The importance of Paul’s admonition “to increase and being renewed into the full-knowledge (“epignosis”) of God’s will (‘Thelema’ God’s desired will for each believer), is seen in six of his epistles. In Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossian Churches and his pastoral epistles to Timothy, Philemon and Titus (see below) he refutes the esoteric teachings of gnosticism, (special knowledge into a mystery, which is kind of similar to the present New Age reasoning), and also the apostle Peter in his epistles. 2 Peter 1:2-”Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the full-knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,”
Paul wants the believers to “fully-know” (Gr. epignosis) God and what it means for the believer to be in Christ, in contrast with the gnostic “knowing” (gnosis) of mere intellectual and special knowledge. In all these instances he adds the prefix ‘epi’ indicating “a full, complete and thorough knowledge into the accessible mystery of the Gospel of Christ open for every one through faith in Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.”
Paul’s concern for growing into the “full-knowledge” of Christ is no less relevant and serious for us today as we face similar challenges from the educational, scientific, psychological, philosophical, sociological disciplines and the increasing influences of the cults. The religious exercises of the New Age Movement and other eastern pantheistic religions foremost aim and endeavour is to get in touch with the supernatural world. This esoteric knowledge applied to spiritual exercise to produce growth is just as dangerously deceptive for the Church now as it was for the Church in the days of Paul.
The Greeks gave knowledge a very important place in society elevating it as an end in itself to reach any goal. Knowledge (gnosis) was the key to entering into the spiritual world and through it becoming a spiritual giant like Jesus. He was their example, their forerunner into higher and higher spiritual spheres. Through this special insight and knowledge the gnostics received, they would climb up into the higher regions of mysticism even right into the lofty position of the gods.
Special knowledge, rather than faith, was the means for the gnostics to reach their goal of spirituality. Knowledge becoming superior to the faith of Jesus Christ, would in its application lead to man made methods and legalisms. This naturally obtained special knowledge is powerless in the spiritual battle against demonic oppositions, deceptions and the greatest trap of all, pride.
The approach through secular or natural spirituality in gaining “knowledge” is totally foreign to the biblical way, yet its exercise can be found in many Christian Churches of today not focused on a New Testament spiritual approach of obtaining knowledge through the truth of the Word of God and the Spirit of Truth and the Author of Truth, Jesus Christ Himself. Much of the preaching, the educational and counseling programs in Churches place their emphasis on the intellectual capacity of man to understand Jesus’ and to solve their problems.
Biblical or Spiritual knowledge is not directly concerned with information but with relationship. Spiritual knowledge is revelatory flowing from fellowship with Christ. It is a revelation or illumination flowing to us from God’s Spirit, (cf. 1 Cor. 2: 9-10). It is a result of our spirit and the faculties of our soul coming into worship and fellowship with our Lord Jesus Christ.
As Paul’s and also Peter’s admonitions were relevant for the survival of the early church, I pray that these scripture references will give us springboard for insight necessary for victorious Christian living today.
Scripture references to full-knowledge (epignosis):
- Ephesians 1:17 ”That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full-knowledge of him:”
- Philippians 1:9 ”And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in full-knowledge and in all judgment;”
- Colossians 1:9-10 ”For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the full-knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the full-knowledge of God;”
- Colossians 2:2 ”That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, into the full-acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”
- Colossians 3:10 ”And have put on the new man, which is renewed into full- knowledge after the image of him that created him:”
- 1 Timothy 2:4 ”Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the full-knowledge of the truth.”
- Titus 1:1 ”Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the full-acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;”
- Philemon 6 ”That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the full-acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.”
- Romans 10:2 ”For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to full-knowledge.“
- Hebrews 10:26 ”For if we sin willfully after that we have received the full-knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,”
- 2 Peter 1:2 ”Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the full-knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,” (7 steps into the full-knowledge of Christ set forth in 2 Pet. 1:4 -7)
- 2 Peter 1:8 ”For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the full-knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “
- 2 Timothy 2:25 ”In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the full-acknowledging of the truth;”
- 2 Timothy 3:7 ”Ever learning, and never able to come to the full-knowledge of the truth.”
- 2 Peter 2:20 ”For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the full-knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. . .”