Is heaven in view in 1 Corinthians 2:9?
1 Corinthians 2:9 says, “However, as it is written: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”” Some Christians have quoted this scripture out of its context in order to impress their fellow believers with the wonders that will await us when we finally enter God’s presence. While the glories of heaven will undoubtedly be marvelous and beyond our human imagining, that does not appear to be the primary message that Paul was trying to convey by his use of this quotation from Isaiah 64:4.
The immediate context of the scripture is not discussing the future blessings of heaven, but the blessings that Christians receive right now through the work of the Holy Spirit. Paul is describing how God gives His “secret wisdom” (1 Cor. 9:2) to believers right now, in this life. Christians have the ability though God’s Word and the Holy Spirit to understand things that were hidden to all mankind throughout the ages prior to the coming of Christ. Because we have a personal relationship with God and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we can understand “the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:10). We have received “the Spirit who is from God” (v. 12), are “taught by the Spirit” (v. 13) and have “the mind of Christ” (v. 16). Certainly, prior to the coming of Christ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon Christians, such insight and intimacy with God was something that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived.”
While Paul’s primary reference in this verse was not to the things we would experience in heaven, neither does he ignore heaven as being the ultimate reward to which our relationship with God would lead. In 1 Cor. 2:7, he relates our possession of God’s wisdom to our future glorification with Christ, when he says: “we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” Because we have come to know God, we will eventually share in the glory of our Lord. This, too, will prove to be beyond anything we could imagine as humans.