By Charles H. Welch
ACKNOWLEDGE. Epiginosko, epignosis.
Epiginosko. In the A.V. this is translated acknowledge 5 times, have knowledge of 1, know 30, know well 1, perceive 3, take knowledge of 2.
epignosis, acknowledging 3, acknowledgment 1, knowledge 16, with marginal reading acknowledge 1, acknowledgment 1. The distinction between knowledge and acknowledge, was not so sharply drawn in earlier days as it is now.
‘We knowledge Thee to be the Father of infinite majesty’ was the recognized form in the year A.D. 1535. Today ‘knowledge’ stands for the ‘stuff’ of knowledge, the information gathered, and the intelligence possessed, but this is a secondary meaning as any good English dictionary will reveal. The primary meaning of ‘knowledge’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘acknowledgment, confession, recognition of the position or claims of any one’. epignosis does not mean the mere piling up of information, neither does it mean full knowledge, but rather does it mean ‘recognition’. Recognition to-day has a primary and a secondary meaning. Disregarding the secondary meaning that of ‘recognizing’ anyone’s features, manner, etc., the primary meaning that of ‘recognizing or acknowledging liability or obligation’, this English word would suit admirably.
Here are a few examples of the usage of the word epiginosko:
An ordinary man does not ‘know’ all that there is to know about a ‘fig-tree’. Even if he were a master of the sciences of botany, zoology and horticulture, there would be infinitely more left unknown than any scientist has yet comprehended, but an illiterate observer could readily ‘recognize’ a fig-tree by its fruits. It is a natural sequence for ‘recognition’ to take on a moral colouring, and proceed from ‘recognizing’ a fig-tree, to ‘acknowledging’ Christ and His teaching. No persecution is likely to arise from the one, but the ‘recognition’ of Truth may be resisted. The earliest use of epiginosko by Paul is in 1 Corinthians 13:12:
The bearing of this word on Dispensational Truth finds an illustration in Ephesians 1:17,18. In Ephesians 1:3-14 the apostle has revealed the outstanding characteristics of the dispensation of the Mystery (see MYSTERY) which he follows by prayer. He does not pray that his reader shall pile up knowledge, but pauses to say that ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation’ is given ‘in the acknowledgment of Him’ en epignosei auton.
Occasionally we have had to say of a fellow-believer ‘he did run well, he appeared to accept the principle of right division and the peculiar revelation of the dispensation of the Mystery - yet, he seems to have drawn back, and his testimony is silenced’. It is usually not lack of ‘knowledge’ or information that is at the bottom of this failure, it is not that such do not see clearly what is involved in the profession. Alas, they see all too clearly what the logical consequences must be of standing for such unpopular teaching, they shrink back from ‘acknowledging’ and growth ceases.
This is the theme of Ephesians 4:12-14 the only other occurrence of epignosis in Ephesians:
Here, once again we should read ‘the acknowledgment of the Son of God’ and the following analysis may enable the reader to follow the argument as it is indicated by the threefold use of eis ‘unto’.
The ‘acknowledgment’ embraces all that is implied in ‘the perfect man’ and the subdivisions that follow. Yet other passages must be recorded:
We must translate Colossians 1:10, thus:
Just as we learned from Ephesians 1:17,18, that ‘the spirit of wisdom
and revelation’ we so much need is given ‘in the acknowledging of Him’
so here we learn that fruitful increase is ‘by the acknowledgment’ of
Him, and without this acknowledgment growth will cease, sight will become
dim and keenness will be dulled. The limits set by the title of this work,
prevent us from giving in detail all the passages where this thought of
‘acknowledgment’ is uppermost, but we give here every occurrence of ‘acknowledge’
and ‘acknowledgment’ that is found in the A.V.
If the reader will ponder the reference in 2 Timothy 2:25, relate it with its context (note ‘Right Division’ in verse 15) and carry with him what has been seen in Ephesians 1:17,18 he may perceive that no unconverted sinner caught in the toils of sin is here, but a believer held captive by ‘truth’ out of place, by ‘truth’ that is undispensational, a device of the Devil, more fully revealed in 2 Corinthians 4, and opened up under the heading HID 2 to which the reader is earnestly referred.
The verb epiginosko occurs once in the epistle to the Colossians, namely, in the phrase ‘and knew the grace of God in truth’ (Col. 1:6), and the substantive epignosis, occurs four times (Col. 1:9,10; 2:2; 3:10). Whether used as a noun or a verb each reference is practical in character and has growth as its goal.
The following paraphrase brings out the apostle’s meaning:
It is ‘by’ not ‘in’ the acknowledgment of God, that we both bear fruit and grow.
The next occurrence of acknowledgment leads to the heart of the mystery, the R.V. reading ‘The mystery of God even Christ’ (Col. 2:2).
To deal adequately with this verse would demand an excursus into Textual Criticism and into the mystery of Godliness, namely that in Christ God was manifest in the flesh, even as Colossians 2:9 declares that in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. But important as these considerations are they lie outside the scope of this analysis which is devoted to the dispensational aspect of truth.
Let us nevertheless ponder the extreme importance, not only of knowledge but of its acknowledgment.