Saturday, March 29, 2014
IN-DEPTH BIBLICAL STUDY ON CHRISTOLOGY
by Dr. Diego Sausa
People with Arian leanings use Proverbs 8:24 and 8:25 as proof texts for the belief that Christ had a beginning. But do these passages intimate at all that Christ was created or that He had a beginning? Let us examine the two passages:
Proverbs 8:24 says, "When there were no depths, I was brought forth [chuwl]."
Proverbs 8:25 says, "Before the mountains were settled, before the hills I was brought forth [chuwl]."
The Hebrew verb chuwl rendered "brought forth" has a wide range of meanings in English depending on the context and the grammatical morphology used by the author, it can mean "to wound," "to hurt," "to writhe in pain," "to bear," "to dance," "to suffer pain," "to form."
The grammatical morphology of chuwl (cholaltiy) in Proverbs 8:24 and 8:25 is in the Hebrew Pulal (passive) stem. The Pulal stem occurs 21 times in the OT and is like the Pual stem in that it conveys the passive idea of the action, and when chuwl is in this stem it means "to be made to writhe in pain," or "to be made to bear" or "to be brought forth."
Isaiah for example uses chuwl to mean "to be in pain" in Isaiah 26:18, he says "We have been with child, we have been in pain [chuwl]" (KJV).
The Chronicler uses "chuwl" in the context of being wounded, he says, "And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him, and he was wounded [chuwl] of the archers" (1 Chron. 10:3, KJV), while Jeremiah uses chuwl in the context of being in pain, he says, "My bowels, my bowels! I am pained [chuwl] at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war" (Jer. 4:19, KJV). Notice that these renditions of chuwl as "in pain" or "wounded," are all by the KJV.
While the verb chuwl can also be rendered "to form," there are two exegetical internal contextual controls that exist in Proverbs chapter 8 that disallows the rendering of chuwl with the idea of "to form."
Control number 1, in Proverbs 8:30 Solomon declares that the Messiah was the Creator with God the Father and "was by Him [was by God the Father] as One brought up [amown] with Him" (KJV). The Hebrew word amown rendered "brought up" by the KJV is not a verb, it is a Hebrew noun. It means "an architect," "a master craftsman," or "a master workman." The KJV's translation of amown as a verb is therefore a gross mistranslation. The ESV, the NIV and the NASB render the noun amown more accurately. The ESV renders the passage, "then I [the Messiah] was beside Him [God the Father], like a master workman [amown];" the NIV renders the same as "Then I [the Messiah] was the craftsman at his [God the Father's] side," while the NASB renders the passage, "Then I [the Messiah] was beside Him [God the Father], as a master workman."
What Solomon is saying in Proverbs 8:30 is that the Messiah was co-Creator with God the Father at His side at creation, which of course agrees with John's testimony in John 1:1-3 that Christ was with God and that Christ was God who created everything and no created thing that had existed that He did not create. This explicit declaration of Solomon in this passage therefore disallows the idea that his usage of chuwl in 8:24 and 8:25 should be translated as "formed" because the Messiah was not formed, He was the One who formed everything with God the Father.
Control number 2, in Proverbs 8:23, Solomon, under inspiration quotes the Messiah saying, "I was set up [nacak] from everlasting." The Hebrew verb nacak (pronounced nasak) rendered "set up" by the KJV, means "to be anointed king" in the Niphal (passive) stem, which means that what the Messiah is saying is "I was anointed King from everlasting" which only solidifies the testimonies of all the Bible authors and God the Father that Christ had no beginning because He was King forever and ever (Heb. 1:8) or King from everlasting. In other words, the pre-incarnate Christ Himself is saying that He was the King forever and ever, He therefore cannot be formed. So Solomon cannot be made to contradict himself in Proverbs 8 because he explicitly testifies in Proverbs 8:30 that the Messiah was the co-Creator with God the Father, and in Proverbs 8:23 he declares that the Messiah was King from everlasting. In simple terms, Solomon is saying that Christ was the uncreated Creator and King from everlasting, and therefore, He had no beginning and cannot be formed or created.
The Hebrew word chuwl in 8:24 and 8:25 therefore, cannot be translated as "formed" because it would make God contradict Himself which He does not. The most appropriate rendition of chuwl in 8:24 and 8:25 is therefore, not that the Messiah "was formed," but rather that Christ through Elohim's (God's) foreknowledge, was made to suffer or made to bear the sin of the world even before the earth was created. J.P. Green, Sr.'s The Interlinear Bible, Hebrew-Greek-English (Hendrickson Publishers, 1986) correctly renders the verb chuwl in Proverbs 8:24 and 8:25 literally as "I travailed." In other words, under inspiration, what Solomon is trying to say in Proverbs 8:24 and 8:25 is that through Elohim's (God's) omniscience and foreknowledge, the Messiah was made to suffer or made to bear mankind's death penalty even before the world was created or He was slain from the foundation of the world which agrees with Revelation 13:18 where John describes the Messiah as one who was "slain from the foundation of the world."
So what appeared as evidence for Arianism in these passages in Proverbs 8, actually nullifies the idea that Christ had a beginning or was created and solidifies the ubiquitous testimonies of God the Father and the rest of the Bible authors that Christ was the uncreated Creator and King from everlasting, forever and ever.