A Biblical Understanding of Knowledge and Wisdom
by Dr Surya Kumar Daimari
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Etymologically the two words, ‘Knowledge and Wisdom’ are interchangeable in meaning. According to Longman’s Dictionary, ‘Knowledge’ means understanding, learning and information about something, while ‘Wisdom’ means quality of being wise. ‘Wise’ means one having large experiences and much knowledge. From the biblical point of view, however, the two words are totally different from one another in meaning and concept. In Colossians 2:3 Jesus is said to be the source of all knowledge and wisdom.
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
Two different words are used for knowledge and wisdom both in Heb and Greek. ‘Knowledge’ in Heb is ‘YADA’ and ‘GLOSIOUS’ in Greek. On the other hand, ‘Wisdom’ in Heb is ‘HOKMA’ and ‘SOPHIUS’ in Greek. GLOSIOUS in Greek refers to the intellectual knowledge that comes all from our human brain which is purely a mental conception. SOPHIUS on the other hand, means wisdom of God or the mind of God.
Knowledge comprises all the human experiences, understanding, intelligence, aptitudes, skills, reasoning and memory powers. According to Webster New Collegiate Dictionary, knowledge is described as
1. Familiarity gained by actual experience, practical skills.
2. Acquaintance with facts.
3. The act or state of understanding; clear perception of truth.
4. That which is gained and preserved by knowing, enlightenment and learning.
James Orr defines ‘Knowledge’ like the following,
“knowledge strictly is the apprehension by the mind of some fact or truth in accordance with its true nature; in a personal relations the intellectual act is necessarily conjoined with the element of affection and will” (ISBF, III,1819)
The Intellectual Knowledge:
The knowledge which is conceived in our brain is the intellectual knowledge. This Intellectual knowledge is the result of our brain work. Our human brain is the seat of understanding, intelligence, aptitude, reasoning, memory etc. The knowledge when we speak from intellectual point of view involves the following—
1. The knowledge of the world, the universe.
2. The knowledge of the natural sciences, the scientific world, the scientific truths and principles.
3. The knowledge of literature, history etc.
4. The knowledge of doing things or ability to do.
5. Intelligence, aptitude, reasoning, memory, understanding etc.
Men on this world are on the run to catch up the thing called knowledge which God has granted the man to awesome extend in this last days. But we need to acknowledge the fact that God is the author of all knowledge. Most of us are not aware of the fact that “All these come from the Lord Almighty, wonderful in counsel and magnificent in wisdom.” Is 28:29
The Human Brain:
Our human brain which is the seat of all understanding and knowledge can be described as the huge store house or mega store house or mega power house. Our human brain is truly a wonderful gift of God to mankind. It is important that we understand what the gift really is. The nervous system is meticulously a marvelous system that God has inducted in our human body by which our body and mind become alive and active.
The Human brain system is divided into two major parts. They are—
1.The brain located inside the skull and
2. The spinal cord located in the vertebral column.
The brain inside the skull has again three parts—
(i) Cerebrum: This is the largest part of the brain and the seat of all knowledge, intelligence, memory, imagination and will power.
(ii) Cerebellum: It has large mass with ridges and furrows. It is the regulator of muscular movement.
(iii) Medulla Oblongata: This lowermost part of the brain in the vertebral columns controls the involuntary actions.
It is really wonderful to see that our brain is capable of storing large amount of information equal to 50,00000 sets of Encyclopedia Britannica as in the modern day computer. It has also been said by the scientists that our human brain can work better than any computer having power consumption equal to 20 watt light bulb and a massive storage capacity of 100 trillion bits of information. Owe !(Sources of information: ‘Discovering Human Body’—Manorama Year Book 2008). But why are we so helpless and say we have no brain ? The reason why very often we think we are backward and have no brain may be because we do not utilize our brain adequately or the way we should. A computer may have hundreds of functions but it will not work unless they are used, so is our brain. Our human brain should be cultured through exercise and training. It will remain dull and get rust if we do not use it. It has been said by the scientists that most people use only 10% of brain power or mind power. So, 90% of mind power remains hidden and unused. It has also been said that when a human being use only 30% of his brain , he can do mighty things in this world. It is like a small plot of land that God has given us to be cultivated properly and get harvest hundred fold.
What is WISDOM?
Is Wisdom an intellectual phenomena?
Can Wisdom be defined without God? Or, Can wisdom be gained without God?
Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia defines wisdom as the following-
“Wisdom is the judicious application of knowledge. It is a deep understanding and realization of people, things, events or situations, resulting in the ability to apply perceptions, judgments and actions in keeping with this understanding. It often requires control of ones emotional reactions (the passions) so that universal principles, reason and knowledge prevail to determine one’s actions. Wisdom is also the comprehension of what is true coupled with optimum judgment as to action. Synonyms include: sagacity, discernment, or insight.”
The question is however, who is capable of this wisdom?
A.W.Tozer and J.I. Packer have defined wisdom as follows-
“Wisdom is the power to see, and the inclination to choose, the best and the highest goal, together with the surest means of attaining it. Wisdom is, in fact, the practical side of moral goodness. As such, it is found in its fullness only in God. He alone is naturally and entirely and invariably wise.”
Thus, Wisdom in true sense of the term, cannot be defined without God, because, wisdom is the very personality of God.
“With Him are wisdom and might. To Him belong counsel and understanding.” Job. 40:28
“Oh, the depth of the riches both of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unreachable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways.” Rom11:33
“His understanding is infinite. Psalms147:5
The Bible however, speaks of two kinds of wisdom,--the worldly wisdom and the true wisdom, that is , the wisdom of God.
The worldly wisdom is limited to human ability and intelligence.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 14:12 (KJV)
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, the Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” ICor 3:19-20(KJV)
The true wisdom is always from God.
“For the Lord giveth wisdom….Proverbs 2:6 (KJV)
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom….” Psalm 111:10 (KJV)
WISDOM Described in the Bible:
Wisdom has been described as
1….The Principal thing.Proverb4:7
2…..more precious than rabies, better than gold, fine gold, choice silver.
3. It is like a crown. Proverb4:9
4. It is like ‘ A life giving tree.’ Proverb 3:18 cf Rev.22:2
Personification of WISDOM:
Personification means giving to human qualities or attributes to something. For example, ‘Beauty’ is sometimes described by poets with a beautiful girl having beautiful eyes, beautiful hair, hands and feet who can smile, dance and sing with her amazing beauty. While knowledge is described as intellectual , wisdom to our surprise is personified in the O.T. in the book of Proverbs mainly, in chapter 8. Wisdom is here not mere skill or intelligence, a product of our intellect or mind but a person—God Himself.
1. Wisdom speaks out like a man:
Does not wisdom call out? Prov. 8:1
To you , O men, I call out; I raise my voice to all mankind. Prov..8:4
My mouth speaks what is truth. Prov. 8:7 cf John. 14:6; 8:32; 18:32
I wisdom , dwell together with prudence; I posses knowledge and discretion.
2.Pre-existence of Wisdom: V22-25
The Lord brought me forth as the first of his works, before his deeds of old.
I was appointed from eternity , from the beginning , before the world began ,
V23 cf John 17:5; Col.1:15-17
When there was no oceans,……..
When there were no springs abounding with water;
Before the hills, I was given birth,
Before he made the earth or its fields or any of the dust of the world,
It is wonderful to see that the Bible speaks about the pre-existence of our Lord Jesus Christ, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation………….all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Col. 1:15-17
3. His co-existence and co-equality with God: V 27-31
I was there
When he set the heavens in place,
When he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,
When he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains
Of the deep,
When he gave the sea its boundary soothe waters would not overstep his
When he marked out the foundations of the earth ,
Then I was the craftsman at his side, I was filled with delight day after
Rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and
Delighting in mankind.
The co-existence and co-equality of our Lord Jesus has been described in John1:1-4,
“In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
4.Blessing of Wisdom: V32-35
The Wisdom claims,
(i)…blessed are those who keep my ways…V32
(ii) Blessed is the man who listens to me , watching daily at my doors,…V34
Jesus also said it,
“Blessed are you when people insult you; persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you BECAUSE OF ME.” Matthew5:11
(iii)It brings prosperity. Proverbs4:8
(iv) It gives honor. Proverbs3:16
(v) It brings riches. Proverbs3:16
(vi) It gives the length of days. Proverbs3:16
6. Wisdom, the Giver of life:
“For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord.” V35
Cf John 10:10, 28; I John 5:12
Who is this WISDOM in the Old Testament? The personification of
Wisdom is so striking that it has become ,
“AN *ADUMBRATION* OF CHRIST.”
Jesus Christ Himself said,
“I have come that they may have life , and have it to the full.” John10:10
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish ;no one can snatch them out of my hand.” John10:28
Jesus is also referred to as our wisdom.
“Christ is the *EPITOM* of all wisdom.” Eph.3:10
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom .” Col.2:3
“Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God”…..
Who of God is made unto us WISDOM and righteousness, and
Sanctification, and redemption.” I Cor.1:24
What is then true WISDOM?
Isaiah 11:2 says, “……..the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, (that is) the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding, the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord.”
This prophetic version has been fulfilled only in the person of Jesus Christ. And it is through Jesus that we can have the Spirit of Wisdom and Understanding , the Spirit of Counsel and Might, the Spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the Lord. Wisdom is a supernatural gift of God. Wisdom has been described as one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit in Cor11:8. The Spirit of Wisdom , in true sense , is the mind of Christ. And it is the Holy Spirit that helps us produce the mind of Christ within us and transform us in His likeness. Thus, from purely biblical point of view Jesus Christ our Lord is our true wisdom. So, Wisdom is knowing Jesus personally, growing in Jesus every day, and walking with Jesus daily. Wisdom provides guidance in the way of righteousness (Proverbs4:10-19). It is Jesus who gives us knowledge and wisdom (Colossians 2:3), the understanding of good and evil and leads us in the way of righteousness. When knowledge can be achieved through experience and through educational pursuit, wisdom cannot be achieved in such manner. It is only by knowing God through faith in Jesus. This can truly happen when we read and meditate upon the words of God daily and obey His words It is only Jesus who can make you a man with wisdom, a man with sagacity, a man with discernment and a man with insight.
*Adumbration*: Shadow, the very person.
*Epitome*: A complete or condensed representation of anything.
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