Wisdom 3

For the Righteous—Life Eternal[a]

Chapter 3

Their Hope Is Full of Immortality[b]

1 [c]But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment can overtake them.
2 From the viewpoint of the foolish, they seemed to be dead,
and their passing away was reckoned as a misfortune,
3 and their departure from us as their ruin.
But they are at peace.[d]
4 Although in the eyes of others they were chastised,
their hope is full of immortality.
5 Having endured a slight chastisement, they will receive great blessings,
because God tested them
and found them worthy to be with him.[e]
6 He put them to the proof like gold in a furnace,
and he accepted them as a sacrificial burnt offering.[f]
7 In the time of their visitation[g] they will shine brightly
and spread like sparks among the stubble.
8 They will judge nations and have dominion over peoples,
and the Lord will be their King forever.
9 Those who trust in him will understand truth,
and the faithful will dwell with him in love,
because grace and mercy are reserved for his holy ones,
and he shows concern for his elect.
10 However, the godless will receive a punishment in accord with their reasoning,
for they had no concern for the righteous
and rebelled against the Lord.
11 Those who despise wisdom and discipline are wretched:
vain is their hope, unprofitable are their labors,
and worthless are their achievements.
12 Their wives are foolish and their children depraved;
their lineage is accursed.

Better Is Virtue than Offspring[h]

13 Blessed is the barren woman who is undefiled,
who has not experienced a sinful union;
she will bear fruit at the visitation of souls.
14 Blessed also is the eunuch whose hands have committed no iniquity
and who has never harbored any wicked thoughts against the Lord;
he shall receive a special grace for his faithfulness
and a more illustrious share in the temple of the Lord.
15 For the fruit of good works is glorious,
and the root of understanding is ever fruitful.
16 But the children of adulterers will never see maturity,
and the offspring of an unlawful union will disappear.
17 Even should they achieve a long life, they will be regarded as of no account,
and in the end their old age will be without honor.
18 But if they die young, they will have no hope,
nor any consolation on the day of judgment,
19 for the fate of a wicked generation is harsh.


  1. Wisdom 3:1 Longevity, posterity, and success—those grand realities in which the ancients strove to decipher the signs of divine recompense—are found to be valueless. The scale of values is reversed: true happiness is life with God, starting from the present and moving into an unimaginable eternity. The destiny of human beings is enlightened by a new day.
  2. Wisdom 3:1 Influenced by Greek thought, the author speaks of immortality, though still not arriving at the idea of a resurrection of the body.
  3. Wisdom 3:1 The Liturgy applies these verses to martyrs.
  4. Wisdom 3:3 Peace: this word here refers to a state without evil (see Job 3:17f; Isa 57:2) where there is security or happiness under God’s protection and in intimacy with him (see vv. 1, 9).
  5. Wisdom 3:5 Trials and sufferings purify the righteous (Tob 12:13; 2 Mac 6:12-17; 7:32-33; Pss 66:10; 119:75; Prov 3:11-12; 1 Cor 11:32; Heb 12:11).
  6. Wisdom 3:6 Sacrificial burnt offering: the allusion is to the sacrifice in which the victim was offered to God and completely consumed by fire to show total dedication to him (Lev 1:1ff).
  7. Wisdom 3:7 Visitation: a biblical term for an intervention of God (see Isa 10:3) that is used here to designate God’s judgment of the righteous (probably immediately after death). In Wis 14:11, it is used to designate the judgment of the wicked. See also verse 13.
  8. Wisdom 3:13 Up to this time, the entire hope of human beings lay in their children, who could perpetuate one’s name and memory; apart from this, death appeared as the inexorable abyss that swallowed up everything. Hence, sterility was regarded as a curse, and eunuchs were excluded from the community (Deut 23:2). The Book of Wisdom overturns principles that were profoundly anchored, as Jesus will also do by affirming the new and exceptional value of those who are celibate for the kingdom of God (Mt 19:11f). The prize of a good life is no longer a posterity, but a future life.

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