Did you know that when reading the Bible there is more than one meaning for the word “know?” And knowing the difference makes all the difference. Let me explain.
Let me explain.
Language is an incredible thing, but unfortunately, some words get lost in translation. Gnosis and epignosis are two Greek words used in the Bible for the meaning of “to know.” Don’t freak out on me here because I’m talking about Greek meanings. Please, hang in there. I promise this is going to make sense. Rather than give you the definitions, I’m going to give you an example first.
One of my favorite amusement park rides is called Supreme Scream. Let me tell you, they don’t call it that for nothing!
The Supreme Scream tower stands 325 feet tall. Passengers sit open-air with legs dangling (I don’t advise wearing flip-flops) strapped into a harness. The ride lifts the passengers upward at 8 miles per hour, then pauses briefly at 252 feet where the view is breathtaking! And speaking of breathtaking, the seat suddenly power blasts passengers DOWN at the top speed of 50 miles per hour. Can you say G-FORCE?
Back to our lesson.
I gave you some facts about Supreme Scream and you watched a video. That is gnosis. The difference between gnosis and epignosis is, after knowing the facts, you then experience the ride for yourself. Epignosis is a deeper knowledge. It conveys the idea of an intimate and personal relationship.
This is how God wants us to know Him. Jesus tells us, to know God is to experience eternal life, not merely in the next life (Heaven) but in this life. “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” John 17:3
The word know used above is a form of epignosis and is the same word used for sexual intimacy. It’s the same word Mary used to the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:34, “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?”
So, we could say that gnosis is head knowledge and epignosis is heart knowledge AND head knowledge together.
Here are a few Scriptures with epignosis, experiential knowledge.
Ephesians 1:17 “I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him..”
Philippians 1:9 “I pray that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment..”
Colossians 2:2 “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,”
Peter 1:2-3 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.image of Him who created him,
How do we grow from gnosis to epignosis that God wants for us?
We are not just physical beings. We are spiritual beings as well. We forget this all too often. We don’t just see and experience this life with our physical eyes. Nor will we get to know God by mere study of the Word. That’s just theology. Many Christian have a shallow relationship with theology and their preconceived thoughts about God. But God wants us to know and to experience Him.
- We must be moved in our spirits by the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit is how God convicts everyone in the world of their need for Jesus as Savior (John 16:7-9). As believers, the Holy Spirit moves in our spirits. He directs, guides, comforts, and influences us, as well as produces in us the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). He does this as we get to know Him through the Word of truth.
- Put into Practice what the Spirit teaches Through the Word
We strengthen the muscles that we use physically when we work out. The same thing is true spiritually. If we want to become more loving like Jesus, we must BE loving by the practice of acting lovingly toward others. We are naturally selfish, so we must rely upon the Holy Spirit to help us be more loving. It is a process, just like building physical muscles.
- Do Not Quench the Holy Spirit
When believers do not allow the Spirit to be seen in our actions, we suppress or quench the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). In other words, faith requires action (James
- Do not Grieve the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30)
To grieve the Holy Spirit is to act out in a sinful manner, whether in thought or deed or both without true repentance—meaning it becomes our lifestyle.
Ways to grieve the Holy Spirit from the book of Ephesians: by lying (4:25), by being angry (4:26-27), by stealing (4:28), by cursing (4:29), by being bitter (4:31), by being unforgiving (4:32), and by being sexually immoral (5:3-5).
Bottom line, the experiential relationship God desires with us requires effort and is a process. The question is, are you willing?
Let me tell you how I have been growing my relationship into “knowing” (epignosis) God experientially. I read scripture daily and journal what I have written using the S. O. A. K. method.
S-scripture. I hand-write a passage of scripture.
O-observation. I write what I observed or paraphrase what I read. Sometimes I cross-reference other passages or look up meanings etc.
A–application. I write how I can apply what I have read and written in my life.
K-kneel in prayer. I talk to God about it. I invite the Holy Spirit to convict, advise, and encourage and illuminate me.
This simple journaling process has helped me go from gnosis (head knowledge) to knowing God as my Holy Father and friend. It’s been life-altering! I even decided to write a devotional journal with the help of a dear writer friend and a few other godly women. We have gotten some interest from a few publishing companies. We’ve also had over 100 women from our church complete the journal and they loved it! Just click for more on the devotional study journal.
You can do this on your own too! Start journaling your way to life-change by truly getting to know God!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on knowing God in the comments below.
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Great study on the word, “know”. I love the “soak” idea. Knowledge was my word this year but God begin to show me He wanted deeper from me..that willingness to go beyond what others have taught me to the reality of just Him and me. He alone can increase my knowing and take me deeper…Great post.
Wise Hearted, I’m so pleased this was a helpful post. You are so right, only God can take us to that deeper place. I hope you’ll try the “soak” method. It has blessed me more than I can express.
Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Blessings as you go deeper!
Love the contrast between the two “knows.” I sometimes wish our language was just as colorful and broad as the ones we can read in the Bible. I feel way too often, the English language falls short of what the author’s of the Bible are trying to teach us. This gives much clarity, thanks for sharing.
Dawn, I’m so glad to hear this was a helpful lesson. I was so excited when I discovered how deeply God wants us to “know” Him. I couldn’t wait to pull together a post in hopes of spurring others to desire more from their relationship with the Lord. He is so good!
Grace and Peace to you and yours!
Beckie — what a great contract with the knows and I love the SOAK. A great insight as to why I do know God! 😊
Nice — Del
Nothing matters more than spending time getting to know God and you are so right. I spent years knowing God in my head and then I really submitted to the Holy Spirit and now KNOW God. It changed everything. The past five years took all the Bible knowledge I had grown up with and made it action and purpose and tangible.
Jennifer, You hit the nail on the head! Thanks for sharing a bit of your growing walk with getting to “know” God on a personal level as well intellectually. He wants both 🙂
Blessing to you, dear sister in Christ!
By the way, love your blog!
Thank you for the lesson. It helped open my heart even more.
Jann, your comment made my day. I’m so glad the post helped in opening your heart even more.
Loved your lesson here, Beckie, as I did not know the difference between these Greek words.
We certainly need both of these, knowledge of the head and heart, to fully love God and to follow His Holy Spirit.
Oh, and I really liked your SOAK acronym! I might just have to try it out.
I’m thrilled you’re going to try SOAK journaling. Please, let me know what you think. I’m confident you will be blessed.
Grace and peace, dear sister.
Beckie, I will be sure to let you know how this works for me. Always looking for fresh and inspiring ways to improve my prayer life.
I like your illustration on the difference between knowing and KNOWING (except that I will not KNOW) what the Supreme Scream is in my lifetime :-)).
My desire is to KNOW God in every moment of every day and spending time with Him in His Word is a good way to start.
Brian, I’m with you about desiring to KNOW God in every moment of every day.
By the way, I’m actually afraid of heights which is why I push myself to ride Supreme Scream 🙂
Thanks for commenting.
Such a great teaching, Beckie. This post is somewhat of a confirmation of something God’s been teaching me this week. It began with my thinking about 1 Peter 1:8, specifically, “… Though you have not seen Him, you love Him…” Just think about that, it’s so crazy, Beckie; how can we love a God we’ve never seen? It’s because, through the Holy Spirit, we KNOW Him.
Bill, I am currently reading and “SOAKING” 1 and 2 Peter. Like you, I’m in awe of how God makes it possible for us to KNOW Him through the precious Holy Spirit. It is hard to put into words how loving and wonderful our God is! The Almighty wants us to know Him intimately—it blows my mind.
I’m so glad you enjoyed this teaching. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Grace and peace to you and yours.
Thank you, first of all, for visiting my blog today at “Closed Doors, Open Windows”…that made it possible for me to meet you and come over here to visit your place! And I am so glad that I did! I love your excellent teaching style of writing…I feel like I’ve been to a higher level class…one that I needed! The SOAK method of studying God’s Word is excellent! As I read it, I realized that that is what I do when I am reading and writing…and I didn’t even know it! But that is what works for me…read it, write it, apply it and then talk with the Lord about it in prayer! Probably the hardest part for me is the application portion…sometimes it is easier to read, write and pray, but the actual “doing” part takes practice! Thank you for giving me a guide that will help me APPLY what I am seeing! God bless you , and have a blessed day, my new friend!
Pamela, this was a wonderful message to read on a Sunday morning! I cannot tell you how pleased I am that God used it in such a profound way for you. I agree that the most difficult part is “applying” what the Lord has taught us. This is where the rubber meets the road, right? I’m so grateful our God will give us plenty of opportunities to grow in the area of application. We must just keep pressing on in the race, as Paul says.
I enjoyed your lovely blog and great review of Martha’s books.
Thanks again for stopping by Spotlight! I hope you’ll come back.
Grace and peace to you, dear sister.
Wonderful words. Thank you.
I’m glad you were encouraged, dear brother in Christ.