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Knowledge

Updated: Jul 4, 2023



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In our series, we are exploring a text from 2 Peter 1:5-9. Peter talks about "adding to our faith" (2 Peter 1:5). Peter expects that we will grow in the Lord. Growth and maturity in Christ is Peter's prescription for standing against false teaching and doctrines filtering into the Church.


Last week we considered Goodness. Peter calls for us to grow into moral excellence or a character that stands out and is worthy of praise. This lesson will consider Peter's call for Christians to add to their faith knowledge.


2 Peter 1:5–9

“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.”


Information Overload


We live in a culture saturated with information. Some have described it as information overload. Think about how much data we are exposed to daily, from constant 24/7 news streams, neverending feeds on social media, and email notifications that don't stop. We are overloaded with information so much that we don't have time to process the information we receive before we are hit with more. In this constant cycle, we seem to be hamsters running on a wheel. We are running in perpetual motion and don't know how to stop it!


Peter, though, is not asking us to acquire more information. He is challenging us to add to our faith knowledge. What is the difference?


Information is facts, details, or data about a subject. "Knowledge is awareness, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education."(1) Peter is not asking Christians to acquire general knowledge on various topics or subjects. He is asking us to acquire specific knowledge.


Knowledge In The Greco-Roman World


Knowledge was highly valued in the Ancient Near East. "Greek philosophers saw philosophical knowledge as the key to changing people's behavior..."(2) You may recall Paul's address at the Areopagus in Acts 17.


Acts 17:19–21

"And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak? For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing."


In a culture where philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle were both influential and highly valued, as they are today, knowledge was something greatly desired. We often look back on ancient cultures and consider them less intellectual than our own. So often, this is not the case, and it was not the case in the first century. The Greco-Roman world was a highly intellectual world in which knowledge was valued.


Knowledge of Jesus


Peter desires Christians to grow in specific knowledge, not just general knowledge. Peter wants that Christians grow in their knowledge of our Lord and Savior. Notice his final words penned in this short letter:


2 Peter 3:18

"but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen."


Growing In Our Knowledge of Jesus


What does it mean to grow in our knowledge of Jesus? What specific knowledge does Peter desire for us to understand?


Looking back to the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament), people viewed knowledge in a relational understanding more than just one of facts and information. Knowledge was an "...understanding of the present based on an experiential understanding of the past.”(3) It was a different concept of knowledge than we often hold. Their understanding of knowledge was based on God's relational covenant with them as He had led them out of captivity.


This relational knowledge is carried forward in the New Testament writings. Jesus possessed divine knowledge based on His intimate relationship with the Father.


As a young boy, Jesus astonished teachers in the Temple with His insights and understanding. When His parents asked Him why He had wandered away from His family, Jesus responded, "...Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). Jesus was connected to the Father.


Jesus taught with authority, unlike the scribes (Matt. 7:28-29). Jesus also had an understanding of His ministry while on Earth. He knew He was to be betrayed, handed over to be put to death, and on the third day would be raised from among the dead to eternal life (Matt. 17:22-23).


The knowledge of the Father and His knowledge of kingdom was shared by those who experienced life with Jesus. His disciples walked, ate, laughed, and cried with Him. They watched Him heal blind people, cure the sick, and call to the outcast, all while Jesus shared His knowledge and understanding with them. He committed all these things to His disciples as He said come, "Follow Me" (Matt. 4:19). He left His life to be shared.


Matthew 28:19–20

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.”


Jesus desired for His life to be shared with others as they experience Him.


Understanding Knowledge


We are to add to our faith knowledge. Peter desires Christians to know Jesus. It's not adding to our faith a general understanding of our world. Although, I don't understand the Scriptures to discourage us from seeking to understand our world. It's adding to our faith knowledge of Jesus. Understanding Him, His purposes, and His vision of the kingdom.


We could gain everything, but if we don't know Christ, Paul records, and Peter would agree, it amounts to rubbish.


Philippians 3:7–8

"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ"


Our desire as Christians should be to "gain Christ." To gain an understanding of Him, His purposes, and His mission. Our desire should be a continual understanding of Jesus. A constant and continual growth in our knowledge of Him as we add to our faith.


Do you know Christ?


Do you know of His love and revelation of good news for our world and you?


Are we growing daily in our knowledge of Him?



Works Cited:

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


1. "Knowledge and Information." Encyclopedia Britannica, www.britannica.com/dictionary/eb/qa/Knowledge-and-Information. Accessed 1 July 2023.

2. Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, 2nd ed., IVP Academic, Downers Grove, IL, 2014, pp. 700.

3. Jeremiah K. Garrett, "Knowledge," in The Lexham Bible Dictionary, ed. John D. Barry et al. (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2016).


resources:

article: Knowledge

handout: Knowledge

slides (PDF): Knowledge

series image: Increase







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