The Wisdom of Proverbs 8
There are some preachers who submit the “wisdom” of Proverbs 8 as the pre-incarnate Christ to prove pre-incarnate persona and activities before Christ became flesh. To me, this is another weak argument in support of the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The Book of Proverbs is Poetry hence expect figures of speech. Proverbs 8 employs personification. Wisdom (Sophia in Greek) is personified. It is spoken of as a persona or acts as a persona. In the Book of Proverbs life is presented as lived by two groups of people: (1) Those not heeding wisdom, the simple, ignorant, foolish and uninstructed ones; and (2) Those possessing wisdom, the instructed, the prudent, understanding, knowledgeable and obedient to God’s law.
But it’s not only wisdom that is personified. There are several positive attributes listed down in chapter 3: God’s law, mercy, truth, wisdom, understanding, and discretion.
One should start from the first chapter to feel the overall tone of the Book. Collect all the verses where the word wisdom and synonymous terms are found. Note the following verses:
- Proverbs 1:2-7, 8, 2-27;
- Proverbs 2:1-9;
- Proverbs 3:1-22;
- Proverbs 4:1-13;
- Proverbs 5:1-4;
- Proverbs 8:1-11;
- Proverbs 9:1-12;
- Proverbs 10:23;
- Proverbs 12:1;
- Proverbs 13:1;
- Proverbs 14:6, 33;
- Proverbs 15:1-2, 14, 33;
- Proverbs 15:16;
- Proverbs 16:24-29;
- Proverbs 17:24;
- Proverbs 19:20;
- Proverbs 19:27;
- Proverbs 20:5;
- Proverbs 23:23;
- Proverbs 24:3-7;
- Proverbs 28:5-7;
Let’s analyze Proverbs 8 and bring out objections against the position that wisdom is the Christ pre-incarnate.
- As a persona, possessed by Yahweh before time, v. 22.
- As a persona, he was established from eternity, v. 23.
- As a persona, he was brought forth, v. 22-25.
- Check up your dialect translation of v. 22-25; in Iloco wisdom is ”napataud” and Tagalog has “nalikha.”
One who takes the position that the “wisdom” in chapter 8 is the Christ pre-incarnate necessarily accepts that chapter 9 is still Christ. These are the objections:
- What house did wisdom build? v. 1
- Where is it found and when did he build it? v. 1
- What are these seven pillars and where are they found? v. 1
- As a persona, did Christ slaughter animal sacrifices? v. 2
- As a pre-incarnate persona, where and when did he mix and drink wine?
- Where did he do it?
- Who were Christ’s maidens before pre-incarnation?
- Where did he send out the maidens?
- In what city did Wisdom cry out?
Just because you find that Christ is called “wisdom” in I Corinthians 1:24 it does not follow that the “wisdom” in Prov. 8 and Prov. 9 is Christ. There’s no connection between the two locations. In 1 Cor. 1, Christ is God’s wisdom because “Christ is the crucified one” as God’s basis for justifying those who are called and saved. The “wisdom” in Prov. 8 & 9 does not present a crucified Christ. Compared to the Greeks who glorified wisdom and their messages were clothed with wise explanations about life, Christians talking about a crucified person was funny. But to the Lord God, that kind of arrangement to save mankind from sin was “wisdom” a beautiful process. It is logical, a natural development of the vicarious sacrifices taught in the OT and it is a passionate demonstration of the term “love.”
Identifying and connecting the “wisdom” in Proverbs 8 & 9 to the “wisdom” in 1 Cor. 1:24-25 is like connecting the “power” in 1 Cor. 1:24 to the “power” that is found in Exodus 15:6. There’s simply no connection.
Originally posted 2008