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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Accusations Against Jesus Answered

Don Stewart :: Does the Book of Proverbs Teach That Jesus Is a Created Being?

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Does the Book of Proverbs Teach That Jesus Is a Created Being? (Proverbs 8:22-25)

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 6

There is a statement in the Book of Proverbs that has been assumed to refer to Jesus as having been created by God, rather than Himself being the Creator. This passage, among others, is used to demonstrate that Jesus is a lesser being than God the Father. This being the case, it is important that we take a look at this passage to understand what it is trying to teach us.

Wisdom Was with God in the Beginning

In Proverbs, it speaks of wisdom as something that was with God from the beginning. The text reads as follows:

“The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old; I was formed long ages ago, at the very beginning, when the world came to be. When there were no watery depths, I was given birth, when there were no springs overflowing with water; before the mountains were settled in place, before the hills, I was given birth...” (Proverbs 8:22-25 NIV)

After wisdom was brought forth, the writer then speaks of the time God created the earth. The Book of Proverbs says,

“...when he had not yet made land or fields or the first dust of the world. When he set up the heavens, I was there. When he traced the horizon on the surface of the ocean, when he established the skies above, when he determined the currents in the ocean, when he set a limit for the sea so the waters would not overstep his command, when he traced the foundations of the earth...” (Proverbs 8:26-29 God’s Word)

It then says the following about wisdom:

“...then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.” (Proverbs 8:30-31 NRSV)

Wisdom is said to be beside God when He did His work of creation. Does this mean that wisdom was actually a person? If not, then what does it mean.

Important Questions to Be Answered in This Passage

There are indeed a number of important issues that we find in this passage. The questions can be summed up as follows.

1. Is Wisdom an Actual Person?

Is wisdom referring to an actual person, or is wisdom merely being personified in this context? What is in view here?

2. If It Is a Person, Then Is It God the Son?

If wisdom is referring to a person, is it referring to God the Son or is it referring to someone else. If someone else, then who?

3. What Does the Hebrew Word Translated “created” Mean?

The exact meaning of the Hebrew word qanah, which is translated “created” or “brought me forth,” is debated. The word has two basic meanings. It can mean “to create” or it can mean “to get,” “to possess” or “to acquire.”

The question then is as follows, “Was wisdom created in the beginning or merely possessed in the beginning?”

4. Does This Mean Jesus Was Created?

If wisdom is referring to God the Son, and that the Hebrew word in this context means “created,” then is it saying that God the Son, Jesus Christ, was a created being? Does this contradict what the rest of the Scripture says about Jesus?

Each of these questions must be addressed. We can answer them as follows.

Issue 1: Is Wisdom Referring to an Actual Person?

The first question that needs to be addressed refers to the meaning of “wisdom” in this passage.

Option A: Wisdom, in This Context, Refers to a Person

Many believe that it refers to an actual person. The text says that wisdom is filled with delight each day and rejoices in the human race. These descriptions seem to refer to a person. Therefore, it is concluded, that there was another person with God in the beginning before He created the universe.

Option B: The Writer Is Speaking of Wisdom Personified

Some see this passage as speaking of wisdom personified. This means that it is not actually speaking of a real personage but rather it is a literary device that makes wisdom actually sound personal. Personification of wisdom is something that is widely found in ancient writings. Wisdom is thus treated as an actual person with human characteristics.

Consequently, the writer of these Proverbs is merely using a known literary device that was common at that time. Thus, we should not take the descriptions as referring to a literal person.

Issue 2: Does Wisdom Refer to God the Son?

If wisdom refers to an actual person, then we need to identify that person. Should we assume that it refers to God the Son? The fact that wisdom is spoken of as a master, working who was working alongside God, suggests that it refers to a distinct Person; God the Son.

In the New Testament, Jesus is often equated with the wisdom of God. If this passage is speaking of Jesus, God the Son, then it seems to indicate that the Son was created. However, this cannot be since the Scripture consistently teaches that the Son is God Himself, an uncreated being.

Some who see this as a reference to Jesus Christ point out that it does not say that wisdom was “created” at the beginning but was rather “possessed.” This brings up the next issue, “What is the exact meaning of the Hebrew word in this context?”

Issue 3: What Does the Hebrew Word Translated “created” Mean?

The exact meaning of the Hebrew word qanah, which is translated “created” or “brought me forth,” is debated. The word has two basic meanings. It can mean “to create” or it can mean “to get,” “to possess” or “to acquire.”

Bible students are divided upon which of the meanings is to be understood in this passage. If the word is understood to mean “acquire” or “possess” then God the Father would be directing the work of God the Son in creation. It would have nothing to do with God the Father creating God the Son.

If however, the word is understood to mean “create” then the idea would be wisdom existed before the creation of the world.

If the translation “create” is accepted, then it would seem to teach that God did not have wisdom until He created it. This is something contrary to what Scripture clearly teaches elsewhere. God’s attributes have been the same for all eternity.

Issue 4: Does This Mean Jesus Was Created?

The final issue concerns the nature of Jesus Christ. Does this passage teach that He is a created being? From the above discussion, there is no solid reason that this conclusion can be made from this passage.

To begin with, there is uncertainty as to whether wisdom is referring to an actual person. Since wisdom was often personified in the ancient world it is likely this is what we find in this particular context.

If it is referring to God the Son, then what is it telling us about Him? As we have seen, the Hebrew word can mean “possess” rather than “create.” Consequently, no final decision can be made about the exact meaning of the term.

Finally, the remainder of the Bible is clear as to the identity of Jesus; He is God the Son, Second Person of the Trinity. He is the One who created all things in the beginning.

There is also the fact that this passage in Proverbs is not a narration of past events. Rather, it is a highly poetic description of God and the ways in which He works. Accordingly, there should be some restraint as to how much should be understood as actual literal events.

Summary – Question 6
Does the Book of Proverbs Teach That Jesus Is a Created Being? (Proverbs 8:22-25)

It has been argued by some that the Book of Proverbs speaks of Jesus Christ being created. The text speaks of wisdom being created in the beginning. If wisdom is referring to Jesus, then He could not be the eternal God who became human.

There are a number of problems with this view. They can be summed up as follows.

First, we are not certain whether God is personally speaking to someone or we are dealing with wisdom personified. Each is possible.

However, since wisdom was often personified in writings in the ancient world it would be consistent to understand this passage in the same way. We do not have to assume that it is speaking of an actual person.

There is another question to be answered. The Hebrew word used in Proverbs 8 may not mean “create” in this context. Indeed, it may have the idea of “possess.” If this is what we find here, then it would have nothing to do with the actual creation of wisdom.

It should also be noted that this entire passage is highly poetic. It is not narrating a series of events that occurred sometime in the past.

Therefore, however, the passage is ultimately understood, it is not teaching that God the Father created God the Son at some point in time before He created the world. Other passages in Scripture make it plain that God the Son is the Creator of all things.

In What Sense Is Jesus the Beginning of God's Creation? ← Prior Section
Why Was Jesus Called the Only Begotten Son? Next Section →
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