Have you ever been around a person who seems to “know” every body. They know this person through a friend, and that person through a relative. They know those people through a relative who has a friend who has a relative that knows them. Can that truly be considered knowing someone? What is the definition of the word “know”? The English definition of the verb “to know” means to be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information. According to this definition a person could very well “know” someone else through multiple people without even really meeting that person.
What’s the point? The point is I have grown weary of myself and other people taking God for granted. I took God for granted for many years. Just because a person goes to church semi-consistently they think they “know” God enough to call themselves a Christian. Just because they say a blessing over their food during a meal or two, they consider themselves heirs to the inheritance of heavenly proportions. So many people now a days claim to “know” Jesus intimately without the lifestyle to back it up. The apostle John discusses in his letter, 1 John, about how we can know that we “know” we are children of God.
But first I am going to get academic on you. but have no fear it will be painless. Let’s look at the Greek usage of the word “know”. Many times the English meaning does not make as much of an impact, while the original Greek really drives home what the author meant. So let’s do a very simple and brief word study on the expression “to know” something.
Primarily working in the first book of John, chapter two, here are a couple of the applications, but not all, by the New Testament writers that the Greek language utilizes to apply the English word “know”:
Ginosko – to learn to know, come to know, to know, understand, perceive, have knowledge of. It is used 205 times in the NT, 21 times in 1 John, and four times in chapter two of 1 John.
Oikeios – belonging to a house or family, related by blood, kindred, intimate. It is used 295 times in the NT, eight times in 1
John, and three times in chapter two of 1 John.
So why is this important? It isn’t about how many times these two Greek words are used in 1 John 2, rather it is in the manner in which both of them are used. For example:
- 1 John 2:3-5; By this we know that we have come to know (ginosko) Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I know (ginosko) Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know (ginosko) that we are in Him:
By reading this and applying the vocabulary you might be tempted to think that a person doesn’t really have to intimately know Jesus in order to be considered a child of God. The usage of the word is plain, ginosko simply means to “have a knowledge” of something. Let’s look at another passage in 1 John 2.
- 1 John 2:29; If you know (ginosko) that He is righteous, you know (oikeios) that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
Now this is why learning how to use a concordance is so useful? For one, it is going to help get my point across that knowing God can be done in a couple of different ways, but only one way of knowing Him truly identifies us as His children. So why would the writer use two different words with two different meanings?
We are venturing into some "theological" stuff now. Don’t be afraid of the word theological. It merely means the study of God (theos: God; logia: study of).
We attempting to tear down assumptions of what it means to “know” God. Before we go back to 1 John 2 I want to examine another verse in the gospel of John. Same writer. Same occurrence. John uses the same two Greek words, ginoskos and oikeios, in the same sentence.
- John 14:7 – If you had known (ginosko) Me, you would have known (oikeios) my Father also; from now on you know (ginosko) Him, and have seen Him.
Using the definitions given from Strong’s concordance, let’s substitute the meanings for the words and reread the sentence.
- John 14:7 – If you had come to know and understand (ginosko) Me, you would have become devoted to and intimate with the Father, belonging to the household of God; from now on you understand (ginosko) Him and have seen Him.
Does the meaning of this verse shine through more distinctly now? The implication of the verse is clarified when it is expressed in this fashion. What if we took the same approach with the other verses.
- 1 John 2:3-5; By this we know that we have come to an understanding of (ginosko) Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have knowledge of (ginosko) Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we perceive (ginosko) that we are in Him:
Again we see that the understanding of just merely knowing about Jesus isn’t going to lead us to an intimate relationship with the Father. Verse six goes on to say that we must abide in Him and live the same life that Jesus modeled. Abide can be interpretted as “to be intimate” by closely spending time and imitating Jesus’ example.
- 1 John 2:29; If you have knowledge (ginosko) that He is righteous, you belong to the house of God and intimately understand (oikeios) that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
I have one best friend. He never would have become my best friend had we not spent a lot of time together. Even through the years while there has been distance between us in the form of time and miles, we are still best friends because of consistent efforts to check up on each other to see how the other person is doing. I consider him my brother. I never would have considered him a brother if I just knew of him rather than having known him as inwardly and deeply as I have. The same applies to our Father in heaven.
We know the Father by obeying the Son. We know the Father by following Jesus. We know the Father by trying to live the same kind of life Jesus did. If you don’t make the effort to conform to the ways of Christ every day then you need to do an evaluation. Do you have a knowledge of (ginosko) Christ, or do you belong to the House of God and intimately know (oikeios) Him? John makes it plain:
- 1 John 2:6; Whoever says he abides in Him (God) ought [as a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He (Jesus) walked and conducted Himself.
Now what does it mean if you were to say, “Hey, I know that guy!”?