by Mike Ratliff
8 ἀλλὰ μενοῦνγε καὶ ἡγοῦμαι πάντα ζημίαν εἶναι διὰ τὸ ὑπερέχον τῆς γνώσεως Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ κυρίου μου, δι’ ὃν τὰ πάντα ἐζημιώθην, καὶ ἡγοῦμαι σκύβαλα, ἵνα Χριστὸν κερδήσω 9 καὶ εὑρεθῶ ἐν αὐτῷ, μὴ ἔχων ἐμὴν δικαιοσύνην τὴν ἐκ νόμου ἀλλὰ τὴν διὰ πίστεως Χριστοῦ, τὴν ἐκ θεοῦ δικαιοσύνην ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, 10 τοῦ γνῶναι αὐτὸν καὶ τὴν δύναμιν τῆς ἀναστάσεως αὐτοῦ καὶ [τὴν] κοινωνίαν [τῶν] παθημάτων αὐτοῦ, συμμορφιζόμενος τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτοῦ, 11 εἴ πως καταντήσω εἰς τὴν ἐξανάστασιν τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν. (Philippians 3:8-11 NA28)
8 But even more so I consider all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom all things I suffered loss and I consider them dung, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having my own righteousness that is of the law, but the righteousness through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based upon faith, 10 to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings being conformed to his death, 11 that if somehow I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:8-11 a personal translation from the NA28 Greek text)
Speaking from experience, which I am sure most of you can relate to very much, one the most frustrating things for me to bear is to have to be subjected to a teaching or information or even something shared about a situation or another person that I know to be false beyond any doubt and yet those expounding what is not true either will not listen to the truth or are beyond the reach of my revealing the truth to them. It is an amazing thing to witness those sure in what they perceive to be the light of a truth that really is darkness. Those mired in postmodernism may at this moment be wanting to scream at me that “truth is relative,” however that stance is illogical and the orthodox Christian doctrinal stance says that God’s truth is revealed to us in his Word and his truth is immutable, eternal and authoritative. This being so, and since believers should seek to be Orthodox Christians who reveal their authenticity through their Orthopraxy as they abide in Christ, through this they must come to a true knowledge of their Saviour. In fact, genuine Christians have that hunger born of the Spirit as Paul declared in the passage above that to “know him” was worth losing all things that this world has to offer. I submit that in our time there are many declaring that they have attained this knowledge, but what they proclaim reveals that they are liars because what they are saying our Saviour is like or what he is saying the Church is to be about is not Biblical. We know they are liars and are, therefore, false teachers or wolves in sheep’s clothing, because we compare their teaching with the straight line of God’s Word, our Orthodoxy and this reveals that what they are saying is Orthodoxy is, instead heterodoxy, that is, another truth, therefore, a lie.
In the passage I placed at the top of this post I translated a Greek word in v8, “γνώσεως” as “knowledge” and another word, “γνῶναι” in v10 as “to know.” The first instance is the noun γνώσεως or “gnōseōs,” which means “knowledge.” It is genitive case of γνῶσις, or “gnosis.” What Paul is saying in v8 is that because of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, that is, because he knows from what he was saved and he knows his eternal destiny and he knows that that was all because of what Christ has done and because of that knowledge and because of what Christ has been doing with him since then, he counts everything else as dung compared to that. Why? It is so that he may gain Christ. That is, he is denying self and following his Lord. It’s not about him, but about Christ and his glory.
In v10 we have the words “to know” which translates the verb γνῶναι or “gnōnai,” the Genitive, Singular case of γινώσκω or “ginōskō”, “know, learn, be familiar with, understand, acknowledge.” Those who claim to know Jesus Christ, but then teach from that “knowledge” what is not Biblical do not know him. They do not know our Lord personally as they claim. We can know someone historically or contemporaneously or contractually, but none of those mean we know that person personally.
When we know a person as Paul deeply desired to know his Lord and as we also should deeply desire then we come to know him not only by name, but also by nature. We know their mind, ways of thinking, feelings, reactions, dispositions, temperament, habits, and idiosyncrasies. This is how we should desire to know our Lord just as Paul did. How do we accomplish this?
We come to know our Lord through his Word. We must more and more familiarize ourselves with him photographically in the Gospels. It is in the pages of the Gospels that we see the ‘pen-photography’ of those writers. It is there that we see the real Jesus, the God of the universe, living and moving before us. As we read, we see his thoughts, feelings, actions, attitudes, goals, values, compassions, and dealings with men.
We also get to know the Lord doctrinally in the New Testament epistles. The epistles contain the direct instruction to the church and Christians on how to live and minister based upon who Jesus was and what he did in the Gospels. It is impossible for Christians to grow, mature, and be strong without the doctrinal emphasis of the epistles. How do we get this? It is primarily from doctrinal preaching, which is why we must come out of those churches that squelch the truth and attempt to put the light of the Word under a basket while preaching or teaching another gospel and another Jesus.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Greek Bible text from: Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th revised edition, Edited by Barbara Aland and others, © 2012 Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart.