The Apocrypha, Lesson 15: The Wisdom of Solomon, Part 1

Wisdom of Solomon 2Intro

Author: The Lutheran Study Bible Apocrypha writes: “The obvious Greek style and philosophical influences make it clear that the Hebrew king Solomon did not write the book.”  Now, this does not mean that what is in Wisdom is not linked in some way to the teachings of Solomon.

Date: 30-10 BC.

The Church’s Historical Use of Wisdom

Wisdom influenced the Church’s teachings on the Incarnation of Christ, as well as her understanding of God, salvation, and the nature of the Church.  Chronologically, it was the last book written in the Old Testament (Septuagint, that is) and serves as a bridge to the New Covenant in its theology and preparation for the Messiah.  Because this book claims Solomon as its heritage, we study it before delving into Sirach, another Old-Testament wisdom book.


  1. Wisdom Grants Eternal Life (1:1-6:21)
  2. The Source and Benefits of Wisdom (6:22-10:21)
  3. Wisdom Guides God’s People during the Exodus (11:1-19:22)



1:4: Wisdom will not enter a deceitful soul, nor dwell in a body enslaved to sin.

“wisdom”: Greek, Sophia, a feminine-gendered word, meaning “skill, insight, wisdom.”  Because of the feminine gender of “wisdom” in the Greek, we find wisdom called “she,” even if referring to Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:24: To those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom.

  • To understand wisdom, what must we “get”?


Death and Life

Wisdom 1:12-13:

12 Do not invite death by the error of your life, or bring on destruction by the works of your hands; 13 because God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.

Wisdom 2:23-24:

23 For God created man for immortality and made us in the image of his own eternity.  24 But through the devil’s envy, death entered the world and those who belong to his company experience it.

  • If God did not create death, why is death part of everyone’s experience? (See Gen 2:17)


  • What is God’s disposition toward death and life?


A Messianic Prophecy of God “Rescuing” Jesus

While Jesus hung on the cross, people taunted Jesus to come down from the cross.

Matthew 27:39-43

39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who can destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself!  If you’re the Son of God, come down from the cross!”

41 In the same way, the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him.  42 “He saved others, but he cannot save himself!  He is the King of Israel!  Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.  43 He trusts in God.  Let God rescue him now if he wants him.  For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

  • Does the Old Testament ever promise to rescue the Son of God?


Psalm 22:8:

He relies on the Lord; let him save him; let the Lord rescue him since he takes pleasure in him.

Wisdom 2:17-18:

Let us see if his words are true, and let us test what will happen at the end of his life; for if the righteous man is the Son of God, he will help him, and will rescue him from the hand of his adversaries.

We realize those who mocked Jesus here couldn’t be Sadducees because of the Scripture they adapted.  Since they are modifying it as a “proof text” of their position, they, no doubt, view the verse as Scripture.

In their mocking of Jesus, they adapt Wisdom 2:17-18.  Now, both Wisdom and Psalm 22 foretell of God rescuing Christ—but not by having Him come down from the cross (Mt 27: 43, Wis 2:18 and Ps 22:8 [LXX] all use the same Greek word for “rescue”).  So, the people interpret Jesus’ coming down from the cross as proof of God “rescuing him.”  But only Wisdom mentions “the Son of God” and a “test,” which the mockers understand to be the cross.

Romans 1:4: Through the Holy Spirit, he was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ, our Lord.

  • Instead of bringing Christ down from the cross, how did God choose to “rescue” Jesus, showing Him to be “the Son of God”?


Christian Hope in Suffering

Wisdom 3:1-4

1 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and no torment will ever touch them.  2 In the eyes of the foolish, they seemed to have died, and their departure was thought to be something evil. 3 Through their leaving might appear to be their destruction, they are at peace.  4 Though in the sight of others they were punished, their hope is full of immortality.

  • Reconcile “no torment will ever touch them” with “their departure was thought to be something evil”?


  • What sustains the Christian in his suffering?


Wisdom 3:5-7

5 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good, because God tested them and found them worthy of himself; 6 like gold in the furnace he tried them, and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.  7 In the time of their visitation, they will shine forth and will run like sparks through the stubble.

  • How are we to interpret our sufferings now? (see also 1 Peter 1:6-7)


  • What does faith believe even if contrary to our experiences? (Romans 8:28)


The Unrighteous and Righteous before God

Wisdom 4:17: They [sinners, vs. 10] will come with dread on the Day of reckoning for their sins, and their lawless deeds will convict them to their face.

  • When will people need to account for their sins?


  • What convicts people before God?


Wisdom 5:15-16

15 But the righteous live on forever, and their reward is with the Lord; the Most High takes care of them.  16 Therefore they will receive a glorious crown and a beautiful diadem from the hand of the Lord, because with his right hand he will cover them, and with his arm, he will shield them.

  • Why are God’s “holy ones” [4:15] not convicted for their “lawless deeds”?


  • What takes place with the “righteous”?


  • What does “crown” and “diadem” signify after the Last Day? (See Revelation 22:5)


  • Whose doing is this? (vs. 16b)


Earthly Rulers: Under Whose Authority Do They Rule?

Wisdom 6:1-3

1 Listen, therefore, O kings, and understand; learn, O judges of the ends of the earth.  2 Give ear, you that rule over multitudes, and boast of many nations.  3 For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High; he will search out your works and inquire into your plans.

Romans 13:1-4

13:1 Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.  2 So then, the one who resists the authority is opposing God’s command, and those who oppose it will bring judgment on themselves.  3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those doing wrong.  Do you want to be unafraid of the authority?  Do what is good, and you will have its approval.  4 For it is God’s servant for your good.  But if you do wrong, be afraid, because it does not carry the sword for no reason.  For it is God’s servant, an avenger that brings wrath on the one who does wrong.

  • Under whose authority (permission) do earthly authorities govern?


Wisdom 6:4-5

4 Because as servants of his kingdom you did not rule rightly, or keep the law, or walk according to the purpose of God, 5 he will come upon you terribly and swiftly, because severe judgment falls on those in high places.

  • To whom must earthly authorities answer?


  • Though earthly rulers derive their authority to govern, can they abuse their power?


  • How does Wisdom, in contrast to Romans, provide us a perspective that governments may not always “rule rightly” and not be “God’s servant for your good” as they are supposed to be?


  • May there be a time when the Christian must say, “We must obey God rather than people” (Acts 5:29)?


What “Holy Things” Do

Wisdom 6:10: For those who observe holy things in holiness will be made holy, and those who have been instructed in them will find a defense.

The “they” refer to rulers.  However, the truth of this verse goes beyond rulers to all people.

  • For something to become “holy” to God, where must it derive its holiness?


  • How does someone “observe holy things”? How does this happen in our setting?


  • “They will be made holy” is in the passive voice. Who then makes someone holy when he “observes holy things”?  How will being instructed in “holy things” be his defense?


Next week, Wisdom, Part 2


Link to the next Lesson.