Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | June 23, 2007

Was the Word, Wisdom? (Lesson 1: Question 7 Answer)

7.  Have you ever thought or heard about the connection between this passage and Proverbs 8?  Let’s read verses 22-31.

22“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. 24When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

This passage in a poetic genre of literature known as wisdom literature appears to be articulating a mysterious truth about the relationship between the Father and the Son.  We will encounter this concept in Lesson 3 when we arrive at John 1:18 where Christ is described as the only begotten.  When we think of the term begotten our minds drift toward the natural order where children come forth from their parents.  The Father-Son analogy is all over the Scriptures when speaking about Jesus Christ.  However, this analogy stops short at the point where human sons are actually begotten by their human fathers.  This concept of Christ being begotten of the Father, which is alluded to in this and other passages is referring to an eternal generation.  Otherwise, we would be on the horns of a dilemma with John 1:3 that unequivocally asserts that Christ is the uncreated Creator of all things.

Before we delve much further, let’s tie what could potentially be a loose end in the connection between the Wisdom stated above and Christ.  In 1 Cor 1:24, Christ is clearly identified as the Wisdom of God and in other passages it is stated that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Him (Col 2:1-2). Returning to our discussion of Christ being eternally begotten or eternally generated from the Father, yet not actually begotten or generated in the human sense this passage in Proverbs helps to explain this mystery.  In fact according to one theologian commenting on this passage, “No words could more clearly confirm the mystery of which we treat (eternal generation).  The eternal Wisdom of the Father says Jehovah possessed him! How? Only by a true generation by which he is said to have been begotten and held as a most cherished delight by the Father; and this not in time, but from eternity (“in the beginning of his way, before his works,” Prov. 8:22). 8

Of course, when Solomon wrote this passage under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he did not have the benefit of the New Testament, which provides more clarity on who this Personified Wisdom character is.  And at first glance it seems to be problematic towards our argument that Christ is God, however when we understand that this is in light of the mystery of His eternal generation the apparent tension is resolved.  Thus, the themes included in John’s prologue seem to find some source from this passage and should not be feared as a contradiction to Christ’s Deity.  Before we move onto the next question, let’s close with some additional confirmations that this Wisdom character is Christ:

“For who else can deserve the name of Wisdom and indeed of Wisdoms? Who else calls men to him, teaches the true way of salvation, wishes the law and his precepts to obtain in the church, convicts sinners of foolishness, promises life to those who regard him and denounces final destruction upon the unbelieving?  Who else was with God before the world was and was perpetually with him while creating the world? If Jehovah is said to have possessed Wisdom from the beginning, is not the “Word” said “to have been in the beginning” and “to have been with God” (Jn 1:1)?  If it is said to have been a delight to the Father, is not Christ “the beloved Son” (υιος αγαπητος, Matt 3:17)?  If ordained and anointed by the Father, was not Christ foreordained before the foundation of the world and anointed for the mediatorial office (1 Pet 1:20)?  If Wisdom is said to have been brought forth before the hills, was not Christ before all things (Col 1:17)?  If by her kings reign, is not Christ the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16)?  If Wisdom teaches and cries out, calls and exhorts men to repentance in high and low places, both immediately by herself and immediately by her maidens, do we not read the same of Christ both immediately by himself preaching the gospel and mediately by his servants the apostles whom he sent through the whole world to call men to a participation of his grace?” 9    

This series of rhetorical questions makes the point that our connection is not far fetched.

8 Francis Turretin (1687) Institutes of Elenctic Theology translated by George Musgrave Giger and edited by James T Dennison (Pittsburgh-New Jersey, Vol I P&R Publishing 1992 p295                                                                                                                        

9 Francis Turretin (1687) Institutes of Elenctic Theology translated by George Musgrave Giger and edited by James T Dennison (Pittsburgh-New Jersey, Vol I P&R Publishing 1992) p 296

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