God and Wisdom Part Two
God’s Revelation Is Wisdom
The Scriptures indicate that the revelation God has given to mankind is wisdom.
God’s revelation of wisdom through oral speech and written Scripture. The statutes and judgments that God gave to Israel were to be that nation’s wisdom and understanding. As the Israelites would conform their lives to them before the nations, those nations would say, “‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people’” (Dt. 4:6).
David asserted that the Scriptures God revealed made simple people wise (Ps. 19:7). The psalmist declared that people who obey God’s commandments have good understanding (Ps. 111:10).
Proverbs 2:6 signifies that God gave wisdom through the knowledge and understanding that He communicated orally from His mouth.
Jeremiah indicated that men who rejected the word God gave to Israel lacked wisdom (Jer. 8:9).
Paul claimed that the apostles and New Testament prophets communicated the wisdom of God that God had revealed to them by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 2:7, 10). He also stated that God’s Scriptures are able to make a person wise unto salvation (2 Tim. 3:15).
James referred to the wisdom that God gave to mankind from heaven (Jas. 3:17).
Peter asserted that Paul recorded in his epistles the wisdom that God revealed to him (2 Pet. 3:15).
God’s revelation of wisdom through the incarnated Jesus Christ. The Scriptures indicate that the incarnated Jesus Christ was an incredible revelation of God and His wisdom to human beings during the years Jesus lived among them on Earth. John signified this fact through his designation of Jesus as “the Word” (Jn. 1:1, 14). Just as words are the outward revelation of invisible human thoughts to other human beings, so the incarnated Jesus Christ was the outward revelation of the invisible God and His wisdom to human beings (Jn. 1:18).
Jesus claimed to be God the Father’s revelation to people who saw Him (Jn. 14:9). People who heard His teaching and observed His miracles were so astonished that they asked the nature and source of His unique wisdom (mt. 13:54; mk. 6:2). Even when He was 12 years old, people who heard Him marveled at His understanding and answers to questions (Lk. 2:42, 47). Jesus promised to give His disciples irrefutable, irresistible wisdom to speak when confronted by enemies (Lk. 21:15).
Paul called Christ “the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24) and stated that Christ Jesus became “wisdom from God” to believers (1 Cor. 1:30). He declared that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge reside in Christ (Col. 2:3). Through these statements Paul indicated that the incarnated Jesus Christ embodied the wisdom of God. Because Christ embodied the treasures of God’s wisdom, Paul exhorted believers to appropriate those riches by letting Christ’s teaching take up permanent residence inside them (Col. 3:16).
God’s creatures in heaven asserted that Christ, the Lamb who was slain, is worthy to receive wisdom (Rev. 5:12). They did not indicate that Christ lacked God’s wisdom before He was slain for the sins of the world. Instead, they asserted that He is worthy to receive acclamation of the fact that He has always fully possessed and embodied God’s wisdom.1
God’s revelation of wisdom through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit played a significant role in revealing God’s wisdom to human beings.
Isaiah 11:2 says, “the Spirit of the Lᴏʀᴅ” is “the Spirit of wisdom and understanding.”
Pharaoh of Egypt signified that the Spirit of God in Joseph revealed knowledge to him and made him exceedingly wise (Gen. 41:38–39).
God filled Israel’s craftsmen with “the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship” to enable them to make the Tabernacle and everything related to its fixtures and worship service the way God wanted (Ex. 31:1–11; 35:30—36:1).
Isaiah foretold, “the Spirit of the Lᴏʀᴅ…the Spirit of wisdom” would rest on the Messiah (Isa. 11:2).
Christ’s apostles instructed the early church to appoint leaders who were “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3).
Opponents were unable to deal effectively with “the wisdom and the Spirit” by which Stephen, a man “full of…the Holy Spirit,” spoke (Acts 6:5, 10).
Paul indicated that God revealed His hidden wisdom to the apostles and New Testament prophets “through His Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:7, 10). Paul and the other apostles and prophets presented the content of God’s revealed wisdom, not in words that man’s wisdom taught, but in words taught by the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13). Paul signified that God gave believers “the word of wisdom” and “the word of knowledge” as spiritual gifts through the Spirit (1 Cor. 12:8).
The Importance of Wisdom
Proverbs emphasizes that wisdom is “the principal thing” that a person should obtain (4:7; cf. v. 5). Obtaining wisdom is of primary importance because of what it can do for a person. For example, it can provide long life, riches, honor, peace, happiness (3:16–18), safety, freedom from fear, calm sleep (3:23–24), preservation from harm, promotion, glory (4:6, 8–9), deliverance from sexual immorality (7:4–5), God’s favor (8:35), commendation (12:8), a built house (24:3), strength (24:5), sweetness of soul (24:13–14), profit, defense (Eccl. 7:11–12), a beaming face (Eccl. 8:1), success (Eccl. 10:10), and stability (Isa. 33:6).
Consequently, it is far better to get wisdom than precious jewels, silver, gold, or other items that people desire (Prov. 3:13–15). Wisdom is better than strength and weapons of war (Eccl. 9:16, 18). Therefore, Proverbs exhorts mankind to get and keep wisdom and truth, especially the true wisdom that begins with knowledge of God and a right attitude toward Him (4:7; 9:10; 15:33; 23:23).
Two Contrasting Wisdoms
Two contrasting wisdoms or world-life views are available to mankind. In many points they are antagonistic toward each other and conflict concerning issues in modern-day society.
One wisdom, or world-life view, has as its foundation and starting point both the revealed knowledge of the existence, thoughts, and ways of the personal, sovereign God who created the universe and a reverential trust in Him and His thoughts and ways. The Bible indicates that this is the true wisdom that is rightly related to ultimate reality.
According to this wisdom, truth is an essential aspect of God’s nature. He is the fountainhead or ultimate source of truth, and He has given mankind revelation of truth. Thus there are such things as absolute truth, moral absolutes, and an objective standard of right and wrong to which the Creator holds all human beings accountable and by which systems of thought, movements, values, beliefs, motives, actions, and lifestyles can be evaluated.
According to this wisdom, each human being exists to glorify God and serve Him and other human beings. The source of this wisdom is God in heaven (Jas. 3:17).
This wisdom is characterized by meekness (“the quality of not being overly impressed by a sense of ones [sic] self-importance”2) (Jas. 3:13), purity (not tainted by selfishness), peace (harmonious relationships with others3), gentleness (doesn’t insist on personal rights4), lack of unreasonable demands, fullness of mercy (“kindness or concern expressed for someone in need”5), good deeds for others, no favoritism toward certain persons, and no hypocrisy (doesn’t falsely pretend to act with pure motives) (Jas. 3:17).
This wisdom produces a righteous life that is the result of pursuing and attaining peace (the right kind of harmonious relationships) with others (Jas. 3:18).
The other wisdom or world-life view has as its foundation and starting point both a (1) willful rejection of the revealed knowledge of the existence, thoughts, and ways of the personal, sovereign God who created the universe and (2) a reverential trust in false religion, including the religions of naturalism and secular humanism (Rom. 1:18–23, 25). It denies the existence of the God of the Bible or claims that, if God exists, He is irrelevant to today’s world.
This wisdom claims there is no divine source or revelation of ultimate truth. Thus it denies the existence of absolute truth; moral absolutes; and an objective standard of right and wrong to which the Creator holds all human beings accountable and by which systems of thought, movements, values, beliefs, motives, actions, and lifestyles can be evaluated.
This denial prompts the following conclusions: (1) Truth is relative and subjective. Each individual determines what is truth for himself or herself, so no truth is the same for all persons. (2) The idea of only one true religion is wrong. Since there is no divine revelation of truth to mankind, all religions are human in origin. Thus all religions must be regarded as equal, and attempts to convert a person from one religion to another should be forbidden. Any person who believes or states that a belief, action, or lifestyle of another person or group is wrong is an intolerant bigot who is guilty of a hate crime.
Those who adopt this wisdom claim they are wise to do so, but the Bible indicates they are fools because they have adopted a false wisdom divorced from ultimate reality (Prov. 3:5–7; Rom. 1:22).
According to this wisdom, each human being exists to glorify and serve mankind or one’s self, not God (Rom. 1:21). James 3:15 indicates the source of this wisdom is threefold: (1) the world system that is in rebellion against God; (2) the natural, unsaved man, who is unrelated to God and therefore claims that the highest good is the development of mankind or his own self, not God and His glory; and (3) the demonic realm (the part of the angelic spirit realm that rebelled against God in the ancient past and remains in permanent opposition to Him).
This wisdom is characterized by “bitter envy” (“intense negative feelings over anothers [sic] achievements or success”6) and “self-seeking” (“selfish ambition”7) (Jas. 3:14), internal war-ring passions of pleasure8 (Jas. 4:1), “lust” (“a strong desire to do or secure something”9) (Jas. 4:2), and wrong motives (Jas. 4:3).
The results of this wisdom are “confusion” (“opposition to established authority, disorder, unruliness”10), “every evil thing” (every-thing “low-grade or morally substandard, base”11) (Jas. 3:16), “wars” (“a state of hostility/antagonism, strife, conflict, quarrel”12), “fights” (“battles fought without actual weapons,” sometimes used for marital conflicts13)(Jas. 4:1), and murder (the deliberate killing of a person who prevents another from accomplishing what he wants to do or securing what he wants to have (Jas. 4:2).
The apostle Paul called this wisdom or world-life view “the wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 1:20; 3:19).
- Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1—7: An Exegetical Commentary, ed. Kenneth L. Barker (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 404–405.
- Frederick William Danker, “prautes,“ A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 3rd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), 861.
- Ibid., “eirenikos,” 288.
- Ibid., “epieikes,” 371.
- Ibid., “eleos,” 316.
- Ibid., “dzelos,” 426.
- Ibid., “eritheia,” 392.
- Ibid., “hedone,” 434 and “strateuo,” 947.
- Ibid., “epithumeo,” 371.
- Ibid., “akatastasia,” 35.
- Ibid., “phaulos,” 1050.
- Ibid., “polemos,” 844.
- Ibid., “mache,” 622.