This post is part of an ongoing series in the study of John we are doing during January. Subscribe to the blog for daily updates in the Bible Study posts. Subscribe to the podcasts to hear our discussion of the book of John throughout this month. Join us in your daily devotions as we travel through this fascinating account of the life of Christ.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13 (NKJV)
In verse 10 of this passage, the word know comes from the Greek word ginosko. It suggests intimate knowledge. Ginosko is a deep internal knowing that leads to a level of understanding that impacts our perceptions and resulting actions. Ginosko is not head knowledge. It is not simply mental or intellectual awareness. It is knowledge and understanding that change the way we respond. I ginosko my wife’s hopes and expectations regarding the honey-do lists she has for me, which changes my plans and intent regarding those tasks.
Recognizing and implementing this differentiation between intimate knowledge and intellectual knowledge positions us correctly to receive Christ. Encountering the historical reality of Jesus, or knowing the doctrinal principles fulfilled in the gospel, are interesting facts and academic insight, but they are not ginosko. That is why many scholars and academics possess great knowledge of the word of God but never personally encounter the Person who is the Word of God. We do not approach Him based upon the head. We approach Him based upon the heart.
Our point of origin is in Him. We came from Him. When we encounter Christ, that sense of ginosko arises in us. When Christ came to the earth, the correct response from the people He walked among was based upon ginosko. They may not have fully understood everything, but they should have recognized something familiar, something that resonated in their heart and drew them back to their origin in Christ through whom all things were created.
Unfortunately, most did not. That failure to embrace ginosko of Christ amounted to a rejection of Christ. They saw a man. They saw a historical figure. They saw academic knowledge. But their heart did not embrace Him, and because of that, they missed the miracle that was occurring.
C.S. Lewis argued that Christ was either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. If we approach Christ simply based on head knowledge, then at some point, particularly in the gospel of John, we must account for these three potential descriptors of Christ. Either He was a liar, a lunatic, or He was, in fact, the Lord. Those who approach Christ simply based on mental knowledge alone will likely recognize Him as a liar, lunatic, or perhaps a good man, but nothing more. Those who approach Christ based on ginosko acknowledge Him as the Lord. He is more than meets the eye.
Children of God
Intimate knowledge or ginosko was not the end objective for the people Christ visited. That only positioned them for the correct posture. The correct posture was to receive and embrace Christ. That posture set us up to become children of God.
The concept of children or sons of God is a theme that John references in his gospel as well as his epistle 1 John. The traditional perspective of the children of God involved John’s cultural identity as a Hebrew. But as we see in the next verse, he no longer considers this status as a child of God as something dependent upon what people group we were born into. It is something born of God’s will alone.
Our status as children of God is one of legal spiritual authority, security, and promised inheritance.
We do not find the word rights many times in scripture. That is a word from a western democratic tradition and vocabulary. So when it does occur in scripture, we should take note. The term is used only three times in the New Testament within the context of freedoms and access. The first time is here in John 1:12. The second time is in Hebrews 13:10 discussing the access to the heavenly altar of God, which we have access to. And the third time is in Revelation 22:14, among the final handful of verses in the Bible, that describes our returned right of access to the tree of life.
In each instance, our right of access is gained for us by the will of God. Nothing in our flesh makes us worthy. As John says here in verse 13, nothing we were born with, nothing in our blood, nothing in our flesh, and not even the will of man gains us this right to become children of God. Only the will of God gives us that right. And the will of God is activated when He looks upon us and finds hearts that ginosko Christ, receive Christ, and believe in Christ.
John is setting the reader up in this passage. Having already established the Word that was in the beginning, with God, and that was God (John 1:1), he is now aligning us with that same Word. He is taking us to a higher dimension of thought and perspective to see things from God’s point of view. We have access to Him. A miracle has occurred, and we have access to an eternal being, the Word of God Himself, because this was God’s will all along.
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