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Hosea Letters (Blog)


2015-05-09
KNOWLEDGE - BIBLICAL DEFINITION


In the previous post we analysed the biblical concept of truth. One can say that truth is the way, knowledge the destination. This destination will depend on the way we choose.

There are even more different nuances in the Bible of the concept of knowledge than there are of truth.  What I wish to underline, is that the verb ginosko is often used in the New Testament to refer to a relationship between the one who “knows” and that which is "known".  It is used in this sense to refer to God's knowledge of a person:

  • “But the man who loves God is known by God.” (1 Cor 8:3)
  • “But now that you know God – or rather are known by God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? (Gal 4:9)

This knowledge that God has of a person really carries the meaning that God approves him. 

The fact that it has a relational foundation indicates an activity or action that is continually taking place.

Ginosko is also used in respect of the believer's knowledge of God and his truth:

  • "To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'” (John 8:31, 32).
  • "But now that you know God. . ."(Gal 4:9)

More examples are found in John 14:20, 31;  John 17:3;  1 John 2:3, 13, 14;  1John 4:6, 8, 16 and 1 John 5:20.

Many are found on the pulpits of the Church that proclaim to the congregation an intellectual knowledge of God. They even proclaim God's blessing to the people and baptise them in the Name of the Triune God, without knowing the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit through relational experience.  Finney wrote about this situation more than a century ago: "The churches are calling for men of great learning and eloquence instead of men who are deeply baptized with the Holy Ghost . . ." [1].  The December 2003 survey by the Barna Research Group found that only half of American Protestant pastors hold a Biblical worldview.  The fruit of this situation is that just 9% of so-called born-again American Christians have a biblical perspective on life [2].

In addition, it is important to understand that this knowledge a person has of God in this life (and therefore also of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit), never reaches the point of finality or saturation:

  • "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Pet 3:18)
  • "Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him." (Hos 6:3). 

The Amplified Bible explains this call to acknowledgement as follows: "Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to know the Lord [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him]."  In the light of this, the church should realise even more how serious she should take up the Lord’s reprimand in Hosea 4:6:  "My people are being destroyed because they don’t know me" (NLT).

The believer is not called up to press on in obtaining knowledge of Scripture (although that is an important part of the way), but to press on to know the Lord!  This does not simply imply a living relationship; it proclaims such a relationship very directly!

This and this alone should be sufficient for the Christian:

        to know God in His fulness as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit . . . and to know that the living God knows you.

 It means that the believer does not serve a religion or a book called The Bible, but the God who revealed himself in that book.  It also means that one does not serve that God in his yesterday, but in his here and now, in his today and tomorrow, and that unequivocally excludes a life without the manifest revealing power and grace of that God completely!

Paul's warning

  • "O Timothy!  Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed from the faith" (1 Timothy 6:20, 21)

James' warning

Bible scholars should know of better.  They spend many hours and days and years of searching the Scriptures and will not be able to say that they did not know the Bible's warning:

  • "My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment" (Jas 3:1).

The danger lies therein that the focus of ordinary members of the Church who are not well equipped with biblical knowledge and scholarly skills may be led away from the truth.  This is especially so if the "new knowledge" presents a comfortable compromise with the worldly values of humanism and other philosophies.  Letters to newspapers already reflect such a state of affairs. Those who hold earnestly to a biblical worldview are constantly labelled as unloving and biased.  My own survey among members of various denominations showed some confusion regarding a number of basic beliefs of the Christian faith.  If Christian teachers and preachers do not attend to this it may grow larger in view of the disproportionate exposure the secular media today are giving dissident ‘Christian’ theologians with their perceivable scholarly eloquence and argumentative ability.

An area of concern identified in my survey among members of various denominations is the lack of practical knowledge of Church members in the fields of Bible interpretation and the Jewish cultural background of the Bible.

Only six (9%) of the 68 respondents indicated that they have made an intensive study of the Jewish cultural background of the Bible.  Twenty-nine (43%) have studied it a little, while 33 (48%) have not done so at all.  They are spread throughout all the Church alignments.

There is also a need for teaching Church members the basic principles of Bible interpretation. Only 40 (62%) of the 65 respondents to the survey question in this regard indicated that they have been taught or studied the principles of Bible interpretation.  The survey did not measure the extent, quality or biases of such teaching or studies. 

Gerrie Malan


[1]. HILLS, A.M. 1896. Holiness And Power For The Church And The Ministry. //wesley.nnc.edu/hdm/books/hdm0100.htm. Downloaded 04/30/1998.

[2]. BARNA RESEARCH GROUP, THE. 2004. Only Half Of Protestant Pastors Have A Biblical Worldview. 12 January. www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=156


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