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Bible Gem 320 - Which Scriptures are meant? (1 Cor 2:9)

April 7, 2019

1 Cor 2:9  That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him." 


So what Scriptures are being referred to?  Take time to find and read the passage in the Bible in context.  


The words are found in the apocryphal books of Elijah. Origen and Jerome supposed that Paul quoted from those books. But it is evident that Paul had in mind another passage. What passage was that? Become a detective and follow the leads to find out. Until you read the passage Paul is taking this from, you will not understand his point. Most of us see a reference like this “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say . . .” and blithely carry on reading. Never once stopping to look up the passage Paul is referring to. 


Most often these words (1 Cor 2:9) are applied by commentators and preachers to the future life. “What wonderful treasures are stored up for us in heaven! We haven’t a clue in our minds of what heaven is going to be like. It is beyond our imagination. It is way better than ever you could imagine.” Well that is true but is that what Paul is meaning here? Learn to interpret Scripture correctly.  Take to look at how this passage goes together. How this verse connects to the verses around it. Then you will begin to understand what Paul is meaning here. 


You know what is going to happen now don’t you? You guessed it – homework time. You work it out. 


What is the reference? Is it really from some apocryphal book of Elijah as Origen and Jerome supposed? 


Here is the reference for you for the Elijah reading: "Great and honourable is the divine promise which the Lord has made with his own mouth to them that are holy and pure: He will bestow upon them what eyes have not seen nor ears heard, nor has it entered into any human heart. And from eternity to eternity there will be a race incomparable and incomprehensible." (OTP, vol. 1, "Apocalypse of Elijah," p.728)

Jerome did not deny that the quotation was to be found in the Apocalypse of Elijah, but he denies that Paul was dependent on an apocryphal work. The quote “no eye has seen, no ear has heard” is found in a number of Apocryphal writings. e.g.  Gospel of Thomas “no eye has seen and what no ear has heard and what no hand has touched and what has never occurred to the human mind." But that does not mean Paul used the Apocryphal writings as his source. That is nonsense. USE THE BIBLE TO INTERPRET THE BIBLE as I have told you before.

The passage cited in 1 Cor 2:9 does not appear in the Apocalypse. Rather the quote from Apocalypse of Elijah has a striking similarity with the Jewish "Sepher Elia". That the ancient world used the expression “no eye has seen, no ear has heard” is clear. The issue is what source is Paul quoting? How does it fit with his thought process? 


There is much debate over the apocryphal connection. Many use it to disparage the Bible and claim the source is not divine but that Paul quotes apocryphal sources that the early Church Fathers excluded from Scripture. Is there a biblical reference? When you find the reference in the Bible (not the Apocrypha) read the whole passage. Do some thinking of your own. That is what Paul meant for you to do. Do the first steps now. Find the passage!



You can be in the storm but don’t allow the storm to get in you. Judah Smith


Don’t let the storm eclipse your view of Jesus. 


A bad teacher complains; a good teacher explains; the best teacher inspires.


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