“The Spirit Searches Into . . . the Deep Things of God”
“The spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”—1 COR. 2:10.
1. What role of the holy spirit is highlighted by Paul at 1 Corinthians 2:10, and what questions arise?
HOW grateful we can be for the operation of Jehovah’s holy spirit! The Scriptures speak of the spirit as a helper, a gift, a witness bearer, and one that pleads for us. (John 14:16; Acts 2:38; Rom. 8:16, 26, 27) The apostle Paul highlighted another vital role that the holy spirit plays: “The spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) Indeed, Jehovah uses his holy spirit to reveal deep spiritual truths. Without this help, where would we be in our understanding of Jehovah’s purposes? (Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-12.) However, several questions arise: How does ‘the spirit search into the deep things of God’? Through whom did Jehovah reveal these things in the first century C.E.? How and through whom does the spirit search into these deep things in our day?
2. In what twofold way would the spirit operate?
2 Jesus indicated a twofold way in which the spirit would operate. Shortly before his death, he told his apostles: “The helper, the holy spirit, which the Father will send in my name, that one will teach you all things and bring back to your minds all the things I told you.” (John 14:26) The holy spirit would thus act as a teacher and as a remembrancer. As a teacher, it would help Christians grasp things not previously understood. As a remembrancer, it would help them recall and apply correctly what had been explained.
In the First Century
3. What words of Jesus indicated that “the deep things of God” would be revealed progressively?
3 Jesus himself taught his disciples many truths that were new to them. They still had much to learn, however. Jesus told the apostles: “I have many things yet to say to you, but you are not able to bear them at present. However, when that one arrives, the spirit of the truth, he will guide you into all the truth.” (John 16:12, 13) Jesus thus indicated that by means of holy spirit, deep spiritual things would be progressively revealed.
4. On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., how did the holy spirit act as a teacher and as a remembrancer?
4 On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., “the spirit of the truth” arrived, being poured out on about 120 Christians gathered together in Jerusalem. There were visible and audible evidences of this. (Acts 1:4, 5, 15; 2:1-4) The disciples spoke in a variety of tongues “about the magnificent things of God.” (Acts 2:5-11) It was now time for something new to be revealed. The prophet Joel had foretold this outpouring of holy spirit. (Joel 2:28-32) Onlookers were witnessing the fulfillment in a way none of them had expected, and the apostle Peter took the lead in explaining this development. (Read Acts 2:14-18.) The holy spirit thus acted as a teacher in making clear to Peter that what the disciples had experienced was in fulfillment of that ancient prophecy. The spirit also acted as a remembrancer, for Peter quoted not only Joel but two psalms of David as well. (Ps. 16:8-11; 110:1; Acts 2:25-28, 34, 35) What all those assembled saw and heard were truly deep things of God.
5, 6. (a) After Pentecost 33 C.E., what important questions regarding the new covenant needed to be answered? (b) Through whom were these issues raised, and how were decisions made?
5 Many matters still needed clarification for the first-century Christians. For example, there were questions about the new covenant that had gone into effect on that day of Pentecost. Was the new covenant limited to Jews and Jewish proselytes? Could Gentiles also be accepted into it and be anointed with holy spirit? (Acts 10:45) Would Gentile males first need to be circumcised and to submit to the Mosaic Law? (Acts 15:1, 5) These were momentous questions. Jehovah’s spirit was needed to search into these deep things. Through whom, though, would it operate?
6 It was through responsible brothers that each issue was raised for consideration. Peter, Paul, and Barnabas were at that meeting of the governing body and recounted how Jehovah had been dealing with uncircumcised Gentiles. (Acts 15:7-12) After considering this evidence in the light of indications in the Hebrew Scriptures and with the help of holy spirit, the governing body made a decision. Then they informed the congregations in writing about that decision.—Read Acts 15:25-30; 16:4, 5; Eph. 3:5, 6.
7. By what means were deep truths revealed?
7 Many other matters were clarified through the inspired writings of John, Peter, James, and Paul. But at some point after the Christian Scriptures were completed, gifts of prophesying and miraculously revealed knowledge ceased. (1 Cor. 13:8) Would the spirit continue to act as a teacher and a remembrancer? Would it continue to help Christians to search into the deep things of God? Prophecy indicated that it would.
During the Time of the End
8, 9. Who would “shine” with spiritual insight during the time of the end?
8 Speaking about the time of the end, an angel foretold: “The ones having insight will shine like the brightness of the expanse; and those who are bringing the many to righteousness, like the stars to time indefinite, even forever. . . . And the true knowledge will become abundant.” (Dan. 12:3, 4) Who would be the ones having insight and who would shine? Jesus provided a clue in his illustration of the wheat and the weeds. Speaking about the “conclusion of a system of things,” he stated: “At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matt. 13:39, 43) In his explanation, Jesus identified “the righteous ones” as “the sons of the kingdom,” anointed Christians.—Matt. 13:38.
9 Would all anointed Christians “shine”? In a sense, yes, for all Christians would participate in preaching, in disciple making, and in building one another up at meetings. Anointed ones would set the example. (Zech. 8:23) In addition to this, however, deep things were to be revealed during the time of the end. The very prophecy Daniel recorded was “sealed up” until that time. (Dan. 12:9) How and through whom would the spirit search into these deep things?
10. (a) Through whom does the spirit reveal deep truths during the last days? (b) Explain how truths regarding Jehovah’s great spiritual temple were clarified.
10 When the time comes to clarify a spiritual matter in our day, holy spirit helps responsible representatives of “the faithful and discreet slave” at world headquarters to discern deep truths that were not previously understood. (Matt. 24:45; 1 Cor. 2:13) The Governing Body as a whole considers adjusted explanations. (Acts 15:6) What they learn, they publish for the benefit of all. (Matt. 10:27) As time goes on, further clarifications may be needed, and these too are honestly explained.—See the box “How the Spirit Revealed the Meaning of the Spiritual Temple.”
Benefiting From the Spirit’s Role Today
11. How do all Christians today benefit from the holy spirit’s role in revealing the deep things of God?
11 All faithful Christians benefit from the holy spirit’s role in revealing the deep things of God. Like the first-century Christians, we today study and later recall and apply information that the holy spirit helps us to understand. (Luke 12:11, 12) We do not need extensive formal education in order to comprehend deep spiritual truths that have been published. (Acts 4:13) How might we go about improving our understanding of the deep things of God? Consider a few suggestions.
12. When should we pray for holy spirit?
12 Pray for holy spirit. When we are about to consider Scriptural material, we should first ask in prayer for holy spirit to guide us. This is true even if we are alone or the time we have available is short. Such humble petitions will surely warm our heavenly Father’s heart. As Jesus indicated, Jehovah will provide his holy spirit freely at our sincere request.—Luke 11:13.
13, 14. What role does preparing for meetings play in understanding the deep things of God?
13 Prepare for meetings. We receive “food at the proper time” through the slave class. The “slave” fulfills its assignment by supplying Scriptural material and by arranging programs for study and meetings. There are well-thought-out reasons for asking “the whole association of brothers” to consider certain information. (1 Pet. 2:17; Col. 4:16; Jude 3) We cooperate with the holy spirit when we do our best to follow the recommendations provided.—Rev. 2:29.
14 When preparing for Christian meetings, we do well to look up the cited Scriptures and to try to discern how each applies to the subject at hand. This practice will gradually deepen our understanding of the Bible. (Acts 17:11, 12) Looking them up makes a mental impression that the holy spirit can help us recall. Additionally, if we see the text on the page in the Bible, this will leave a visual impression that can help us find the passage when we need to.
15. Why should we keep up-to-date with published material, and how do you accomplish this?
15 Keep up-to-date. Some published material is not reviewed at our meetings, but it is prepared for our benefit. Even issues of our journals that are offered to the public are prepared with us in mind. In this complicated world, we often have to wait for someone or something. If we carry with us a publication that we have not read or have only partially read, we may be able to use these opportunities to read a portion. Some keep up-to-date by listening to audio recordings of our publications while walking or while riding in a vehicle. Carefully researched but written for enjoyment by average readers, all this material deepens our appreciation for spiritual things.—Hab. 2:2.
16. What benefit is there in noting and pursuing questions that come to mind?
16 Meditate. When you read the Bible or publications based on it, take time to think. As you carefully follow the line of thought, questions may occur to you. You might make a note of such questions and follow up on them later. It is often when we pursue matters that intrigue us that we delve the deepest. The understanding we acquire becomes part of the personal treasure we can draw from as we need to.—Matt. 13:52.
17. What program do you follow for family or personal study?
17 Schedule a time for family worship. The Governing Body has encouraged all of us to set aside an evening or other period each week for personal or family study. Our adjusted meeting schedule opens the way for us to apply this counsel. What do you consider during Family Worship evenings? Some read the Bible, researching verses that raise questions in their mind and making brief explanatory notes in their Bible. Many families take time to make family application of the material studied. Certain family heads select material that they feel the family needs to consider or that deals with subjects or questions the family has asked to consider. You will no doubt think of other subjects to consider as time goes on. *
18. Why should we not shrink back from studying the deeper truths of God’s Word?
18 Jesus said that the spirit would act as a helper. So we should not shrink back from studying the deeper truths of God’s Word. Such truths are part of the precious “knowledge of God,” and we are invited to search into them. (Read Proverbs 2:1-5.) They reveal much about “the things that God has prepared for those who love him.” As we make the effort to learn more about Jehovah’s Word, holy spirit will help us, for “the spirit searches into all things, even the deep things of God.”—1 Cor. 2:9, 10.
^ par. 17 See also Our Kingdom Ministry of October 2008, page 8.
How Would You Answer?
• In what twofold way does the spirit help us to search into “the deep things of God”?
• Through whom did the holy spirit reveal deep truths in the first century?
• How does the holy spirit operate to clarify matters in our day?
• What can you do to benefit from the spirit’s role?
[Box on page 22]
How the Spirit Revealed the Meaning of the Spiritual Temple
Among “the deep things of God” revealed during the first century was that the tabernacle and later the temples foreshadowed a much greater spiritual reality. Paul called that reality “the true tent, which Jehovah put up, and not man.” (Heb. 8:2) This was a great spiritual temple, an arrangement for approach to God made possible by the sacrifice and priesthood of Jesus Christ.
“The true tent” came into existence in 29 C.E. when Jesus was baptized and Jehovah accepted him as the one to become a perfect sacrifice. (Heb. 10:5-10) After his death and resurrection, Jesus entered the Most Holy of the spiritual temple and presented the value of his sacrifice “before the person of God.”—Heb. 9:11, 12, 24.
Elsewhere, the apostle Paul wrote of anointed Christians as “growing into a holy temple for Jehovah.” (Eph. 2:20-22) Was this temple to be the same as “the true tent” that he later described in his letter to the Hebrews? For decades, Jehovah’s servants thought that it was. It seemed that anointed Christians were being fitted on earth to become “stones” in the heavenly temple of Jehovah.—1 Pet. 2:5.
Toward the year 1971, however, responsible members of the slave class began to discern that the temple spoken of by Paul in Ephesians could not be Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. If “the true tent” were composed of resurrected anointed Christians, it would first come into existence after their resurrection began during “the presence of the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:15-17) But referring to the tabernacle, Paul wrote: “This very tent is an illustration for the appointed time that is now here.”—Heb. 9:9.
By carefully comparing these and other scriptures, it became clear that the spiritual temple is not in the process of being built and that anointed Christians are not “stones” being fashioned on earth for inclusion in it. Rather, anointed Christians are serving in the courtyard and in the Holy of the spiritual temple, daily offering to God “a sacrifice of praise.”—Heb. 13:15.
[Picture on page 23]
How can we improve our understanding of “the deep things of God”?