“The Deep Things of God”

“Since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen a God beside thee, which doeth so for him that waiteth for him.”
—Isaiah 64:4 Marginal Translation

A FEW HOURS BEFORE Jesus was crucified, he said to his Heavenly Father, “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3) This makes a proper understanding of God and of Jesus very essential to those who are hoping to gain life eternal through the provision of the Father in the gift of his beloved Son. Since we cannot actually see God, our knowledge of him depends upon the revelation he has made of himself through his Word. Thus a diligent study of his Word is fundamentally important to all who want to know the true God and to be in harmony with him.

The statement such as is sometimes made, “There is enough in the fifth chapter of Matthew to save any man,” is not in harmony with the many declarations of the Bible. Those declarations encourage the Christian to ‘study’ and to ‘search’ the Word in order that he might acquire that knowledge of God which is essential in order to be pleasing to him. (II Tim. 2:15; John 5:39) There is too great a tendency to emphasize merely the blessings which are awaiting sinners who come to the foot of the cross. The followers of Christ are encouraged to go on from there to acquire a deeper knowledge of God which results from a more comprehensive understanding of his plan of salvation.

It is also important, however, to avoid the extreme viewpoints of those who place knowledge on a pedestal, as though it were important enough to be worshiped. Knowledge in its true light is important as the channel through which God reveals himself and inspires our devotion to him, but knowledge itself should not be the chief aim of our lives. The search for it could lead to an assumption of spiritual superiority on the part of those who make knowledge a matter of the head rather than the heart.

Texts of the Bible which speak of the ‘deep things of God,’ ‘strong meat,’ and the ‘mysteries’ of God, have at times been misinterpreted, even though those who have done so have probably been sincere in their viewpoints.—I Cor. 2:10; Heb. 5:14; Col. 2:2; 1:27,28

Some claim that devotional truths are the ‘deep things of God,’ the ‘strong meat’ of the Word. God IS love, and the wonderful provision he has made through Christ inspires us to love him and to devote our lives to his service. Faith in God and his promises is essential in order to live such a life of devotion, and the Scriptures encourage us to add to our faith other qualities of character. These truths of the Bible are fundamental and can only be understood and appreciated by those who have discernment of the true doctrines of the Divine plan.


Writing about the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the services associated with it, the Apostle Paul speaks of them as a “shadow of good things to come.” (Heb. 8:5; 10:1) In these ‘shadows’ certain clearly outlined truths of the Divine plan are prefigured. When these are understood they help us to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the truth more than we did before. It is possible, however, to become so absorbed in trying to ascertain the meaning of all the intricacies of the Tabernacle and its services, that one could lose sight of the intended purpose of the ‘shadows.’ Some, indeed, have mistakenly concluded that only those who are able to explain the meaning of every board, hook, skin, and color in the Tabernacle really understand ‘the deep things of God.’

Some Christians seek a better understanding of the chronology of the Divine plan. Others specialize in the prophecies of the Bible, particularly the book of Revelation. They put forth efforts to understand and explain the significance of every detail of these prophecies. There could be an inclination on the part of some of these to feel that those who do not share their enthusiasm for Tabernacle types, chronology, or prophecy lack appreciation of the ‘strong meat’ of the Word.


There is no suggestion in the Bible that only mental giants can comprehend the essential truths of God’s plan of salvation; nor does the Bible encourage us to think that special spiritual qualities are possessed by some which are beyond the reach of the rank and file of the Lord’s people. The truth of the Divine plan, as well as the standards of righteousness and spirituality associated with it, are the same for all the consecrated. The ‘deep things of God’ are understandable by all who have been called by the Lord to run for the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus.—I Cor. 2:10

We should not discount the importance of any truth which is contained in the Word of God. The great truth of Divine love, and of the privilege of our development into the character likeness of God and of Christ, are certainly essential. The types and pictures of the Old Testament, when used to increase the clarity of the Divine plan doctrines, are especially valuable to our growth in knowledge. The prophecies also have been put into the Bible for our edification as New Creatures in Christ Jesus (II Cor. 5:17), as have also the chronology and other time features of the plan of salvation. Let us use all these for the strengthening of our faith, and for our growth in grace and knowledge. But let none of us become discouraged by the erroneous supposition that there are certain ‘deep’ things of the Word which are quite beyond general comprehension, and that God intends these profound truths to be understood only by a spiritual hierarchy among his people.

The great truths mentioned in the Bible as being the most profound are, as a rule, the simplest facts of the Divine plan. And this is what we should expect, since God is the Author of the wonderful plan of salvation through which he has revealed his love and caused us to rejoice in the riches of his grace.


There are several texts in the Bible which convey the thought of the profound knowledge, or understanding, needed to comprehend the Divine plan, and the love of God and of Christ revealed therein. In a beautiful benediction invoked upon the brethren at Ephesus, Paul wrote, “That he [God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (Eph. 3:16-19) This passage gives a definite suggestion of profound understanding. But is Paul writing about some special truth which is so ‘deep’ that he knew only a few would be able to grasp it? Apparently not, for he speaks of being able to comprehend it with ‘all’ saints. In other words, that great truth which ‘passeth’ knowledge was, nevertheless, in his opinion, within the mental reach of ‘all’ the Lord’s people. And again we say, this is just what we should expect.

The Greek word translated ‘passeth’ in this text means, ‘beyond the usual.’ In other words, the point of truth which Paul is writing about is not incomprehensible, but simply ‘beyond usual’ knowledge, or that which is not generally understood. Just what is this unusual knowledge Paul had in mind, and which, in such a wonderful way, enables us to appreciate the length and breadth and height and depth of the love of Christ? The answer to this question comes to light as we read the earlier portion of the chapter.

Beginning with Ephesians 3:2, let us notice the manner in which Paul emphasizes the great depth of understanding with which the Lord had favored him, that “by revelation he made known unto me the mystery.” (vs. 3) He indicates that he had previously explained this in order that the brethren at Ephesus “may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” (vs. 4) He then explains that this profound understanding of a particular part of the Divine plan as centered in Christ had not previously been made known, but “is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”—vs. 5

Just what is this vital truth, so profound, so deep, that a special revelation from the Lord was necessary to enable Paul and the other apostles to understand it? The next verse answers: “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the Gospel.” (vs. 6) Surely this is a wonderfully simple truth of the Divine plan, yet it was treated by Paul as though it were a great mystery, as indeed it was in the days of the Early Church.

Throughout all the centuries during which God was dealing with his typical people, Israel, his prophets continued to make promises concerning the coming Messiah, Christ. The entire nation of Israel was considered to be the messianic nation, to be associated with Christ in fulfilling the wonderful promises of worldwide blessings. “You only have I known of all the families of the earth,” the Lord told Israel through the Prophet Amos.—Amos 3:2

With this background of understanding, it must have been very difficult, especially for Jewish converts in the Early Church, to grasp the idea that gentiles could be ‘fellowheirs’ with them, and members of the same ‘body’ of Christ. To those who became aware of this great mystery, it served as a marvelous revelation of Divine love. It showed that the love of God was broad enough and deep enough to take in the gentiles, and make them heirs of the messianic promises.

There is much in the writings of the New Testament to indicate that this particular truth was considered by the Early Church as one of the very ‘deep things of God,’ and Paul was particularly desirous that the brethren in Ephesus comprehend it clearly and realize that it had been given as a special revelation of the Spirit, showing the extensiveness of the love of God and Christ. Here indeed was knowledge which went beyond the usual understanding of both Jews and gentiles, and yet today it is very simple to those who in their hearts are “no respecter of persons.” (Acts 10:34) Certainly there is no consecrated child of God now who is not able to grasp such a simple fact of the Divine plan, yet it is listed in the Scriptures as a truth which helps to reveal the “unsearchable riches of Christ.”—Eph 3:8


Closely associated with this doctrine which was such ‘strong meat’ to the Early Church, was the further truth that even those natural descendants of Abraham who had rejected the Messiah, and consequently were broken off from the ‘olive tree’ of promise, were ultimately to be reinstated into Divine favor, and have an opportunity to gain life. Paul discusses this point in Romans, chapter 11, saying that “God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” He then adds, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”—Rom. 11:32,33

In the Greek text the word translated ‘depth’ in Paul’s ecstasy, ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!’ is the same one he uses in I Corinthians 2:10 where he speaks of the ‘deep’ things of God. His reference to God’s ‘judgments’ as being ‘unsearchable’ is a quotation from Psalm 36:6. The entire passage reads, “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds. Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.”—vss. 5-7

How wonderfully this language assures us of God’s lovingkindness, of the riches of his grace, the abundance of his mercy, and the righteousness of his judgments! These glorious characteristics of our God are quite ‘unsearchable’ in so far as our ability to enter fully into their meaning is concerned. However, Paul cites a wonderful example of God’s mercy and righteous judgments, telling us that these loving qualities of our Heavenly Father will be manifested in the ultimate salvation of those who rejected Christ at his First Advent, and that he will exercise his mercy toward all of them.

This, too, is a wonderfully simple truth to those now who understand and accept the Divine plan of the ages, but to many in the Early Church it must have been “strong meat” (Heb. 5:12); that is, truth hard to assimilate. Even today there are many professing Christians who cannot take it, refusing to believe that God’s love is abundant enough to extend the opportunity of salvation to those who die in unbelief.

What a privilege to share the joys of this wonderful knowledge with others of ‘like precious faith’! We can help one another in our study of the Word. Regardless of how long we have been ‘in the truth,’ there are points that we can learn even from beginners, if we maintain a childlike simplicity and humility before the Lord and among our brethren. Above all, let us always look to the Lord for his help and guidance, that we may continue to grow in grace and in an ever-increasing knowledge of him.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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