“From antiquity.” Occasionally, Proverbs 8:23 is used to try and support the Trinity and the pre-existence of Christ by saying that “wisdom” was appointed from eternity, and since Christ is the “wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:24), therefore, Christ existed from eternity. However, this position has not found strong support even among Trinitarians. The wisdom in Proverbs was “woven” by God (verb is in the niphal aspect; “woven, shaped;” cp. HALOT Hebrew-English Lexicon) and is therefore subordinate to God. Proverbs 8:22 explains that wisdom was “brought forth as the first of His [God’s] works.” If this “wisdom” actually was Christ, then Christ would be the first creation of God, which is an Arian belief and deemed to be heretical by orthodox Trinitarians. Therefore, many of the Church Fathers rejected this verse as supporting the Trinity. Among such Church Fathers were Athanasius, Basil, Gregory, Epiphanius, and Cyril, to mention a few.
We can see from the scope of Proverbs and the context of this verse that the term “wisdom” is being used figuratively. Taking a concept and speaking of it as if it were a person is the figure of speech personification, and this was quite common in Hebrew poetry. The figure of speech personification often makes it easier for an author to convey an abstract notion or thought than literal narrative does because it uses concrete imagery from human experience. Personification was common among the Jews especially when explaining or describing intangible concepts. Thus, “wisdom” is personified in the book of Proverbs so that the reader can better understand the virtuous qualities that wisdom can offer and the role it played in God’s acts of creation.
Christ is said to be the wisdom of God in 1 Corinthians because it was through him that God was able to redeem humanity. In other words, the plan for humankind’s redemption was conceived and brought to completion according to the wisdom of God.
[For more information on Jesus being the fully human Son of God and not being “God the Son,” and therefore not existing before his birth except in the plan of God, see Appendix 10, “Jesus is the Son of God, Not God the Son.” For more on “the Holy Spirit” being one of the designations for God the Father and “the holy spirit” being the gift of God’s nature, see Appendix 11, “What is the Holy Spirit?”].
“Woven together.” The HALOT Hebrew-English Lexicon gives to “be woven, shaped” as the meaning of nasak (#05258 נָסַךְ) in the niphal aspect. This meaning is resisted by those who see Wisdom as eternal with God, but actually this verse is just one of many that shows God created Wisdom, and in doing so “wove” her together, a beautiful picture of Wisdom. True wisdom is woven together from many different threads. For “woven,” see also B. Waltke, Proverbs.