God’s Attributes: The Wisdom of God

21 Apr

gods-wisdomIt is a joy to behold wisdom and knowledge in a man. How much greater then to find in God wisdom and knowledge unsurpassed and infinite. The beauty of God’s character is that each of His attributes compliments the other attributes. We have already considered the infinite power of God—His omnipotence—which enables Him to do anything He chooses. We further studied the goodness of God, which motivates God’s every action toward those who believe, as well as His common grace to unbelievers and believers alike. Now we turn to His infinite wisdom. When we consider these attributes together—God’s goodness, wisdom, and power—we find great comfort and encouragement.

If there is anything the Bible teaches us about God, it is that He is all-wise.

“With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and understanding” (Job 12:13).

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable (Isaiah 40:28).

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Romans 11:33; see also Job 9:1-4; 36:5; Isaiah 31:1-2).

God is all-wise, infinitely wise:

“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise [any;] [He is] mighty in strength of understanding” (Job 36:5).

Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite (Psalms 147:5).

God’s wisdom is vastly superior to human wisdom:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. 9 “For [as] the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9; see also Job 28:12-28; Jeremiah 51:15-17).

God alone is wise:

Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, [leading] to obedience of faith; 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen (Romans 16:25-27; see also 1 Timothy 1:17; Jude 1:25).

It is God who is the source of wisdom:

For the LORD gives wisdom; From His mouth [come] knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5).

What is Wisdom?

One might sum up the meaning of the term “wisdom” with the words, “know how.” Wisdom is based upon knowledge. Often, in fact, wisdom and knowledge are mentioned together (see Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Luke 1:17 (AV); Romans 11:33; 1 Corinthians 1:24; 2:5; Colossians 2:3; Revelation 5:12; 7:12). Wisdom cannot exist without a knowledge of all the facts pertinent to any purpose or plan.

The God who is all-wise is also the God who is all-knowing. God knows everything. Theologians use the term “omniscient” when speaking of God’s infinite knowledge. God knows everything about everything. He knows what men are thinking (see Ezekiel 11:5; Luke 5:21-22). He knows everything that is going to happen. He even knows everything that could happen, under any set of circumstances (see, for example, 1 Samuel 23:10-12; 2 Kings 8:10). God cannot devise a bad plan or fail to bring His purposes and promises to their conclusion because He knows everything. His omniscience undergirds His wisdom.

Wisdom is not just knowledge, but “know how.” God’s wisdom enables Him to “know how” to do anything (see 2 Peter 2:9). Wisdom entails the skillfulness to formulate a plan and to carry it out in the best and most effective manner. Bezalel was a craftsman, a man with incredible “wisdom” in the art of making the furnishings for the Tabernacle (see Exodus 31:1-5). Joshua had been given wisdom to know how to lead the nation Israel (Deuteronomy 34:9). Solomon asked for and received the wisdom and knowledge needed to rule Israel (2 Chronicles 1:7-12).

W. Tozer and J. I. Packer have defined wisdom as follows: “In the Holy Scriptures wisdom, when used of God and good men, always carries a strong moral connotation. It is conceived as being pure, loving, and good.… Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, so there can be no need to guess or conjecture. Wisdom sees everything in focus, each in proper relation to all, and is thus able to work toward predestined goals with flawless precision.”[1]

“Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fulness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariable wise.”

Christians today seek to be wise, but all too often it is not God’s wisdom they seek. They seem ignorant of the fact that there is a false wisdom which must be rejected:

Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and [so] lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. 18 And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace (James 3:13-18).

The wisdom of God and the “wisdom” of men are not the same; they are not compatible. Indeed, they are in opposition to each other:

For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For indeed Jews ask for signs, and Greeks search for wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, 24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. 6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom,] which God predestined before the ages to our glory (1 Corinthians 2:1-7).

The Wisdom of God in Christ and His Church: Ephesians 1 and 3

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, 8 which He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth (Ephesians 1:7-10).

8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; 10 in order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places.] 11 [This was] in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. 13 Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory (Ephesians 3:8-13).

God’s Wisdom Revealed in Christ to the Church: Ephesians 1

Paul indicates in Ephesians 1 the eternal purpose of God to sum up all things in Christ. In the Old Testament, the coming of Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah was progressively revealed in greater detail. This began with the promise of salvation from sin and the defeat of Satan through Eve’s seed in Genesis 3:15. It was more fully disclosed in the Abrahamic (Genesis 12:1-3) and Davidic (2 Samuel 7:14) covenants. In the Psalms (e.g. Psalm 22) and the prophets (e.g. Isaiah 52:13–53:12), more and more was said about Messiah, until in Micah 5:2, we are told His birthplace.

God promised to bring salvation and blessing not only to the Jews but also to the Gentiles. He promised a Messiah who was a man, the seed of Eve and of Abraham and of David, but also One who was the divine Son of God. He foretold of a coming of Christ in which He would be rejected and suffer for the sins of men (Psalm 22; Isaiah 52:13–53:12) and of a triumphal coming of Messiah to put down His enemies (Psalm 2:7-9; 110). These seemingly contradictory promises made the whole matter of God’s purpose a mystery (see, for example, 1 Peter 1:10-12). But with the first coming of Christ, the mystery has been resolved. And now, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 1, the matter has come into focus in Christ. All of God’s purposes and promises culminate in Christ. And now, in place of wonder at the mystery of the past, we are overcome with wonder at the wisdom of God which accomplished all of this.

God’s Wisdom is Being Revealed Through the Church: Ephesians 3

God’s eternal purpose is to reveal His wisdom to the celestial beings as well as to His church. God is still accomplishing His purpose, which will culminate in the second coming of His Son. When this purpose and program is completed, the full scope of God’s wisdom will have been revealed, and this wisdom will be revealed as so great it will provide the fuel for the praise of God throughout all eternity.


[1] A. W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1961), p. 66.

[2] J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 80.

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Posted by on April 21, 2016 in Doctrine, God


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