PROVERBS 8: IS WISDOM JESUS?

Some like Jehovah Witness’s and others say Proverbs 8 is talking about Jesus, given that Jesus is referred to as the “Wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Hence they suggest that Jesus had a beginning. Is that what Proverbs 8 says? Let’s look at these verses:

“Does not wisdom call, and understanding raise her voice?? (Proverbs 8:1). “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, And I find knowledge and discretion” (Proverbs 8:12) ““The Lord created me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old. From eternity I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no ocean depths, I was born, When there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills, I was born;” (Proverbs 8:23-26). Then I was beside Him, as a master workman; And I was His delight daily,” (Proverbs 8:30)

So this is how some and JW’s read the above passage. Verse 12 identifies “wisdom” as the one speaking in this passage. “Wisdom” is Jesus who says he was “created” by God and became his master worker at Father’s presence (verse 30). He was involved in the creation process, after he himself was formed since he was the earliest of his achievements.

  • Firstly, neither Jesus nor any of the writers of the New Testament apply Proverbs 8 to Jesus.
  • We ask JW’s and others, if “wisdom” is an actual person (Jesus) in this text, then who is “understanding” in verse 1?

Does not wisdom call, and understanding raise her voice? (Proverbs 8:1)

  • We ask JW’s and others, who is “prudence” in verse 12 with whom “wisdom” is said to reside?

I, wisdom, dwell with prudence..” (Proverbs 8:12)

At this point, the JW’s and others usually do not have an answer except to ask how we understand these verses. Solomon is using a figure of speech called “personification.” He attributes the qualities of being a person to Wisdom, Understanding, Prudence in order to make the reading more enjoyable and to have a greater impact. This text, therefore is not a literal description of Christ, but a poetic personification of wisdom, poetically saying that God “got” His wisdom before He did anything — i.e., that God has always had wisdom. This is obvious throughout Proverbs. Consider Chapter 7:4-5.

“Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and to insight, “You are my relative.” They will keep you from the adulterous woman, from the wayward woman with her seductive words”

  • If wisdom is Jesus, is Jesus your sister? If wisdom had to be created at a point in time, are we to conclude that Jehovah God had NO wisdom until He created it? Imagine the folly of reading Jesus into these poetic words! Did the Father also have a beginning because it mentions “the beginning of His way” (Proverbs 8:22)?

The personification of the divine attribute of wisdom begins in chapter one: “Out in the open wisdom calls aloud, she raises her voice in the public square” (1:20). In chapter seven wisdom is called “my sister”. Wisdom also lives together with prudence; yet another personification (8:12).

Referring to Jesus in this passage is both out of place and goes against what Solomon is trying to teach. Solomon is not referring to Jesus in Proverbs 8, but is simply using a figure of speech called personification, as he does throughout Proverbs. If this is talking about Jesus, it is then teaching that Jesus is as eternal as Wisdom, because God has always had wisdom.

Father gave the Son to have life in Himself? (John 5:1-27)

Let’s review John chapter 5:1-27. In John 5:1-15, Jesus heals a paralytic man on the Sabbath, and asks him to pick up his stuff and go. Jews get furious with Jesus as the Torah prohibited carrying or bringing in any “burden” on the Sabbath (Jeremiah 17:21), and doing any work (Exodus 20:10; Exodus 16:29). Jesus was healing, which was lawful, but the Jews were trying to find fault with him telling him, Jesus could have done such work on other days.

Now let us turn to verse-by-verse study on John 5:15-27.

“So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. 17 In his defense Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:16-17)

Jews understood that people rest on the sabbath, but only God works on the Sabbath. This idea was taught by the rabbis. Here, Jesus says, My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I [Christ] too am working.”  Here, Jesus was equating himself to the Father, claiming to be God himself who works on the Sabbath.

For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18)

So, Jews were even more furious because they knew that Jesus was claiming to be equal with God, but Jews misunderstood that Jesus was claiming to be another God. So, the two accusations being made against Jesus by the religious leaders are: number one, He broke the Sabbath, and number two, He’s claiming to be equal with God (John 5:18). The tension has now reached a level where they’re persecuting (more appropriately prosecuting) Jesus with the intent to put Him to death. The verses that follow, begins with Jesus’ defense to those charges. Jesus’ defense will not be, “I didn’t do it!” Jesus’ defense will be, “I did do it because I am God”.

Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner (John 5:19)

The Son can do nothing of Himself unless it is something He sees the Father doing. Since Jews thought she was claiming to be a different God, and doing things in opposition to God of the Old Testament, Jesus corrects them and says he cannot and will not do anything by himself or on his own accord, because He is not a separate ‘being’ claiming equality with the Father. It’s just simply not possible for Jesus to ever be out of alignment or unity with the Father. So now stop and think about this. These are the religious leaders who claim to be representing God, who claim to know the ways of God. They’re accusing God who became flesh that He is somehow doing things in opposition to God of the Old Testament.

For whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. All that the Father does the Son likewise does. Who can claim that whatever the Father does, I can do? If one does “all” that another does or can do, then there must be equality. If the Son does all that the Father does, then, like Father, He must be almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, and infinite in every perfection; or, in other words, he must be fully God.To help those who struggle to see the equality of the Son to the Father, Augustine provides a concrete example. From the Gospels, we know that Jesus walked upon water. Where, in the Gospels, do we see the Father walking on water? If the Son only does what he “sees” the Father doing, then must it not be the case that the Father walked on water as well? John 14:10 reminds us that the Father abiding in the Son does His works. Thus, the Son’s water-walking is the work of the Son and Father. This, Augustine explains, is precisely the point Jesus makes in John 5:19. Similarly, the God created the world (Genesis 1). The Son who made “all things” created the world. The Son did not create another world by “watching” the Father. On the contrary, the world was created by the Father through the Son. Thus, another reason the Son can do nothing of himself (John 5:19) is simply because “the Son is not of himself”. The Son is not another God. The Son and the Father share one divine nature, because Son is begotten from the Father. Augustine further explains, “The Father [made] the world, the Son [made] the world, the Holy Spirit [made] the world. If [there are] three gods, [there are] three worlds; if [there is] one God, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, one world was made by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit”.2

For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing; and the Father will show Him greater works than these, so that you will marvel (John 5:20)

Jesus is saying to the religious leaders, “You ain’t seen nothing yet. There’s going to be so much more that will give you evidence that I am indeed God in the flesh, and this is flowing out of a love relationship between the Father and the Son.

For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes (John 5:21)

Jesus is saying that God is the One with authority over life and death.  Raising the dead and making alive are attributes of God. “It is I who put to death and give life” (Deuteronomy 32:39) Similarly, the Son, who is himself God, has authority to give life to whom He wishes.

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father (John 5:22-23)

Father has the authority to judge; He’s given that authority to Jesus, even in His status as the Son of Man. So again, picture this scene where the religious leaders, supposedly representing God, are prosecuting Jesus. They’re judging Jesus! And what Jesus is saying is, “Oh, by the way, I am God in the flesh, and at the end of the story, you don’t judge Me, I judge you!”. “If Jesus is who He says He is, maybe they should back up and rethink some things.” In verse 23, then, Jesus essentially says, “If you don’t honor Jesus for who He is, and what He came to do, you stand no chance of honoring the Father. Identifying Jesus for who He is and what He came to do is the only way to honor the Father. If you don’t go through Jesus, you have no chance of getting to the Father.

“Truly, truly, (It’s absolutely true.) I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24)

Faith in the Father, who sent his Son, is here represented as being connected with everlasting life; but there can be no faith in the Father who “sent” his Son, without faith also in him who is “sent”, and His words. It’s very clear he who hears and believes, not “will have” eternal life. It’s not future tense but “has” eternal life; its present tense. Eternal life doesn’t start someday; it’s not a duration of life; it’s a quality of life. It starts the moment we believe, the moment we repent and trust Jesus as Savior and believe that Jesus has forgiven our sins, and that Jesus then makes it possible for us as sinful men and women to stand right before a holy God. When He talks about passed out of death into life, we know from John chapter 3 that there’s not just a judgment coming one day, but we’re already judged. We’re born spiritually dead because of our sin. We are cut off from a relationship with God. Once we believe; we receive; we trust Jesus as Savior. The Greek language there would describe it as going over a mountain pass. It’s a great description—you’re spiritually dead but, because of Jesus, you pass out of death and into life. Who has the authority to give life? God! And God has given that to Jesus, and Jesus gives it to those who believe.

Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live (John 5:25)

He’s referring to those who are spiritually dead, and what he’s saying is there is an hour coming, and it’s already here (now is). This is before Jesus died on the cross. This is before Jesus rose from the dead. This is before He has brought the fulfillment of the promises of the old covenant. So He’s headed there to usher in the new covenant and all of its promises. But already people are listening to what He has to say and what He promises. And already they’re experiencing new birth—new life— because they choose to believe Jesus tells the truth. The best example of that would be the Samaritans. Before Jesus even gets to the cross, they’re believing what He’s saying. They’re believing what He came to do. The text even told us they believe this is the One who has come to be the Savior of the world. So, Jesus is saying it’s already happening, and it’s going to happen a lot more, of course, after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself; 27 and He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man (John 5:26-27)

For just as the Father has life in Himself. Where does life come from? It would have to come from someone who has always been alive—eternal life. Life originates in God, so only God has the authority to give life. Here Father is said to have life in Himself.

Even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself and. The Father gave the Son to have life in Himself because of His status as?

And He gave Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Giving Son to have life in himself and authority to execute judgment appear to be primarily related to His status as the “Son of man”, the Word who became flesh.

“But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins: (Matt. 9:6)

If you go back to John 5:24 we see that the “life” Jesus is talking about is the eternal life that we receive from God when we hear Jesus and believe in him. For as the Father has life (that is, eternal life to give to those who believe in Jesus) in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life (that is, eternal life to give to those who believe in the Son) in himself. This is primarily because of His status as the Son of Man, the God who became flesh. John explains, “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” (1 John 5:11–12). Therefore, the context tells us that the life that the Father granted to the Son is the authority to give eternal life to the believers, specifically in His status as the Son of Man.

However, since the Son is begotten from the Father, it can be also said that the life that the Father shares with the Son is as eternal as the Father. For this reason, the Son too has life in himself. Augustine explains that “the source and origin of deity is the Father”. He explains that the Father “begot [the Son] timelessly in such a way that the life which the Father gave the Son by begetting him is co-eternal with the life of the Father who gave it . . .”. Thus, we should not think of the generation of the Son like “water flowing out from a hole in the ground or in the rock, but like light flowing from light”.2 There never was a time when the Son was not. See: The Only Begotten Son (John 1:1-18)

Hence, John 5:1-27 is another instance where the Son’s divinity is emphatically explained. He is identical to Father in works (John 5:19), love (John 5:20), life-and-death power (John 5:21), judgment (John 5:22), honor (John 5:23), eternal life itself (John 5:26) .

Referenced:

  1. Barret, Matthew, “What is Eternal Generation” (May 2021: https://tabletalkmagazine.com/posts/what-is-eternal-generation/
  2. Johnson, Keith,Trinitarian Agency and the Eternal Subordination of the Son: An Augustinian Perspective”: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/themelios/article/trinitarian-agency-and-the-eternal-subordination-of-the-son-an-augustinian-perspective/

The Only Begotten Son (John 1:1-18)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him not even one thing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3 NASB 1995).

In the beginning. It’s almost identical to Genesis, chapter one, verse one. “In the beginning” carries us into the depths of eternity, before time or creatures were. If you think of Genesis chapter one as the language of creation, then you might think of John chapter one as the language of the new creation or the re-creation, which will be a major theme in John’s gospel.

Was the Word.  The Greek word for Word is Logos. The Greeks had a concept of the logos, and so did the Hebrews. John’s background for the term was probably Hebrew, and specifically the Hebrew Old Testament. The idea is that the word—just words—think of it that way, are an expression of me. If I speak words, that means I exist. So, there’s already this concept of self-existence. And because I exist, I express myself. That’s the Word. So, forever God has existed; He expressed Himself in the Word, in the Logos. “Was the Word” therefore means the Word was already in existence from the beginning, from eternity. All the “was” in verse 1 are in the imperfect, durative tense in the Greek language and the literal translation of Greek to English is actually, “In the beginning the Word continually was, and the Word was continually with God, and the Word was continually God”.

The Word was with God. The Greek could be translated, “the Word was face to face with God”. There are two parts to this. One would be equality. It’s not saying the word was hanging out with God. Face to face means equal with God, but distinct from God. You don’t stand face to face with yourself. Hence, the meaning here is the Word  was with the Father, meaning Word is distinct from the Father, and not same as the Father. Also, the word was continually with God. There was no point in eternity past when the Father existed without His Son. 

The Word was God. Some false teachers say the word was “a” god, implying one god, among many. It’s helpful to understand: first of all, the Greek language has no indefinite article; it has no “a”. So that’s not what it says. It also has the definite article “the” but it’s not used here. The language is very careful, and it’s very precise. So, if John had said “the word was the God”, it would have meant the Word was the Father, but that’s not the point being made. The point being made is the Word was with God and was God. The Word is a divine person just like the Father. Hence, verse 1 may be paraphrased as, ‘The Word existed from all eternity, face to face with the Father who is a divine person, and the Word himself is a divine person equal in essence or nature or divinity of the Father’. Of course, the Word (Greek is Logos) is none other than the person who is called the “Son”.

He was with God in the beginning. This is a repetition of what was said in the first verse; but it is stated over again to “guard the doctrine,” and to prevent the possibility of a mistake. Emphasis here is the Word (Son) who was continually God was a person distinct from God the Father.

Through him all things were made. The Word was with God the Father in the beginning, but not as an idle, inefficacious existence. On the contrary, God the Word was the source of all activity and life. “All things were made through Him”. Notice what another inspired writer Paul says:

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. And He [Son] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together(Colossians 1:15-17).”

All creatures, whether in heaven or on earth, the whole universe, and every being contained therein, you and me, animate or inanimate, intelligent or unintelligent. Everything came into being, or was created, through the Word. Here, right at the beginning of John, we see evidence of the God of the Bible composed of a person called the Father, and a person called the Word.

Without him nothing was made that has been made. Nothing that was made, neither the heavens nor the earth, neither things visible nor invisible, were made without God the Word.Nothing, absolutely nothing, was created or came into being without the Word. If Jesus caused all created things to come into existence, then He existed before all created things (angels, humans, etc.) came into existence. Therefore, the Word was not made or created. If Jesus created everything that has come into being, and Jesus also came into being (as some erroneously contend), then Jesus created Himself, which is absurd. He created all things. Hence, Jesus is the uncreated Creator. Jesus is eternal God. The only alternate “facts” available are found in the wishful thinking of those whose theology demands another reading. It’s clear from the text that Jesus is continually God.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of mankind. And the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it (John 1:4-5)

In Him was life. It’s not saying He was alive; it is saying He is the origin of life. Wherever life is found anywhere in the universe, it has to have a start; it has to have an origin. And the origin ultimately is in God as the origin of life.

The life was the Light of mankind. In the ancient world, without all the artificial lighting that we take for granted, it was just dark. So life was lived in the light; it wasn’t lived in the darkness. This becomes like a metaphor. If you want to find life, life is going to be found in the light, and the light originates in God.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not grasp it. So, the Light shined into the darkness. Grasp it could be translated overpowers it. So what this is telling us is there’s going to be a cosmic war between light and darkness, but the darkness will not win. This theme gets unpacked further in the rest of John’s gospel.

A man came, one sent from God, and his name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.

God even sends a prophet (John the Baptist) whose only responsibility was to announce that the Messiah has come in order that people might believe. This is John’s big message. This word believe is used ninety-three times in John’s gospel. “These have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that by believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). John wasn’t the Light. He came to announce the Light. Some scholars think the reason John put that in there is even by the time John wrote this gospel, there were still those who were followers of John the Baptist, and not yet believers in Jesus.

“This was the true Light that, coming into the world, enlightens every person” (John 1:9)

This was the true Light. Jesus is the true Light. He is the true God, one with the Father. 

Coming into the world, enlightens every person. True Light was there for those who choose to believe it. Very similar to Paul in Romans chapter one when he says that God has made Himself evident through creation, and because God is so evident in creation, no one can ever say they didn’t know there was a God.

“He was in the world, and the world came into being through Him, and yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not accept Him” (John 1:10-11)

So He entered into the world He created, but the people He created, His own possession, did not know Him.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name (John 1:12)

But as many as received Him to them. Again a key word for John, receive simply means to invite in. Think of the imagery of Jesus standing, knocking at the door. The door needs to be opened, and Jesus is invited in. That’s the word receive.

He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. Children, literally means born one’s of God. Again, if you think of Genesis one as creation, then think of the gospel of John as new creation, or re-creation—born again—which again is a theme that will be unpacked in John’s gospel. This idea of He gave the right—it’s not the power. That’s not really a good translation. He gave the right or the authority. People can tell you I’m a child of this and that. But that doesn’t make it so. What John is saying is there are people whom God has given the authority to call themselves God’s children. Who are those people? Those who believe—there’s John’s word—in His name. His name would be like the sum total of His person and work—everything that he is going to talk about in this gospel. Those who “believe” in His name, and  those who were?

“Who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of a man, but of God (John 1:13)

Who were born [how?]. Not of blood meaning not nationality or ethnicity. The Jews thought they were children of God because they were Jews. He is saying, “No, it doesn’t work that way.” Nor of the will of the flesh meaning not human effort, not by religious activity, not by good works, not by good performance—it doesn’t have anything to do with that. Nor of the will of man meaning man there is male, so it’s referring to a husband. A husband wants offspring; a man wants offspring. He gets married and has offspring with his wife. John is saying, “No, it’s not like that either.” Then how does it happen? but of God. And John will unpack that later in the gospel.

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) 

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory. I’m sorry, what? The eternal Creator of the universe, a God so powerful He spoke the universe into place, took on human flesh and became a man? The first big thing John is asking you to believe— and he will make his case through the gospel—is that the God of the universe, at a point in time, actually entered into human history and became a man. Literally the word dwelt is pitched a tent, could be translated tabernacled among us. It’s a reminder of all these old covenant pictures reminding us of the promise of a Messiah.

The only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. You have heard the word used when reading those long genealogies in the Bible: so-and-so begat so-and-so.John applies this language to Jesus as well, referring to Him as the only begotten Son of God.  There is a strong case to interpret this Greek word “monogenes” as “unique, one of a kind”, which is the meaning found in Hebrews 11:17 when the writer refers to Isaac as Abraham’s “only begotten son”(KJV). Abraham had more than one son, but Isaac was the only son he had by Sarah and the only son of promise.However, begotten sonship could also mean one is generated by a father. Then the question is “when” was the Son begotten? The answer is there is no “when.” Why? Because John has already told us that Jesus was continually with the Father, and Jesus was continually God (John 1:1-3). Unlike human generation, the Son’s generation then has to be eternal, timeless, continual. We are told Messiah’s “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”’ (Micah 5:2 KJV), just like God’s “throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting (Psalms 93:2). There never was a time when the Son was not, nor ever a time when the Son was not from the Father. If the Son’s generation did fall within time (not timeless), then not only is there a time when the Son was not, but there is a time when the Father was not Father. IfHe is Son because He is from the Father, then His sonship must be as eternal as the Father Himself. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me?” (John 14:10). Then the Son only begotten “from the Father” means He is not generated after the Father, which would make Him less than the Father, but the Son is generated from the Father timelessly. As Jesus Himself says, He is the truth (John 14:6). Was there ever a time when God the Father was without His Truth? The Arians of the fourth century said yes, and some say the same thing today. For if the Son was not before His generation, Truth was not always in God. Hence, the Son is begotten of the Father not by will, but by Father’s inherent nature, so that the Son is a subsistence of that one divine nature, not the production of another, second nature. The Son’s existence did not take its beginning out of nothing, but went forth from the Eternal. It is appropriate to still call it a birth (that is the meaning of begetting), but it would be false to call it a beginning. Unlike human generation which is physical and material, the divine nature, however, is spiritual and therefore indivisible. God is spirit (John 4:24), so He remains one, simple, and undivided. This can explain how God is one (Deu 6:4), or one being or one essence, but within this single indivisible divine nature exist more than one consciousness or person.1

Let’s summarize. In these verses right at the beginning of John’s gospel, we should recognize a number of interesting concepts, events, and words that are parallel with the first chapter of Genesis.

Genesis 1John 1
In the beginning God.In the beginning was the Word.
God created the whole world.All things came into being through the Word
God created all life.In Him was life.
Let there be light.His life is the light of the world.
The darkness he called night.The darkness did not comprehend it.

 So not only the Father is called God, but the Son is called God. Hence, the phrase God is bigger than just the Son or the Father, because the word God includes the divine person of the Father and the divine person of the Son. Moreover, Father is unbegotten, but the Son is begotten (not created or made). Because the Father has begotten the Son, the Father is not the Son. Because the Son is begotten by the Father, the Son is not the Father. Similarly, because the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 15:26), the Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Son.