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Verse 9. But, as it is written. This passage is quoted from Isa 44:4. It is not quoted literally; but the sense only is given. The words are found in the apocryphal books of Elijah; and Origen and Jerome supposed that Paul quoted from those books. But it is evident that Paul had in his eye the passage in Isaiah; and intended to apply it to his present purpose. These words are often applied by commentators and others to the future life, and are supposed by them to be descriptive of the state of the blessed there. But against the supposition that they refer directly to the future state, there are insuperable objections.

(1.) The first is, that the passage in Isaiah has no such reference. In that place it is designed clearly to describe the blessedness of those who were admitted to the Divine favour; who had communion with God; and to whom God manifested himself as their Friend. That blessedness is said to be superior to all that men elsewhere enjoy; to be such as could be found nowhere else but in God. See Isa 44:1,4,6,8.

It is used there, as Paul uses it, to denote the happiness which results from the communication of the Divine favour to the soul.

(2.) The object of the apostle is not to describe the future state of the redeemed. It is to prove that those who are Christians have true wisdom, 1 Co 2:6,7; or that they have views of truth, and of the excellence of the plan of salvation, which the world has not, and which those who crucified the Lord Jesus did not possess. The thing which he is describing here is not merely the happiness of Christians, but their views of the wisdom of the plan of salvation. They have views of that which the eyes of other men have not seen; a view of wisdom, and fitness, and beauty, which can be found in no other plan. It is true that this view is attended with a high degree of comfort; but the comfort is not the immediate thing in the eye of the apostle.

(3.) The declaration in 1 Co 2:10 is conclusive proof that Paul does not refer to the happiness of heaven. He there says that God has revealed these things to Christians by his Spirit. But if already revealed, assuredly it does not refer to that which is yet to come. But although this does not refer directly to heaven, there may be an application of the passage to a future state in an indirect manner, which is not improper. If there are such manifestations of wisdom in the plan here; if Christians see so much of its beauty here on earth; and if their views so far surpass all that the world sees and enjoys, how much greater and purer will be the manifestations of wisdom and goodness in the world of glory.

Eye hath not seen. This is the same as saying, that no one had ever fully perceived and understood the value and beauty of those things which God had prepared for his people. All the world had been strangers to this, until God made a revelation to his people by his Spirit. The blessedness which the apostle referred to had been unknown alike to the Jews and the Gentiles.

Nor ear heard. We learn the existence and quality of objects by the external senses; and those senses are used to denote any acquisition of knowledge. To say that the eye had not seen, nor the ear heard, was, therefore, the same as saying that it was not known at all. All men had been ignorant of it.

Neither have entered into the heart of man. No man has conceived it; or understood it. It is new; and is above all that man has seen, and felt, and known.

The things which God hath prepared. The things which God "has held in reserve," Bloomfield; that is, what God has appointed in the gospel for his people. The thing to which the apostle here refers particularly, is the wisdom which was revealed in the gospel; but he also intends, doubtless, to include all the provisions of mercy and happiness which the gospel makes known to the people of God. Those things relate to the pardon of sin; to the atonement, and to justification by faith; to the peace and joy which religion imparts; to the complete and final redemption from sin and death which the gospel is fitted to produce, and which it will ultimately effect. In all these respects, the blessings which the gospel confers surpass the full comprehension of men, and are infinitely beyond all that man could know or experience without the religion of Christ. And if on earth the gospel confers such blessings on its friends, how much higher and purer shall be the joys which it shall bestow in heaven!

{a} "Eye" Isa 44:4

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