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Text Sermons : Greek Word Studies : Know (1097) ginosko

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Knowing (1097) (ginosko [ginōskō]; English derivatives - prognosis, gnostic, Gnosticism) means to acquire information through some modality, as through sense perception (hearing). However ginosko involves experiential knowledge, not merely the accumulation of known facts. Ginosko is one of the major verbs of the Bible and because of its numerous uses, it is not surprising that Greek lexicographers ascribe a number of nuances of meaning including to get to know, come to understand, to ascertain, to have intimate relations with another, etc. The various meanings are outlined, discussed and illustrated in the notes that follow. Keep in mind that the basic meaning of ginosko is to know by experience.

Knowledge possessed through the intellectual process of learning is one thing. Knowledge gained by experience, by an active relationship between the one who knows and the person or thing known, is far superior to the former. Ginosko describes the latter quality of knowledge and is what every Christ follower should desire as their personal, permanent possession regarding the Person of Christ (e.g., see ginosko in Jn 8:32, Jn 17:3, Php 3:10).

In many of the NT uses ginosko refers not just to knowledge in a secular sense but to spiritual knowledge. As Puritan Stephen Charnock said "A man man be theologically knowing (Ed: "Pharisee-like") and spiritually ignorant. (See discussion of Jn 7:17 below which clearly links spiritual gnosis or knowledge with obedience.) In a related aphorism Charnock quipped that "Knowledge in the head is as money in the purse; knowledge in the heart is as money for our use."

A common definition in many references is "to know by experience or observation." This definition of ginosko is seen in James 1:4 MacArthur commenting that...

As Christians, we know from our own experience, as well as from God’s Word, that the testing of [our] faith produces endurance. We have learned that His promise is indeed true, for, after we have endured suffering, affliction, or testings, we have discovered that our trust in the Lord is not only intact but is all the stronger for the testing. (Macarthur J. James. Moody or Logos or Wordsearch)

Ginosko is when you experientially learn something, either in a classroom or more often in the "classroom of life". Ginosko is that knowledge that comes by obeying the Lord. You may intellectually know some truth but you don’t really "know" it experientially until you surrender and obey the truth. In other words ginosko speaks of knowledge that goes beyond the merely factual and into the realm of the experiential (Christianity is to be "felt"!).

By extension, ginosko was used of the intimate relationship between husband and wife (see Mt 1:25 below) and between God and His people (Jn 17:3). Stated another way ginosko frequently implies an active relation between the one who knows and the person known.

Charles Swindoll adds that ginosko...

refers to intelligent comprehension with an emphasis on the process or act of knowing. Throughout John’s literature, “knowing” and “obeying” are inseparable (as they are in Old Testament literature). In the Upper Room, Jesus placed great emphasis on His followers knowing the mind of God so they might become integral to His redemptive plan. The disciples struggled with lack of understanding until they received the Holy Spirit. (Insights on John)

Robertson McQuilkin in his subsection "Prerequisites for Interpreting Scripture" has this comment on John 7:17

Regeneration is essential (Ed: To enable one to interpret Scripture - 1Co 2:11,12, 14, 15, 16), but it alone will not qualify the believer to understand the truth of God. The believer must have confidence in Scripture, for faith is not mere intellectual assent. Rather, faith means commitment, yielding to the Book; to its message, its meaning, and its divine Author. Faith predisposes one to discover the meaning the biblical writer intended, not to read into the text his own desired meaning. Only the one with full confidence in the Scripture will make the commitment necessary to fully understand its meaning.

If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself. (John 7:17)

A person must be determined to obey the Word if he expects to understand it. (Ed: In other words knowing [ginosko] God's Word is integrally related to obeying God's Word. To jettison the latter and expect the former to be successful is a delusion!) Commitment to obedience has another characteristic: hard work. The person truly committed to obey God will study to show himself approved to God, a hard worker who has no need to be ashamed of his workmanship. "Faith" does not mean the Bible student lays aside his intellect and relies on feelings or subjective impulses to understand Scripture. No, the kind of faith that believes the Bible is God's own Word will drive the student to use all the resources God has given him to understand Scripture so that he may obey it....

Some people do not understand the Bible because they do not believe it is true, or at least, they do not believe that all parts of it are true. Others do not understand (Ed: They have "No ginosko" knowledge) it because they are unwilling to obey it. (Understanding and Applying the Bible or on Wordsearch Bible Software - a book I highly recommend) .

Vine writes that...

In the NT ginosko frequently indicates a relation between the person “knowing” and the object known; in this respect, what is “known” is of value or importance to the one who knows, and hence the establishment of the relationship, e.g., especially of God’s “knowledge,” 1Cor 8:3, “if any man love God, the same is known of Him”; Gal 4:9, “to be known of God”; here the “knowing” suggests approval and bears the meaning “to be approved”; so in 2Ti 2:19; cf. Jn 10:14, 27; Ge 18:19; Nah 1:7; the relationship implied may involve remedial chastisement, Amos 3:2. The same idea of appreciation as well as “knowledge” underlies several statements concerning the “knowledge” of God and His truth on the part of believers, e.g., Jn 8:32; 14:20, 31; 17:3; Gal. 4:9 (1st part); 1Jn 2:3-13, 14; 4:6, 8, 16; 5:20; such “knowledge” is obtained, not by mere intellectual activity, but by operation of the Holy Spirit consequent upon acceptance of Christ.

Carpenter differentiates two similar words for know in Greek...

Eido, related to the Greek word for “seeing,” denotes “perception” and “absolute knowledge.” Once something is known, it is known for good—nothing can be added to it. Ginosko denotes “inceptive and ongoing knowledge.” It designates ongoing, personal knowledge, which implies a relationship between the person who knows and the person who is known. This knowledge can grow and mature. By way of illustration, we can “know” (eido) someone’s name immediately, but it will take a lifetime to really “know” (ginosko) that person. (Ed: In fairness not all resources do not make clear cut distinctions between these two verbs. See more discussion below)

Donald Grey Barnhouse has the following summary of the nuances of ginosko...

The Greek verb ginosko occurs many times in the New Testament, with a dozen shades of meaning. To know is to feel (Mark 5:29; Luke 8:46); to observe (Mark 8:17; 12:12); to perceive, discern, recognize (Luke 7:39; Gal. 3:7; John 4:1; 5:6); to learn, discover (Mark 5:43; Phil 1:12; 4:5); to make certain (Mark 6:38; John 4:53); to be aware of (Matt. 24:50; Heb. 10:24); to be acquainted with (Matt. 25:24; Ro 2:18); to comprehend (Luke 18:34; John 3:10); to be expert in (Matt. 16:3); to be familiar with (Ro 7:7); and to decide (Luke 16:4). (God's Glory : Romans 14:13-16:27).

Louw Nida summarizes the different nuances of meaning of ginosko in the NT as follows...

1) To know, recognize, be aware (Ro 1:21) - to possess information about, to have knowledge of, to be acquainted with

2) To learn, acquire information, implying personal involvement or experience (Mk 6:38)

Mounce adds that Ginosko "can mean “to learn” or “to possess factual knowledge.” For example, Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that he is sending Tychicus to tell them how he is doing, that they may “know” how he is (Eph 6:22; see also Mt 6:3; Mk 15:10; Jn 19:14; Rom 6:6; Phil 4:5; Col 4:8; Jas 5:20; 2Pet. 1:20).

It can also refer to learning something by observation or noticing something. For example, when Jesus was twelve years old and his parents took him to Jerusalem, they did not “know” he was not with them on the return trip to Galilee (Lk 2:43). When Paul spoke before the Sanhedrin, he came to “know” (i.e., notice, realize) that some of them were Pharisees and some were Sadducees, and this observation provided him an avenue to introduce confusion into the meeting of his accusers (Acts 23:6; see also Lk 1:22; Jn 4:53; Acts 19:34; 21:24). (Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words or Logos)

3) To be familiar with, learn to know, through personal experience (Jn 17:3; 1Jn 2:3) - to learn to know a person through direct personal experience, implying a continuity of relationship

4) To understand, come to know, perceive (Ro 7:7) - to come to an understanding as the result of ability to experience and learn

5) To acknowledge or to indicate that one does know (1Co 8:3)

6) To have sexual intercourse (Mt 1:25; Lk 1:34);

7) To do secretly (Mt 6:3) - to do something without letting the public know. (Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains. United Bible societies or Wordsearch)

BDAG summarizes ginosko as follows...

1) To arrive at a knowledge of someone or something - to know, know about, make acquaintance of (Mt 13:11, Mk 4:11, Lk 8:10, Lk 12:47, Jn 8:32 -see note below, Ro 7:7-see note below, 2Co 2:4)

2) To acquire information through some means, learn (of), ascertain, find out (Acts 22:30, Col 4:8, 1Th 3:5, Acts 9:24, Mt 9:30)

3) To grasp the significance or meaning of something, understand, comprehend (Mt 24:39, 21:45, 24:32 Mk 4:13, 12:12; Lk 18:34;Ac 8:30. Jn 3:10; 10:6, 12:16; Jn 8:27, 28, 43; 1Cor 2:8;11; 14)

4) To be aware of something, perceive, notice, realize (Mt 22:18, Lk 8:46, Mt 16:8; 26:10; Mk 8:17.

5) To have sexual intercourse with (Mt 1:25-see note below, Lk 1:34 - see note below; Lxx of Ge 4:1)

6) To have come to the knowledge of, have come to know, know

7) To indicate that one does know - acknowledge, recognize. (Mt 7:23, Jn 1:10) (Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature or Wordsearch)

Nelson Study Bible says ginosko...

can designate ongoing, personal knowledge, which implies a relationship between the knower and the person who is known. (Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. The Nelson Study Bible: NKJV. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)

Ginosko - 222x in 205v - Mt 1:25; 6:3; 7:23; 9:30; 10:26; 12:7, 15, 33; 13:11; 16:3, 8; 21:45; 22:18; 24:32f, 39, 43, 50; 25:24; 26:10; Mark 4:13; 5:29, 43; 6:38; 7:24; 8:17; 9:30; 12:12; 13:28f; 15:10, 45; Luke 1:18, 34; 2:43; 6:44; 7:39; 8:10, 17, 46; 9:11; 10:11, 22; 12:2, 39, 46ff; 16:4, 15; 18:34; 19:15, 42, 44; 20:19; 21:20, 30f; 24:18, 35; John 1:10, 48; 2:24f; 3:10; 4:1, 53; 5:6, 42; 6:15, 69; 7:17, 26f, 49, 51; 8:27, 28, 32, 43, 52, 55; 10:6, 14f, 27, 38; 11:57; 12:9, 16; 13:7, 12, 28, 35; 14:7, 9, 17, 20, 31; 15:18; 16:3, 19; 17:3, 7f, 23, 25; 19:4; 21:17; Acts 1:7; 2:36; 8:30; 9:24; 17:13, 19f; 19:15, 35; 20:34; 21:24, 34, 37; 22:14, 30; 23:6; Rom 1:21; 2:18; 3:17; 6:6; 7:1, 7, 15; 10:19; 11:34; 1 Cor 1:21; 2:8, 11, 14, 16; 3:20; 4:19; 8:2f; 13:9, 12; 14:7, 9; 2 Cor 2:4, 9; 3:2; 5:16, 21; 8:9; 13:6; Gal 2:9; 3:7; 4:9; Eph 3:19; 5:5; 6:22; Phil 1:12; 2:19, 22; 3:10; 4:5; Col 4:8; 1Th 3:5; 2Ti 1:18; 2:19; 3:1; Heb 3:10; 8:11; 10:34; 13:23; Jas 1:3; 2:20; 5:20; 2 Pet 1:20; 3:3; 1 John 2:3ff, 13f, 18, 29; 3:1, 6, 16, 19f, 24; 4:2, 6ff, 13, 16; 5:2, 20; 2 John 1:1; Rev 2:23f; 3:3, 9

Ginosko in the NAS - ascertaining(1), aware(7), certainty(1), come to know(1), comprehend(1), felt(1), find(3), found(2), kept...a virgin*(1), knew(13), know(104), know how(1), knowing(3), known(25), knows(14), learn(1), learned(1), perceived(1), perceiving(2), put(1), realize(3), recognize(7), recognized(1), recognizing(1), sure(4), take notice(1), unaware*(2), understand(11), understood(6), virgin*(1).

Ginosko is used over 500x in the non-apocryphal Septuagint (Lxx). Gen 2:17; 3:5, 7, 22; 4:1, 9, 17, 25; 8:11; 9:24; 12:11; 15:8, 13; 18:21; 19:8; 20:6f; 21:26; 22:12; 24:14, 16, 21, 44; 27:2; 29:5; 30:26, 29; 33:13; 38:9, 16, 26; 39:8, 23; 42:33f; 44:27; Exod 2:25; 6:7; 7:5, 17; 9:29; 10:2; 14:4, 18; 16:6, 12; 18:11; 22:10; 25:22; 29:42, 46; 30:6, 36; 31:13; 33:13; Lev 4:14, 23, 28; 5:3f, 17; Num 11:23; 12:6; 14:34; 16:5, 28, 30; 17:4; 22:19; 31:17, 35; 32:23; Deut 4:39; 7:9, 15; 8:5; 9:3, 6, 24; 11:2; 18:21; 29:6; 34:10; Josh 3:7, 10; 4:24; 22:22, 31; 23:13f; Jdg 2:7, 10; 3:1f, 4; 4:9; 6:29, 37; 11:39; 13:16, 21; 14:4, 18; 16:9, 20; 17:13; 18:5, 14; 19:22, 25; 20:34; 21:12; Ruth 3:4, 14; 4:4; 1 Sam 1:19; 2:10; 3:7, 20; 4:6; 6:9; 10:24; 12:17; 14:29, 38; 17:46f; 20:3, 7, 9, 33, 39; 21:2; 22:3, 6, 17; 23:9, 22f; 24:11, 20; 25:17; 26:4, 12; 28:1f, 14; 2 Sam 3:25, 36f; 5:12; 14:1, 20, 22; 15:11; 17:19; 18:29; 19:6, 20, 35; 22:44; 24:2, 13; 1 Kgs 1:4, 11, 18; 2:5, 9, 32, 35, 37, 42, 44; 8:38f, 43, 60; 17:24; 18:36f; 20:7, 13, 22, 28; 2 Kgs 2:3, 5; 4:1, 9, 39; 5:7f, 15; 7:12; 17:26; 19:19, 27; 1 Chr 12:32; 14:2; 21:2; 28:9; 29:17; 2 Chr 6:29f, 33; 12:8; 13:5; 25:16; 32:13; 33:13; Ezra 4:15; 5:17; Neh 2:16; 4:11, 15; 6:16; 9:10; 13:10; Esth 4:11, 17; Job 5:24f, 27; 9:11; 11:6; 12:9, 20; 19:3, 6, 13, 29; 20:4; 21:19; 22:13; 23:3, 5; 24:14; 28:7; 34:4, 33; 35:15; 36:5, 26; 37:7; 39:1; Ps 1:6; 4:3; 9:10, 16, 20; 14:3f; 18:43; 20:6; 35:8, 11, 15; 36:10; 37:18; 39:4, 6; 40:9; 41:11; 44:21; 46:10; 48:3; 50:11; 51:3; 53:4; 56:9; 59:13; 67:2; 69:5, 19; 71:15; 73:11, 16, 22; 74:4, 9; 77:19; 78:3, 6; 79:6, 10; 81:5; 82:5; 83:18; 87:4; 88:12; 89:15; 90:11; 91:14; 92:6; 94:11; 95:10; 100:3; 101:3; 103:14; 104:19; 109:27; 119:75, 79, 125, 152; 135:5; 138:6; 139:1f, 4, 14, 23; 140:12; 142:3; 144:3; Pr 1:2; 4:1; 9:10; 10:9; 13:15, 20; 15:14; 22:17; 24:12, 22; 27:1; 29:20; 30:3f; Eccl 1:17; 2:14; 3:12, 14; 4:13; 6:5, 10; 7:25; 8:5, 7, 12, 16f; 9:5, 11f; 10:14f; 11:2, 5f, 9; Song 1:8; 6:12; Isa 1:3; 5:19; 7:15f; 8:4, 9; 9:9; 11:9; 15:4; 19:21; 26:11; 29:15, 24; 30:15; 33:13; 37:20; 40:13, 21, 28; 41:20, 22f, 26; 42:16, 25; 43:10, 19; 44:18ff; 45:3f, 6, 20f; 47:8, 10f; 48:4, 6ff; 49:23; 50:4, 7; 51:12; 52:6; 56:10; 58:2f; 59:12; 60:16; 61:9; 63:16; 66:14; Jer 2:16, 19, 23; 3:13; 5:1, 4; 6:15, 27; 8:7; 9:3, 16, 24; 11:18f; 12:3; 13:12; 14:20; 15:12, 15; 16:21; 17:9; 18:23; 22:16; 26:15; 28:9; 30:24; 31:19, 34; 32:8; 33:3; 36:19; 38:24; 40:14f; 41:4; 42:19; 44:3, 15, 28; 48:30; 50:24; Ezek 2:5; 6:13; 7:27; 10:20; 12:15f; 13:9, 23; 17:24; 20:5, 9, 12, 20; 22:16; 23:49; 26:6; 28:22ff, 26; 29:6, 9, 16, 21; 30:8, 19, 25f; 32:9, 15; 33:29, 33; 34:15, 27, 30; 35:4, 9, 11f, 15; 36:11, 23, 36, 38; 37:6, 13f, 28; 38:16, 23; 39:6ff, 22f, 28; Dan 1:4; 2:3, 9, 22, 30; 3:15; 4:9, 17, 25f, 32; 5:21ff; 6:10, 15; 9:25; 10:20; 11:32, 38; 12:7; Hos 2:8; 5:3; 6:3; 7:9; 8:2; 9:2; 11:3, 12; 13:4; Amos 3:2, 10; 5:12; Jonah 1:10, 12; 4:2, 11; Mic 3:1; 4:9, 12; 6:5; Nah 1:7; 3:17; Hab 2:14; 3:2; Zeph 3:5; Zech 2:9; 4:5; 6:15; 7:14; 11:11;

Here are some representative OT uses of ginosko...

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Genesis 3:7)

Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing (Heb = yada; Lxx = ginosko) good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever " (Genesis 3:22)

Comment: Adam come to know by experience, a bad experience!

God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice (Literally He "knew them" - Heb = yada; Lxx = ginosko) of them. (Ex 2:25)

Comment: In this context ginosko clearly does not mean to simply know mentally (to apprehend intellectually) but to know experientially, specifically to set one's heart upon and regard with favor. Compare similar uses of ginosko in the Lxx translation of Amos 3:2. In Psalm 1:6 God will take personal of the godly or righteous, in the sense that He will notice them or have regard for them.

But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin (Literally = know ye your sin. Heb = yada; Lxx = ginosko) will find you out. (Numbers 32:23)

McGee comments: This verse says that your sin will find you out. There will come that time when the chickens come home to roost. “Do not be deceived. God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, this he shall also reap” (Gal 6:7-note). I don’t care who you are, or where you are, how you are, or when you are, your sins will find you out. In the way that you sin, that is the way it is going to come home to you sometime. That is the meaning of this statement, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:20-42 Mp3)

Comment: This verse in a sense personifies "sin" as that which will one day like a witness expose us for who we really are!

So let us know (Heb = yada; Lxx = ginosko), let us press on to know (Heb = yada; Lxx = ginosko) the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth. (Ho 6:3)


Below are representative uses of ginosko in the NT. The first use of ginosko is

And (Joseph) knew (ginosko) her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. (Mt 1:25KJV, Mt 1:25ESV).

Comment: Knowing in this context speaks of the most intimate experience one can have with another individual, that of sexual relations. In Luke 1:35 Mary literally says "a husband I do not know (ginosko)" which is another way of saying she is a virgin. Thayer refers to this as a "Hebraistic euphemism" noting that there were similar uses of ginosko in the Lxx in a number of passages (Ge 4:1, 17; 19:8; 1Sa 1:19)

And then I (Jesus) will declare to them, ‘I never knew (ginosko) you; depart (present imperative of verb apochoreo = move away from, with emphasis upon separation) from Me, you who practice (present tense = as your lifestyle - such a person may try to claim they were born again but there was never any demonstrable evidence that they were truly a new creation) lawlessness.’ (Mt 7:23-note)

Comment: Ginosko in this context alludes to an intimate, personal, experiential relationship that believers have with Christ by grace through faith. The individual being addressed demonstrates by their habitual practice of lawlessness (which John calls "sin" 1Jn 3:4) that they lack this relationship - they never knew Him, so He says He never knew them! What a horrible shock this will be for those who have deluded themselves in this life, thinking they were believers when they were not believers! Note well - Jesus is not saying they lost their salvation (a heretical teaching), but that they never had it!

Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. (Mk 5:29).

Comment: Felt is ginosko which means she knew by her experience, the specific experience that her abnormal flow of blood had ceased.

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. (Jn 1:10)

Comment: In this context ginosko is not just an intellectual rejection but entails a willful refusal to know Jesus experientially, a refusal to accept or believe in Him. To paraphrase Richard Baxter, ignorance was their disease and knowledge of Him was their only cure!

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know (ginosko) of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. (Jn 7:17)
Comment: This verse teaches that there is a process in getting spiritual knowledge and it primarily involves my obedience to the Word of God. As I obey the truth I have heard, I began to "assimilate" that truth. Thus Jesus clearly associates the obtaining of experiential knowledge (ginosko) with a willingness to obey God's will. This virtue involves a diligent study and pursuit of truth in the Word of God. This kind of knowledge does not come automatically but calls for obedience.

Thomas Adams related knowing with obedience when he said that "Practice is the soul of knowledge."

So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue (remain, abide, remaining in the sphere of and under the influence of the Word of God) in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know (ginosko) the truth, and the truth will make you free (eleutheroo).” (Jn 8:31-32).
Swindoll: The Greek word is ginosko, one of at least four terms John could have chosen to mean “know.” Unlike the others, ginosko stresses understanding rather than mere sensory observation. It is closely related to the Hebrew verb yada, which Jesus likely used, and describes the most intimate kind of knowledge (Ed: Lxx uses ginosko in Ge 3:5; In Ge 4:1 ginosko = intimate relation between man and wife). Moreover, as one “knows” the truth, he or she is “made free.” The Greek term (eleutheroo) suggests release from indentured servanthood. When someone in the ancient world became indebted beyond his or her means of paying, one solution was to exchange a term of slavery for relief from the debt. Sometimes the length of service could be the rest of one’s natural life. The indebtedness Jesus spoke of here, of course, is the penalty for sin; the freedom is spiritual release from judgment and the free gift of eternal life. Jesus’ statement that “the truth will make you free” has become something of a truism, and rightly so. While His primary point was spiritual and eternal, it is a fact that truth leads to freedom in the physical, temporal realm. Any recovering alcoholic will affirm this by experience. Any drug addict who has been “clean and sober” for a number of years will say the same. As they came to terms with the truth of their cravings, the truth of their origins and influences, and the truth of their personal responsibilities, they found freedom. In fact, any repentant sinner will affirm the power of truth to liberate—including the one writing these words! (Swindoll, C. R. Insights on John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. (Jn 10:14, 15)
Comment: Ginosko is used 4 times in these 2 verses. To “know” in this context means to have an intimate relationship built on experience and those who refuse to know Jesus in this way are “of the world” and are not "saved" (regenerate, born again. See Jn 1:10).

Mounce writes that "John especially has a rich view of what it means to “know.” When Jesus says he knows his sheep and he knows the Father, he is speaking of an intimate relationship that involves deep feelings of love (Jn 10:14, 15). Such a relationship leads to obedience on our part (Jn 10:27). “Those who say, ‘I know him,’ but do not do what he commands are liars” (1Jn. 2:4; cf. 3:6). In fact, Jesus defines eternal life as “knowing God and Jesus Christ,” which involves both faith in him and love for him (Jn 17:3). By contrast, John makes it plain that the world “does not know” God (Jn 17:25; 1Jn. 3:1-note)."

If you had known (ginosko) Me (Jesus), you would have known (ginosko) My Father also; from now on you know (ginosko) Him, and have seen Him. (Jn 14:7).

Comment: If the disciples had fully grasped who Jesus was, they would have known the Father as well. To know Jesus is to know God. Note the parallel between knowing in Jn 14:7 and believing in Jn 14:10 (see also Jn 17:8)

Wiersbe: What does it mean to “know the Father”? The word know is used 141 times in John’s Gospel (ginosko and eido), but it does not always carry the same meaning. In fact, there are four different “levels” of knowing according to John. The lowest level is simply knowing a fact. The next level is to understand the truth behind that fact. However, you can know the fact and know the truth behind it and still be lost in your sins. The third level introduces relationship; “to know” means “to believe in a person and become related to him or her.” This is the way “know” is used in John 17:3. In fact, in Scripture, “to know” is used of the most intimate relationship between man and wife (Ge 4:1). The fourth use of “know” means “to have a deeper relationship with a person, a deeper communion.” It was this level Paul was referring to when he wrote, “That I may know Him” (Phil. 3:10). Jesus will describe this deeper relationship in John 14:19-23....

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (Jn 17:3).

Comment: Ginosko in this context in not knowledge that is intellectual, but relational. Ginosko involves being in relationship. Compare "come to know (ginosko) Him" in 1Jn 2:3 (see discussion below). The only way to experience eternal life, the intimate knowledge with the Father, is through the Son (cp Jn 14:6).

For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. (Romans 1:21-note)

Comment: Knew in this context refers to a personal knowledge of the existence of God and of His attributes just mentioned. They saw the Sun and Moon and Stars which give clear testimony to their Creator. In a sense they experienced the Creator in His creation but made a choice even in the face of this experiential knowledge, not to honor Him as God. The point is that man began with knowledge of God’s being and character, not with ignorance of Him. Their experiential knowledge (ginosko) of God in this context clearly does not equate with believing in His for salvation! Compare ginosko in Ro 1:32-note where the heathen's knowledge of God made no difference in their activity.

E G Bulwer-Lytton: Knowledge of nature and atheism are incompatible. To know nature is to know that there must be a God.

What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know (ginosko) sin except through the Law...” (Ro 7:7a-note).

Comment: This statement by Paul highlights the experiential aspect of ginosko. In other words, Paul gained an "experiential knowledge" of sin because of the law which brought out his desire to commit sin.

For what I am doing, I do not understand (ginosko - KJV = "I allow not"); for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. (Ro 7:15-note)

MacArthur: (Ginosko) refers to knowledge that goes beyond the factual and includes the idea of an intimate relationship (cf. Gal 4:9). By extension, this word was sometimes used to express approving or accepting (cf. 1Co 8:3). That is its sense here, i.e., Paul found himself doing things he did not approve of.

Vine: The verb rendered “know” (understand) is ginosko, to recognize as a result of experience. This is the result of being like a slave, who is the instrument of another man’s will. He does not discern the true character and effects of what has been wrought.

But a natural (unregenerate, not born from above, still in Adam) man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand (ginosko) them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1Cor 2:14)

Comment: The unregenerate man can hear the same words of Scripture as a believer, but he does not have the ability to really know them experientially because these supernatural Words can only be illuminated by the Spirit Who indwells believers (1Co 2:11, 12, 13, 15, 16) and who graciously gives us the capacity (as well as the desire) to discern divine truth (cp Ps 119:18). It follows that unbelievers who think they can understand (know experientially and "intimately") the Word of God are deceiving themselves! As an aside, one of the vital marks of a believer who is maturing in the faith is an increasing ability to discern spiritual truth (with the Spirit's help of course) and to understand more and more of the will and mind of the Living God through His Living Word.

Vance Havner commenting on trying to explain spiritual truths to a natural man who cannot understand these things of the Spirit of God: "He might as well try to describe a sunset to a blind man or discuss nuclear physics with a monument in the city park. The natural man cannot receive such things. One might as well try to catch sunbeams with a fishhook as to lay hold of God’s revelation unassisted by the Holy Spirit. Unless one is born of the Spirit and taught by Him, all this is utterly foreign to him. Being a Ph. D. does not help, for in this realm it could mean ‘Phenomenal Dud!’"

But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out (ginosko), not the words of those who are arrogant but their power. (1Co 4:19).

Comment: Ginōskō in this context conveys more than simply to know a fact but means to ascertain or to find out the inner working of the arrogant Corinthians who were the cause of the division problem. The perfect tense indicates that those who had become arrogant are still in their state of an exaggerated sense of their own importance (in an overbearing manner)! We never wrestle with this sin do we?

But now that you have come to know (ginosko) God, or rather to be known (ginosko) by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? (Gal 4:9).

Comment: The Galatians did not know God by nature but they came to know Him by personal experience and to enjoy a new relationship as sons in a new family. But Paul reminded them that they had come to be known by God, so that they would not be tempted to take credit for their salvation!

(Eph 3:16, 17, 18) and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:19-note)

Comment: The word translated “know” (ginosko) usually carries the idea of experiential knowledge as opposed to intuitive knowledge. In this verse, ginosko is used to convey the idea of experiencing Christ’s love. Paul is praying that even though the Ephesians will never fully comprehend the love of Christ, that they would be continually deepening in their knowledge and experience of it. (Rasnake)

But you know (ginosko) of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father. (Philippians 2:22-note)

Comment: the Philippians knew Timothy's character from personal encounter (personal experience), as a man who had stood the test.

(Php 3:8-note, Php 3:9-note) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death (Php 3:10-note).

MacArthur comments: That initial saving knowledge of Christ (see Php 3:8-note where "knowing" = gnosis) became the basis of Paul’s lifelong pursuit of an ever deeper knowledge of His Savior (Ed: Experiential, spiritual knowledge). Specifically, Paul longed to experience the power of His resurrection. He knew there was no power in the Law. He also knew there was no power in his flesh to overcome sin (Ed: Sin personified as a "King", a "Slavemaster", a force to be reckoned with, but reckoned with only by resurrection power, not our power, cp Ro 8:13-note; Gal 5:16-note) or serve God (cf. Ro 7:18-note). But because he knew Christ and had His righteousness imputed to him, Paul had been given the Holy Spirit and the same spiritual power that raised Jesus from the dead. (Ed: And beloved this is true of your new life in Christ. Are you living it to maximum potential...resurrection power potential? Or are you as convicted as I am?!)

Let your gentle spirit be known (aorist imperative) to all men. The Lord is near. (Philippians 4:5-note)

Comment: In other words Christians are to be sure that others come to know by experience, by seeing us in action, that we are a people who do not cling to our rights as do non-Christians (which is a description of a "gentle spirit").

Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways. (Heb 3:10-note).

Comment: Why did the majority of Israel in the OT not know experientially and intimately the ways of God? Because for the most part they failed to obey His Word (see Jn 7:17 above). In this context "not know My ways" is another way of saying they did not believe in Him (cp Heb 3:12-note).

By this we know (ginosko - present tense = continually) that we have come to know (ginosko - perfect tense) Him, if we keep His commandments. (1Jn 2:3).

Comment: Notice that the first ginosko refers to believers having an experiential knowledge that they are genuinely saved (i.e., an assurance of salvation). How? Because they keep (present tense = as their general lifestyle - it speaks of direction not perfection) His commandments. When we fail to keep His commandments why should we be surprised that we begin to doubt our salvation? (cp knowing and obeying in John 7:17 above). The phrase "come to know Him" is another way of saying we have come to trust in Christ (past completed action at a point in time - the moment we believed) and have experienced genuine regeneration. This second use of ginosko is in the perfect tense which describes this experience as our permanent condition.

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology points out that ginosko, means basically “grasping the full reality and nature of an object under consideration. It is thus distinguished from mere opinion, which may grasp the object half-correctly, inadequately, or even falsely.” This is what it means to know Jesus! It's not a claim to just understand His teachings, to have information about Him, etc. See the discussion on Mt 7:23 above which describes those who make some claim to know Him, but don't really "ginosko' Him and thus are unregenerate and destined for eternal separation from Him.

Smith adds this helpful note that relates to "knowing" and "doing" (or obeying): The principle is that it is not enough to understand the theory; we must put it into practice. E.g., what makes an artist? Not merely learning the rules of perspective and mixture of colors, but actually putting one’s hand to brush and canvas. First attempts may be unsuccessful, but skill comes by patient practice. Compare Rembrandt’s advice to his pupil Hoogstraten, ‘Try to put well in practice what you already know; and in doing so you will, in good time, discover the hidden things which you inquire about.’ To know about Christ, to understand the doctrine of His person and work is mere theory; we get to know Him (Ed: intimately, personally) and to know that we know Him by practice of His precepts.

As an aside John has 25 uses of ginosko in his first epistle undoubtedly in part to combat Gnosticism (from gnosis) a false teaching in the early church which claimed a true understanding of God, the self and salvation that come through special revelation and knowledge. The Gnostics generally stressed that privately revealed knowledge above that which was available to everyone through the Scriptures.

We know (ginosko) love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1Jn 3:16)

Wuest: The word (ginosko) speaks of knowledge gained by experience. The saints have experienced the love of God in that He laid down His life for them, and in that they have become the recipients of salvation. This knowledge is a permanent possession.

By this we know (ginosko) that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. (1Jn 4:13).

Wuest comments: That is, the saint experiences the work of the Holy Spirit in him, and from that experience, he deduces the fact that the Holy Spirit is in him, a gift of God. This experiential knowledge confirms the fact that the saint dwells in God and God in him.

1John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Vine has an interesting comment on knowing and knowledge: The “we,” which bears stress, refers to all believers, as being those mentioned in the preceding verse (1Jn 4:15), who are characterized by the confession that Jesus is the Son of God. Alternatively it refers to the apostles, but the context suggests the former application. More closely to the original we may render by “We have come to know and have believed,” that is to say, “we have entered upon a path of progressive knowledge” (ginōskō). In one aspect of the case faith precedes knowledge, and knowledge perfects faith; for faith is necessary to apprehend the things of God. On the other hand, the knowledge (gnosis - ginosko) which implies personal acquaintance with Christ and experience of His will and way, is necessary for the perfecting of faith. That is perhaps why knowledge is put first here. While, then, there is an elementary faith which precedes knowledge, there is a practical faith which puts knowledge into effect. For the opposite order see the remarks of the disciples, as recorded in John 6:69, “We have believed and know.” There it had to do with a fact of divine truth; this has to do with the experience of divine love, not merely the knowledge of the fact that God loves us, but the experience of God’s love in us, by which we so know God’s nature that we love one another. This is the work of the Holy Spirit in us (cp. 1Jn 4:13).

Wayne Barber reminds us that ginosko speaks of a process of getting spiritual knowledge a process which is intimately related to obedience to the Word of God (see Jn 7:17 above). As I obey, (chose to deny my fleshly way of thinking and chose God's thinking regardless of what He says) I began to learn truth and as this truth sinks down into my life, the final product is gnosis. The process of getting the finished product, gnosis, is called ginosko.

Examination of some of the uses of ginosko in the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT gives us a sense of the depth of meaning of ginosko. For example, in Genesis 4:1 Moses records that "Adam knew (Hebrew - yada`) Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore Cain". The Hebrew word yada` (to know) is translated by ginosko in this verse and clearly alludes to the knowing vis a vis sexual intercourse. We can see from this example that ginosko indicates the most intimate knowledge of another person. Paul’s aim is not to know about Christ, but to know Him personally, intimately, experientially. This should be the heartbeat of ever true believer. May the Father grant it be so in the body of Christ in these last days for His glory through His Son Christ Jesus. Amen.

Gerald Cowen summaries ginosko...

Originally, ginosko denoted the grasping and understanding of things by the mind which came to it primarily by way of the senses. In other words, it meant knowledge gained by experience. This also included the interpreta­tion of the data received from the senses.

Schmitz says that it meant "to notice, perceive, or recognize a thing, person, or situation through the senses, particularly the sight. (Seeing and ginosko are linked in Homer Od. 15, 532 and 24, 217)."

Other applications of ginosko include:

(1) "to distinguish" between persons, things, or experiences;

(2) "to know" or be acquainted with something in a personal way;

(3) to denote a relationship between persons, "to know" someone;

(4) to discern situations as a result of analyzing the information received, to judge as in a court situation;

(5) even philosophical speculation was often regarded as seeing something, to know by reflection, to perceive. This last use of ginosko is parallel to the primary use of oida.

In the New Testament ginosko is used in very similar ways.

(1) It means to know or come to know. This may include things: to know a tree by its fruits (Matt. 12:33), to know something by something. In particular, it is used of becoming acquainted with God and Christ and the things pertaining to Them. John 17:3, for example, says, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (See Phil. 3:10 also)

(2) "Know" may also be used with the sense of "learn of or "find out" about a given situation. Cleopas asks, "Are you only a stranger in Jerusalem, and have not known the things which are to come to pass there in these days?" (Luke 24:18; see 1Th 3:5 also).

(3) To know sometimes means to understand or comprehend something such as a parable. Jesus said to the disciples, "Know ye not this parable? and how then will you know all parables?" (Mark 4:13).

(4) Ginosko is sometimes used with its original sense, "notice, feel, or realize." When the woman with an issue of blood touched Jesus, He perceived that virtue went out of Him (Luke 8:46).

(5) Finally, following the Old Testament usage, know can be a reference to having sexual relations with someone (Ge 4:1,17; Mt. 1:25).

Thayer makes this distinction between ginosko and eido. Ginosko denotes "a discriminating apprehension of external impressions, a knowledge grounded in personal expe­rience." Eido, on the other hand, means "to have seen with the mind's eye." It represents a purely mental perception. Knowledge of a work of literature gained by reading such would be signified by ginosko. Jesus' insight into divine things is described by eido in John 5:32.

Further examination of the use of these terms gives us a better insight into the exact meaning of certain passages. For example, when confronted by one of the maids of the high priest, Peter began to curse and to swear, "I know not this man of whom you speak" (Mark 14:71). He uses eido, which is more emphatic in this instance than ginosko because it implies he not only had no relationship with Jesus, but that he knew nothing about Him at all. On the other hand, when Jesus says that He will say to some, "I never knew (ginosko) you; depart from me" (ginosko, Matt. 7:23). He is not saying that He is unaware that they exist or that He never met them, but that He never had a personal relationship with them. The same is true of Paul's statement in 2Corinthians 5:21, that Jesus "knew no sin" (ginosko). This does not mean that He had no intellectual knowledge of sin, but that He had not experienced it personally.

Regarding the Jews, the Scripture is clear that they as a group not only knew the law and God's will intellectually, but they had personal experience with it (Acts 22:14; Ro 2:18; 7:1 - all use ginosko). The arrogance of the Pharisees on this point is demonstrated in Jn 7:49, where the common people are described as those who have no personal expe­rience with the law. Schmitz comments concerning this statement, "It contains the implication that the common people would not have gone after Jesus if they had really known and obeyed the law."9

In First John the use of the concept "know" is primarily used in reference to "knowing" that we know Christ personally or "knowing" that we have eternal life. Ginosko is used with the emphasis on the kind of knowledge that re­sults from one's personal experience. We know that "we have known Him, if we keep His commandments" (1 John 2:3). Loving in deed rather than word only is one way that we can "know that we are of the truth" and gain assurance in our hearts (1John 3:19). Similarly, loving one another is more evidence from our own experience on which we can re­flect and come to the conclusion that we know Him (1John 4:7). The inward testimony of the Spirit of God in one's life is further evidence that one can experience to help confirm the fact we are "in Him" (1 John 4:13).

Eido, in contrast, is generally used when the acceptance or understanding of doctrinal truths is concerned. For in stance, it is the believer who really understands what truth is (1 John 2:20-21). "We know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him" (1 John 3:2), not by experience, of course, but we know it because we trust in His promise. Other facts we know, not by experience, but because we have been taught, include these. "He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin" (1John 3: 5). "No murderer has eternal life abiding in Him" (1John 3:15). "Whosoever is born of God [does not continue in sin]" (1John 5:18). "We are of God, and the whole world lies in wickedness" (1 John 5:19). All of these beliefs are expressed with the use of eido.

Finally, in the last chapter, 1John 5:20, both eido and ginosko occur in the same verse.

"We know [eido, as a historical fact] that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know [ginosko - by personal experience] him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ."

We can know that we have eternal life because of what we have learned of Christ from the Scriptures and from our own personal relationship with Him. This is why John wrote," that ye may know (eido) that ye have eternal life" (1Jn 5:13). (Salvation Word Studies from the Greek New Testament)

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