Commentary on Wisdom, 1:12-16

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Wisdom 1:12-16

(12)  Do not seek death by the sin in your life, nor drag along destruction behind you by the works of your hands;

The word ‘seek’ here is used of attempting admission into one of the religious sects of the author’s day, therefore it brings to mind the picture of a sinner who instead of seeking the way of the Living God, instead seeks to enter into a cult of death by his sin. In doing this, destruction follows him and will plague him, but it is by his own hands that he does this.

But what kind of death? It is the death of Adam – spiritual and physical – separation from the living God. The immortality of the soul is not in question here, only the removal from God.

(13)  God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.

See Deut. 30.19. Except in certain narratives that involved historical accounts, (16.13, 16.16, 20), the author usually defines death in the spiritual sense, often ignoring physical death and having no moral significance. Physical death is barely a reality for the righteous who ‘appears to die’ (3.2) but lives forever (5.15). The immortality that is expressed in the passage, and indeed this book, is concerning the spiritual nature, of which the righteous will partake fully when they once again walk with the Lord, and in some small measure enjoy here through the Church when they are resurrected after Baptism.

(14)  For he created all things that they might continue to exist, as the genesis of this world is preserved, and there is no self-destructive poison in them; for the dominion of the Grave is not on earth.

Here, ‘genesis’ carries with it several possible meanings,

  • Here the word means either races of creatures or generative powers
  • The Rabbi’s saw it as creative forces that became harmful only after Adam lost his immortality due to the Fall

It is the combination of these two ideas in which we find the meaning of the entire phrase. It emphasizes to the Jews and the Greeks God’s concerns to keep His creation going, not to seek and to destroy it, but to redeem it. God did not make Death, but Death was made by the works of the hands of man – sin. Church needs remember that the Grave – Hell, Death – does not reign on earth. It is interesting to note here the similarity of thought between this verse and the verse in Matthew 16.18, which reads,

And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of the grave shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18 NKJV

The Church is the living and immortal body of Christ, and we are enlivened by the Spirit of our God, and because of this, we will not longer face death and destruction, but eternal life. No more does the grave prevail and build palaces on earth. Because God’s righteousness is immortal (v15), and because He did not create death, this author points us to a future Redeemer, which becomes apparent in the following few chapters.

(15)  For God’s righteousness is immortal.
(16)  But ungodly men by their words and deeds summoned death; considering him a friend, they pined away, and they made a covenant with him, because they are fit to belong to his party.

See Isa 28.15. This verse rightly belongs to the second chapter.

Here the ungodly are pictured as ‘pining away’, or wasting away as in the Greek. They have fallen in love Sin and thus they yearn for the fulfillment of their covenant which is the Grave.

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2 Replies to “Commentary on Wisdom, 1:12-16”

  1. I’m having a very hard time understanding these verses (Wisdom 1:13,14). My Bible, which is an NASB, reads like this:

    “Because God did not make death,
    nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
    For he fashioned all things that they might have being,
    and the creatures of the world are wholesome;
    There is not a destructive drug among them
    nor any domain of Hades on earth,”

    I’m trying to reconcile the Scriptures with the Theory of Evolution, and from what I can see there’s no theological reason that animals couldn’t have died before the Fall. But then I ran into these versus at Church this past Sunday, and well… at first reading it appeared very difficult to reconcile them because it flat out said that “God did not make death”. For obvious reasons, I had not encountered these versus in my discussions with evangelical friends. Is there something being lost in translation? How do we know these versus apply only to humans? It seems that when it says “he fashioned all things” and when it says “creatures of the world” it’s talking about all of creation….could you shed a little more light on these versus? Thanks!

    1. Julie,

      Are you sure you are using the New American Standard Bible? I didn’t know they had the Deuterocanon. Would love to get one.

      Now, what is death? And what is the ideal?

      Death is the separation from God. Thing of it this way. When plants are eaten, they die, right? What did Adam and Even do with the plants? They ate them.

      More than likely, this is referring to humans, but humans in relation to God in covenant.

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