In my daily Bible reading, reading now in 2 Peter, I came across this word—knowledge (epignosis). In the first chapter, the word appears 3 times: in v. 2, v. 3, and in v. 8. Each time it is used, there is a special blessing attached to it. In verse 2, knowledge of God brings grace and peace; in verse 3 it brings life and godliness; and in verse 8 we are promised fruitfulness in knowledge if we practice 7 virtues (in verses 3-7).
I have read this chapter many times before, but never has this word popped out to me as it has now. So, I have decided to study it more thoroughly. This will be the first of a few posts on the study of this word…
A Study of Knowledge (epignosis)
Strong’s number of the word is 1922.
According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, the word means “Precise and correct knowledge.”
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives a much broader meaning:
Denotes “exact or full knowledge, discernment, recognition,” and is a strengthened form of No. 1 [gnosis], expressing a fuller or a full “knowledge,” a greater participation by the “knower” in the object “known,” thus more powerfully influencing him.
According to MacArthur in his MacArthur Study Bible, this word “Is a strengthened form of ‘knowledge’ implying a larger, more thorough, and intimate knowledge.”
William Barclay, in his The Letters of James and Peter, says quite a bit about the meaning of this word. I will try to give you the highlights of what he said. He said there are two possible meanings: (1) Increasing knowledge.
Gnosis, the normal Greek word for knowledge, is here preceded by the preposition epi which means towards, in the direction of. Epignosis then could be interpreted as knowledge which is always moving further in the direction of that which it seeks to know.
(2) A full knowledge, which Barclay suggests is a personal knowledge of Jesus Christ. He says,
Christian knowledge of Christ is personal acquaintance with him; it is knowing him as a person and entering day by day into a more intimate relationship with him.
There are 20 occurrences of this word in the New Testament. We will look at 15 of them and will put them in three different groupings: used in reference to God and Christ, in reference to the will of God, and in reference to the truth (mainly the truth of the gospel).
In the next post, knowledge (epignosis)—part 2, we will look at the first group of verses: as they apply to our knowledge of God and Christ.