TO DISCOVER THE TRUE MEANINGS of New Testament words, two things are necessary: on the lower level a knowledge of the Greek language, and on the higher level a patient study of the Holy Spirit’s word-usage in both Old and New Testaments. The lower level is the province of the linguist, the higher is the concern of all Bible-students, whether they know Greek or not.
The series of notes, which is now beginning, is an attempt to offer help on the lower level to those who know no Greek. The words dealt with will be chosen for various reasons: because of their intrinsic interest, because of their importance in their contexts, or because of the obscurity or inaccuracy of their translation in the older English versions.
‘Noema’ means ‘thought’, not the process of thinking but the result of it, an idea, purpose or plan formed in the mind. The word occurs six times only in the New Testament. Five of these occurrences are found in 2 Corinthians, and are remarkable especially for what they tell us of Satan’s influence on the thoughts of both saved and unsaved people.
2 Corinthians 2. 11 … We are not ignorant of his devices, i.e. his thoughts: not the things he has done in the past, but his present intentions as yet not carried out. Knowing his thoughts, we may take counter-measures in advance.
3.14 … But their minds, i.e. their thoughts, were blinded. They do not stop reading the Scriptures, but their conclusions are dull and obtuse because their perception does not penetrate the veil.
4. 4 … The god of this world hath blinded the minds, i.e. the thoughts, of them that believe not. They may still think about spiritual things and their mental processes may be quite logical, but all their thinking is done behind the screen which Satan has erected to stop them receiving the illuminating evidence of the Gospel. Their conclusions, reached in absence of this evidence, are completely blind.
11. 3 … So your minds, i.e. ‘thoughts’ should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in (or rather, towards) Christ. Just as a betrothed girl is no longer morally free to entertain serious thoughts towards another man, so believers are not free to entertain ‘other possibilities’ when it comes to the fundamental matters of our Lord’s person, work and word. But Satan, who insinuated thoughts of doubt into Eve’s mind by denying God’s warning and suggesting an alternative explanation of the situation (ye shall not die … ye shall be as God) still tries to get believers to entertain alternative explanations of the person and work of Christ … ‘another Jesus whom we have not preached’ as Paul calls it.
The remaining verses tell of God’s great power available to control our thoughts.
2 Corinthians 10. 5 … Bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; so that no thought is formed and retained that contains disobedience to Him.
Philippians 4. 7 … And the peace of God … shall keep your hearts and minds, i.e. thoughts, which means that the power of God shall stand sentinel both over the deep ‘well’ of our subconscious minds (heart), from which suggestions rise into our conscious minds, and also over the thoughts that form in our conscious minds.