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Last updated: Sep 23, 2013
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What's New: Is the Bible "inspired"?
"Insights" from the New Testament Greek
By Bob Jones, Northside Bible Church, Jacksonville Florida
KNOWLEDGE, UNDERSTANDING, AND WISDOM, COLOSSIANS 1:9
In Col 1:9, Paul prays for the Church at Colosse, that they "might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding".
Christian growth requires knowledge of Godís Word. A "little knowledge" leads us to a "full knowledge", which leads us to "understanding", and the final result is "wisdom".
The Greeks had a basic word for "knowledge", and that is "gnosis". "Gnosis" could be described as simply a vertical list of facts. In 1 Cor 8:1, we find that "gnosis" by itself tends to "puff up", or make proud.
When Godís Word commands us to grow in "knowledge", the Greek word is "epignosis", or a "full knowledge".
Knowledge of Godís Word leads us to an "understanding", which is the Greek word "sunesis", which literally means "a flowing together of two rivers". "Sunesis" is a picture of two of our lists of facts merging together and our understanding becoming deeper and wider. In 2 Tim 2:7, Paul says "consider what I say and the Lord give thee understanding (sunesis)".
Knowledge and understanding leads us to "wisdom". The English word "wisdom" is a translation of the Greek word "sophia", meaning the application of knowledge and understanding. Godís Word does not tell us to pray for knowledge, understanding, or even faith, but in James 1:5 we find "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not (doesnít fuss at us or find fault); and it shall be given him".
We find our three words in one passage in the Old Testament, in reverse order, in Proverbs 24:3&4, where we find that a house is builded by wisdom, established by understanding, and decorated by knowledge.
The book of James is the book of wisdom in the New Testament, and the book of Proverbs is the book of application in the Old Testament, and both are urging us to apply Godís Word to our lives.
Knowledge and understanding alone should not be the goal of our life. Applying Godís Word to our life is what is important. James even says that faith without the resultant works is a dead (unproductive) faith! (Jas 2:17)
A Christian friend once told me that he was not bothered by the things in Godís Word that he did not understand. What really bothered him is being able to apply the things he does understand to his life. Thankfully, God is in the business of empowering us to apply His Word to our lives.