by Mike Ratliff
17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. Ephesians 4:17-19 (NASB)
18 ἐσκοτωμένοι τῇ διανοίᾳ ὄντες, ἀπηλλοτριωμένοι τῆς ζωῆς τοῦ θεοῦ διὰ τὴν ἄγνοιαν τὴν οὖσαν ἐν αὐτοῖς, διὰ τὴν πώρωσιν τῆς καρδίας αὐτῶν, Ephesians 4:18 (NA28)
In the passage above (Ephesians 4:17-19) the word “ignorance” translates the noun ἄγνοιαν (agnoian) the accusative singular feminine case of ἄγνοια (agnoia) which does mean “ignorance.” This ignorance is not caused by something external, but by man himself. In ancient Greek usage of this word it could refer to a man who lives without knowledge either because he hasn’t heard the truth or because he has refused the truth, and that if he had received it, it would have freed him from his ignorance of his origin. In other words, he just closed his eyes to the truth; he refused to believe what was right in front of him. Do you know anyone like that?
Of course it is obvious that our English word “agnostic” comes from agnoia. The definition of the word certainly exposes these so-called agnostics in our day doesn’t it? They say that they do not believe we can know if there is a God, but they say this only because they do not want to know. They are “willingly ignorant” (2 Peter 3:5). I saw an example of this on an documentary about an Archaeological dig of the Tel at Jericho. It had been dug early in the 20th Century and the archaeologist in charge confirmed the truth about the walls of Jericho falling down just at the it is described in the Book of Joshua. However, later in the 1950’s another archaeologist did more digging there and denounced that the city of Jericho could have existed at the supposed time of the Exodus. Why? She based her “theory” entirely on the absence of a certain of pottery in the dig that was prevalent throughout the Middle East during the Late Bronze Age. In the dig I watched in the documentary one of her aides who was still living and who still backed up her claims came along with a younger archaeologist and they dug some more. Did they find that pottery. No, but they found pottery that imitated it. Also, they found more evidence of the the walls and how they fell the way they did. The younger archaeologist said he believed that the book of Joshua described exactly what happened to the city of Jericho. The older archaeologist admitted that all the evidence backed that up, but he still supported the claims of his old boss from the 1950’s because of his respect for her. That my brethren is being “willingly ignorant.”
This is exactly the point of Romans 1:18: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,” “Suppress” is κατέχω (katechō), which means to hold fast, have, hold captive, restrain, suppress. William Tyndale’s 1534 translation and the Geneva Bible render it “withhold” and Young’s Literal Translation has “holding down.”
Man will do anything he can to suppress, hold down, and withhold God’s truth. He tries to do so through evolution, philosophy, and even religion. Paul goes on to write in verse 28, “And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer…” “Acknowledge is ἔχω (echō), “to have or hold.” No longer did man want to have any knowledge of God, and he still had no such desire. He simply will no have it!
For those of us in Christ as we look at the sorry state of the vast multitudes of humanity who are lost in their rebellion against the knowledge of God, we should realize what a blessing it is that our God had mercy on us and drew us to Himself, justifying us by grace through faith and now we are no longer in that state of willing ignorance of God. Share your faith with as many as you can with time you have my brethren.
Soli Deo Gloria!