Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

Wisdom in the New Testament

Wisdom in the New Testament

Ephesians 5:15

By and large NT wisdom (sophia) has the same intensely practical nature as in the OT. Seldom neutral (although cf. ‘the wisdom of the Egyptians’, Acts 7:22), it is either God-given or God-opposing. If divorced from God’s revelation it is impoverished and unproductive at best (1 Cor. 1:17; 2:4; 2 Cor. 1:12) and foolish or even devilish at worst (1 Cor. 1:19ff.; Jas. 3:15ff.). Worldly wisdom is based on intuition and experience without revelation, and thus has severe limitations. The failure to recognize these limitations brings biblical condemnation on all (especially the Greeks) who haughtily attempt to cope with spiritual issues by human wisdom.

The truly wise are those to whom God has graciously imparted wisdom: Solomon (Mt. 12:42; Lk. 11:31), Stephen (Acts 6:10), Paul (2 Pet. 3:15), Joseph (Acts 7:10). One of Christ’s legacies to his disciples was the wisdom to say the right thing in times of persecution and examination (Lk. 21:15). A similar wisdom is necessary for understanding the apocalyptic oracles and enigmas (Rev. 13:18; 17:9). Wisdom is essential not only for leaders of the church (Acts 6:3) but for all believers that they may perceive God’s purposes in redemption (Eph. 1:8–9) and may walk worthily of God (Col. 1:9; Jas. 1:5; 3:13–17) and discreetly before unbelievers (Col. 4:5). As Paul has taught his hearers in all wisdom (Col. 1:28), so they who are mature enough to understand this spiritual wisdom (1 Cor. 2:6–7) are to instruct others in it (Col. 3:16).

Hubbard, D. A. (1996). Wisdom. In D. R. W. Wood, I. H. Marshall, A. R. Millard, J. I. Packer, & D. J. Wiseman (Eds.), New Bible dictionary (3rd ed., pp. 1244–1245). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

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