WHO IS SPEAKING IN PROVERBS 8:22?
by Shawn Brasseaux
“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22. Who is the “me?” Is it Jesus Christ, as often assumed?
In the first few centuries A.D., there arose a heresy by the name of Arianism. Supposedly, the Lord Jesus Christ was a created being, a “begotten God,” rather than the eternal JEHOVAH God of the Bible. You hear a modern-day form of this nonsense when a so-called “Jehovah’s Witness”—better termed a “Russellite” (follower of Charles Taze Russell)—tells you that Jesus Christ is “a god” rather than “God.” In fact, their New World Translation was rendered in John 1:1 so as to reflect their unorthodox theology: “In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” (Our King James Bible, or Authorized Version, reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”)
Furthermore, John 1:18 says in the New World Translation, “No man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten god who is in the bosom [position] with the Father is the one that has explained him.” (Our King James Bible has, “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”) The “conservative” New American Standard Version agrees in John 1:18 “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” Friends, we could not have a more liberal translation here!!!!
Where the King James Bible and its underlying manuscripts read “Son” (“only begotten Son”), some manuscripts have “God” (“only begotten God”). This latter set of manuscripts is the source of the New American Standard Version (NASV) and the New World Translation (NWT). From where did this ancient error originate? One church father and major Bible manuscript editor, Origen (A.D. 185–A.D. 254), held to Arianism. He likely perverted John 1:18 in some ancient Bible texts, among other mutilated textual passages. That would also make Origin responsible for the resultant English translations found in the NASV and NWT. “Son” was changed to “God,” and we can see how heresy has actually crept into certain English Bibles!
In light of the above confusion, some have appealed to other Bible verses to strain to find “Scriptural” evidence that Jesus was a created being, someone who has not existed eternally (as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have). Proverbs 8:22 is one of their “proof-text” verses—although the wording in the King James Bible cannot be used to teach Arianism. “The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,” says Proverbs 8:22 in the Authorized Version. Read the verse in the following popular modern English versions, and note how they have unnecessarily added the verb “created”/“made”/”formed,” or the concept of creation or bringing something (someone?) into being:
- New International Version: “The LORD brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old;”
- Amplified Bible: “The Lord created and possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old [were accomplished].”
- Holman Christian Standard Bible: “The Lord made me at the beginning of His creation, before His works of long ago.”
- New Living Translation: “The LORD formed me from the beginning, before he created anything else.”
- New Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.”
- Good News to Modern Man: “The LORD created me first of all, the first of his works, long ago.
- The Living Bible: “The Lord formed me in the beginning, before he created anything else.”
- Common English Bible: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his way, before his deeds long in the past.”
- The Message: “GOD sovereignly made me—the first, the basic—before he did anything else.”
- The New English Translation: “The LORD created me as the beginning of his works, before his deeds of long ago.”
- The Voice: “The Eternal created me; it happened when His work was beginning, one of His first acts long ago.”
- Revised Standard Version: “The LORD created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.”
Some interpret Proverbs 8:22 as Father God speaking of Jesus Christ. Then, the verse is made to read (using modern versions): “God created Jesus Christ at the beginning of creation….” However, this is not only heresy, it violates the context of Proverbs 8:22. The context was set in verse 1 (“Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice?”) and in verse 12 (“I wisdom dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge of witty inventions.”) The speaker of Proverbs 8:22 is not Jesus Christ; wisdom is the speaker. Wisdom is personified, given the trait of a living being, and it talks in order to issue counsel.
“The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.” It would be so awkward to say, “The LORD possessed Jesus Christ in the beginning of His way.” What nonsense! “Me” here is wisdom. Proverbs 8:22 is simply teaching that Almighty God—actually Jesus Christ the Son (Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)—exercised wisdom during the Creation Week. Contrary to what most scientists tell us, the heaven and the earth are not the result of some nebulous, random explosion and expansion of matter. Creation is the work of a wise God, a Supreme Being who had a plan and then brought it into existence by His spoken Word. He had knowledge about time, space, and matter—and then He had wisdom to bring it about. What an awesome God we Christians serve, brethren!