To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity;
To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion.
As we dig deeper into the Proverbs we quickly come across a few arresting verbs: know, perceive, receive, and give. And, of course, we see the corresponding nouns associated with each of these verbs. In Proverbs 1:2-4 we find:
To know wisdom and instruction,
To perceive the words of understanding,
To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, and equity
To give prudence to the simple (and to give) to the young man knowledge and discretion.
Notice, if you will, the natural progression of action. To know, then to perceive something, then to choose to personally receive and embrace what we now know and perceive, and finally to share, to give what we have now received to someone else.
But what does it mean to perceive something or someone, maybe a new truth or a deeper understanding of a known truth? And how does someone then receive that true or understanding to themselves that they have just perceived? What does that process look like? And how does that exchange actually happen? And finally, ultimately, to whom do we give what we have received? And what specifically do we give them?
The answer is found in the nouns connected with our actions, our verbs.
But let’s begin by looking at the four verbs.
From our previous studies we determined that to “know” (yada) means we are “to know something in a completed sense, to know everything and to know fully, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.” It’s a deeply personal kind of knowledge forged by one’s choice, affection, conviction and experience. And Proverbs 1:2 says we are to “know” (yada) in an intimate, personal way, both “wisdom and instruction”— wisdom being more than the raw accumulation of facts but the ability to properly apply those facts and convictions, reinforced by our choices and experiences, in order to determine what is the right and God-honoring course of action. And instruction is defined as “correction, discipline, and chastening, as a loving father disciplines his own son.”
In essence, God has provided for us in His Son both the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:30) and the steady hand of correction and discipline to make sure we know (yada) God’s Word and how to apply what we know (yada) in our everyday choices that will either bring Him glory or disrepute. Therefore, if you find yourself convicted and troubled by the words you read, rejoice!— for that’s God’s very intention. After all, the Lord only chastises those He loves as a father disciplines his own son.
My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction; (why) for whom the LORD loves He corrects, (to what extent) just as a father the son in whom he delights (Prov. 3:11-12).
Next, we are to “the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). To perceive (biyn) is “to discern, to observe, to have insight into, to consider diligently.” It involves more than mere head knowledge. To perceive is to have a truth suddenly become alive and real to you. It’s like our blinders are removed or the fog clears and we can see God’s Word, the “words of understanding” clearly, and then exclaim, “Geez, it was right before my eyes all the time and I just didn’t see it. How could I have been so blind?”
And what do we now see with 20/20 vision? The “words of understanding” or literally the “words of comprehension, discernment, righteous actions with a strong moral and religious connotation.” In other words, we now see clearly the holiness of God. We comprehend our sinfulness and God’s perfection and His wonderful gift of grace. By virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we now have discernment to be able to choose what is “true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy” (Phil. 4:8) and not follow our lusts or waste our lives living for the things that won’t last. And we can now clearly choose to ” walk in the Spirit, and not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
What a blessing it is to be able to perceive the things of God and then have the freedom and ability to choose to follow Him, no matter what.
But knowing, even to the point of having an “a-ha” moment when you perceive, deep down, something overwhelming and potentially life-changing, is not enough. You have to then choose to receive, or “to take in, to lay hold of, to seize, to get or fetch, to acquire by any means possible” what you now comprehend in a deeper fashion. Just knowing truth won’t cut it, you have to voluntarily choose to move from where you are to where the truth takes you. You have to open up yourself, make yourself vulnerable, humble yourself, and receive the “instruction (or, discipline, correction, chastening) of wisdom” (Prov. 1:3).
It’s like salvation. Just knowing facts about Jesus won’t bring you into eternal fellowship with Him. You must receive Him into your life on His terms, which are all or nothing. You must die, you must be crucified with Him, and He must live within you and through you (Gal. 2:20). You must follow His path, the narrow gate, and not the wide road of your own choosing (Matt. 7:13-14). He must be Lord, and not just your personal Savior that you can call on whenever you need Him to get you out of a jam (Rom. 10:9). He is not your co-pilot, He is God Almighty, Creator of all, and Sovereign in all things.
If just knowing were enough Satan would spend eternity in heaven. After all, he knows as fact what we believe on faith. He knows Jesus died and was raised from the dead. He was there, he saw, and trembled. But Satan refuses to do the one thing that comes with receiving Jesus on His terms, and that is to bow his knee in submission to Christ and declare Him as Lord (Phil. 2:9-11). And this is all part of receiving Christ on His terms.
But what do we receive when we receive the “instruction of wisdom”? Solomon begins to expand our understanding of all that comes with God’s wisdom by using the terms, “justice, judgment, and equity.”
Justice is defined as “righteousness, or what is right, just or normal” with God. It means having a “right relation to an ethical or legal standard, to be right or straight.” In essence, it’s understanding the commands and laws of God and then choosing to align our life, both internal and external, to be in obedience to the Word of God. It’s the desire, and the ability to now choose to serve Christ and not our flesh or the god of this fallen world. And this ability to live according to our new nature found in Christ is just another gift given us by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17).
Remember the words of Jesus: “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). Great question. Because now, through the Holy Spirit we have the ability, the freedom, and the power to choose to obey Christ. We can live, as the Proverbs promise, a life of justice, being in a “right relation” to the commands and person of Christ. All we have to do is choose what is right, choose the straight and narrow path. And it’s just that simple.
Hard? You bet. But simple, nonetheless.
Next, we choose to receive in our lives the instruction, correction, and discipline of judgment. This word denotes the “act of deciding a legal case in a court or in litigation before judges.” It deals with the “ability to make a correct judgment on human actions.”
Whoa. Hold on right there. One of the sincerely held convictions of our fallen, politically correct culture is to not judge. You don’t judge me and I won’t judge you. It’s the old “don’t ask, don’t tell” mantra” In fact, these words of Jesus, taken totally out of context, are proclaimed as absolute truth by those who reject the rest of His words as truth: “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1).
So how can a Believer receive the “instruction of judgment” and still find favor in the eyes of the world? You can’t. Get used to it and resolve yourself to a life of turmoil and tribulation and persecution if you choose to live in the center of His will. In fact, embrace the trials you’ll face. Why? Because Jesus promised great blessings to those who suffer persecution for His name sake. Remember? “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:12).
Plus, we’re promised “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12). There’s no way around it. It’s a given. Done deal. The only way to escape persecution is to not desire to live Godly in Christ, which produces it’s own set of horrific consequences. Trust me, you don’t want to go down that path.
So with wisdom comes the ability to see what is right and wrong, good and evil, true and false. The “instruction of judgment” means being able to discern genuineness from hypocrisy, good fruit from bad fruit, true prophets from false prophets, in others as well as within ourselves (Matt. 7:15-20). And, as you would imagine, this aspect of wisdom can bring with it the unintended consequences of being called judgmental, unloving, a hater, bigoted, narrow-minded, and much more. Hence, the warning from Jesus about suffering persecution for His name’s sake.
Finally, we receive in wisdom, in Christ, the “instruction of equity.” But what does equity mean? Equity is defined as “evenness, fairness, uprightness, straightness, smoothness, and points to what is just, correct, right and fair in speech or actions” (Isa. 33:15). It’s dealing with others as you would have them deal with you (Luke 6:21). It’s being fair, honest, noble, and upright in everything. In a word, it’s the overflow of a life found “in Christ”.
But what about the fourth verb? What about the command to give?
That’s a rather complex subject dealing with what we’re to give and to whom? And that’s a topic we’ll look at next time in Four Verbs, Part Two.
1. Where are you in the process of obtaining wisdom?
2. Have you passed from simply knowing (yada) to now perceiving something deeper in the Word of God?
3. Has God begun to speak to you in a personal, profound way through His Word and the Holy Spirit? Have you ever had a rhema, a word from Him meant only for you? And if so, when was that? And what did He say?
4. Do you remember when you received Jesus as Lord? What was that like? And what has your life with Him been like since that momentous day?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? Is He more real to you today than in the past? And, if not, why not?
Next Step Challenge
Since receiving the wisdom of God is tied to receiving Christ Jesus as Lord and the Holy Spirit coming as the guarantee of your future inheritance in Him (Eph. 1:3-4), write down your salvation experience. Include the time when you knew regeneration took place and your life was now hid in Him (Col. 3:3). Include also your spiritual journey since salvation.
What have you learned from your walk with Him about wisdom? Have you personally experienced the process outlined in Proverbs 1:1-4 about knowing, perceiving, and receiving? What was that like? What was the actual context in which God revealed to you His wisdom? What was the outcome of that encounter?
And if you haven’t experienced any of this with the Lord, why? Is the problem with Him? Does He show favoritism or partiality and is withholding something from you that He’s freely giving to others?
Or is the problem you? And, if so, that’s a sobering thought, isn’t it?
To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
We discovered yesterday, from 1 Corinthians 1:30, that Jesus “became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” This verse clearly shows us Jesus Christ is, in Himself, the wisdom from God. Jesus is all wisdom, complete in Himself, and if we desire more wisdom from the Father (James 1:5), He answers by revealing more of His Son to us. We ask for wisdom, we get Jesus. We look for wisdom, we see it in Jesus. We want to know wisdom (Prov. 1:2), we must know Jesus, and none other.
The wisdom from God is found in only one person— and His name is Jesus.
To Know and Perceive Wisdom and Understanding
But the Proverbs begin by telling us the grand purpose of this book is “to know (yada) wisdom and instruction, (and) to perceive the words of understanding (Prov. 1:2). What does that mean?
Wisdom, as we know, is “the ability to discern or judge what is right, true, and lasting” and instruction means more than teaching or exhortation. Instruction is “discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son that he loves.” Which brings us to the last half of this verse, “to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2).
To perceive means “to discern, consider, understand, to be attentive or pay attention to.” And “words of understanding” mean “words or speech of comprehension, discernment, righteous actions, with a strong moral and religious connotation.” In other words, “to perceive the words of understanding” is not something to be mentally perceived or discerned, but to follow through with righteous actions, works, or deeds of strong moral and religious connotations that bring about God’s wisdom and the ability to choose what is right, true and lasting. Do you see what the Lord is saying to us?
The purpose of Proverbs is for us to know (yada) by experience, or by doing, in an intimate, passionate way, the wisdom of God, or Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30), and possess the ability to discern and choose what is right and Godly in any given circumstance. The New Testament would call this sanctification (1 Thess. 4:13), having the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), or “walking in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
Its purpose is for us to know wisdom, the wisdom found only in Christ (1 Cor. 1:30), and to be “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).
Our Only Example During Temptation and Sin
But there’s another verse we find in Hebrews that gives us a deeper understanding of why Jesus “became for us wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30). And that’s found in Hebrews 4:15:
For we do not have a High Priest (Jesus) who cannot sympathize (or, feel deeply, be affected or touched with the same feelings as another, to have compassion for someone by experience) with our weaknesses (or, feebleness, lack of strength, frailty), but was in all points (or, each, every, the whole, in totality, lacking none) tempted (or, tried, tested) as we are, yet without sin.
This tells us that Jesus, our wisdom from God, was tempted in every way we have been tempted, yet was able and willing to discern what was right, best and true, and then was disciplined enough to chose the right path and not sin. And because He was tested in all ways like each one of us, He is our faithful High Priest that goes before us “perceiving the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2) and showing us, by example, how to live victoriously by knowing (yada) and following the wisdom of God.
Let’s flesh this out a little bit.
Was Jesus ever tempted by pride? Are you? Then so was He. Why? Because every temptation you have faced, or will face, He has already faced and walked in perfect holiness and unity with His Father. And we are to follow His example.
Was Jesus ever tempted sexually? Have you been tempted that way? Then so was He, as uncomfortable as that might make us feel, yet without giving into sin. So when you feel overpowered by porn or sexual temptation, know that Jesus faced the same temptation and resisted so as not to sin. And if we keep our eyes on Him and follow His example, we shall also walk away from our temptation victorious.
New Testament Examples
Jesus lived His life in perfect harmony with the Father, just like He desires us to do. How can we do that? By following His example, by taking His yoke upon us and learning from Him (Matt. 11:29). He showed us, in the pages of the Gospels, example after example of how to “know wisdom and instruction (and how) to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). If we are faced with a situation Jesus was also faced with, we go to the account of how He dealt with it in the Gospels and learn from Him. As faithful disciples, we mimic our Master.
For example, how do we handle it when someone abuses us and demands something they don’t rightly deserve? What did Jesus do? He “turned the other cheek” (Luke 6:29) and “walked the second mile” (Matt. 5:41). Get the point? Or what are we to do when we feel betrayed by someone we trusted and are tempted to harbor hate for them in our heart? What did Jesus do? In the upper room, Jesus washed the feet of Judas, remember? (John 13:5).
But what happens when we’re faced with a temptation not recorded in the Gospels? We know Jesus was tempted in all ways just like we are (Heb. 4:15), yet not everything Jesus said and did is recorded for us in the Gospels (John 21:25). We know almost nothing about His life as a young man, for example. So where do we go to learn what Jesus, our wisdom from God, would do in a particular situation we face today that is not mentioned in Scripture? Where do we go to find the wisdom from God? We go to the Proverbs.
You see, the Proverbs give us the wisdom from God, what Jesus would do, in situations and circumstances Jesus faced while on earth but were not left as an example for us in the Gospels. The Proverbs fill in for us what the Gospels left out. Let me give a couple examples:
Peer Pressuree: Do you face the temptation to compromise in order to be accepted by your peers? If so, you can be sure Jesus faced the same temptation. Yet, how He dealt with that temptation is not recorded for us in the Gospel accounts. So where do we go to find what Jesus would do and what we should do when faced with peer pressure? In the Proverbs. If you struggle with peer pressure and want to know what Jesus did when He was faced with peer pressure, go to Proverbs 1:8-19.
But there’s so much more. How about:
Sexual Temptation: See Proverbs 5:1-11.
Pride: Proverbs 11:2, 13:10, 16:18, 29:23.
Financial Obligations: Proverbs 6:1-5.
Adultery: Proverbs 6:20-35.
Porn: Proverbs 7:6-23.
Business Practices: Proverbs 11:1.
What Should I Look for in a Wife: Proverbs 31:10-31.
And the list goes on.
When you hold the Proverbs in your hand to read, don’t treat them like ancient writings from some old sage who can’t relate to what you’re going through. These Proverbs are the words and examples and wisdom of Christ. They’re His example to us of how He, as the wisdom from God, was able to live victoriously in this world of sin, yet without sinning. They’re His answer to our temptations not specifically addressed in the Gospel accounts. And they’re His incredible gift to each of us.
So embrace them, cherish them, love them, and know (yada) them. Why? Because they are our way “to know wisdom and instruction, (and) to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). After all, Jesus did say:
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39).
Did you catch that? Jesus said all Scripture, both Old and New Testament, speaks or testifies of Him. And that includes the Proverbs.
But that’s a subject we’ll address tomorrow.
1. Does it seem strange to you to think Jesus was tempted in the same way as you?
2. Do you have the view of Jesus as some super-human that lives above the cesspool you and I find ourselves in and is somehow not tempted in the same way we are?
3. Did it ever occur to you that the entire Scriptures, both Old and New Testament testify about Jesus? Did you ever consider the fact that He can be found on every page, in almost every verse?
4. When was the last time God spoke to you through His Word? What was that experience like? How often does it happen?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life right now and in your decision making process? What was it yesterday? Are you growing in the wisdom of God? And, if not, why?
Next Step Challenge
Take your Bible and, using the examples above, outline the specific situations addressed in the Proverbs. List them on a sheet of paper along with the Scripture reference just like the examples above. What do they tell you about Jesus and His Word? What have you learned about the true purpose and meaning of the Proverbs?
And how will you let what you’ve learned change your life from this point forward?
To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
In Proverbs 1:2 we’ve discovered one of the great goals of the book of Proverbs is to allow us to know, in an intimate and experiential sense, both wisdom and instruction. We’ve already looked at what the word know means in this passage in yesterday’s post. But what about wisdom? And instruction?
Wisdom is defined as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment, or the quality of being wise. It’s the ability to discern or judge what is right, true, and lasting.” Wisdom is not the mere accumulation of facts about someone or something, it’s the ability to properly apply those facts in a given situation to determine the right and God-honoring outcome. Wisdom is manifested when a person can see the circumstances they face and match them with truth they know, God’s Word, and then plot a course of action based on the truth and not on the urgency of the situation.
Instruction, surprisingly, is not primarily defined as teaching or exhortation, as we would expect. Instruction (muwcar) is defined as discipline, chastening, and correction, with the imagery of a father disciplining his son. So the book of Proverbs is designed to help us know (yada) by doing, to learn by experience, in an intimate, personal way, the ability to discern what is right, true, and lasting versus choosing the cheap trinkets and toys our culture offers. And we are to learn the wisdom of God by discipline, correction and chastening. After all, the Lord disciplines the ones He loves (Heb. 12:6).
How to Get Wisdom
And that’s a question we all ask, isn’t it? How do we get wisdom? There are several verses that speak to this desire. The most well-known is found in James:
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways (James 1:5-8).
As we can see, wisdom is given to anyone who asks, just as long as they ask in faith. For if they doubt when they ask, they shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. Why? Because they are “double-minded” and “unstable” in all their ways.
So let me get this straight. All we have to do is ask for wisdom, for God’s wisdom— like something He possesses within Himself, as a part of Himself— and He will lavishly give His wisdom to us, to anyone for that matter, just as long as we ask in faith, without doubting. And why would God do that? Is it because He has a great desire for us to be wise? Or, maybe He wants His church and His children to be known as the wisest in all the land and show the world what it looks like to belong to Him? Or again, maybe He doesn’t relish the idea of His children struggling to make sense of the fallen world He placed us in?
But that can’t be true. Why? Because the Lord tells us a few verses earlier to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials” that we obviously didn’t have the wisdom to see or avoid in the first place (James 1:2). Plus, the word fall implies stepping into a hole we either didn’t know to look out for or we weren’t wise enough to step over.
Talk about not having wisdom. Also, if it’s really just that easy, then what’s the point of the book of Proverbs? If all we have to do is pray and the wisdom update is automatically downloaded, why would we need the instruction manual? Can we really become Yoda by just asking?
Wisdom is Found in Just One Man
But if we keep looking for the true meaning of wisdom in His Word, we will soon find ourselves walking through the pages of 1 Corinthians and find:
But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God— and righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).
Now, what does this mean? Exactly what it says. Jesus, by His own doing, has literally become for us the “wisdom from God.” So when we see Jesus we see, in perfect clarity, all the “wisdom from God.” If we want to know (yada) the “wisdom from God” all we need to do is know (yada) the Son of God. Since Jesus has “become for us wisdom for God” we need only to look and learn from Him to have that wondrous wisdom. Don’t you see? If we want more wisdom, we must seek and ask for more of Jesus.
The answer for our lack of wisdom is more Jesus. It’s all about Jesus.
So when James speaks of asking God for wisdom and knowing God gives “liberally and without reproach” to all who ask, He just may be speaking of the wisdom found in Jesus. Or, he may just be speaking about Jesus Himself.
If any of you lacks wisdom (what Jesus literally became for us), let him ask God (for more of Jesus, for the revelation of Jesus, to receive Jesus) who gives (Jesus) to all (“Come unto Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden” – Matt. 11:28) liberally and without reproach (there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus – Rom. 8:1), and it will be given to him (to make us complete in Christ – Col. 2:10).
After all, Jesus has become for us “wisdom from God — and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30). Jesus is all in all.
To Know Wisdom is to Know Jesus
When Proverbs 1 states the main purpose of the book is for us to know (yada) wisdom, we’re also talking about knowing Jesus and the life in Christ and how to live in Him in a practical, hands-on, everyday sense. Proverbs gives us instruction on Godly living, and examples on how to put into practice the wisdom found in Christ. After all, He’s our perfect example, tested and tempted in every way we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15).
Just think, when we want to know how to respond to someone who verbally attacks our loved ones, what do we do? We look to Jesus, the “author and finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2), and see how He responded in the same situation. We see His perfect example and, like true disciples, follow Him. He becomes for us the “wisdom from God” (1 Cor. 1:30). When our rights are violated and we scream for justice or vengeance, what should we do? We look to Jesus to see how He responded in the same situation. And we do what He did. We learn from Him. We learn His wisdom by learning more about Him, walking with Him, and choosing to live like Him.
This is what it means to know (yada) wisdom and instruction. It means to know (yada) Jesus (wisdom) and to be disciplined (instruction), or disciples of His. And the answer to our lack of wisdom is, as always, our lack of Jesus.
And the reason for the Proverbs? Simply this, to give us hands on examples of how Jesus would handle a situation that wasn’t recorded in the Bible. For example, how would Jesus handle sexual temptation? Or was He even tempted in that way?
But you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see how the Proverbs complete the life of Christ not recorded for us in the Gospels.
1. What does it mean for you, in a practical sense, to see Jesus as the wisdom from God (Col. 1:30)?
2. Do you have the wisdom of God? How would you know?
3. Since instruction in our passage primarily means discipline, how disciplined are you in your walk with Christ? Do you have daily time with Him? When? Where? And how long?
4. Can you remember an example of God giving you His wisdom at just the right time? What was that experience like? How often does it happen?
5. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate God’s wisdom in your life and in your decision making process? What was it three months ago? One year ago? Are you growing in His wisdom or are you stagnated?
Next Step Challenge
Take a Bible Concordance or an online source like www.blueletterbible.com and do a search of the word wisdom in both the Old and the New Testament. Write down at least 20 passages that speak to you personally. Do you see any difference between the description of wisdom in the Old versus the New Testament? And, if so, what are those differences?
Why did you choose the 20 passages that you did? What has the Lord shown you through your word search and those 20 passages?
To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
The Lord tells us in His preamble of Proverbs that one of the purposes of this great book is for us “to know wisdom and instruction” and “to perceive the words of understanding” (Prov. 1:2). And bam!— there it is again, right before our eyes— another troubling yet vital four-letter word.
But this time the word isn’t love, but know. What does it mean to know something, to know wisdom and instruction for example? What does it mean to be in the know, to have knowledge, or to acknowledge someone or something?
Our contemporary definition of know is “to be aware of something through careful observation, inquiry, or information; to develop a relationship with someone through meeting and spending time with them, to be familiar or friendly.”
“Oh, ask me, I know the answer to that question.”
“You don’t have to remind me, I know I have to pick them up at the airport at 5:00pm.”
“I know who you are, I recognized you from your Facebook profile.”
“I know all about Abraham Lincoln, I read about him in my textbook.”
But there are several different words that are translated know in the Scriptures: in the Greek, primarily edio (1492 in Strong’s) and ginosko (1097 in Strong’s) and in the Hebrew, yada (3045 in Strong’s). Plus, the Hebrew word yada is essentially the same as the Greek word ginosko. So let’s take a few minutes and dig a bit deeper into the difference between knowing something edio or knowing someone ginosko (or yada) and why that is even important.
To Know With Your Head or Your Heart
This is the question that defines these two words and describes the different aspects of what it means to know. Is it merely head knowledge, the accumulation of facts and raw data? Or can I know someone on a more personal level, with more intimacy and passion? Can I know them by my experience with them and not just know facts about them.
In the Greek, edio (1492) is defined as “to see, to perceive with the eyes or the senses, to observe, to get or gain knowledge of something, to understand.” It’s a mental, cognitive retention of some facts. It’s head knowledge, or book learning. It’s preparing for your final exam by memorizing all the answers and then forgetting them immediately after the test is over. It’s knowing, for example, that George Washington was the first President of the United States yet that fact having absolutely no impact on your daily life. “Yeah, I know all about George Washington. I saw his picture and watched the movie. But so what? Who cares?”
But there’s another word translated know that means something altogether different. The word ginosko (1097) means “to know in a completed sense, to know everything and to know in full, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.”
One can know something by studying the facts (edio) and one can know by choosing to live the experience (ginosko) and loving every minute of it. One is dry, academic and sterile (edio) and the other is complete, life- changing and exhilarating (ginosko).
Let me give you just a few examples.
Matthew 1:25 – “And (Joseph) did not know her (ginosko – or, to know by intimate experience or expression, to choose, to love, to desire, to place one’s favor upon) till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.” This word, in both the Old and New Testament, is used as a euphemism for sexual relations between two people. “Now Adam knew (yada) Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain” (Gen. 4:1). When Adam knew Eve it was obviously more than memorizing a few facts about her, wasn’t it?
Luke 8:46 – “But Jesus said, ‘Somebody touched Me, for I perceived (ginosko – or, to know by intimate experience or expression) power going out from Me’.” Jesus knew (ginosko), not by reading a book or sitting in a classroom (edio), that something had happened to Him— He personally experienced power going out from Him to the woman with the issue of blood. He knew (ginosko), without being told, power had gone out from Him because He experienced it Himself.
“I Know My Sheep”
And then there are the incredible passages that show the choice, desire, love, approval and favor associated with Jesus knowing (ginosko) those who belong to Him. This is not cognitive or head knowledge, this is something deeper, something much more intimate. This is Jesus knowing, choosing, loving, approving, and desiring those He places His favor upon, those called the elect in Him (Rom. 8:33).
John 10:14 – “I am the good shepherd; and I know (ginosko) My sheep, and am known (ginosko) by My own.” Jesus knows (ginosko) those that belong to Him. He knows (ginosko) them intimately, He has chosen them, approved of them, embraced them, and has placed His favor upon them. And the elect, those He has chosen for His own, also know (ginosko) Him in return. They don’t just know (edio) about Jesus, they know (ginosko) Jesus by intimate experience and expression. They also choose Him, desire Him, love Him and belong to Him.
But note this: Jesus knows (edio) everything and everyone. After all, He is God and He is sovereign. But He only knows (ginosko) those who are His own, those who belong to Him, those He has chosen, His sheep.
But it gets even better.
John 10:15 – “As the Father knows (ginosko) Me, even so I know (ginosko) the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.” As the Father completely and fully, with intimate experience and expression, knows (ginosko) the Son, so the Son, the third Person of the Trinity, also knows (ginosko) the Father in the same way.
“I Never Knew You”
One more before moving on.
Matthew 7:23 – “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew (ginosko) you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” This certainly doesn’t mean there was some body of knowledge in the universe or some group of people the Son of God was unaware of. It doesn’t mean there was something He had to learn, something that slipped His mind, some skill He had yet to master, or something He simply forgot. “Uh, I’m sorry. What was your name again?” No, Jesus knows (edio) all. He is God and, among other things, He is omniscient.
This use of ginosko means there are some whom He has not chosen. Some He doesn’t have an intimate, loving experience with. Some upon whom He has not placed His favor and some He does not desire or approve of. And who are these? Jesus said, “You who practice lawlessness! (Matt. 7:23). You who reject His love, mercy and sacrifice. You who are lost, unredeemed, and unrepentant of your sins.
To Know Wisdom and Instruction
So you see, when you come across the word know in the Scriptures, please understand it can have a far deeper meaning than simply being aware of something because you have carefully observed it or have memorized certain facts that pertain to it. The word you read can mean to know (edio) in a general, mental, cognitive way or it can mean something much deeper (ginosko) that involves experience, intimacy, volition, and love.
And also remember that ginosko in the Greek is essentially the same word as yada in the Hebrew. So when we read in the Proverbs: “To know (yada) wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding”— it means we are to know (yada) in a completed sense, to know everything and to know fully, to learn to know; it means to know by intimate experience or expression; to choose, to approve, to love, to embrace, to desire, to place one’s favor upon.
And what are we to know (yada) like that? Wisdom and instruction. And what do wisdom and instruction mean and how can we choose to have an intimate experience with both and to know (yada) them completely and fully as the Scriptures command?
Stay tuned. Because that’s exactly what we’ll be examining tomorrow.
- When you read the word know, do you mentally define it as edio or ginosko? Which one do you naturally default to?
- What resource do you use to discover the deeper meaning of the Greek and Hebrew words in our Bible?
- How long have you been using that resource? What do you like about it and what are its shortcomings?
- Is taking more time to study your Bible difficult for you? And, if so, do you know why? Do you put the same effort into studying God’s Word as you would, for example, a college History exam? And again, if not, do you know why?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your desire for God’s Word at this point in your life? What was it three months ago? One year ago? Are you growing in your faith or standing still? And finally, what are you prepared to do about it?
Next Step Challenge
During your personal Bible reading time, commit to make it a practice of looking up each instance of the word know and mark in your Bible if it’s ginosko or edio or maybe another Greek word. You may even choose to write above them the Strong’s reference number: 1097 for ginosko and 1492 for edio.
Then look and see if you can find any other words that translate ginosko (such as comprehend, learn, realized, notice, understood, etc.) or edio (such as see, behold, perceive, etc.) to help your further understand the meaning of the Scripture you study.
To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
Our culture is fascinated with four-letter words.
And believe it or not, the same can be said of the Scriptures. The Word of God places an incredible amount of significance on some simple, four-letter words.
Let me give you a quick example.
Show Me the Love
There are some four-letter words that will transform your entire life once you understand their meaning. “Love” is one of these words. In our culture you can love your wife, love your children, love your job, love pizza and ice cream, you can love Fluffy your new pet cat, you can love the way you look in a pair of jeans, you can love the meal you’ve just eaten at Cheddars, you can love the Carolina Panthers, you can love Johnny Depp movies, you can even love the deal you got on your new car. And in the English, all we know is that you have a really strong and intense feeling of affection for whatever phrase comes after the word love— even if that phrase ranges from your love for your children to your love of ice cream.
But in the New Testament we find several different Greek words used to describe different kinds of love. For example, you have the word agape which describes the highest form of love, the kind of love the Father has for the Son and the Son for the Father (John 5:20). It’s the altruistic, self-sacrificing, accepting, benevolent, gracious, all-encompassing and all-giving love that is used in Scripture to communicate the love God has for His creation and for His children.
Next you have phileo which is defined as “brotherly love” or the love between friends. It means to have affection for someone, or to befriend someone. As a side note, God calls us to agape our enemies, to love them like Christ loves us in order to win them to Him. But He never encourages us to phileo our enemies, to befriend them. Why? Because “bad company corrupts good character” every time (1 Cor. 15:33). Remember?
Then you have eros, the intimate, physical, sexual love a man has for his wife. This is the root of our word, erotic. It expresses feelings of arousal shared between people who are physically attracted to each other.
We have three different Greek words used to describe in great detail the meaning of a simple, four-letter word. We enjoy and rejoice in, for example, the agape of God yet we would never agape pizza. We phileo our best friend, our college roommate, but would never use eros to describe that relationship. See the difference? Can you see how important it is to define and understand even our simple, overused, familiar four-letter words?
Let me show you how this plays out in real time.
Do You Love Me?
In the last chapter of John we find Jesus restoring His disciples, specifically Peter, and we have recorded a conversation where Jesus asks Peter, three times, “Do you love Me?” The conversation goes like this:
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”
Peter: “Yes Lord; You know that I love You.” (John 21:15).
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
Peter: “Yes Lord; You know that I love You.” (John 21:16).
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
Peter: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” (John 21:17).
The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him the Scriptures say: Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:17). Why? Why was Peter grieved? Was it because Peter didn’t think Jesus was paying attention to what he was saying? Or was it because Peter didn’t like getting grilled in front of his friends? Or maybe Peter wasn’t grieved, maybe he was just annoyed Jesus kept asking him the same question over and over again and didn’t seem to accept his answer?
Maybe. But maybe not.
Unless we understand the meaning of one, simple, four-letter word, we can come up with all sorts of reasons for Peter being grieved that are not true. But once we take the time to see what Greek words for love are used in this conversation, everything changes. Everything becomes crystal clear. There’s no longer any reason to guess or to assume, now we know. Here is their conversation in the Greek:
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (agape) Me more than these?”
Peter: “Yes Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.” (John 21:15).
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (agape) Me?”
Peter: “Yes Lord; You know that I love (phileo) You.” (John 21:16).
Jesus: “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love (phileo) Me?”
Peter: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You.” (John 21:17).
Or, to put it in our language:
Jesus: “Peter, do you love (agape) Me like I love (agape) you? Do you love (agape) me with an unselfish and self-sacrificing love (agape) like I love (agape) you?”
Peter: “Uh, Lord. I love (phileo) you like a friend.”
Jesus: “Peter, do you love (agape) Me like I love (agape) You? Do you love (agape) Me with the highest form of love (agape)?”
Peter: “Lord, like I said, I love (phileo) you like a friend, like my best friend.”
Jesus: “Peter, do you really just love (phileo) Me like a friend?”
Peter: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love (phileo) You like my best bud, like my pal, my buddy, my homeboy, my BFF.”
Can you see now why Peter was grieved the third time Jesus spoke? The true meaning of some small, four-letter words can change our entire understanding of what the Scriptures truly say. And this is just the beginning.
Yada and Ginosko
Which brings us to another vital, four-letter word. And this word is know. To know how. To know what. To know something. To be in the know. To have knowledge. To acknowledge someone.
Again, there are several Greek and Hebrew words used to describe and define a clear and concise picture of what our single word know actually means. And until we unpack these words we’ll never understand the glorious depth of what the Lord is revealing to us in His Word. We’ll get lazy and let our English definition of what we think the word means cloud what truth He may be telling us today. And that would be a great shame.
In Proverbs 1:2 we read that one of the purposes of this great book is: To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding.
But what does the word, know (yada in the Hebrew and ginosko in the Greek) really mean? And does it matter?
Hang on, my friend. For tomorrow we’ll look at this powerful four-letter word and see exactly how the Lord uses it to give us a lasting understanding of what it means to “know wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:2) and also what it means when Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own” (John 10:14).
- What does the word love mean to you?
- Can you use agape, phileo and eros to describe the different kinds of love in your life? Do you see the difference?
- Will you, from now on, circle the word love each time you read a passage and indicate for yourself what Greek word is used?
- What do you think it means to “know wisdom”? And how would you define wisdom?
- Can you describe a time when you felt God had given you His wisdom? What was that like? And if you have never had that experience, why not? Can you think of a reason God hasn’t given you His wisdom in a particular situation? And do you want that to change?
Next Step Challenge
Go grab a Word Study, like Vines or Zodhiates, or go to www.blueletterbible.com and do a simple, online word search for “know” in both the Old and New Testament. Notice the different ways the word is translated in the English. What does that say to you?
Then go to John 21:17 (see below) and notice the two different words translated “know” in this passage. What is the Lord trying to tell us?
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know (eido) all things; You know (ginosko) that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
Finally, look up the meaning of eido (1492 in Strong’s) and ginosko (1097 in Strong’s) and write this verse again using the proper meaning of the Greek words for love and for know.
Does this statement by the Lord seem clearer to you? Good.
Why is the Church in the Situation it is Today?
Another great question. But the answer is also quite simple.
We have allowed the church to become what it is, or isn’t, today. The fault and blame for the carnality of the church belongs to each of us. We, as those who make up the Church, His Body, of which He is the Head, the Preeminent (Col. 1:18), have allowed it to be hijacked by those seeking entertainment and the glorification of the flesh and not the moving of the Spirit.
We have enjoyed church services that seem like family-friendly rock concerts and not worship times designed to bring us closer to the Lord we love. We have supported and promoted pastors and sermons that feed our feelings of self-importance rather than exalting and glorifying Christ. We want to have our egos stroked, our selfish wants fulfilled, and our lives uninterrupted by a God we claim to know— but truly don’t.
And we’ve done this to ourselves. The blood is on our own hands.
We smugly cherry pick the Scriptures we like, those we agree with, the non-convicting ones, and reject the others as the words of mere men and not the very words of God. We turn Jesus in to our personal Savior, our personal God, with our personal understanding of who He is and what He requires of each of us based on our own personal feelings or agenda.
We pepper our conversations with phrases like this:
“My Jesus would never want me to do anything I don’t want to do.”
Or, “My Jesus only wants me to be happy and I’m not happy with my wife right now. I’m going to call my lawyer tomorrow. It’s what my Jesus would want me to do.”
Or, “My Jesus doesn’t expect me to follow or obey Him it makes me feel uncomfortable around my friends. My Jesus loves me and is all about me.”
No doubt. I bet your Jesus is all about you. But that’s not Jesus. There is no “My Jesus”— there’s only Jesus as revealed in His Word. “My Jesus” is just an image of Jesus you have created yourself, one created in your own image, one you feel comfortable to worship, someone who thinks just like you. In reality, your “my Jesus” is an idol that looks and feels and thinks just like you do. So when you come to church and worship “my Jesus“— you’re worshipping yourself.
Let me give you one last example before we call it a day.
Let’s look at what some in the church, maybe even you, call salvation.
Same Great Taste, But Less Filling
Without a doubt, the church languishes as it does today because many, if not most, of professing believers in America are not even saved. Does that sound harsh? Well, consider this: many today have bought into a mindset that claims to allow them to live anyway they want and still claim to “belong to Jesus.” But John said:
“If we claim to have fellowship with the light (to be a believer, a follower of Jesus, a Christian), and yet walk in darkness (to live like the world), we lie (in claiming to have fellowship with the light) and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:6).
Also, many today flat out refuse conformity to the image of Christ. They desire to model their life after the world and all its lusts and have a “form” of godliness but not power (2 Tim. 3:5). Why? Simply because they have been told that salvation consists of nothing more than coming to church on Sunday, praying the “sinner’s prayer” years ago in VBS, or being baptized, and have no clue as to the radical change that takes place when regeneration occurs in a person.
To illustrate this point, the following is from Rick Warren’s book, the Purpose Driven Life (arguably one of the most popular Christian books in the last 40 years). After spending two paragraphs condensing the Gospel into a simple “Believe and Receive” formula, the Purpose Driven Gospel Presentation moves to the closing prayer of repentance and faith.
From the pen of Rick Warren:
“Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead.
If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose in your life.”
From there, the reader is instructed to email Rick and receive a free booklet from his ministry.
No repentance. No recognition of the Lordship of Christ. Nothing. For me, it’s Gospel Lite. “Same great taste, but less filling.”
Can you see the difference? Do you see why not all professing Believers will suffer persecution but only those who “desire to live Godly in Christ” (2 Tim. 3:12), those who enter the narrow gate by the standards, the completed work of Christ (Matt. 7:13) and not by any other way? (John 10:1)
Some will suffer for refusing to compromise their faith or the integrity of the Lord and His Word while others, maybe you, will pretend everything is OK. “Hey, everything’s fine. No problems here. Me and my Jesus, we’re doing all right.”
But are you really? It’s time for some self-examination to see if we are truly in the faith, don’t you think?
Then join with me, will you?
For Part 1: Not Every Christian Will Suffer Persecution. Will You?