Commentary on Wisdom, 1.1-6

Protestants have created this myth that the books commonly called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon was suddenly accepted by Rome at the Council of Trent. This is far from the truth. In reality, the canon list was solidified due to Luther and others insistence that the disputed books be discarded. Many of these books have been used since before the time of the Apostles and even by the Apostles themselves. Whispers of Wisdom (of Solomon) can be heard from Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s pen. I hope to eventually get to those at a later date, but for now, I will occasionally blog about the book of Wisdom in hopes that we can attract some attention due to this ancient work.

The Wisdom of Solomon (although many simply call it Wisdom now) was written anywhere from 300b.c. to 50 years before Christ. (Author David Winston puts the date after Christ). From the evidence that I have seen, I would put the date between 175-50b.c. The Logos doctrine is not Philo’s, and somewhat undeveloped. It is a simply statement on Logos, much like I believe John’s to be. It is also not so Jewish as Sirach, and yet joined at the hip with the Maccabean revolt.

To be frank, I consider this book to be as inspired as John and Romans, so I cannot place this book anytime near or after Christ. I will explain that when we get to later chapters. At times, I have found great solace in these pages. When I could not read the words, for various reasons, I often times have my dear wife read them. Just as in Isaiah, the words in these pages belong more with the New than with the Old. They are wholly Christian and yet still Jewish. We find in them not just an expectation of Christ, but thoughts that helped to shape the Christological controversies, and I believe would have done more to limit those controversies had this book not been quickly tossed aside. We also find a structure that helps to see Luke-Acts and the deep things in that series in a different light.)

I will try to do my best to go through the entire book, passage by passage, but there may be times when I have to revisit a verse or two. I will be using the KJV as my primary translation. (Maybe just to show the KJVO crowd that ole King James thought it was a good idea to have the Apocrypha included)

In the following passage (Wisdom 1:1-15) seeks to develop the ideas of Proverbs 1:7, something that we see this author doing several times. The first idea  offers immortality to them man who pursues righteousness, or justice.

Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good (heart,) and in simplicity of heart seek him. For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and sheweth himself unto such as do not distrust him. For froward thoughts separate from God: and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise.
(Wis 1:1-3 KJVA)

It is clear from the pointed expressions and exegetical relations that the judges (or rulers, in some) are apostate Jews. This should apply to the Jew (or in today’s case, the Christian) whether Egyptian or Palestinian, which is perhaps why this book traveled so far, so fast and was held in high esteem in antiquity. In 1Maccabbees 1:11-15 we read of such Jews (in Palestine, no less) that given the license to perform as the heathen did. Philo, writing some time after Wisdom, tells of the Jewish apostates that lived in Egypt that constantly ridiculed the holy scriptures.

The basic premise given in this single line is one that is maintained throughout the rest of the book and indeed gives credence to the unity of the work. The rulers, which is every child of God, are to love the Lord and in His ways seek Him. In the first half of the book, we are told of the Righteous Man and given the model of our life with Christ while in the latter half, we are reminded that through it all, God has always been there.

The phrase Diligiti iustitiam qui iudicatis terram (1:1a), appears around the blond head of Justice in Lorenzetti’s Fresco at the Palazzo Pubblico at Siena, Italy and seems to the central part of the painting. (See Chiara Frugoni Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, Vol. 43. (1980), pp. 239-241.)

‘Judges of the Earth’ originates with Psalms 2:10 and not does simply mean kings or rulers, but should be pointed to the everyman. It is a rhetorical device used but later seemingly dropped in favor or urging the every man to strive to kingly lives.

Righteousness/Justice in Hebrew is used both of God and man and means what is right, just, and normal (as opposed to sin, which is abnormal or missing the mark). It can be said that Righteousness/Justice is God (see verse 3) which is a thought later developed by Rabbis, but in light of the rest of the book, the word means acting in harmony with God, which is the opposite of wickedness.

In Verse 2 more light is shed upon what is meant by the sincerity of heart: We must approach God with a heart and truly wants to know God and know of His Wisdom, not one that is tempting God. In Luke 4:12 we find that Christ is reminding the adversary of what has been written: that we are not to tempt the Lord. There is a world of difference in the way that we approach God. Do we approach Him as a scientist? Trying to fit God into a pre-determined existence or do we approach Him asking Him to reveal Himself to us? The writer here says that we must approach the Lord with sincerity of heart, and that is where we will find God (because He will not reveal manifest Himself to those that do not believe in Him.)

In Verse 3 we here the echo of Isaiah 59:2. In the New Jerusalem Bible, the last phrase reads: confounds the stupid. Confound is not the proper sense of the word, but rebuke/reprove is. It is God’s power that will rebuke the unwise. This thought is connected to verse 4 in describing what the Power of God is. When a foolish and perverse ruler tries to test God, the power quickly puts him to shame. The Alexandrian Jewish leaders were being reprimanded for their departure into heathen ways and by doing this, their testing of God.

For into a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject unto sin. For the holy spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in. For wisdom is a loving spirit; and will not acquit a blasphemer of his words: for God is witness of his reins, and a true beholder of his heart, and a hearer of his tongue.
(Wis 1:4-6 KJVA)

Verse 4 continues verse 3 in telling us plainly that Wisdom is the power of God. Romans 1:16 we read that the gospel concerning Christ is the power of God; in 1st Corinthians 1:18, the power is the preaching of the cross and just a few verses later in 1st Corinthians 1:24, we see that Christ is not only the power of God but also the wisdom of God.

If we are able to read that the Power of God of verse 3 is the Wisdom of verse 4 (and the Holy Spirit of Discipline in Verse 5), and then we read in Paul that Christ is both the power and wisdom of God, we start to receive a revelation about the oneness of the Godhead. ‘Wisdom, ‘spirit’, and ‘holy’ all seem to be synonyms but that idea that God manifests Himself as Wisdom persists throughout the rest of the book.

The word ‘malicious’ is rarely found in the Bible and means ‘to act fraudulently’

We find the thought expressed here fully developed by Christ in John 8:34 and with Paul in Romans 7:14-25. We will show several times that Paul echoed Wisdom, and here is our first time. Further, in Rom_8:9 and 2nd Corinthians 6:16 we see that Paul is saying the same thing in that the Spirit of God, or Wisdom, will not enter and dwell in an unclean temple (body), i.e., one that is enslaved to sin.

Verse 5 is the continuation of the thought in verse 4. In Wisdom 7:25-26 we found out why this Spirit cannot stay near deceit or unrighteousness, because she is the effluence from God. This Spirit is pure and required purity.

Verse 6 we find confirmed in Mark 3:28-29 by the word of the Lord. We find that John in 1st John 3:20 also holds that God knows the heart and it is from within our heart that we can have condemnation. And one does not have to read far into James to know the rules of the tongue.

Witness is ἐπίσκοπος and elsewhere in the LXX it means taskmaster or captain. In the NT it is used as overseer (Bishop) and applied to God in 1Peter 2:25. What we might draw from this is another echo of Wisdom in the Gospels.

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