Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

Index by Subject

Knowledge

The second in Peter’s list of attributes to be added to our faith, (cf. 2 Peter 1:5-11), is “knowledge.”

The English term knowledge is derived from the Greek (gnosis). It is defined by Vine as “primarily a seeking to know, an enquiry, investigation. Denotes, in the N.T., knowledge, especially of spiritual truth. (Vol. 2, page 301).

Thayer says that the term, when used by itself, as in 2 Peter 1, “signifies in general intelligence, understanding.” Contextually, “the general knowledge of the Christian religion”… “the deeper, more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced”… “esp. of things lawful and unlawful for Christians”… “moral wisdom, such as is seen in right living… and in intercourse with others”… “objective knowledge: what is known concerning divine things and human duties.” (Thayer, page 119).

Kittle’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament states that the related term “know”, the Greek (ginosko) denotes “knowledge of what really is” (Vol. 1, pg. 691).

Such definitions correlate with Bible teaching. For example, Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32). Paul indicated that knowing the truth would be key for those who are ungodly to “come to their senses”, and “escape the snare of the devil” (cf. 2 Timothy 2:25-26).

The concept of absolute truth, and the importance of knowing that truth, is not universally acknowledged in our time. Today, a person’s “experiences” and “personal reality” are trumpeted as more relevant than objective knowledge. Such a philosophy is today known as “Post-Modernism.” Advocates say that the era of Modernism, which was dominated by reason and a pursuit of objective truth, has shown itself to be inadequate, and they have begun to look at life differently. Such attitudes are pervasive in our time.

One Post-modernist wrote, “The study of history and of culture teaches that all the world was mad in the past; men always thought they were right, and that led to wars, persecutions, slavery, xenophobia, racism and chauvinism. The point is not to correct the mistakes and really be right; rather it is not to think that you are right at all” (Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind). Anytime you hear someone say, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as your are sincere”; and “One interpretation is just as good as another”; and “”Your ‘truth’ and my ‘truth’ are just different”; you have an example of post-modern thought.

In reality, there is such a thing as objective truth, and it is found in Christ. As John wrote, “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Jesus Himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Further, the scripture is the repository of that truth in Christ. As Jesus prayed to the Father on behalf of His disciples, he said, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth (John 17:17). Finally, adherence to such truth is necessary to secure salvation. Our Lord indicated that the city of Heaven is reserved only for those in truth. Note, “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 21:27).

It is interesting that the term knowledge in 2 Peter 1 is linked in the list with “self-control.” The Christian is to exercise self-control. That is, he is to actively engage in doing what is right, and to refrain from doing what is wrong. However, it is not possible to “know” what is right and wrong unless there is objective truth. So, we must diligently apply ourselves to add to our faith, “knowledge” of God’s will. That is, we must seek to attain that “deeper, more perfect and enlarged knowledge of this religion, such as belongs to the more advanced” (Thayer).

Peter told Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The Hebrew writer indicated that “…solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:14). It is not enough to remain a babe in Christ, one who is “unskilled in the word of righteousness” (Hebrews 5:13). Instead, the child of God, to secure an entrance in heaven, must add to his faith and virtue, knowledge.