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A True Knowing

A True Knowing – Part 1

In this series we are going to look at the highest type of knowledge one can have. In the New Testament in is called epignōsis. It mrecognition, i.e. (precise and correct knowledge, acknowledgement.” It comes from the root word gnosis, a general term for “knowledge.” But this epignōsis, a word that is used 20 times in the New Testament, is a personal, intimate knowledge. It is knowing you can only get through experience. This type of knowledge, which supersedes intellectual knowledge, is the type of knowing God is interested in us having.

Before we delve into the scriptures regarding this true knowledge its important to make some distinctions. We must understand the word “knowledge” meant something very different to the ancient Greeks than it does us. When the average American or person from the West hears the word knowledge they often think of school or college. But to the ancient Greek it meant a mixture of philosophy and thought. They were constantly looking for some new knowledge or philosophy that would enlighten them.

This is seen very clearly in the emergence of Gnosticism. Dr. Gwatkin summed up Gnosticism saying it is “Christianity perverted by learning and speculation” (Early Church History 73). The intellectual pride of the Gnostics refined away the gospel into a philosophy. The clue to the understanding of Gnosticism is given in the word from which it is derived–gnosis, ‘knowledge.’ Gnosticism puts knowledge in the place which can only rightly be occupied by Christian faith.”

Gnosticism borrowed ideas from various religions and cultures such as Judaism, Greek, Persian religion and so on. They also incorporated truth from Christianity such as redemption but rejected the idea of sin altogether.

It is clear that those ideas were very dangerous to the early church. Part of the allure was that ideas needed to be added to the message of the gospel. The gospel was too simple for them. Paul warned the Corinthian church “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” (2 Cor 11:3) There is tremendous power in the gospel! Yes, it is simple. Simple enough for anyone to understand.

When the New Testament writers used the word epignōsis it was made clear this didn’t refer to just head knowledge. Traditional knowledge is not what they lacked. The same can be said of us. Take a look at America for example. We have much knowledge about healthy eating. And yet we are one of the sickest developed nations in the world. Our knowledge has not been translated into actual, useful knowledge. But the true knowledge of God – epignōsis – will change who we are from the inside.

2 Cor 3:18 says “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” That is true knowledge in action. When God comes in His glory we are not simply informed we are changed.

In Colossians 1 Paul prays a profound prayer for those in Colosse.

For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge (epignōsis) of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and [c]conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption [d]through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”

This entire prayer deserves our attention. I have been looking into it, speaking it and praying it for years now. It has given so much and has much more to give. For now, let’s focus on the part that deals with epignōsis.

“…and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge (epignōsis) of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.”

Paul was asking not that they would be “filled” with the full and true knowledge of God. When a cup is filled the liquid touches every part. When God’s knowledge fill us it touches every part of our lives. The original Greek word can also mean “to carry into effect, bring to realisation,” In other words His knowledge carries His will and kingdom into effect into our lives.

To be filled can also mean to be satisfied. When we are filled with the knowledge of God there is no longer room for anything else – not my knowledge and not the knowledge of the enemy.

The keys here are that this knowledge are in “all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” This type of knowledge is practical and supernatural. Wisdom is the application of attained knowledge. The spiritual understanding is seeing that knowledge from a supernatural perspective.  

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