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Photo by Walter Strong

Two weeks ago I posted on Philippians 2:5, the meaning of the Greek word translated “mind” in the passage, and the fact that several different Greek words have been translated “mind” throughout the New Testament.  Seeing this was so, my curiosity was piqued and I started looking at each of the different words and the passages in which they occur.  I did not get far in my study as I got a tad sidetracked in 2 Corinthians. 

But first things first.  A quick review: the Greek word translated “mind” in the Philippians passage is phroneo (G5426) and means briefly, “to exercise the mind, to have a sentiment or opinion, be mentally disposed.”  While I was considering this meaning as it fit in with Philippians 2:5, I wondered whether the Greek word was the same in Romans 8:7.

Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”  The word for “mind” here is in the same family.  It is phronema (G5427), means “mental inclination or purpose”, and comes from 5426. This is where my study on all the mind words got put on pause because I started thinking about the carnal mind being enmity against God, the battlefield of the mind, and 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

2 Corinthians 10: 4-5 states, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”.  There is a lot said about the thought life in this passage but, rather than go into each Greek word here, let me share these verses from the Phillips translation: “The very weapons we use are not those of human warfare but powerful in God’s warfare for the destruction of the enemy’s strongholds.  Our battle is to bring down every deceptive fantasy and every imposing defense that men erect against the true knowledge of God.  We even fight to capture every thought until it acknowledges the authority of Christ.”

It was the words “knowledge of God” that caught my attention.  What does this mean?  Is this passage saying the knowledge of God, as in those things we can learn about Him; or is it saying the knowledge of God meaning knowledge that belongs to and comes from Him?  The difference is subtle but it is the difference in the direction of flow.  Does this knowledge of God originate in us or does it flow to us from Him?

I first sought to answer my question by looking at my Interlinear Greek-English Bible.  That work has the little word tou in the passage.  Tou, G5120 in the Strong’s Concordance, is a difficult word to study.  I’ve looked at it in a previous post and don’t remember if I shared the information I find in Volume One of my Koine Greek Textbook.  Allow me to do so now.  Under “of”, I find this statement: “This English word is translated from unrelated Greek words…Too many to list and no real value in word studies”.  I beg to differ, Greek Textbook.  Knowing whether or not the word translated “of” denotes possession is of paramount importance. 

Despite all my hopes, not one of the rest of the volumes offered up any more help.  Neither was the Strong’s Concordance all that helpful.  It does tell me that tou means “of this person-his”.  Thus, I can make a solid guess that the knowledge of God could also be translated as “God’s Knowledge” and I can also make the inference that this knowledge is something that flows from Him.

If this tiny word was all the foundation I have to base my belief on, it would be shaky indeed.  And so, I looked to other passages of scripture to see if I can find reference to knowledge that belongs to God but is graciously shared with us.  I found there are many and perhaps the one that speaks most directly to God sharing His knowledge with us is 1 Corinthians 2:9-16:

“But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’* But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit.  For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him?  Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For ‘who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?’** But we have the mind of Christ.”

The Greek word for “mind” here is neither phroneo nor phronema.  The Greek word here is nous (G3563).  It means “the intellect, mind, understanding” and the Strong’s entry says this word is “probably from the base of 1097”.  Whether it is or not, here is where I found the emergence of a fascinating pattern.  The words translated “know” in the entire passage are also different in the Greek (another study to pursue!) but the word “know” in “neither can he know them”-is the Greek word ginosko with the Strong’s number 1097.

During my search for passages of scripture on the knowledge of God, I remarked Matthew 11:27 (and Luke 10:22) which says, “All things are delivered unto Me of My Father, and no man knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him” (KJV).   “Knoweth” in this passage is epiginosko (G1921).  This word means “to know…recognize, to become fully acquainted with”.  It is a compound word made up of epi (G1909) and ginosko (G1097). The word for knowledge in my study phrase “knowledge of God” is gnosis (G1108).  It means “the act of knowing, knowledge, science” and is from 1097.

Ginosko (G1097) means “to know (absolutely)…allow, be aware of, feel, perceive, be resolved”.  There really isn’t anything within these definitions that are eye opening in and of themselves.  Rather, it was the pattern of ginosko threading its way through these passages.  As I traced that thread, I found I was tracing another that was giving me an answer to my question, namely; there was knowledge that belonged to God but which He was willing to give to us.

I love reading.  I love to study.  I love learning new things and the pursuit of knowledge occupies a great deal of my time.  I think study is good: God gave me a mind and expects me to use it.  In fact, I am to love Him with all my mind (Matthew 22: 37, Luke 10:27) and my studies are a necessary part of that.  I have many teachers I respect and am blessed to learn from.  However, true knowledge, the only knowledge that really matters, is that taught to me by the Holy Spirit.  1 John 2:27 tells me, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him.”

Jesus describes the Holy Spirit as teacher in John 14:26: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things I have said to you.”  And then, there is this description of the Holy Spirit from the Book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of council and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Chapter 11 Verse 2).

The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me and that Spirit, while many things to me, is the Spirit of knowledge.  His teaching me all things flows from relationship rather than is an effect of study.  There have been many strongholds the enemy has built inside my mind that have needed demolishing, deceptive fantasies that have been consumed in Holy Spirit fire, and imposing defenses that have crumbled before the Word.  It is an ongoing battle to bring every one of my thoughts into captivity to Jesus Christ but, as I daily practice, I find it is possible to think His thoughts.

How beautiful!  The goodness of God brings me to metanoia and I gladly exchange my mind for His!  Amen and Amen!

*Isaiah 64:4  **Isaiah 40:13

Unless noted otherwise, all scriptures are quoted from The New King James Version of The Holy Bible, Thomas Nelson Inc., Nashville, Tennessee, 1982

Other References:

The Comparative Study Bible, The Zondervan Corporation, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1984

The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Reprint 1970

The New Testament in Four Versions, Christianity Today, Inc., Washington D.C., 1965

Strong, James LL.D., S.T.D., The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of The Bible, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee, 1990

Walker, G. Allen, The New Koine Greek Textbook Volume 1-4, 2014-2018