Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

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Understanding the language of the Bible

There is a good possibility that using a dictionary of the English language will muddy the waters when it comes to trying to understand a word used in the Bible. The word science found in 1 Timothy 6:20 is a case in point. The Greek word here translated science is gnosis, which in all its 28 other appearances in the New Testament is translated knowledge. That is what it means in this verse also. Science is a word of French origin, derived from the verb scier – to know. In French, science simply means knowledge and that was its original meaning in English. The meaning has shifted in English over the past 400 years, but to understand 1 Timothy 6:20 we need to go back to its original meaning.

Image by Robert C from Pixabay 

Here is what Adam Clarke says on this verse:

And oppositions of science falsely so called – Και αντιθεσεις της ψευδωνυμου γνωσεως·
And oppositions of knowledge falsely so named. Dr. Macknight’s note here is worthy of much attention: “In the enumeration of the different kinds of inspiration bestowed on the first preachers of the Gospel, 1Co_12:8, we find the word of knowledge mentioned; by which is meant that kind of inspiration which gave to the apostles and superior Christian prophets the knowledge of the true meaning of the Jewish Scriptures. This inspiration the false teachers pretending to possess, dignified their misinterpretations of the ancient Scriptures with the name of knowledge, that is, inspired knowledge; for so the word signifies, 1Co_14:6. And as by these interpretations they endeavored to establish the efficacy of the Levitical atonements, the apostle very properly termed these interpretations oppositions of knowledge, because they were framed to establish doctrines opposite to, and subversive of, the Gospel. To destroy the credit of these teachers, he affirmed that the knowledge from which they proceeded was falsely called inspired knowledge; for they were not inspired with the knowledge of the meaning of the Scriptures, but only pretended to it.” Others think that the apostle has the Gnostics in view. But it is not clear that these heretics, or whatever they were, had any proper existence at this time. On the whole, Dr. Macknight’s interpretation seems to be the best.

What is truth?

Another way that people hide from God is through idea systems. Let me tell you about one idea system that Christians need to address. It is the idea that we just have faith in the church, but we don’t know anything. It’s the idea that knowledge is opposed to faith. People know things over in the shopping center, they know things at the bank, and they know things at school. But when you come to church, there is no knowledge, just faith

You may have a hard time believing that, but if you want to understand why the Christian gospel is being treated in this country as it is now by those running the legal and school systems, you have to realize that they have been trained by a system of ideas to believe that Christianity is just another superstition — one, moreover, that has had a legal advantage in this country and should now be dispossessed of that legal advantage. This is very deeply ingrained in the idea system that governs life around us.

-Dallas Willard. Excerpted from: The Allure of Gentleness, defending the faith in the manner of Jesus, © 2015 by Dallas Willard

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