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Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31


I remember when a nearly-ancient saint of our church–we will call her Rosa–brought up this passage at our weekly breakfast after prayer meeting. She had read Proverbs 8 for our Sunday School on Proverbs and felt she had finally solved the paradox of the Trinity! Her reasoning said something like, “Jesus is the Word, the Logos. The idea of wisdom is not so far from the idea of the Logos. The Son, who is the Logos, must also be the Wisdom of God. So the Son of God must be the first of the Father’s creations, enabling him to be the creative force that joined the Father in creating the rest of Creation!”

I was simultaneously proud of this living saint for her reading of the text and commitment to the Scriptures and horrified that despite our best efforts, Arianism still will not die. That’s what she had expressed, of course. The 3rd and 4th centuries (and following!) of the Christian Church were rife with the heresy of Arianism that claimed that the Son of God was created. The very best of God’s creations. The first of God’s creations. In fact, such a good creation that he was basically divine. But still a creation. Arius said things like,

"Understand that the Monad [eternally] was; but the Dyad was not before it came into existence. It immediately follows that, although the Son did not exist, the Father was still God. Hence the Son, not being [eternal] came into existence by the Father’s will, He [the Son] is the Only-begotten God, and this one is alien from [all] others."

Old Arius makes the mistake of thinking that because the begetting of the Father and the being-begotten of the Son are so alike to our human experience, they must really be like our human experience. It must be that if you really look into it, you will discover that the Son has a beginning. It could not be that the begetting we encounter in God is of a different character, and therefore can be eternal, so that the Son is always being begotten and the Father is always begetting.

It’s important to say this on Trinity Sunday because we need to know that while we are using human language and human relationships to talk about this thing that we must talk about (the Trinity), it is not as though they make the Triune God fully available to us. I know this makes people like Rosa and me and maybe you deeply uncomfortable. It means that we don’t fully have a grasp on our expressions of God. God is Father and Son and Spirit, begetter and begotten and proceeding, but God is also known as the Proverbial virtuous woman who calls from the crossroads, beckoning us on more deeply into the life of Shalom, where the Creation is whole and entire, oriented toward joy and delight in its fullness and its peace instead of its brokenness.

The early church fathers were quite convinced that Proverbs 8 spoke of the Wisdom of God who was the Logos, Jesus Christ. They take several different paths to be sure that they are not slipping into Arianism, though. Some, like Eusebius, clarify the word “created” as something that is “not the sense of passing from non-existence into existence...but rather that he subsists and lives, being before and existing before the creation of the whole world...and the passage says ‘created’ rather than ‘ordained’ or ‘appointed.’” Others, like Marcellus, are convinced that the passage is referring to the Incarnation of the Word, and therefore it is fitting to speak of Christ’s humanity being created because, well, it was created in the Virgin Mary. But this does not mean that the second person of the Trinity, the eternally begotten Son, is a creature. It means that he has taken on creatureliness.

I doubt that the pulpit you are in—unless you find yourself in a seminary chapel this week—is the appropriate place to address this ancient and well-discussed text. But it is a good reminder for us that many of our people hold very easily debunked heresies. The Church has a confession about the God who is one substance and three persons. We have not left people in the dark to struggle through this alone. And if we need to be reminded, our own Nazarene tradition explicitly claims the ecumenical councils of the first five centuries–including Nicea–in our Manual. This is our heritage.

Proverbs 8:1-4

So maybe I am wrong. Maybe it is time for us to open up the poetry of Israel’s wisdom tradition to a broader audience. Proverbs was likely written to a collection of young men training for careers in court and other high professional capacities. They were going to have careers and needed to know what to do and what not to do and that there were many things that might seem good but would certainly turn out poorly. They needed to know which voice to follow. And even for those trained within the tradition, we can never let go of our love of wisdom, even as we never let go of Christ. Wisdom is not a flat thing. It is alive and requires constant diligence. Compare these two lines, one chapter apart, about the sweet and rare gift of honey:

My son, eat honey, for it is good,

and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. (24:13)

If you have found honey, eat only enough for you,

lest you have your fill of it and vomit it. (25:16)

Proverbs 8:22-31

But even as she calls out, beckoning us to follow on the way of life, we are reminded that this Wisdom is not a mere collection of good sense. Contrary to the popular notion of Proverbs, Chapter 8 makes clear that the Wisdom of God is much more than a practical guide to living. It goes far beyond good advice. This wisdom is the coherent superstructure that holds together and yet divides the heavens and the earth. Priest-like, this Wisdom bears the creation to the Father in praise and rejoicing (v. 30 and 31), even as she witnesses the Father’s creating and participates in it “like a master workman” (v. 30).

This has always been the work of the Son, the eternally begotten One. The Son is incarnate in the womb of Mary, the person of Jesus Christ. But the Son is also the one who, like the Son of Man in Daniel 7, receives glory and honor and dominion that stretches over the whole of history and world events. The Son is our mediator and intercessor before the Father, as Hebrews 7:25 makes clear.


If I was going to be so bold as to make an application here, I would make a few key points. First, this Wisdom of Proverbs 8, present at Creation, is revealed for us now in the Logos, Jesus of Nazareth, who is crucified, raised, and ascended to the right hand of the Father where he remains the eternally begotten Son of God.

Second, the Wisdom both conceals the Father from us [“It is the glory of God to conceal things…” (Prov. 25:2)] and reveals him to us [“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9)]. We can speak about God while remaining humble in our assertions.

Third, We must love wisdom, not as a static application of logic and sense to our lives, but as the living thing that it is, inviting us into profound mystery that likely ends in simple stunned silence.

Then Job answered the LORD and said: “Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but I will proceed no further.”

Job 40:3-5

What else are we doing in worship if not inviting our people into this very space of silent appreciation and stunned awe at the wonder of God? We ought to stare into the depths. We must. Not to comprehend God or to ease our discomfort, but simply to love and adore.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36

[1] John Sanidopoulos, “The Poisonous Songs of Arius,” The Poisonous Songs of Arius, last modified June 6, 2011, accessed April 9, 2022,

[2] “Proverbs 8:22-31 in the Christology of the Early Fathers the Ante-Nicene Fathers.” Proverbs, vol. 8, no. 24, 2002, pp. 22–31, Accessed 1 Apr. 2022.

[3] "Fathers," 108.

[4] "Fathers," 110.

[5] “Historical Statement – MANUAL 2017–2021.”, 2017, Accessed 10 Apr. 2022.


Dowling, Maurice. “Proverbs 8:22-31 in the Christology of the Early Fathers

the Ante-Nicene Fathers.” Proverbs, vol. 8, no. 24, 2002, pp. 22–31, Accessed 31

Mar. 2022.

“Historical Statement – MANUAL 2017–2021.”, 2017, Accessed 10 Apr. 2022.

Sanidopoulos, John. “The Poisonous Songs of Arius.” The Poisonous Songs of Arius. Last modified June 6, 2011. Accessed April 9, 2022.