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Pulling the Pieces of Life Back Together

Colossians 1:9 "We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask tha tyou may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." In Paul’s prayer for the Colossians, he asks that the Lord might fill them with “knowledge.” The word Paul uses for knowledge is epignosis. Some of us may have heard about gnosis meaning “knowledge.” We get English words like “prognosis” from this root. But what does epignosis mean here in Colossian 1:9? We usually say that epignosis means full knowledge or a more thorough knowledge. Sometimes you’ll hear a pastor say it means knowledge verified/learned by experience. These all are true, but have always seemed to me to be vague and elusive. One study tool I have, however, clarifies the meaning by explaining that epignosis means to know something even better than I knew it before. It quotes another source as saying “It is bringing me better acquainted with a thing I knew before; a more exact viewing of an object that I saw before afar off.” Thus, epignosis is broader and deeper than gnosis because epignosis goes from knowing a bunch of random parts to seeing how they all fit together (Trench, 285).

In Colossians 1:9, Paul prayed that the Colossians might be “filled” with wisdom and spiritual understanding. Paul’s prayer here is not that they would gain an encyclopedic, academic knowledge of theology, languages, history, etc. But rather, that in gaining such knowledge, they will understand, with spiritual wisdom, the life-implications of what they have learned.

Looking back over writings from my early days of being in Christ, I am struck by how much I “knew” and yet didn’t really know. My Bible College term papers contained a broad understanding of God’s Truth, but they did not contain the maturity or wisdom to see how those truths connect together with life, and more importantly, those early papers lack a certain soul-commitment to the depth and meaning of what I wrote about. Since their truths had yet to really affect my life, I did not cherish them either. Verses were for sparing not for obeying.

A few years ago I met a contemporary version of my former college-self. A man briefly came to our church who had been to a Bible college. He wanted to discuss our church’s stance on a particular matter. But while talking, I had the strong sense that I was talking with myself from my college days—more caught up with arguing over words than living in submission to Christ.

God’s word explains and clarifies life and reality—and its gems can be studied and examined and discussed and contemplated. But in the end, if we really believe what God says, then we will live His truth and only then will we begin to gain “epignosis.”
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...

Website: www.thegracetabernacle.org