All the wisdom we need is found in Jesus, for Paul called Him “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor 1:24). This statement is intriguing because it echoes back to another figure in the Old Testament who goes by the name of “Lady Wisdom”—who, as we will soon see, appears to be Jesus Himself.
Now before you raise an eyebrow, do note that Lady Wisdom is not actually a lady. She is a personification of the glory of God and she takes on a feminine character, because the Hebrew word for wisdom is a feminine word. If you’ve ever studied Spanish then you are quite used to this concept as you often have to phrase your sentences in ways that recognize words that are culturally feminine and masculine.
Lady Wisdom gives a rather interesting speech throughout the first nine chapters of Proverbs and then suddenly drops a theological bomb into good Hebraic theology; for Wisdom begins to speak of her own creation and how she helped with creation.
The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man. (Pro 8:22-31)
Just in reading this small section we begin to think of the creation of the world in Genesis, as well as Jesus’ involvement in creation in John 1:2-3 and Colossians 1:15-17. Because of that, we can’t help but think of Jesus when we think of Lady Wisdom. In fact, it almost seems blasphemous if we don’t take Proverbs that way. After all, it’s thought possible that Lady Wisdom started its career as a deity in another religion before becoming a Biblical personification. The last thing we want as Christians is to end up with a spiritual being outside of the Trinity that helped God create or structure the world, so it is much more theologically sound to see Jesus as Lady Wisdom.
But why claim Lady Wisdom to be anyone? As we just mentioned, she’s a personification—a literary tool used by the Bible writers to reflect upon God’s wisdom. Why even bring Jesus into it?
The answer is because the New Testament writers seem to intentionally point us towards the conclusion. Not only does Paul talk about Christ as the “wisdom of God,” and not only do Paul and John refer to Him as co-creator with God, but Luke and Matthew seem to make correlations as well. In Luke 11:49-50 Jesus talks about how the “Wisdom of God” sent Israel prophets. Interestingly, when Matthew 23:34-35 retells this same exact passage, Jesus says that He was the one that sent those prophets. The comparison makes an explicit statement: Jesus is Wisdom.
Hebrews 1:1-3 further confirms this suspicion by calling Jesus the apaugasma of God—a particular Greek word that is found only once in the Greek Bible. This word is used in the author’s explanation of how Jesus helped to create the world.
Now if we look at the only other place this rare Greek word is used in the Greek Bible, we find ourselves staring at a passage about Lady Wisdom in the non-canonical book, the Wisdom of Solomon: “For [Wisdom] is a reflection [(apaugasma)] of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness” (7:26). Given Hebrews’ allusion to this passage, we can’t help but see Jesus once again being connected to Lady Wisdom—especially given the way that The Wisdom of Solomon 7:23-8:1 continues to describe her.
Why does any of this matter? Because knowing this presents us with an important conclusion. Wisdom is not a school. It’s not a library of books. It’s not abstract knowledge or a large brain or clever tactics. Wisdom is not even natural to humanity. No; rather, wisdom is a person. Wisdom is a being. Wisdom is alive. And if we truly want to understand our Bibles and the secrets of Heaven and everything else, then we need the Holy Spirit to give us access to Jesus so we can have access to wisdom.
Want to continue the conversation? Take the long journey with my book/audiobook, The Rush and the Rest, or take a shorter path with my condensed version, Fantasy IRL. This post draws heavily on Michael Heiser’s research. You can learn a bit more in his post here.