(Ver 1.2) This is Part 2 in a series of lessons on the subject of Bible Knowledge. If you would like to start reading with “Part 1” please do that. What is true Bible knowledge? How do we this get correct Bible knowledge? How does knowlege differ from understanding? Is wisdom the same as knowledge? These are basic Bible concepts that are probably better covered by the teachings of other ministers of God. But, I thought I would include a synopsis in order to help those who are not aware of the differences between these three related subjects. They are certainly related and they each overlap with the other, but yet they are still unique in what they represent to God. I think many times people look at Knowledge, Understanding and Wisdom and just lump them all together as being different words for the same thing. Nothing could really be further from the truth than to say they are the same thing. So let’s explore the subject briefly in the Bible and see what we can learn. The book of Proverbs actually has a lot to say on this subject and I will start with a great example:
Pro 2:1 My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;
Pro 2:2 So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;
Pro 2:3 Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;
Pro 2:4 If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
Pro 2:5 Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.
Pro 2:6 For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
You see if God thought all three of these were the same thing He wouldn’t have included each of them in these verses as different and separate qualities. What we can clearly see is an interrelated set of dependencies called knowledge, understanding and wisdom. Each of these three elements are mentioned separately and yet joined together in a common set of themes. Instead of going through these verses individually, let’s take each word and analyze what they are and see what God says to us.
So let’s start with Knowledge! Knowledge is the basis for the other two, understanding and wisdom. Without knowledge you can not have or obtain to the other two. So if we used an analogy of a ladder, knowledge would represent the first rung on the ladder. Some might want to jump to the top of the ladder, but in order to get to the top safely and correctly you must start with stepping on the first rung, knowledge. So what is knowledge? In the most basic form you could say that knowledge is the accumulation and familiarization of facts. A fact represents a statement of truth. You can learn from fiction, but the Bible is not fiction and that is not what I am talking about. A fact is a true event, a true person, a true concept, a true law, a true whatever. For example, when you learned the multiplication table in grade school as a child you accumulated mathematical facts of numbers. One times One is One. One times Two is Two. Two times Two is Four. These are all mathematical facts or truths. If you memorized them, you gained knowledge of these mathematical truths. At the same time you learned the fact that 2 x 3 = 6, you also gained implied knowledge of the mathematical concept of multiplication. Learning the Bible is the exact same applied logic as learning the multiplication table. I should probably expound on the meaning and application of logic in Bible interpretation, but I think that would go over the head of a lot of my readers. Since I was a computer programmer for many years, I used logic in the application of my everyday tasks at work. If you’ve never tried to write a complex computer application, I don’t know how to tell you something that you could possibly relate to easily. Correct Bible interpretation is a logical operation or task. As you read the Bible verse by verse and chapter by chapter you begin to accumulate knowledge. Bible facts such as people, places, things, concepts, laws and such. By gaining the knowledge of facts you are experiencing the accumulated process of learning.
So knowledge is the accumulation of both explicit and implicit facts. However, knowledge is also much deeper and has many other implied Biblical meanings. In the book of Hosea the 4th chapter and the 6th verse says:
Hos 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
Here we have God speaking directly through his prophet saying “My People are destroyed (brought to nothing, rendered harmless, ineffective, defeated, perish, to be cut down, there voice is silenced) for a lack of knowledge (knowing). Wow, that is about as strong of a statement as you can get. While this is stated directly to Israel, the implication is given to us that we (the church), His New Covenant people can be brought down the same way. The world says what you don’t know can’t hurt you and that is certainly a lie from the devil. God says what you don’t know will kill you and cause you to fail. This Hebrew word H1847 translated as knowledge comes from another Hebrew root word H3045. This word also has huge implications that I think you should know about. This word is used many times in the Old Testament in a form that says “And Adam “Knew” his wife and they had a son.” To know your wife is a sexual act between a husband and wife. This is often times referred to as carnal knowledge. So gaining knowledge is akin to sex between a husband and a wife. This is obviously what the Bible says and not something I just made up, you can go study if for yourself. The implications are huge here again. God wants you to “know” Him spiritually. He wants you to “know” His word. If you know God’s word you know God. So reading and studying the Bible ought to be a time of spiritual intimacy between you and God. Knowing this, it should change a lot of your attitudes toward reading the Bible. In this verse in Hosea it also shows us a concept that is called “forget”. To “forget” something means that you once knew it, but now you have let it slip. To forget something means it has become unimportant to you. This is a very important part of knowledge and knowing something to keep and maintain a high and important place in your mind and in your spirit. If it was important enough to learn, it is important enough to hold on to.
We have not fully covered the subject of knowledge, but let’s progress up another rung of the ladder to understanding. In the book of Proverbs God tells us this:
Pro 4:7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.
This verse starts by stating that wisdom is the highest rung on the ladder, the principal thing that we are all hoping to gain from studying God’s Word is said to be wisdom. But,, it then declares with all your getting make sure that you also get understanding. Generally speaking, “understanding” is the correct organization and ordering of associated facts and truths. It is very much like putting a complex Jig Saw Puzzle together. When the pieces of the puzzle fit together correctly you can see the big picture correctly and when they are forced together incorrectly you have nothing, but a big mess that does not make any sense to anyone. What we can see in this verse is the reference to all three key subjects. God is telling us all to “Get Something” and that something is His knowledge. God still tells us that Wisdom is the ultimate goal of all of our getting, however to get to wisdom, we first need to achieve understanding by first gaining accumulating facts.
To see an example of how Jesus applied these three elements during His ministry on the earth, we can look at Jesus teaching his disciples reading the story of the parable of the sower in Mark 4:1. Jesus goes through the parable in a public setting giving to everyone the same basic knowledgeable facts, but in private he tells the 12 the meaning of all of the symbolic objects in the parable (Mk 4:10). The soil was the heart of man, the seeds were the Words of God, the birds of the air was Satan, etc. By explaining the parable to them he correctly put together the associated truths and facts so that they could have a clear understanding of how the Kingdom of God operates. We can begin to see why understanding is so critical, without understanding all you have is a religion and religious people with a bunch of random religious facts. This was an example of the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day. These men knew a lot of facts written in their law, but understood practically none of them. Too many so called Christian are just people with some knowledge of some random facts. They do not understand how they fit together, or how they work, or why they are in the Bible, how they relate to God, how they relate to them, why they are important to know and on and on I could go. The Bible is so much more complex than you just reading a verse and you thinking that you got it and know everything you need to know. So getting understanding is a critical piece of the bigger puzzle. But it is still just one step in the ladder’s wrung. Start by learning the facts and then grow to understand what each of them mean and how they relate together. Continue to grow and understand how they apply to you specifically. Only by understanding who you are in Christ, why Jesus died on the cross, who Jesus was, and all of the other important subjects in the Bible will you ever be able to achieve to know a level of the wisdom of God. So let’s move on up the ladder.
So the final rung on the ladder is wisdom. As we learned earlier it is the principal thing that we are trying to gain from studying the Bible. What exactly is wisdom? I would say wisdom in it’s simplest terms is the practical application of correct knowledge and understanding. Knowing what to do, when to do it and with who to do it, that is the revealed ability to make wise choices. Wisdom certainly involves other aspects and there are men of God who teach very in depth on the subject of wisdom so I will not venture to repeat what they can teach you more efficiently and effectively. But, by correctly knowing God’s word and understanding it, God will give you the wisdom to make right choices in your life. Wisdom is a gift from God and it comes from knowing God personally. In James 1:5, God says if any man lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to every man liberally. This verse teaches us that not every man has wisdom but then informs us where true wisdom can come from if we desire to have it. So making the right choices in life is possible with God as your source and your guide. Knowing who to marry. Knowing what job to take. Knowing what city to live in. Knowing what house to buy. Knowing what roads to drive on. These are all things that God can show you. By His Spirit, God guides His people to make wise choices. However, all of these wise choices start by knowing God’s Word first. By knowing God’s Word, it builds your character, and guides your moral convictions. By making wise decisions morally you are better able to make wise choices socially and financially. The wisdom of God allows you to put together good choices in life and allows you to be a better and a more successful human being.
Can you see how knowledge, understanding and wisdom fit into correct Bible interpretation and why they are so important? The correct interpretation of the Bible so hinges upon these three qualities that it is imperative that you have a full grasp of the concepts and methods of learning and studying the Bible correctly. Your knowledge and understanding of God and His Word will always affect your decision making. That is why God said my people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. Thank you for reading and studying the Bible and my God bless you as you grown in the knowledge of Him.