Revelations from the Word

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Then they understood...

by Jean-Louis Coraboeuf

"But Jesus, being aware of it, said to them, O you of little faith, why do you reason among yourselves because you have brought no bread? Do you not yet understand [noeo], or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up? Nor the seven loaves of the four thousand and how many large baskets you took up? How is it you do not understand [noeo] that I did not speak to you concerning bread? - but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood [suniemi] that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees" (Matthew 16:8-12).

The Greek verb noeo means to understand with one's mind, one's intelligence or one's reason (Matthew 16:9). On the other hand, the Greek verb suniemi means to understand with one's spirit (Matthew 16:12). When Jesus asked His disciples the question, "Who do men say that I am?" (Mark 8:27), He received an answer dictated by intelligence or human reason, "Some say that You are John the Baptist, others Elijah, others Jeremiah…". But when He asked His disciples the question personally, "And you, who do you say that I am?" (Mark 8:29), he got an answer directly inspired by the Holy Spirit, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".

Our understanding of the things of God depends therefore on who is directing our mind: our soul or our spirit? Jesus would say to the crowd who followed Him, "You will hear with your ears, and you will not understand [suniemi] at all" (Matthew 13:14). True spiritual understanding, suniemi, can only come through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonas (Bar Jonas); for it is not flesh and blood that have revealed [apocalupto] that to you, but it is My Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 16:17). The Greek verb apocalupto literally means to take away the veil. It is the Holy Spirit who takes away the veil from our mind, that is why the apostle Paul was able to write, "for I have not received nor learned from man, but by the revelation [apocalupto] of Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:12).

Man is therefore subject to two sources of inspiration. After answering Jesus' question by means of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter functions again with his feelings, "God forbid, Lord! That shall not happen to You" (Matthew 16:22). This earns him the scathing answer from Jesus, "Get behind Me, Satan!... for your thoughts are not God's thoughts, but those of man" (Matthew 16:23). That is why Jesus said one must surrender, literally deny oneself in order to follow Him, that is to say, give up our way of thinking (Matthew 16:24). Thus, in order to understand the Scriptures, we need to have our mind spiritually open to the Holy Spirit only (Luke 24:45), that is to say, we must be born again by the Spirit of God.