TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Antitheses of Wisdom and Knowledge

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Chapter 33  Part II

Antitheses of Wisdom and Knowledge

Foolishness and spiritual ignorance are the antitheses of godly wisdom and knowledge. Moreover, foolishness and spiritual ignorance are very closely related to ungodliness; for ungodliness is the prime cause of them and further ungodliness results from them. Foolishness and spiritual ignorance with their consequences, stand in stark contrast to wisdom and her blessings.


Fools spurn and lack wisdom

Prov 1:7  Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.  NET

Prov 24:7  Wisdom is unattainable for a fool; in court he does not open his mouth.  NET

Foolishness is characterized by failure to comprehend God and his ways

Ps 14:1a  Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.”  NET

Jer 5:4  [Jeremiah:] I thought, “Surely it is only the ignorant poor who act this way. They act like fools because they do not know what the Lord demands. They do not know what their God requires of them.  NET

Foolishness is characterized by failure to comprehend other spiritual truths

Luke 24:25  Then Jesus said to them, “How foolish you are! You’re so slow to believe everything the prophets said!  GW

James 2:20  You foolish person! Must you be shown that faith that does nothing is worth nothing?  NCV™

Foolishness involves acting contrary to God

1Sam 13:13  Then Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly. You haven’t obeyed the commandment of the Lord your God, which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever, …  ISV

Ps 74:22  [A psalmist, to God:] Rise up, O God! Defend your honor! Remember how fools insult you all day long!  NET

Foolishness encompasses sin

Num 12:11  So Aaron said to Moses, “O my lord, please do not hold this sin against us, in which we have acted foolishly and have sinned!  NET

Foolishness encompasses doing wrong

Prov 10:23  A foolish person enjoys doing wrong, but a person with understanding enjoys doing what is wise.  NCV™

Results of foolishness . . .

Prov 3:35  The wise inherit honor, but he [God] holds fools up to public contempt.  NET

Prov 18:6  The lips of a fool enter into strife, and his mouth invites a flogging.  NET

. . . Ultimately, foolishness results in ruin – even death

Prov 19:3  People’s own foolishness ruins their lives, but in their minds they blame the Lord.  NCV™

Eccl 7:17  Do not excel at wickedness, nor be a fool. Why die before your time?  ISV

 Questions for Section A

Foolish and Ungodly Practices

Being quick-tempered is foolish and ungodly

Prov 14:17  A person who has a quick temper does foolish things, and a person with crafty schemes is hated.  NET

Prov 29:22  A person with a quick temper stirs up arguments and commits a lot of sins.  CEV

Indulging in pleasure is foolish and pointless . . .

Eccl 2:1-2  [A wise teacher:] Come now, I will try self–indulgent pleasure to see if it is worthwhile.” But I found that it also is futile. 2I said of partying, “It is folly,” and of self–indulgent pleasure, “It accomplishes nothing!”  NET

In v. 1 the writer’s thought is addressed to himself. He has in view trying out pleasure or having fun (cf. CEV, NCV).

. . . and indulging in pleasure is ungodly

Luke 8:14  [Jesus, explaining a parable:] The seed that fell among the thorny weeds is like those who hear God’s teaching, but they let the worries, riches, and pleasures of this life keep them from growing and producing good fruit.  NCV™

Pleasure can choke our responsiveness to God’s word (the “seed”) as pleasure can involve practices that either: are opposed to God’s word; or crowd out God’s word, leaving little or no room for it in our lives.

Drunkenness and gluttony are unwise, causing one trouble . . .

Prov 23:19-21  [A wise teacher:] Listen, my child, and be wise, and guide your heart on the right way. 20Do not spend time among drunkards, among those who eat too much meat, 21because drunkards and gluttons become impoverished, and drowsiness clothes them with rags.  NET

. . . Drunkenness should be avoided, particularly as it leads to ungodliness

Prov 31:4-5  It is not for kings, O [King] Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to crave strong drink, 5lest they drink and forget what is decreed, and remove from all the poor their legal rights.  NET

Eph 5:18  Stop getting drunk with wine, which leads to wild living, but keep on being filled with the Spirit.  ISV

Further ungodly practices that are notably foolish

Prov 6:32  He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.  ESV

Prov 10:18  The one who conceals hatred utters lies, and the one who spreads slander is certainly a fool.  NET

Prov 28:26  Those who trust in themselves are foolish, but those who live wisely will be kept safe.  NCV™

 Questions for Section B

Spiritual Ignorance (I): Causes and Results

Spiritual ignorance is caused basically by sin and ungodliness

John 3:19b-20  [Jesus:] The light has come into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light because their actions were evil. 20Everyone who practices wickedness hates the light and does not come to the light, so that his actions may not be exposed.  ISV

Due to people’s evil deeds, they spurn the spiritual light that is Jesus Christ and his truth. For this light exposes their deeds for what they really are – evil. Spurning Christ’s light means spiritual ignorance.

Spiritual ignorance is caused partly by the ungodly being closed-minded . . .

Eph 4:18  They [godless people] are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts.  NET

This hardness of heart indicates that such people have “shut their minds” (NLT) – being stubborn (cf. CEV, GNT) and refusing to listen (NCV).

. . . God may even judicially blind ungodly people

Isa 6:9-10  [God, to Isaiah:] And he said, “Go and tell these people, ‘No matter how closely you listen, you’ll never understand. No matter how closely you look, you’ll never see.’ 10Make these people close-minded. Plug their ears. Shut their eyes. Otherwise, they may see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their minds, and return and be healed.”  GW

Isaiah was to pronounce God’s judicial blinding and hardening of the people (vv. 9-10a), making certain the judgment God had ordained (cf. vv. 11-12). For such had been the people’s rebellion, that God chose to ensure that the people would not seek to avoid the judgment (v. 10b).

Thus, the ungodly lack spiritual wisdom . . .

Deut 32:20b, 28  [God, speaking of the unfaithful Israelites:] I will reject them, I will see what will happen to them; for they are a perverse generation, children who show no loyalty.28They are a nation devoid of wisdom, and there is no understanding among them.  NET

. . . and the ungodly are in spiritual “darkness”

Prov 4:19  The way of the wicked is like gloomy darkness; they do not know what causes them to stumble.  NET

Spiritual ignorance results in further sin

1Pet 1:14  [Peter, to believers:] Like obedient children, do not comply with the evil urges you used to follow in your ignorance, …  NET

This speaks of sin or evil actions as being a product of ignorance. While sin is the prime cause of spiritual ignorance (as discussed earlier), spiritual ignorance in turn leads to further sin, exacerbating the ungodliness of such people.

Spiritual ignorance and lack of spiritual perception result in unbelief

John 12:37-40  Although Jesus had performed so many miraculous signs before them [Jews], they still refused to believe in him, 38so that the word of Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled. He said, “Lord, who has believed our message, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39For this reason they could not believe, because again Isaiah said, 40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and turn to me, and I would heal them.”  NET

Verses 39-40 speak of God’s judicial blinding of many of the Jews and their subsequent lack of spiritual perception as causing their unbelief (vv. 37-38).

Spiritual ignorance and lack of spiritual understanding culminate in dire consequences

Hos 4:6a, 14b  [God:] My people will be destroyed, because they have no knowledge.14A foolish people will be ruined.  NCV™

 Questions for Section C

Spiritual Ignorance (II): Knowledge Lacked

The assertions contained in the subheadings in this section are typically true of ungodly people. Having said this, not all ungodly people and unbelievers are totally ignorant of all the things mentioned here. For example many are aware of aspects of the Bible’s teaching about God’s judgment, and some consider it to be at least a possibility.

The ungodly do not know God or Jesus Christ

John 8:19  Then they [the Pharisees] began asking him, “Who is your father?” Jesus answered, “You do not know either me or my Father. If you knew me you would know my Father too.”  NET

The ungodly do not comprehend God’s word

John 5:39-40  [Jesus, to the Jewish religious leaders:] You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, 40but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.  NET

Although they diligently studied the Scriptures, the Jewish leaders – who had in fact become in many ways ungodly – did not comprehend that the Scriptures spoke about Jesus, the way to life.

The ungodly do not know how God wants them to live . . .

Ps 95:10  [God, speaking of the Israelites:] For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.”  ESV

. . . and they do not know or understand many other spiritual truths

Rom 10:3  [Paul, speaking of the Jews in general:] They have not known the way in which God puts people right with himself, and instead, they have tried to set up their own way; and so they did not submit themselves to God’s way of putting people right.  GNT

1Cor 2:14  A person who does not have the Spirit does not accept the truths that come from the Spirit of God. That person thinks they are foolish and cannot understand them, because they can only be judged to be true by the Spirit.  NCV™

The ungodly are ignorant of and deceived about their sin

Ps 36:1-2  An evil man is rebellious to the core. He does not fear God, 2for he is too proud to recognize and give up his sin.  NET

Prov 30:20  This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have not done wrong.”  NET

The ungodly are misguided about their standing with God and Jesus Christ

Matt 7:21-23  [Jesus:] Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. 22On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons and do many powerful deeds?’ 23Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Go away from me, you lawbreakers!’  NET

The ungodly are skeptical of God knowing their deeds and of his judgment

Ps 10:11, 13b  The wicked think, “God has forgotten us. He doesn’t see what is happening.”  … 13… They say to themselves, “God won’t punish us.”  NCV™

The ungodly are largely oblivious of God’s pending punishment – which they will bear

Zeph 1:12  [God:] At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’  GW

 Questions for Section D

Epilogue: Blessings of Wisdom

Understanding . . .

Dan 12:10b  None of the wicked will understand, though the wise will understand.  NET

Understanding and discernment (below) are key components of wisdom. As such, having wisdom means that one possesses these characteristics, which are great blessings.

. . . and discernment

Prov 16:21  The one who is wise in heart is called discerning, and kind speech increases persuasiveness.  NET


Prov 8:12  [Wisdom personified:] I, wisdom, live with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.  NET

Righteousness and justice

Prov 2:9-10, 20  Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity – every good way. 10For wisdom will enter your heart, and moral knowledge will be attractive to you.20So you will walk in the way of good people, and will keep on the paths of the righteous.  NET

Protection . . .

Prov 4:6  Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will guard you.  NET

. . . and life

Prov 8:35  [Wisdom personified:] For the one who finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.  NET


Eccl 7:19  Wisdom makes a person stronger than ten leaders in a city.  NCV™


Prov 21:20  Precious treasure and oil are in a wise man’s dwelling, but a foolish man devours it.  ESV


Prov 4:8-9  [A wise teacher, speaking of wisdom:] Esteem her highly and she will exalt you; she will honor you if you embrace her. 9She will place a fair garland on your head; she will bestow a beautiful crown on you.  NET

Note: Living without wisdom has harmful consequences

Prov 1:24-27  [Wisdom personified, to those who disregard her:] However, because I called but you refused to listen, because I stretched out my hand but no one paid attention, 25because you neglected all my advice, and did not comply with my rebuke, 26so I myself will laugh when disaster strikes you, I will mock when what you dread comes, 27when what you dread comes like a whirlwind, and disaster strikes you like a devastating storm, when distressing trouble comes on you.  NET

 Questions for Section E

Pray for persecuted Christians