Truth, Understanding, Insight


20th August 2010, mgh


1) Gnosis and Epignosis

In an era with such resources, we have no excuse for spiritual poverty. There is increasing inequity between the few rich with knowledge of right and truth, and those who prefer to be ignorant. Let us be rich in the treasure that fails not and share this with others. Knowledge of right and truth is the only treasure we can share with others and still have more abundantly ourselves!

In 2 Peter 1:1-8, there there are two words used for knowledge.

Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge (epignosis/full discernment) of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power has given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge (epignosis/full discernment) of him that has called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these you might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;(gnosis/knowing)
And to knowledge (gnosis/knowing) temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge (epignosis/full discernment) of our Lord Jesus Christ.(II Peter 1:1-8)

The two words generally translated as 'knowledge' are 'gnosis' and 'epignosis'. Whereas 'gnosis' conveys the idea of just 'knowing', 'epignosis' is a knowledge that involves a 'full discernment', which is 'to become fully acquainted with' or to have a full understanding of something.

In the above introductory quotation, Peter develops a progression. There is the ultimate full and discerning knowledge that the faithful should hope to achieve. The first step is that of a general knowing and to this general knowledge, it is necessary to develop the characteristics that he lists: faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity/love.

The following are quotations that use 'epignosis', which is a full and discerning knowledge.

Paul's desire is that the Ephesians gain wisdom, understanding, enlightenment and a full understanding of the hope of their calling and the promises that are given to the faithful.

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge /epignosis of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1: 17-18)

In Ephesians 4, Paul warns them that their faith and understanding should be strong enough to stand firm against those who would try to deceive them and turn them from the truth of the Word of God.

For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge /epignosis of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; (Ephesians 4:12-14)

In writing to the Philippians Paul prays that they will grow in knowledge and understanding. He says that may your love abound 'yet more and more in knowledge /epignosis and in all judgement;' Their knowledge had to grow, together with the development of acceptable personal characteristics. Knowledge and character depend upon a mutual growth as seen in the next passage.

And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge /epignosisand in all judgement; That you may approve things that are excellent; that you may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. (Philippians 1: 9-11)

To the Colossians, there is a similar plea that they should be 'filled with the knowledge /epignosis of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.' They should increase in the Knowledge of God.

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge/epignosis of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That you might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge /epignosis of God; (Colossians 1:9-10)

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge/epignosis after the image of him that created him: (Colossians 3:10)

However there are some who never attain the knowledge, the 'epignosis', full knowledge. What they learn is not based on the scriptures.

Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge /'epignosis' of the truth. (II Timothy3:7)

Paul directs the Romans to the Law of Moses for an understanding of sin.

Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge /epignosis of sin. (Romans 3:20)

Throughout history man has often devised his own religion without reference to Yahweh's laws. They create followings for their own gloryand to be praised of men. They may have a zeal but they do not have a true understanding of Yahweh's plan with this earth and mankind.

For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge/ epignosis. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:2-3)

The greatest Example

If we look for a guide, it must be Yeshua. As a twelve year old he sought knowledge. For three days his parents, after the Passover, looked for him, even having to return to Jerusalem from their homeward journey. How long had he been in the temple seeking knowledge and understanding? Obviously it had been a long time for a young boy to be studying the scriptures and searching for answers and questioning the 'doctors'.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that you sought me? know ye not that I must be about my Father's business? (Luke 2:46-49)

Isaiah clearly states where understanding and knowledge are to be found, the Word of God, which only can give light and knowledge.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20)

It is recorded that the Bereans did this after listening to Paul and Silas. They searched the Scriptures with an open and ready mind trying to find proof and evidence that supported the teachings of Paul and Silas, and many of them believed.

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. (Acts 17: 10-12)

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