Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


1 Corinthians 3:20

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise - They are always full of schemes and plans for earthly good; and God knows that all this is vain, empty, and unsatisfactory; and will stand them in no stead when he comes to take away their souls. This is a quotation from Psalm 94:11. What is here said of the vanity of human knowledge is true of every kind of wisdom that leads not immediately to God himself.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And again, - Psalm 94:11.

The Lord knoweth - God searches the heart. The particular thing which it is here said that he knows, is, that the thoughts of man are vain. They have this quality; and this is that which the psalmist here says that God sees. The affirmation is not one respecting the omniscience of God, but with respect to what God sees of the nature of the thoughts of the wise.

The thoughts of the wise - Their plans, purposes, designs.

That they are vain - That they lack real wisdom; they are foolish; they shall not be accomplished as they expect; or be seen to have that wisdom which they now suppose they possess.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that wordly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; "All are yours," even ministers and ordinances. Nay, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours, that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father's house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you for ever at your journey's end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of his kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must own his dominion, and cheerfully submit to his command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.
Ellen G. White
That I May Know Him, 210.1

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 1 Corinthians 3:19, 20. TMK 210.1

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Ellen G. White
SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6 (EGW), 1082
Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 483

These words mean very much to the soul that is trying to run the race set before him in the gospel. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” TM 483.1

Read also the third chapter of this book, and study and pray over these words. As a people our faith and practice need to be energized by the Holy Spirit. No ruling power that would compel man to obey the dictates of the finite mind should be exercised. “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils,” the Lord commands. By turning the minds of men to lean on human wisdom, we place a veil between God and man, so that there is not a seeing of Him who is invisible. TM 483.2

In our individual experience we are to be taught of God. When we seek Him with a sincere heart, we will confess to Him our defects of character; and He has promised to receive all who come to Him in humble dependence. The one who yields to the claims of God will have the abiding presence of Christ, and this companionship will be to him a very precious thing. Taking hold of divine wisdom, he will escape the corruptions that are in the world through lust. Day by day he will learn more fully how to carry his infirmities to the One who has promised to be a very present help in every time of need. TM 483.3

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