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  • Writer's pictureПолина Микулич

Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

Last Saturday we had an unusual event at our youth service: everyone gathered at church to read all Paul's letters in a day.

Bible Speed Reading

This is, by the way, a very nice idea! At first I thought that there's nothing too exciting in just reading the Bible for eight hours straight. In reality, this turned out to be a very nice experience! First of all, we took breaks for snacks, and second of all, we also studied history a little. With the help of the Bible Project videos we learned about the letters: in what circumstances and for what reason Paul wrote them. We also read the letters in the chronological order - in the order that they were created. This allowed us to look at Paul's life as well.

All in all, this was a great idea - you could also read all the Gospels like this or some other part of the Bible. This takes quite a lot of time and effort, but also gives you many positive emotions. After talking to the youth the next day we found out that they learned more about Paul and his teachings, about the first churches, understood more about the Bible and Christianity, and found some pretty good thoughts. I would say, the results are pretty good!

Speaking of thoughts, while we were speed reading all the letters, I wrote down in my notes one Bible verse that I liked, and then started thinking about it more. As it usually is, one verse contains a lot of biblical wisdom that I wanted to share with you all.

Apostle Paul's Prayer

In the beginning of his letter to Ephesians, Paul praises the church that he wrote this letter to. He tells them that in his prayers he constantly thanks God for their faith and love (Eph. 1:15-16). However, "the sky is the limit", so in the next verse He says that he's also praying for them. What does Paul ask for such a great Christian community?

"[I pray], that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him" (Eph. 1:17).

In other words, apostle Paul prays that Ephesians got to know God. Does it mean that they don't know Him at all? I don't think so, since a few verses back He writes about their faith in Jesus. This leads to the first point I wanted to make: all Christians need to grow in their knowledge of God.

It doesn't matter if we were born in a Christian family or came from a very different background, whether we have believed in God for decades or met Him for the first time not long ago. The God that we believe in is unfathomable and our knowledge of Him will never be sufficient.

In this verse we also see what we need to grow in the knowledge of God. Paul calls this "the Spirit of wisdom and revelation".

Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation

The word "Spirit" starts with a capital letter which usually means that the author is talking about the Holy Spirit. Does it mean that the church in Ephesus didn't have the Holy Spirit? Why would Paul ask God to give them the Spirit?

The answer to these questions is pretty simple. Some translations spell the word "spirit" with a lowercase letter, or even say "give you spiritual wisdom and insight". This leads us to the thought that the Spirit itself is not the main focus here, but rather wisdom and revelation.

If your translation says Spirit meaning the Holy Spirit, it would make sense if you rephrase it a little how some interpreters do: "that God would make the Spirit that is already in you the Spirit producing wisdom and revelation in you".

The only question now is what Paul meant by wisdom and revelation and how it practically works!

What Wisdom is

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom, there's even chapter written from the point of view of wisdom. You can talk for days about it (I actually have a post about wisdom as well). As Paul calls is, "the depth of the riches and wisdom an knowldege of God" (Rom. 11:33), wisdom is too deep to fully grasp.

What stands out, wisdom is usually described as an attribute of God. Job says that "with God are wisdom and might" (Job 12:13). In the New Testament, people were saying the same about Jesus. The Bible says that people were astonished and said "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works?" (Matt. 13:54). These words also imply that Jesus has God's wisdom which also proves His divine nature.

What about people though? Do we have access to God's wisdom? Yes, we do: if you search the word "wisdom" in the Bible, you will find a lot of verses that mention how "the mouth of the righteous utters wisdom" (Ps. 37:30). You will also find many ways of attaining this wisdom, but I only want to talk about one today.

Where Wisdom Comes From

Paul writes to Colossians:

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom" (Col. 3:16).

It's pretty obvious to me that teaching and learning about the words of Christ fills us with wisdom! I think you met pastors and preachers who read the Bible a lot, who meditate over it and study it. It seems like they know answers to all the questions and can mention several Bible verses in any discussion.

This is exactly how it works: the more time we spend in the word of God, the deeper they become engraved on our hearts. Moreover, studying the Scriptures helps us see life through the prism of God's word which gives us practical wisdom.

Note how in this Bible verse Paul makes an accent on teaching and admonishing (a more harsh form of teaching) one another. Dwelling in the word of Christ doesn't only mean you reading your Bible (which is undoubtedly the main source of God's word). The Bible should also be studied in church through sermons, seminars, bible schools, and different kinds of church services. There's a multitude of teaching platforms outside of the church now such as books, podcasts, and even conversations with spiritual people. All this information can fill us with wisdom and strengthen the transformation in our hearts.

What Revelation is and Where it Comes From

Last year I wrote a whole post about it, so I’ll just post the link here (check out the second half). In two words, a revelation is when something we didn’t know or understand before is revealed to us. A revelation is some information or an experience that God himself gives us personally, directly or through an intermediary. There could be a great variety of intermediaries: obvious (prophets or angels) or not so obvious (sermons, conversations, songs, dreams, etc.)

A revelation always comes from the Lord and has great value. If you search up the word ”revelation” in the Bible, you will find that people use it like something very important and precious. Late in Ephesians Paul says that through rough God’a God’s grace he was given a revelation by which He made known to him the mystery of Christ. Through revelations God shows Himself to people.

To my mind, a revelation is something supernatural; it’s a moment when spiritual world is revealed to a person. Even though we can only see this world “only a reflection as in a mirror”, it still gives us an internal experience and understanding of God which may not always seem clear and logical, but always real and true.

Wisdom and Revelation in the Knowledge of Him

To sum up, Paul writes that to grow in the knowledge of God we need wisdom and revelation. Now, having looked at both of these in detail, you can see how true this is! We can get more knowledge of God from the point of view of mind, facts, information, and the best book to use would be the Bible. We can also grow in the knowledge of God through supernatural, real, personal experience of His presence. And both of these ways are right!

Which one is better? There’s no answer to this questions in the same way that you wouldn’t be able to say which wing a bird needs more to fly - both are necessary. For the knowledge of God we need both wisdom and revelation. Both knowledge and experience. We can’t deny one of them, though I understand that many people (and even churches) are leaning more towards one of the sides.

One thing I know for sure: to know God you need to be with God, get closer to Him by all possible ways. He’s unfathomable and will never be revealed to us in His fullness. But the closer we get to Him, the more we will be able to see.

This is why, my friends, I pray with Paul that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give us the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of our hearts enlightened! (Eph. 1:17-18)

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