BibleTools

Topical Studies

 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


Bible verses about Wisdom
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Wisdom, in most cases, means "common sense" or "shrewdness." It contains no moral content when seen in the context of under the sun (meaning "apart from God's thinking"). God is not saying that this is evil at all. In fact, it is basically good as long as we understand that it does not include a moral element.

True, godly wisdom, though, is never detached from morality. It is always guided by morality, the commands of God, and the way of God. When Solomon says in Proverbs, "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD," he means true, godly wisdom, but in the book of Ecclesiastes, a person can have wisdom and not be following God at all. The subject is shrewdness and common sense, which are not necessarily evil.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Exodus 31:1-6

God personally appointed Bezaleel and Aholiab: "I have called by name"; "I have put." They were given favor by God to carry out this responsibility in His behalf for Israel. He gave them wisdom. The basic concept behind the Hebrew word translated wisdom is synonymous with the English word "skill." It is a word with wide-ranging application. For instance, Proverbs 4:7, Solomon advises, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom." In that context, it means skill in living, in common sense, in relationships with other people. We are to become skilled at doing these things.

The widsom of Bezaleel and Aholiab is skill in supervising and teaching others how to do things, as well as being able to do intricate, artistic things themselves. Another way of putting it would be "strength of capacity" or even "expansion of their minds." In addition, God gave them understanding, which means "discernment." In this context of building the Tabernacle, it would mean being able to arrange or connect all the different parts.

God also increased their knowledge, which means "a particular acquaintance." Cunning works implies "inventiveness," having a mind that can look at something and say, "We need this kind of a tool to accomplish this task," and then produce the tool to make it. By inspiration, God added to natural ability so that they could execute God's design. He gave them skill far beyond their natural abilities.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 6)


 

Exodus 35:30-35

Perhaps it would be helpful to understand that the basic meaning of the Hebrew word translated as "wisdom" is equivalent to the English word "skill." Solomon, in Proverbs 4:7, tells us, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom." He is really saying, "Above all things, get skill." Skill in what? Skill in living. God wants us to be skilled in living. In this case, God has filled Bezalel with wisdom, and this wisdom has to do with the responsibility that He had given to him in constructing the Tabernacle and it furnishings and utensils.

This principle becomes vital to us in regard to our place in the church of God, understanding about the Spirit of God, and understanding about God Himself and what He does in our conversion. These verses show that God Himself was personally and directly involved by means of His Spirit enhancing the natural and developed abilities of humans involved in His work. Bezalel and Aholiab already had skill, but what God did to enable them to perform a function directly for Him is that He increased their natural ability to enable them to function at a higher level than normal. A supernatural element was added to their lives.

If God did this for Bazalel and Aholiab, will He not also do it for us? Will He not give us powers greater than we have by nature? He does this by His Spirit and by stirring up the spirit in man.

If we follow the usage for "spirit" and apply it here, we see that "spirit" is an invisible and immaterial source of some sort of needed power, but in this case, it is external to mankind—supernatural. In other words, we can communicate spirit from one person to another, but that spirit will only be what any human is capable of. As we become more skilled, our ability to project or to communicate spirit to another person is also increased as well, but we reach a limit in our human ability to do this. However, God is showing that in order to do a work for Him, He will empower us to go beyond what is normally possible for a human being to do.

God gave these craftsmen supernatural power for them to operate in His behalf, to produce good fruit within the purpose of God, and therefore it was of God. However, when we see abilities that seem to be beyond the ken of a normal human being, we may not know the identity of the supernatural force or power until we begin to see its fruit: "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16).

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

Exodus 35:31

Perhaps it would be helpful to understand that the basic meaning of the Hebrew word translated "wisdom" equates to our English word "skill." Proverbs 4:7 tells us, "Above all things, get wisdom." Solomon is saying, "Above all things, become skilled." Skilled in what? God wants us to be skilled in living. In this case, God fills Bezaleel with wisdom, or skill, relating to the responsibility He had given to him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit and the Trinity (Part 4)


 

2 Samuel 15:13-14

The background of these verses is David's flight from Absalom. Absalom was determined to become king, so he began undermining David through deceitful and worldly-wise ways: by using psychology, by giving favorable judgments to garner support. In so doing, he began to persuade people to follow him. It took him four years of undermining of his father to get a large enough following to move to overthrow him. He was successful to a point.

Proverbs 28:1 says that the wicked flee when no one pursues. God would certainly not call David a wicked man. He went through periods when he was far from God. Here, he fled for his life into the wilderness east of Jordan. Why did he flee? Wisdom dictated that David was in no position to defend the city: He was outnumbered and "outgunned." Absalom, by his strategy, had gained the upper hand, so David decided that it was better to have freedom of movement in an open place than it was to be trapped in a city, where he would be subject to siege.

So he—like Jesus later on—decided that discretion is the better part of valor. Was David a coward? He was a mighty man of valor, a great man in the eyes of God, and a winner of many military victories. It was a proverb in Israel that "David [has slain] his ten thousands" (I Samuel 18:7; 21:11; 29:5). None would dare call David a coward! At the time, flight was the wisest move; his action was guided by wisdom, not cowardice. Beyond this, David, who usually had his spiritual wits about him, did not presume to discount God's authority to do as He pleased as the real Sovereign of Israel.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)


 

Job 8:8

In effect, Bildad is telling Job, "Look back into history. The ancients were wise and had many experiences that can help you. If you would just study the wisdom of the past, you would find answers to your situation." He is basically correct. The ancients of which he spoke lived for hundreds of years—they had a lot of time to learn the lessons of life. They probably passed a lot of wisdom on to their descendants. "Job," he says, "all you have to do is to mine the past, and you'll solve your dilemma."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Truth (Part 2)


 

Psalm 90:12

The phrase "number our days" expresses the thought of putting in order, arranging the use of, or prioritizing time because the end of one's life is fast approaching. Moses wanted us to remember that our remaining number of days grows smaller each day.

He reminds us because we rarely make a conscious relationship between sin and our mortality. We are so busy living for the moment that we fail to see a connection between our conduct and our finite lifespan. Moses appeals for help that we might be wise and live by faith. Proverbs 4:5-6 urges us, "Get wisdom! Get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you." Because it bears so profoundly upon our accountability to God, using time properly may be the greatest of wisdom.

Romans 13:11-12 carries this thought down to our day, expressing the urgency of our situation:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Simplify Your Life!


 

Proverbs 3:5-6

"Lean on" is used here in the sense of relying upon or trusting someone or something for help or protection. The object of our secure trust is the Lord, a most reliable object of confidence!

When we lean against a wall or on a cane, we trust it to support us. If it should fail to do its job, we will fall to the ground and perhaps be hurt. In a figurative sense, in times of distress we lean on members of our families or friends; we rely upon them for encouragement, support, help, or protection. In this verse, "lean on" functions figuratively. Relying on our own understanding is compared to leaning on a cane that cannot bear our weight; it is unreliable for support. It is dangerous for a person to rely upon mere human wisdom or understanding because it is likely to fail him.

Acknowledging the Lord in all our ways means keeping Him in mind in every event of our lives. Godly living is not to be confined to the Sabbath, for God is involved in each moment of each day. His instruction covers our lives from waking up in the morning to going to sleep at night. He wants us to remember Him all the time and to trust and obey Him to guide our conduct in everything we do.

That "He shall direct your paths" suggests that God will "smooth" or "make straight" the road of our lives. This is a promise that God will go before us and remove many of the obstacles from our path. He wants us to be successful, so if we trust Him and follow His instructions, He will lead us forward, sweeping many of our potential problems to the side. How encouraging!

Clyde Finklea
My Parents Won't Let Me!


 

Proverbs 8:1-4

It is helpful to understand that God provides two distinct callings for every person on earth. The first is quite general, and everybody rejects it regardless of how religious he might be. Solomon writes in Proverbs 8:1-4:

Does not wisdom cry out, and understanding lift up her voice? She takes her stand on the top of the high hill, beside the way, where the paths meet. She cries out by the gates, at the entry of the city, at the entrance of the doors: "To you, O men, I call, and my voice is to the sons of men."

Here, the wisdom of God, personified as a woman, claims that the knowledge of God is readily available to mankind. Proverbs 1:20-26 affirms this:

Wisdom calls aloud outside; she raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, at the openings of the gates in the city she speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke: surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, because you disdained all my counsel and would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes."

Again, God's wisdom is personified, and her testimony is that no one paid attention. All of mankind "disdained all my counsel, and would have none of my rebuke." With this in mind, recall what Paul writes in Romans 1:18-20:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and [divine nature], so that they are without excuse.

In other words, no man can stand before God and claim that he turned away from Him because God never provided any understanding of, not only His existence, but also many details of His power and works among men. How is this possible? Apart from the reality of creation, one reason is the ready availability of the Bible. Into how many languages and dialects have men translated it? Nearly everyone on earth can read or hear it in his own tongue!

Romans 2:14-15 presents yet another claim of God that blocks mankind's excuses:

. . . for when the Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thought accusing, or else excusing them. . . .

Deep within everyone, regardless of race or location, is a God-given awareness, a consciousness, not only of His existence, but even of some of the basics of what He requires, things written in God's biblical law. Despite all of this evidence, we universally reject Him. So thorough is mankind's rejection of God that, when He came as a man, we killed Him!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Six)


 

Proverbs 8:13

What does "the fear of the LORD" entail? Another proverb, Proverbs 9:10, helps us to understand: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." While Proverbs 8:13 defines what the fear of the Lord is, Proverbs 9:10 shows what it produces. Understanding the effect of the fear of the Lord will help us to understand the cause.

This verse uses a Hebraism in which the two clauses are written in parallel. The "fear of the LORD" in the first clause is linked to "knowledge of the Holy One" in the second, while the "beginning of wisdom" corresponds to "understanding." Most translations hide the fact that the Hebrew word rendered as "Holy One" is actually plural. It refers to both holy, divine Beings—the Father and the Son. We can more fully grasp this in conjunction with John 17:3, where Jesus says that knowing the Father and the Son—having personal, intimate knowledge of the Holy Ones—is eternal life.

In tying these things together, we see that the wisdom and understanding in Proverbs 9:10 are not abstract concepts but are related to eternal life. They are foundational to being able to live eternally. The reverential awe and respect—fear—of God is what produces wisdom in making sound choices, in having good judgment, in understanding cause and effect. The fear of God makes for a good life—not just for the self, but also for everyone for all time.

James describes such "wisdom from above" as "first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy" (James 3:17). These elements produce a good life, a life of spiritual wisdom. All of them are opposites of evil, of causing harm. Godly fear causes a man to evaluate properly and to arrive at the correct conclusion about what he should or should not do. Ultimately, the fear of the Lord teaches us to live eternally—to live with the skill that the Father and the Son have in living.

Returning to Proverbs 8:13, we can see how hating evil fits into this. When we are vehemently opposed to all that does harm to life and liveliness, and our lives reflect this, we are beginning to live as God does. However, we have to put wisdom in the context of eternity. What may seem "harmless" in the short term may bear evil fruit in the long term. Unless we are able—and willing—to look as far forward as possible to see the outcome, we may not be able to see the harm.

Because of man's fickle and shortsighted nature, God has explicitly defined what is good and evil in His law, and the evil that is defined is sin. It may not be immediately obvious to mankind that burning incense to the Queen of Heaven causes harm because mankind is shortsighted enough not to realize that he is paying homage to a worthless substitute of the true Creator, the One who gives life. Thus, God spells out that we can have no other gods (Exodus 20:3).

Mankind may not see the harm in a "little white lie" (Exodus 20:16), but the One "who inhabits eternity" knows that truth and life are inextricably linked. When falsehood enters in, so do defilement and ultimately death.

Humanity may not be aware of the harm caused by coveting (Exodus 20:17), but the One "who knows the end from the beginning" and who created the human intellect and human heart, knows that sin begins in the heart. The best way to stop sin at its source is to help mankind to guard his heart, before any sin can be produced.

David C. Grabbe
Hating Evil, Fearing God


 

Proverbs 11:2

The proud hypocrite deceives himself into ignoring realities in the conduct of his life that the meek and humble person quickly recognizes and takes into account. The proud person's vanity pushes him into conduct that will end in shame. The humble person's attitude, on the other hand, is a vivid contrast, for his wisdom prevents him from pursuing the same conduct. This in turn produces even more wisdom when good fruit is produced because it reinforces his right decision.

This pride seen in Proverbs 11:2 literally means "boiling up," or we might say, "puffed up." It can mean "to overstep the boundaries." The proud person has an inflated opinion of himself and/or his possessions, abilities, powers, and accomplishments. This exists because pride has deceived him about his importance. He is the center of the world! The day is coming soon when everyone's proud ego will be deflated, and man's haughty self-regard will be stripped away.

This is exactly what happened to Satan. He got so full of himself that his pride tricked him into believing he could defeat His Creator in battle and take His place! He ignored the reality that he was the creation of God, and that God was thus superior to His creation in every way. His pride deceived him into underestimating the awesome power of God that he had seen demonstrated in the creation! It made him disregard the limited nature of his own power in comparison, making him think he was stronger than was true. It actually made him think he could be God!

This attitude is also at the foundation of Laodiceanism. Of what does God accuse the Laodiceans? "[Y]ou say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'" (Revelation 3:17). Their pride deceives them into believing they are self-sufficient. They have it all! They do not need anything! We should consider that in all probability the Laodicean does not say any such thing with his tongue. In fact, he is probably able to "talk the talk" very well and hypocritically put on a good show of righteousness. But God looks on the heart, seeing not only his public conduct but also his motivations and private conduct. The Laodicean is of the class that professes to know God but denies Him in works. God's judgment—the correct judgment—is that they are "wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Humility, and the Day of Atonement


 

Proverbs 14:8

The wise, prudent person follows truth. He consciously weighs his options and deliberately chooses not to twist the truth. He does not walk on blindly, leaving things to the chance that his deceit will not be discovered. True wisdom is the ability to judge present circumstances with the view of future success. Truth is always ultimately successful.

Conversely, folly means "foolishness, senselessness, idiocy, brainlessness, silliness, and irrationality." Why is a person's folly senseless? Because the one senselessly deceiving is himself deceived. As we might say, "He is shooting himself in the foot," not grasping the fact that he, too, will be crushed by his deceit.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Ninth Commandment


 

Proverbs 26:16

Has the sluggard really accomplished anything that might be a basis for being considered wise? No, but he thinks he knows all the answers, and in his pride lets others know.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pride, Contention, and Unity


 

Ecclesiastes 2:12-13

Solomon is forced to ask himself, "What can the person who follows Solomon do that Solomon has not already done? He did it better than his successor can ever hope to do, because God had endowed him with so many gifts. His conclusion: His successor will be able to do only what he has already done.

Wisdom does have goodness to it; it is not without value. It is certainly far better than foolishness, but it is not the ultimate source of reliance. One cannot put his trust in his worldly wisdom.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 2:14-15

The wise person knows where he is going. He has goals in his life and works hard to achieve them. His "eyes are in his head." The fool, conversely, seeks folly, mirth, pleasure, and so forth.

Solomon discovers that the stupid idiot shares the same fate that he, a wise man, does: They are both going to die. He asks, "What good is it, then, to become wise?"

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and the Feast of Tabernacles (Part 2)


 

Ecclesiastes 2:22-24

Solomon, knowing the human condition was a result of God's purpose, reveals that men can receive something good from his toilsome lot. Verse 26 lists three virtues we can derive from our labors: "For God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy to a man who is good in His sight; but to the sinner He gives the work of gathering and collecting, that he may give to him who is good before God."

A person who combines his work with a relationship with God will receive growth in character! On the other hand, a sinner, cut off from God, must endure the drudgery of the struggle, and the rewards of his work would eventually benefit the righteous, not himself!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The First Prophecy (Part Three)


 

Ecclesiastes 7:11-14

Solomon is comparing two powers that offer their possessors the ability to defend themselves against many of the vicissitudes of life. On the one hand is money and on the other, wisdom. Money can help one avoid and even preserve a person from many of life's difficulties. Wisdom, however, can give him something no amount of money can—life. Wisdom produces things material possessions cannot because it is insurance against willful self-destruction, whether physical or spiritual.

Consider in verse 13 literally means "to see." It counsels us to understand that some situations cannot be rectified. No amount of money or wisdom will prevent them from occurring. We can do nothing about them because circumstances are beyond our powers, and we should not fret overmuch about them. An obvious example is the impossibility of a person being able to stop wars, floods, riots, or a hurricane. Each of these can bring devastation and a great deal of personal pain that may be entirely unavoidable. All one can do in such a case is to deal with the aftereffects as wisely as possible.

Verse 14 carries on the thought, counseling us that good and bad times occur in everybody's life. There will be situations that are seemingly unjust, such as the righteous seeming not to be prospered, becoming diseased and dying young, while the evil are prospered with wealth, good health, and long, comfortable lives. These things occur in every culture on earth. We are to consider—to see—that God overrules all and is well aware of what is happening. He may even be directly involved in causing the kinds of circumstances that upset our sense of fairness (Isaiah 45:7). We must never allow our thoughts to wander from the reality of the depths of God's involvement in governing His creation.

The passage concludes by drawing our attention to the future. It is beyond our abilities to know precisely what is going to happen. How long will our present trial last? Will we be drawn into another? Are we pleasing God? Will we be prospered to a greater level? When will Christ come? Solomon is not saying we should not think about the future, but that we will never know precisely what is coming. Thus, we should not be overly concerned about it. We must live our belief that God is on His throne, which allows us to be emotionally stable.

Solomon does not begin to give an answer to the thought he is posing until verses 18-19, and even then, it is a very brief answer: "It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all. Wisdom strengthens the wise more than ten rulers of the city." The combination of the fear of God and wisdom, which is the fruit of vision, appear together as a solution.

Because the circumstances he posed will affect all, Solomon's advice is to keep on following wisdom. This is a precursor to the climax of the book where he says, "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil" (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). It also foreshadows Romans 8:28, where Paul writes, "And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."

In his terse statements, Solomon is saying, "Keep on following the revelation of God, for this is wisdom. The vision of His overall purpose is wisdom. It is an unerring guide through good and bad times. Always consider—see, discern—that an unseen Hand is involved in events, even those of our seemingly insignificant lives."

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Elements of Motivation (Part Two): Vision


 

Matthew 12:41-42

The men of Nineveh will rise up in judgment and condemn the people of Jesus' generation because they did not respond to the message of repentance He brought. Then He says the queen of the South, the Queen of Sheba, will also condemn this generation because they did not understand the wisdom that Jesus brought—wisdom far greater than Solomon's.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Parables of Matthew 13 (Part 2): Leaven


 

Luke 4:28-30

When Jesus was faced with violence, He fled the area. His work had to go on, so God intervened. Psalm 91 came into play here, in that Jesus was the victim of something He could not foresee. He was not tempting God in any way. He was doing His job, and persecution quickly arose against Him, so God protected Him from the immediate danger. Jesus fled to another area, to Capernaum.

God is not illogical, nor does He defy His own laws. He expects His people to use both faith and wisdom—maybe we could say, common sense.

Because of faith, God will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves—as He did for Jesus in protecting His life, miraculously enabling Him to pass right through a very angry crowd. But Jesus' wisdom is also clearly shown in this case. God wants us to do something physical to remove ourselves from the danger, as Jesus did in leaving the area. There is a faith factor as well as wisdom. The wisdom is a fruit of one's faith.

In addition, there is a third factor. God is deeply involved in working in us. He knows how far along in the process of His work He is. So we have our faith in God, we have wisdom or common sense, and we also have God working with us.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 2)


 

Acts 9:17

Special spiritual gifts are given through the laying on of hands. Usually, the Holy Spirit was given by the laying on of an elder's hands, confirming baptism. However, Acts 8:14-17 says that the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit after baptism, while Acts 10:44-48 says that it fell upon Cornelius' household before baptism. Sometimes God makes exceptions to work out His own will and plan.

Timothy received special spiritual gifts from the hands of the elders, including the gifts of wisdom and teaching. Paul reminded him that ordination bestowed such gifts upon him and that he needed to stir up God's Spirit to use them.

Martin G. Collins
Basic Doctrines: The Laying On of Hands


 

Romans 3:18

Why are people lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God (II Timothy 3:4)? Why are people so indifferent to the state of their spiritual well-being? Why has the Bible been relegated to little more than a coffee table display? Why are people so defiant toward heaven and so little concerned about sin? Romans 3:18, following a long list of sins prominent among men, says in summation, "There is no fear of God before their eyes."

Do today's churches of this world teach the fear of God, or has their teaching turned Him into a divine, snugly teddy bear, a benign but doddering grandfather, or maybe an absentee landlord busy doing other things? God's Word says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7), adding later, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Proverbs 9:10). These two verses, even without any other confirmation, reveal that the fear of God is very important, yet so frequently the ministry of this world tries to blunt the force of the word "fear." Nevertheless, it means in Hebrew exactly what it means in English, encompassing everything from a faint but grudging respect to outright terror.

However, neither outright terror nor faint respect produces a good relationship. Neither will win another's heart. God wants more from us, more than a mere healthy respect. He wants us to have a deep, abiding, and reverential awe for Him. Being all-powerful, holy, just, good, kind, careful, encouraging, inspiring, merciful, patient, loving, forgiving, and wise, He is far more than One we should simply respect.

Americans, especially, have been taught to be familiar and casual in our attitudes toward others, and this carries over into our attitude toward and relationship with God. It is a form of the "I'm just as good as you, and you will just have to accept me just as I am" approach. A disrespectful and sometimes even defiant attitude is born. But what is the Bible's counsel? Paul tells us that even among ourselves, "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself" (Philippians 2:3). What about familiarity with God? Peter tells us to honor all people, love the brotherhood, and honor the king—but we are to fear God (I Peter 2:17). Do we hear much teaching that will incline us to revere God's majesty?

Do we unconsciously think that the fear of God is something only the unconverted need? Since Proverbs 9:10 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom," and since wisdom in its simplest form is skill or right application, who needs wisdom more than God's children? Reverential awe is wisdom's foundation, because it moves us to obedience, and God gives His Spirit to those who obey Him. Paul writes in Philippians 2:12, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out you own salvation with fear and trembling."

We need this quality more than anybody does because our eternal life is on the line. It used to be that someone known to believe in God was referred to as "God-fearing." This was obvious to others because they knew the person obeyed God and was very concerned about what God said. It marked his relationship with God and set him apart from others. Fearing not only makes a great witness before others, it also pays great dividends, as Psalm 103:13 shows: "As a father pities His children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him." We all want God to be compassionate toward us.

In I Peter 2:21, the apostle instructs us to follow Christ's steps, suggesting that He is the model after whom we must pattern our lives. Did He fear God? "[Jesus], in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear" (Hebrews 5:7). Notice especially the link connecting His being saved from death and being heard because He feared. Christ acknowledged God's sovereignty through a deeply held reverential awe, showing that answered prayer, eternal life, and the fear of God are intertwined.

This is true because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is right application, and right application is obedience. Jesus obeyed God perfectly. His fear was not an occasional burst of deep respect—as ours so often is—but sustained and built throughout His entire life. It had to be this way because His trials intensified as He aged, and His need of godly fear became ever more urgent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

Romans 15:14

This verse provides a clear sense of an active, even aggressive, goodness. Paul links goodness with full knowledge and admonition of each other. This gives us insight into what he knew of and expected from Christians in Rome, placing before us a target to shoot for in our relationships within the fellowship of the church.

But Paul lists goodness first, as though it is either the foundation for the other two virtues or at least their necessary precursor. I Corinthians 8:1 says, "Knowledge puffs up." Knowledge combined with vanity can spew a torrent of self-righteous offense, but goodness will hold such a display in check and guide knowledge to build up rather than destroy.

Biblical goodness is always, under every circumstance, beneficial. Though he had not yet been to Rome at the writing of his epistle, Paul evidently understood that he was writing to an unusually strong congregation. He was so confident that they had a strong and sincere desire to do the right thing that he wrote that they were "full of goodness [and] filled with all knowledge."

This is quite a compliment, serving to reinforce what he writes in Romans 1:8: "Your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world"! They were far different from the recipients of Hebrews, whom he tells, "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God" (Hebrews 5:12).

The Romans' full knowledge was an intelligent and comprehensive understanding of the faith and Christian responsibility. Strong faith is not built on weak understanding. They had given honest, serious thought to applying their faith to the sometimes bewildering tangle of life in this world. They were living it.

These two qualities—goodness and knowledge combined—present a sound vehicle for instructing each other on the best ways to "walk the walk" despite the pulls of this world. Goodness provides the right disposition and motivation, and knowledge, the correct instruction. One devoid of the necessary knowledge cannot teach; anyone destitute of goodness will not even try because he lacks the impulse to help others in the right spirit. Even if he makes the effort, only a spirit marked by active love will win the response without which no true education in God's way is possible.

The word translated "admonish" in verse 14 is rendered "advice," "counsel," and "instruct" in other translations. In I Thessalonians 5:14, the same word is translated "warn," indicating that it is more than mere instruction. The English word that comes closest to expressing the sense best is "inculcate." Inculcate means "to impress upon the mind by frequent repetition or persistent urging" (Webster's New World Dictionary). Among its synonyms are such strong words as "indoctrinate," "brainwash," "admonish repeatedly," and even "hammer"! No wonder William Barclay says that agathosune is goodness that "might, and could, rebuke and discipline."

This goodness does whatever loving wisdom calls for in a given situation. However, this in no way means that one should deliver the admonishment, counsel, or even rebuke with meanness of spirit. In other words, one with goodness does not viciously "chew somebody out." Numerous Scriptures counsel us to be gentle and tender with each other. Paul is himself a model of tact and diplomacy in dealing with difficult circumstances within congregations and between himself and a person or congregation.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness


 

1 Corinthians 1:19-21

God has purposely chosen this means to put proud and stiff-necked man totally in debt to Him for the most important achievement in all of life. Men have accomplished much and will continue to do many great things. However, verses 19-21 expose why the wise of this world will not submit to God. The reason becomes clear in the phrase, "the foolishness of preaching" (verse 21, King James Version [KJV]). This translation is somewhat misleading in the King James; it should read "the foolishness of the message preached," as in the New King James Version (NKJV). Paul is not saying that the wise of this world reject the act of preaching but that they consider the content of the message preached to be foolish. In other words, the wise will not believe the gospel, most specifically that God in the flesh has died for the sins of the world.

It cannot be overestimated how important humility expressed by faith before God is to the overall spiritual purpose of God for each individual! Each person must know as fully as possible that Christ died for him, that his own works do not provide forgiveness, and that he has not created himself in Christ Jesus. Nobody evolves into a godly person on the strength of his own will. It is God who works in us both to will and to do (Philippians 2:13). No new creation creates itself. So, by and large, God calls the undignified, base, weak, and foolish of this world, people whom the unbelieving wise consider to be insignificant and of no account. He does this so that no human will glory in His presence. On this, a German commentator, Johann Albrecht Bengel, clarifies, "We have permission to glory, not before God, but in God."

The term "in Christ Jesus" (I Corinthians 1:30) indicates that we are in an intimate relationship with Him. Paul then details—through the terms "wisdom," "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption"—that God, using our believing, humble, submissive cooperation, will be responsible for all things accomplished in and through us. Some modern commentators believe that, because "wise" and "wisdom" appear so many times earlier in this chapter, the terms "righteousness," "sanctification," and "redemption" should be in parentheses because Paul intends them to define what he means by true wisdom in this context.

God, then, is pleased to save those who believe and to do a mighty work in them. This set Abel apart from, as far as we know, every other person living on earth at that time. What he did by faith pictures what everyone who receives salvation must also do to begin his walk toward the Kingdom of God. Everyone must be called of God; believe enough of His Word to know that he is a sinner who needs the blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of his sins; repent, that is, undergo a change of mind toward God; and be justified, made legally righteous by having Jesus Christ's righteousness imputed to him. This enables a relationship with God to begin, and sanctification unto glorification can proceed.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Four)


 

1 Corinthians 2:7

The word "mystery" is not the same as our English usage of the word. "Mystery" to the Greek meant not a puzzle that was difficult to solve, but a secret impossible to penetrate. It was something that was hidden and unintelligible to those who were not initiated, as into a secret society or as into a religion.

Most of you have heard of the mystery religions. What they did was unintelligible to those who were on the outside, but to those who were on the inside, what was being said or enacted in their ritual made clear sense.

This is the idea here: a secret impossible to penetrate, not a puzzle that is difficult to solve. What is crystal clear to those on the inside is unintelligible to those who are on the outside.

In like manner, to those who have received the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit has joined with the spirit in man, adding a dimension to their lives that they previously did not have (I Corinthians 2:11-12). So then, things that are crystal clear to them are unintelligible to those who do not have this added dimension. Thus, Paul says, the things of the Spirit have been revealed by God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Satan (Part 3)


 

1 Corinthians 2:13-15

True wisdom is the result of human reason coupled with revelation. Yet, even true wisdom will result only if a person believes what God says. Only then does a person have the opportunity to see God. He is hidden from those who put their faith in human wisdom.

Natural in this context does not mean "evil." It simply refers to one whose horizons are bounded by the things of natural life, by "the around and the about." Such a person is not equipped to discern the activities of God. But a person with the Holy Spirit can examine God's activities and make judgments based on them. Therefore, in his process of judgment, God comes into the picture. When the Spirit of God comes into a person's life, the basis of his judgment should change! This occurs, not because the person is any "greater" or "better," but because the Spirit of God equips him to see and to use godly wisdom. Now he can judge all things from God's perspective. This indeed is our responsibility!

Because God has called us, we should see God so clearly and know His greatness so intimately that we can live in the expectation that something great can happen at any moment to those who are receptive. The God who raised up Jesus is equal to any occasion—any possibility! Is anything too hard for Him? Certainly not! He throws that challenge out to man—to those who truly see Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Do You See God? (Part Two)


 

1 Corinthians 3:1

What an opening! Paul is one chapter beyond the subject of "the wisdom of men" and "the wisdom of God." Notice how the wisdom of men was affecting these converted Corinthians. That Paul says that they were still "babes in Christ" shows they were converted, but they were converted to such a small degree that Paul still had to speak to them as if they were unconverted!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith


 

Colossians 2:8

James Moffatt renders this verse as, "Beware of anyone getting hold of you by means of a theosophy [a branch of philosophy] which is specious make believe, on the lines of human tradition."

This verse is the only place where the biblical writers use the word "philosophy." The word has survived the years with its meaning unchanged: the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means. It is translated from the Greek philosophia, which can be broken into its individual parts: philos (fond or friendly) and sophos (clever or wise).

Strong's Concordance writes that Paul was speaking of sophistry, that is, plausible but misleading argumentation or fallacious reasoning. Our word "sophisticate" derives from sophos. To sophisticate someone causes him to become less natural or simple; he becomes corrupted or perverted. A sophisticated person has acquired worldly knowledge and lacks natural simplicity.

Philosophy, the love and pursuit of wisdom by intellectual means, is not wisdom from God but wisdom as defined by man. It is man's attempt to be wise. God says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom" (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). Since man cannot see God, he concludes, "There is no God." Because man's philosophy does not consider God, its very foundation is faulty.

Mike Ford
Beware of Philosophy


 

2 Thessalonians 2:10-12

These people will perish because of a self-imposed delusion, a blindness that strikes those who refuse to love the truth. They may not refuse to accept truth, but they do not love it—they are not dedicated to it.

A dedicated person gives himself to the object of his love just as two people in love dedicate themselves to each other until they are one. The people described in these verses are perishing because, though they have been given truth, they do not love it enough to give themselves to it. For whatever their personal reasons, they prefer to tolerate lies, following their leaders to destruction.

Without sufficient dedication to truth to obey except haphazardly or lethargically, understanding begins to wane. "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psalm 111:10).

John W. Ritenbaugh
'I'll Never Follow Another Man!'


 

Hebrews 5:7

Notice especially the link connecting His being saved from death and being heard because He feared. Christ acknowledged God's sovereignty through a deeply held reverential awe, showing that answered prayer, eternal life, and the fear of God are intertwined.

This is true because the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Wisdom is right application, and right application is obedience. Jesus Christ obeyed God perfectly. His fear was not an occasional burst of deep respect—as ours so often is—but sustained and built throughout His entire life. It had to be this way because His trials intensified as He aged, and His need of godly fear became ever more urgent.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Sovereignty and Its Fruit: Part Ten


 

James 1:5-8

Since we do not naturally have the wisdom from above—spiritual wisdom—then we must ask God for it in faith. We must be sure that our faith is in accordance with His will, and we must come to Him with the utmost confidence that He will grant it. When we go to God with a request, His answer, whether yes or no, will be for our ultimate good. Our faith is not believing that God will give us what we want regardless of our request, but that His answer will always be the wisest answer for our ultimate good.

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Unjust Steward


 

James 3:16-18

Wisdom in the Bible has the same general meaning as the English word "skill." In this context, wisdom indicates proficiency, competence, or adeptness at living in such a way to produce the fruits of righteousness. Notice that this wisdom from above that reflects itself in the conduct of God's children is first pure. It is uncontaminated by any of the myriad aspects of carnal, self-centered human nature. It is not peace sought at the expense of righteousness. Hebrews 12:14 clearly says we are to "pursue peace with all men, and holiness." It is not either/or but both. We all need to avoid needless contentions, yet not to the point of sacrificing the truth, compromising principle, or forsaking duty.

This wisdom is also peaceable and, unlike the attitude of the highly competitive, willing to yield. That is, it is not irascible, contentious, angry, or bigoted—driving the wedges of separation deeper—but rather calming, gentle, and tranquil. The heavenly wisdom will accomplish this through a person, not because he is necessarily mediating, but simply because he is projecting the nature of God.

If we are indeed regenerated by God's Spirit, being at peace and making peace will be the rule in our lives. As to the actual mechanisms that we can use to make peace, room for some differences of opinion certainly exists. There can be no dispute, however, that the vocation of every Christian is to make peace primarily through what he himself is. Secondarily, we must strive to secure the conditions and relationships that will make good will, concord, and cooperation possible instead of hatred, strife, competition, and conflict.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 7: Blessed Are the Peacemakers


 

James 3:17-18

James concludes chapter 3 by describing the wisdom that comes only from Almighty God. It is the bit and rudder by which we can effectively gain control of our speech. Godly wisdom begins in the heart, replacing the self-indulgent human motivations with purity, peacefulness, gentleness, yieldedness, mercy, goodness, fairness, and sincerity. Words that employ these godly attributes contrast to the raging winds that fan flames of war toward total destruction. The apostle does not allow us any time to spend in the middle; our words should be fresh and trustworthy, without the bitter and shocking elements of a sharp tongue.

In Matthew 12:34, Christ says, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." The real issue is that our words reveal the essence of our hearts. They will tell whether we are motivated by the earthly wisdom of human desire or by the godly wisdom of the fruit of the Spirit. Unkind words reveal an unkind heart, and kind words, a kind heart.

Staff
Are You Sharp-Tongued? (Part Two)


 

1 John 5:16-17

The concept in these two verses provides a foundation for showing that the Bible clearly categorizes sin in a number of different ways.

First, we must define a few terms. Psalm 119:172 says, "All Your commandments are righteousness." What does the word righteousness mean? It is an Old English word that we still use today, especially in religion. It is slowly being replaced by the word rectitude. Righteousness is a combination of two words, right, meaning "correct," and wise, although it is not spelled anything like our modern word wise. Wisdom is "right application," that is, "right doing." Righteousness, then is "right doing." "All Your commandments are right doing." All unrighteousness—all wrongdoing—is sin.

I John 3:4 reads, "Sin is the transgression of the law." We need to define transgression. Transgress means "to go beyond the limit," "to violate," giving us a broad foundation for understanding this. Sin, then, can be defined as "going beyond the limit of what the law allows." Righteousness is applying the law's letter and/or its intent!

Quite a number of words—Hebrew and Greek—are translated into this single English word sin. A general element that is present in all sin, regardless of which word is used, is failure. Sin equals failure. It is failure to apply or to live up to the standard of what is right. This is why John says that all wrongdoing is failure, but some failure is much more serious than others.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Covenants, Grace and Law (Part 16)


 

Find more Bible verses about Wisdom:
Wisdom {Nave's}
 




The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment

Sign up for the Berean: Daily Verse and Comment, and have Biblical truth delivered to your inbox. This daily newsletter provides a starting point for personal study, and gives valuable insight into the verses that make up the Word of God. See what over 145,000 subscribers are already receiving each day.

Email Address:

   

We respect your privacy. Your email address will not be sold, distributed, rented, or in any way given out to a third party. We have nothing to sell. You may easily unsubscribe at any time.
 A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
©Copyright 1992-2017 Church of the Great God.   Contact C.G.G. if you have questions or comments.
Share this on FacebookGoogle+RedditEmailPrinter version
Close
E-mail This Page