified with Christ as implied by the context, this verse when stating “except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” seems to be a misfit and does not quite fit the context. Either something is wrong with the translations and an error has crept in along the line or there has to be some major significance for this blatant misfit.
Is The Gospel About The Resurrection Or Jesus' Death?
What the verse appears to be saying is that nothing else matters other than Jesus Christ being crucified. The problem with this is that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, our faith is in vain and there is no gospel message. There is just a message of Jesus Christ crucified on the cross and this mystery is the wisdom of God. Essentially, the message is no different to that of the mystery cults. However, we know this is not the case and the Apostle in writing to the Corinthians later states:
If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. …For if the dead aren’t raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. (1 Corinthians 15:14,16-17)
When we consider that the Apostle Paul is saying that unless Jesus Christ is raised from the dead, his preaching is in vain. Something seems to be amiss in respect to him saying that he would have nothing known among people except Christ and Him crucified. Don’t you think?
Has The Devil Found A Way In To Deceive?
The truth is there is a little sleight of hand going on. And this is due to the experience, understanding and perceptions of those who are doing the translation from Greek into English. For when we go to the Greek and have a look at what 1 Corinthians 2:2 actually says, we find the reason that this inconsistency within the translation exists.
The words we need to consider are: καὶ τοῦτον ἐσταυρωμένον. The transliteration of the Greek reads: kai touton estauromenon, which in English means: “and this one having been crucified”. So the verse could be translated “For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and this one having been crucified.”
The King James Version Lexicon[i] informs us:
touton too'-ton: this (person, as objective of verb or preposition) -- him, the same, that, this
Had Paul used αὐτοῦ instead of τοῦτον to read, καὶ αὐτοῦ ἐσταυρωμένον, this verse would have been translated, “For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and he himself crucified.”
In this case, there is no ambiguity; the reference would be a direct reference to Jesus Christ as the one meant to be crucified. However, he did not, and because of this, the translators have erred a little to put in their preference rather than what it really ought to say in respect to the context.
[As stated above, translators will translate according to their perceptions if there is a possibility of some variance.And we should always bear in mind that the original manuscripts do not exist only copies of copies. But this is not a problem for us who are born of God and baptized in the Holy Spirit for He will lead us into all truth, if this is our desire.]
Paul is really saying, in the context of the text, that he is being crucified along with Jesus Christ, who has been raised from dead, and even though he is weak in his own crucifixion, he is putting his trust in the power of God. Hence, we read the following and it makes complete sense that this is the case.
When I came to you, brothers, I didn’t come with excellence of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and this one [meaning Paul] having been crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith wouldn’t stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. We speak wisdom, however, among those who are full grown; yet a wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who are coming to nothing. But we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the wisdom that has been hidden, which God foreordained before the worlds for our glory, which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.
In respect to the word ἐσταυρωμένον,(estauromenon) which is the perfect passive participle of σταυρόω (stauroo), Helps Word Studies informs us:
– to crucify, literally used of the Romans crucifying Christ on a wooden cross. "Crucify" (σταυρόω /stauróō) is also used figuratively of putting the old self to death by submitting all decisions (desires) to the Lord. This utterly and decisively rejects the decision to live independently from Him. [ii]
The Bad News Of The Deceptive Message
What all this means is that many people take a verse out of context from the Bible because it appeals to them and they then make a dogmatic assertion that this is the basis of their belief or the motivation for their convictions. Over the years among Evangelicals and Calvinists, on numerous occasions, I have heard people misquote this verse, which is already misleading, and say, “I will have nothing known among you except Christ and Him crucified”.
Once a misconception enters into a person’s thinking, this becomes a stumbling block for continuing in the truth. Instead of people realizing that they need to actually be on the cross, because the translators have erred, to emphasize their belief that Jesus died on the cross, but do not understand the resurrection experience in their own lives, they have put a stumbling block in the lives of many other people.
The Truth Always Sets Us Free If We Want It
However, if a person, like myself, truly wants to know the truth, then erroneous teaching is no major issue, because we see the error of our ways, and as the Amplified Bible[iii] elaborates regarding the spiritual man, we examine, investigate, inquire into, question, and discern all things. This is why the Lord God invites us to come and reason together with Him. Only the truth will set us free.
Jesus said that if we continue in His word, we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. The truth is not men’s theology. The truth is the experiential Word of God at work in us in the power of the Holy Spirit, as we humbly allow God to place us on the cross and raise us out of our sin.
[i] The King James Version New Testament Greek Lexicon is based on Thayer's and Smith's Bible Dictionary, plus others. It is keyed to the large Kittel and the "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament." Public Domain.
[ii] copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc. Used with Permission
[iii] Joseph P. Lightfoot. (Bishop of Durham — Died 21 December 1889) Notes on the Epistles of Saint Paul. From unpublished commentaries London: MacMillan and Co. 1895.