Merciful God (Wis 15:1-15:3)

“But you!

Our God!

You are kind.

You are true.

You are patient.

You rule all things in mercy.

Even if we sin,

We are yours.

We know your power.

But we will not sin.

Because we know

That you acknowledge us as yours.

To know you

Is complete righteousness.

To know your power

Is the root of immortality.”

This author makes a direct appeal to God (ὁ Θεὸς) who is kind (χρηστὸς), true (ἀληθής), and patient (μακρόθυμος). They knew he was merciful (ἐν ἐλέε). Even if they sinned (ἁμάρτωμεν), they knew that they were still his. Knowing God made them righteous (δικαιοσύνη), he gave them the possibility of immortality (ἀθανασίας).

The demand for wisdom (Wis 8:17-8:21)

“When I considered these things inwardly,

I pondered in my heart.

In kinship with wisdom

There is immortality.

In friendship with her,

There is pure delight.

In the labors of her hands,

There is unfailing wealth.

In the experience of her company,

There is understanding.

There is renown in sharing her words.

I went about seeking

How to get her for myself.

As a child

I was naturally gifted.

A good soul fell to my lot.

Rather being good,

I entered an undefiled body.

But I perceived

That I would not possess wisdom

Unless God gave her to me.

It was a mark of insight

To know whose gift she was.

So I appealed to the Lord.

I implored him.

With my whole heart,

I said.”

This author considered these things in his heart. When you are related to wisdom you have immortality (ἀθανασία ἐν συγγενείᾳ σοφίας). There is delight in her friendship and her laboring hands. There is wealth and understanding in her company. You will become famous by sharing her words. He wanted wisdom for himself. He had been a gifted child. Interesting enough there is the Platonic thought of the pre-existent soul (ψυχῆς) that was united to a wonderful body (εἰς σῶμα ἀμίαντον). He realized that he could not possess wisdom unless God gave (ὁ Θεὸς δῷ) him this gift (χάρις) to him. Thus he appealed and implored the Lord (τῷ Κυρίῳ) with his whole heart (ἐξ ὅλης τῆς καρδίας μου). This is reminiscent of the story in 1 Kings, chapter 3, when King Solomon asked Yahweh for the gift of wisdom.

The effects of indispensable wisdom (Wis 8:10-8:15)

“Because of her

I shall have glory among the multitudes.

I shall have honor in the presence of the elders,

Even though I am young.

I shall be found keen in judgment.

In the sight of rulers

I shall be admired.

When I am silent,

They will wait for me.

When I speak,

They will give heed.

When I speak at greater length,

They will put their hands on their mouths.

Because of her

I shall have immortality.

I shall leave an everlasting remembrance

To those who come after me.

I shall govern peoples.

Nations will be subject to me.

Dread monarchs will be afraid of me

When they hear of me.

Among the people

I shall show myself capable.

I shall be courageous in war.”

The influence of wisdom on his life was remarkable. Because of wisdom living with him, he had glory among the multitudes and honor among the elders (παρὰ πρεσβυτέροις), even though he was young. His keen judgment was clear among the great rulers (δυναστῶν). When he was silent, they waited for him to speak. When he spoke, they listened and put their hands on their mouths. He now had immortality (ἀθανασίαν) with an everlasting remembrance (μνήμην αἰώνιον) for future generations. He would then govern people. Many nations would be subject to him. Even tyrants (τύραννοι) would be afraid of him. He would be capable and courageous in war.

The desire for wisdom (Wis 6:17-6:20)

“The beginning of wisdom is

The most sincere desire for instruction.

Concern for instruction is love of her.

Love of her

Is the keeping of her laws.

Giving heed to her laws

Is assurance of immortality.

Immortality brings one near to God.

Thus the desire for wisdom

Leads to a kingdom.”

You begin to get wisdom with the desire for instruction about her. You must love her and her instructions. If you keep and heed her laws (νόμων αὐτῆς), you will be assured of immortality as you come near to God (ἀφθαρσία δὲ ἐγγὺς εἶναι ποιεῖ Θεοῦ). This desire for wisdom (ἐπιθυμία ἄρα σοφίας) will lead to a kingdom (βασιλείαν). Is this an eternal kingdom with God? This also was part of the Greek Stoic journey of the various steps or desires to get to wisdom.

Virtue (Wis 4:1-4:2)

“Childlessness is better

With virtue.

In the memory of virtue

Is immortality.

Because it is known

By God.

It is known

By mortals.

When it is present,

People imitate it.

They long for it

When it has gone.

Throughout all time

It marches

Crowned in triumph.

It is the victor in the contest for prizes

That are undefiled.”

Once again, we return to the concept of childless people who are virtuous. The memory of their virtues (ἀρετῆς) will live on in immortality (ἀθανασία) before God (παρὰ Θεῷ) and among humans (παρὰ ἀνθρώποις). People will imitate virtue because they long for it. In fact, when it is gone, it still marches with a crown, just like in the Greek Olympic Games. They would wear this crown of virtue, since they were undefiled.

The immortality of the just (Wis 3: 1-3:6)

“The souls of the righteous

Are in the hand of God.

No torment will ever touch them.

In the eyes of the foolish

They seemed to have died.

Their departure was thought

To be an affliction.

Their going from us was thought

To be their destruction.

But they are at peace.

Though in the sight of others,

They were punished.

Their hope is full of immortality.

Having been disciplined a little,

They will receive great good.

God tested them.

God found them worthy of himself.

Like gold in the furnace

He tried them.

Like a sacrificial burnt offering

He accepted them.”

The souls of the righteous (δίκαιον δὲ ψυχαι) or just ones are in the hands of God (ἐν χειρὶ Θεοῦ). What a great thought! They have no more torments. In the eyes of the foolish, they seem to have died. The fools thought that it was a disaster and destruction, but they are at peace (εἰρήνῃ). They seem to have been punished, but their hope is in full immortality (ἡ ἐλπὶς αὐτῶν ἀθανασίας πλήρης), the opposite of dead, fully non-dead. Once again, we have the idea that the just do not die. They were disciplined a little, but they received a great good. They were tested but found worthy. They were like gold in a furnace or an accepted sacrificial offering.

The error of the impious (Wis 2:21-2:24)

“Thus they reasoned.

But they were led astray.

Their wickedness blinded them.

They did not know the secret purposes of God.

They did not hope for the wages of holiness.

They did not discern the prize for blameless souls.

God created us for incorruption.

He made us in the image of his own eternity.

Through the devil’s envy,

Death entered the world.

Those who belong to his company experience it.”

Now we have the counter argument of the just one. These wicked ones were led astray because they were blind. They did not know the secret mysterious plan of God (μυστήρια Θεοῦ). They did not hope for holiness. They did not know about the prize for the blameless souls (ψυχῶν ἀμώμων). Now we have the positive part. God has created us for incorruption (ὁ Θεὸς ἔκτισε τὸν ἄνθρωπον) to live in eternity with him. We would not die. This is a very strong emphasis on the immortality of humans. However, there is the disclaimer based on the creation stories of Genesis. We were made in the image of God (εἰκόνα τῆς ἰδίας ἰδιότητος ἐποίησεν αὐτόν), but the envious devil (διαβόλου) entered the world (κόσμον) so that those who associate with him experience death (θάνατος). The wicked have become associates of the devil or Satan.