Editor’s notes: This article addresses the claim that, since “wisdom” in Proverbs 8 is personified as a female gender, “wisdom” cannot be identified as Christ, etc.
Firstly, Genesis 1 tells us that Two Beings of an identical nature (divinity) created two beings of a different identical nature (humanity). One was Elohim, and He was speaking to Someone Else Who was already In His Image. This is deduced by the fact that only Christ, the Word, is ever said to be in the “Image” of God other than humanity. Not the Holy Spirit, not the Angels. Only Christ. These created Humanity – male and female.
God even made sure that there would be no confusion over the representation by creating woman out of man. Just as Christ is said to be begotten out of the Father, Eve was taken from Adam’s own substance. Thus, in this relationship, Adam represents the Father and Eve represents Christ.
Now, Paul points back to the Creation account and likens the relationship between Husband/Male and Wife/Female to God and Christ… however, there is another parallel in the middle. Here it is:
1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”
We see here the following hierarchy of equality:
God – Christ
Christ – Humanity (specifically the Church)
Man – Wife
Now, this is the clearest verse linking them all together, however, there are many other verses which cover the first and second and the second and third rungs of these parallels. For example, to corroborate the first and second rungs, we have:
1 Corinthians 3:23 – “and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”
Here is a passage for the two lower rungs in this parallel:
Ephesians 5:23-32 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Notice how this ties back to the creation account.
So, the Husband (Masculine) and Wife (Feminine) have a parallel in Christ (Masculine) and the Church (Feminine). However, notice the gender roles disintegrate on this second level of the parallel. I, being a male on the first level, move over into the “Feminine” position in the middle rung. However, that doesn’t mean that everyone becomes feminine when they join the Church, does it? *pause for laughter*
No, of course not, because we see that the main ideas that are carried upwards are not gender distinctions, but role distinctions. The male, in both Scripture and Nature is the seed giver, while the wife is the nurturer. In procreation, the husband gives the seed that the wife nurtures for 9 months to become a child. The Scriptures also proscribe many social seed-nurture distinctions for men and women. In the passage above, it is seen in terms of headship-submission.
This relationship is reflected in Christ. Christ is spoken of frequently in Scripture as giving the Seed of the Word to the Church. The Church is also begotten out of Christ, the Head. We are to nurture the Seed He has given and produce Fruit. Gender is not a reality on this level, but is representative of spiritual truths.
Now, when we do a study of type/antitype study, everything in the type represents something in the antitype, but they do not always match up exactly. For example, Jesus is not a four-legged wooly animal. Yet the Lamb represents Him. Jesus was not burned over an Altar, yet the Altar of Sacrifice represents a reality of Christ’s acceptance by the Father. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned, but there is a rational logic to them – a pattern.
So, if there is a three part parallel like what we have here, and one of the items which is a reality on the lowest level (gender in Husband-Wife relationship) disappears as a reality on the middle level (Christ-Church), then there is no reason to force it on the highest level (God and Christ). If we were to force this, then we would be saying that Christ is “Feminine”!
Now this is how you compare Scripture with Scripture. To reinforce this, on the highest level, you not only have Christ being begotten of the Father’s substance, but you have the “seed-nurture” relationship in the way that the Father and Son created – the Father as the Source and Christ as the one who carried it out.
1 Corinthians 8:6 – “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, FROM WHOM are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, THROUGH WHOM are all things and through whom we exist. (see also Hebrews 1:2)
One more side issue, I want to cover. The grammatically feminine words used of Divine things. Both God and Christ are usually represented by grammatically masculine types (such as Father and Son, King and Prince, etc.), though Christ is represented under at least two grammatically feminine terms and the Divine Spirit is feminine in Hebrew and neuter in Greek. Christ is represented as Wisdom in Proverbs 8. John 1 quotes and alludes extensively to this passage and Ellen White specifically identifies Christ as the identity of Wisdom:
“His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2. AND THE SON OF GOD DECLARES CONCERNING HIMSELF: “The Lord possessed Me in the beginning of His way, before His works of old. I was set up from everlasting.… When He appointed the foundations of the earth: then I was by Him, as one brought up with Him: and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him.” Proverbs 8:22-30.” (Ellen White, Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 34)
The fact that Christ is represented under both masculine and feminine representations shows that gender is not a necessary reality on the Divine level.
The other one which I have seen discussed by those who argue for a “female member” of the “Go
d family” is the word, “shekinah”. Now, the word “Shekinah” doesn’t actually exist in the Bible. It is a word which comes from extra-canonical works, first seen in the Targumim, but it is derived from the Hebrew word shākhan meaning “to dwell” or “to reside”. It is a word which describes the presence/glory of God which resided/dwelled in the Tabernacle. Now, what is the identity of this glory? Let’s do some more Scripture on Scripture analysis. Let’s look first at a verse which contains this verb:
Exodus 40:35 “And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the Cloud settled (shākhan) on it, and the Glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”
So we see from the above verse that it was the “Cloud” which entered and dwelled in the tent as the Shekinah/Glory of YHWH. So Who was the Cloud?
Exodus 23:20-23 “Behold, I send an Angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to Him and obey His voice; do not rebel against Him, for He will not pardon your transgression, for My name is in Him. But if you carefully obey His voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.”
Isaiah 63:9 “In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His Presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”
1 Corinthians 10:4 “…and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”
It was Christ who was the Cloud/Fire that went with Israel. It was the same Cloud which rested/abode (Shekinah) with Israel. It was Michael Christ! Though represented by a grammatically feminine word in Hebrew, Christ is not Feminine in reality, for gender is only representational on the spiritual level.
So, to summarise, gender is not a reality in any sphere above or beyond humanity when it comes to those points in which we are the “image” of Divine things. Gender in the marriage relationship is representative of spiritual, relational truths between Christ and the Church and between God and Christ. These truths involve the seed-nurture principle and the headship-submission relationships.
Another seemingly “feminine” representation of Christ was when He referred to Himself as a hen that would cover her young in a protective role….here again the gender is superseded by the ROLE of protector….thanks again!
In the Bible, the gender of pronouns ALWAYS agrees with the grammatical gender of the Noun they are associated with. Therefore, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit is connected with feminine pronouns, for ruach is Feminine. In the New Testament, the Spirit is connected with only neuter pronouns, for pneuma is Neuter. In John 14-16, we find some masculine pronouns, this is because the head noun in each of these cases is the masculine parakletos in each case. There is nothing extaordinary going on grammatically, it is just how language operates.
Wisdom and the Word are the one and the same Entity. John 1 uses Logos, as the entity in Proverbs 8, for it quotes and alludes to Proverbs 8 from verses 1-18, the entire prologue. There is a semantic overlap between “Word” and “Wisdom” in Hebrew and Aramaic literature. The “she” in Jeremiah 33:16 refers to Jerusalem, which is a feminine noun.
Look at what my spirit can do!
When I first came to the conclusion (from my own personal Bible study) that the trinity wasn’t a harmony of all the Bible says about God, one of the things someone showed me was the following list of things God’s Spirit can do:
Can talk and direct (Acts 8:29; 10:19,20; 13:2-4), can forbid (Acts 16:6,7), can teach (John 14:26; 16:13), can comfort (John 14:16,18), can author prophecy (2 Pet 1:21), has a will (1 Cor 12:11), has a mind (Romans 8:27), has intellect (1 Cor 2:11), can love (Rom 15:30), can be grieved/vexed (Eph 4:30, Isa 63:10), can be tempted (Acts 5:9), can be lied to (Acts 5:4,5).
While I had already come to the view that the Holy Spirit WAS the mind of God/Christ, some of these things troubled me at first… that is, until I looked at what the Bible says man’s spirit can do… Take a look at what I found…
Can have joy (Col 2:5, Luke 10:21; 1:47), can behold (Col 2:5), can be troubled (2 Cor 2:13, John 13:21, Dan 2:1, 3, Psa 143:7, Job 21:4, Gen 41:8), can be refreshed (1 Cor 16:18, 2 Cor 7:13, Luke 8:55, 1 Sam 30:12, Jdg 15:19, Gen 45:27), can bless (1 Cor 14:16), prays (1 Cor 14:14), judges (1 Cor 5:3), can be fervent (Rom 12:11, Acts 18:25), serves God (Rom 1:9), purposes/makes decisions (Acts 19:21), can be stirred (Acts 17:16, Hag 1:14, 2 Chron 36:22, 1 Chron 5:26), can groan (John 11:33), has will (Mark 14:38, Matt 26:41, Exo 35:21), can be poor (Matt 5:3), can be grieved/vexed (Dan 7:15, Isa 65:14; 54:6, Eccl 1:14,17 etc), can faint (Eze 21:7), can be haughty/prideful or humble/patient (Isa 66:2; 57:15, Eccl 7:8, Pro 29:23, 16:18-19, Psa 34:18), can err (Isa 29:24), can search (Isa 26:9, Psa 77:6), can be hasty (Eccl 8:8, Pro 14:29), can be controlled (Pro 25:28, 16:32), can be broken/wounded (Pro 18:14; 17:22; 15:13, Psa 51:17), can be faithful (Pro 11:13), can be overwhelmed (Psa 142:3, 143:4), can be steadfast (Psa 78:8), can have anguish (Job 7:11, Exo 6:9), can be sorrowful (1 Kings 21:5, 1 Sam 1:15)