“But as it is written, What no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human heart has conceived— God has prepared these things for those who love him.” – 1 Corinthians 2:9
As believers of the Christian faith, we are taught to place our hope in God for the outcome of our lives. No matter what trials and tribulations we face in life, we are encouraged to hold onto faith, and wait patiently for God’s deliverance.
Psalm 13 is a great example of God’s deliverance from pain.
Much like the author of this passage, David, our circumstances may lead us to question God. We may sometimes even wonder if He is truly on our side. However, when we choose to wait for the Lord, in time, we see He not only keeps His promises, but uses all things for our good. In this life or the next.
Waiting is challenging though, not knowing God’s timing, nor what “better” will look like. This not knowing is what truly tests our faith. How is God going to work things out this time?
Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians answers this question without actually telling us God’s plan. The passage makes clear two key ideas about God:
- no one can tell you the full extent of God’s plan for your life,
- and you yourself will never know God’s full plan either.
But what we do know is something good is over the horizon.
The phrase “eyes have not seen” denotes that no one, including yourself, can visibly lay eyes on God’s plans before they occur. This is a literal and metaphorical interpretation. Part of the reason God’s ways are mysterious is because He doesn’t communicate all the intricate details of our lives. He doesn’t always tell us step-by-step how to make a problem go away. Or how to readily bring about our aspirations. Both take time, and oftentimes we learn in life as we progress. God reveals new information only as it is given and not in advance.
However uncomfortable, we know that trials are necessary for the building of our faith (Romans 5:3-5). If we knew everything outlined for our lives, we wouldn’t need to trust God’s plan.
Keeping us in the dark leads us to rely on Him more.
Photo Credit: © Getty Images/Farknot Architect
Where Does the Phrase 'Eyes Have Not Seen’ Come From?
Apostle Paul, the writer of 1 Corinthians, gives his proclamation of the Holy Spirit to people in the Church of Corinth.
Preceding the ninth verse where he uses the phrase “eyes have not seen,” Paul makes clear that there is a difference between the wisdom men proclaim to have, and the wisdom that comes from God. Paul regards God’s wisdom as a “mystery,” while stating that the wisdom of rulers comes to “nothing.”
If man had wisdom, Paul indicates, Jesus would not have needed to be crucified. However, all humanity can see is what is present in the moment, not being able to control or know the future with certainty.
When Paul writes “eyes have not seen,” he indicates that no man can predict God’s acts. No one knows God except for the Spirit of God. We can partake in understanding God because of the Holy Spirit within us.
Paul furthers this idea in his writing. No one understands God, and is able to give Him advice. If God could be instructed by humanity, then God would not be omnipotent or all-knowing.
The Significance of Eyes in the Bible
Walking through the wilderness without a timeframe for getting out sounds like an unfortunate fate, but such was the case for the Israelites, God’s people, for forty years.
They could not rely on their eyes (in their own ability) to solve their calamity, and instead required a refined faith in God to save them.
Though they could not depend on themselves, the Bible makes clear that eyes are significant to our wellbeing. Scientifically speaking, we use our eyes to process information around us. Our eyes reflect light giving us a natural ability to view the world around us in all its various shapes and colors. We see things that please us, and things that frighten us.
There’s a reason we have terms such as “body language” used to describe how we process someone’s communication based on what we visually perceive. In the Bible, we are told that what our eyes see affects our entire beings.
“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light within you is darkness, how deep is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23)
Our eyes reflect our focus, and in this verse of Scripture, we see that our focus affects our hearts. Lamps are used to guide. If we are not being guided by light, which is God, then we walk in darkness apart from God.
We can ascertain that the eyes are not necessarily more significant than the rest of the body, but instead contribute to our spiritual wellbeing.
Tension exists in the idea that no eye sees God’s plan, but our eyes also see a light that guides us. This leads us to understand that seeing the light—that is seeing God—does not equate to fully understanding God. Instead, we can walk with God with the information we do know and hope through faith that He guides us through something greater.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Cherry Laithang
How to Trust in What We Haven’t Seen
Take note of the mentioning of love in this chapter. God’s great plans are for those that love Him. And those that love Him use their eyes to follow Him, albeit imperfectly. Whether God reveals His plans or not, following Him will spur us to act in accordance with His will.
When trials and tribulations find us, we can rest assured knowing that while we may suffer, the storm comes to an end. And at the end of the storm is a surprise God has planned, and one that we cannot see with our own eyes.
Yet, when we do, what joy there will be.
The final takeaway from 1 Corinthians 2:9 leads us in the way of wisdom, and beware of worldly wisdom. Receiving wise counsel is an important part of being in the Christian community. But Paul expressed that man’s wisdom and God’s wisdom are not the same. Sometimes people speak for themselves and not for God.
Thankfully, the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf. Whenever we need wisdom, we can come boldly before God’s throne, knowing that no one has seen our fate, but Him. And that is more than enough.
Photo Credit: © Unsplash/Jakob Owen
Aaron D'Anthony Brown is a freelance writer, hip-hop dance teacher, and visual artist, living in Virginia. He currently contributes work to iBelieve, Crosswalk, and supports various clients through the platform Upwork. He's an outside-the-box thinker with a penchant for challenging the status quo. Check out his short story “Serenity.”
This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.