Lesson 4 | July 3, 2016
Prepared by Daniel L. Segraves
How the New Testament uses the Book of Proverbs
In this lesson we will look at the sixth quotation from Proverbs in the NT. Then we will examine the one verse from Proverbs that is paraphrased in the NT and move on to begin a discussion of the NT’s allusions to Proverbs.
“As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly” (26:11).
“But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire’” (II Peter 2:22).
There are eleven references to fools in the immediate context of Pro 26:11. (See Pro 26:1-12.) Dogs were considered unclean during the time of these proverbs, so the idea is that there is similarity between fools and dogs, vomit and folly.
Pro 26:4-5 are not contradictory; they suggest two ways to deal with a fool. First, a person should answer a fool according to wisdom, to mark a clear line of separation between wisdom and folly. He should not merely argue with the fool on the basis of his folly, for arguing from the standpoint of folly brings the wise person down to the fool’s level. Second, he should answer the fool according to his folly to reveal how inconsistent and foolish his reasoning is.
Apparently Peter used this proverb to compare those who had been false teachers but who had come to know the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then returned to their former error, to fools. He does this by means of analogy to dogs and swine, both of which were considered unclean. (See II Peter 2:1-3, 18-22.)
The proverb concerning a sow reflects the fact that the Jewish community considered pigs unclean, based on their inclusion in the list of unclean animals in the law of Moses (Lev 11:7-8). Dogs were also despised (Matt 7:6; Philippians 3:2; Rev 22:15).
One verse in Proverbs is paraphrased twice in the NT.
“And so find favor and high esteem in the sight of God and man” (3:4).
“Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men” (Rom 12:17).
“[P]roviding honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men” (II Corinthians 8:21).
In their context in Proverbs, these words mean that a person whose life is characterized by mercy and truth will be highly esteemed and find favor with God and man. (See Pro 3:3-4.)
In Romans, to refuse to repay evil with evil, to associate with humble people, and to avoid being “wise in your own opinion” are evidences of mercy and truth. (See Romans 12:14-21.)
In II Corinthians, the mercy referred to in Proverbs is demonstrated by the earnest care found in the heart of Titus, and the idea of truth is captured by the integrity of those who delivered gifts to the needy saints in Jerusalem. (See II Cor 8:16-24.)
There are six allusions to Proverbs in the NT. We will look at them in the order in which they appear in Proverbs.
“For whom the Lord loves He corrects” (3:12a).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten” (Rev 3:19a).
This allusion is a small portion of 3:11-12, which is quoted in full in Heb 12:5-6. As we saw when we discussed this quotation in lesson 2, the context of these verses in Proverbs includes a warning not to forget God’s law. In Hebrews, these verses warn the readers not to turn from Christ in order to return to the Law of Moses. In Revelation, two points of significance can be seen in the use of these words:
- The One who speaks these words is Jesus Christ (Rev 1:1-2, 5, 8-9, 11, 17-20; 2:1, 18; 3:14). In Proverbs, the One to whom these words refer is the Lord (i.e., Jehovah [Yahweh]). The fact that Jesus uses these words as His own in Revelation identifies Him as the
- Some think the Laodiceans had lost their salvation. This is incorrect. If they continued in their lukewarm condition they would do so, but at this time they were still a church. (See Rev 1:20.) The reason Jesus employed Pro 3:12 in His rebuke was that He loved the Laodiceans and still considered them His sons. (See Pro 3:12b.)
In our next lesson we will continue to consider the allusions to Proverbs in the New Testament.
I have recently created the website danielsegraves.com. The site is in the beginning stages of development. At this time, I’m posting each of the lessons for this series on Proverbs. In the future, I plan to post videos of the class sessions for those who may be interested not just in the printed notes but also in the class lectures.
Those who may be interested in reading papers I have written on a variety of subjects may do so at danielsegraves.blogspot.com. I plan at some point to post most, if not all, of those papers on the website, but that is a long term project.
 ASB, 1016.
 The use of a lower case letter (e.g., “a”) when referring to a verse is to indicate a portion of the verse.