Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World
Lesson 6 | July 17, 2016
Prepared by Daniel L. Segraves, PhD
How the New Testament uses the Book of Proverbs
There are allusions to six Proverbs in the NT. In this lesson we will look at the third of them.
“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins” (10:12).
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
“And above all things have fervent love for one another, for love will cover a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
When we examine the use of the OT in the NT, it is important to notice the context in each case. With Proverbs 10:12, a paragraph begins that ends in Proverbs 10:18. Both verses mention hatred [שִׂ֭נְאָה] and the idea of some kind of concealment [כַסֶּ֣ה]. In v. 12, love conceals sins; in v. 18, lying lips conceal hatred.
What stirs up strife? It may be called many things, such as “concern,” but it is actually hatred. By contrast, someone who truly loves others will not look for an opportunity to expose their errors for public ridicule but will seek to restore them as privately as possible. (See Proverbs 17:9.)
Verse 18 points out that a person who hates another but who conceals it has “lying lips.” This person is, in other words, a liar. Liars are among those who will have no place in the new heaven and new earth (Rev. 21:8). The solution to this problem is not to confess one’s hatred for others openly, but to forsake hatred altogether. (See Matt. 5:44; Deut. 23:3-6.)
One of the characteristics of a fool is to spread slander. The range of meaning of דִ֜בָּ֗ה, translated “slander,” includes whispering, defamation, and giving an evil report. Paul included whisperers among those who deserve death (Romans 1:29-32).
The allusion to Prov. 10:12 in James 5:20 is in the context of helping someone to recover spiritually who previously believed the truth but who has wandered away. The entire phrase “if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back” is in the third class condition in the Greek text; this refers to what is probable. That is, there will be those who wander from the truth, and there will be those who turn them back. The ultimate truth is, of course, Jesus Christ. (See John 14:6.) Since James is one of the earliest NT books, the truth referred to here probably includes the new covenant.
The recommendation to involve oneself in restoring erring brethren agrees with Galatians 6:1. (See also II Timothy 2:24-26.) Those involved in the restoration of a person who has wandered from the truth should realize that their actions will result in the salvation of a soul and the forgiveness of many sins. To know this should encourage us to actively pursue the restoration of those who have wandered away.
James’ final words starkly underline the loss of salvation for the person who turns away from the truth once known. James’ letter, which emphasizes the connection between faith and works, concludes with a final exhortation to demonstrate faith in the most practical of ways: by taking steps to turn an erring person back to the way of truth. This will not be done by pretending the sinner has not erred; nor will it be accomplished by a whispering campaign designed to expose the error. It will be done by lovingly and patiently explaining the truth of the gospel and living out its implications before those who have erred.
The allusion to Prov. 10:12 in I Peter 4:8 is in the context of the nearness of “the end of all things” and the use of spiritual gifts. Believers are to have fervent love for one another. The idea is to be eager to love or earnest in loving. We must have this fervent love above all things. Love is the preeminent virtue in the NT. (See I Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:22-23.) This is the proof of genuine discipleship (John 13:35; 15:12, 17). Where love prevails, all other virtues will flow from it, including hospitality and a commitment to others in the exercise of one’s ministry gifts (I Peter 4:9-11).
One of the characteristics of love is to “cover a multitude of sins.” Where there is love, a person will not look for opportunities to expose the errors of others to public ridicule; he will instead seek to restore as privately as possible those who err. (See Matt. 18:15-17.)
In our next lesson we will continue to consider the allusions to Proverbs in the New Testament.
“It is not enough not to retaliate against an enemy; it is essential to love one’s enemy.”
 Daniel L. Segraves, Proverbs: Ancient Wisdom for Today’s World (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1990), 99.
 Daniel L. Segraves, James: Faith at Work (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1995), 195-96.
 Daniel L. Segraves, First Peter: Standing Fast in the Grace of God (Hazelwood, MO: Word Aflame Press, 1999), 242-43.
 G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, eds., Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007), 1012.