In order to read and learn from the New Testament as God intended it to be understood, I have found that study and analysis of word meanings in the original Greek can help to ensure that the intentional message, within His unbroken thread of truth, is not lost in translation. For example, on numerous occasions the apostle Paul prayed for those to whom he was writing. Two such occasions reflect a consistent theme in his prayers regarding the word “knowledge.” In Colossians chapter one he wrote, “…we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (vv. 9–10).
Similarly, in his letter to Philemon he wrote, “and I pray that the fellowship of your faith [the internal thought interaction between a believer and the Holy Spirit] may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you for Christ’s sake” (v. 6).
Even the apostle Peter referenced the same knowledge in this way: “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3).
Understanding the Meaning of Knowledge
The word “knowledge” in these verses is translated from the Greek word epignosis, which is from the root gnosis (knowledge; that which is knowable). Epignosis denotes “a larger and more thorough knowledge; it is a full and exact knowledge.” These verses make clear that possessing a fuller, more exact knowledge of “God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself” (Col. 2:2b) is the key to being able to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects” (Col. 1:10a).
We live in the time of the gospel of Christ. Our best chance of hearing “Well done good and faithful slave [servant]” (see Matt. 25:23a) is to endeavor to live our lives in accordance with the full and exact knowledge that was revealed in that gospel. In his book Beyond Seduction, Dave Hunt wrote, “This desire [the desire to know God] seems to be largely lacking in the contemporary church. As a consequence there is a defective knowledge of God.” I was well into my faith-life journey before I realized the knowledge I’d originally received was on defective footings. It was at best a “partial” knowledge. We must make every effort to be certain that what we believe to be true regarding the gospel is supported by footings that are not built on sand.