In the Know (1 Corinthians 1:21)

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not [come to] know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 1:21

There is a whole lot of know in this verse and I was curious about what word each one was in the Greek. Turns out, there are only two used: sophia (σοφία) and ginosko (γινώσκω). Sophia is the root used in the word philosopher (lover of wisdom) and in sophisticated. Ginosko is the root from which we derive agnostic and ignorant — both of which roughly equate to “without knowledge”. Thing is, sophia and ginosko mean two different types of knowledge. Sophia, according to the concordance, is a broad term that includes wisdom, knowledge of a variety of topics, science, interpretation of dreams, management ability, and so on. The term is huge, spanning so many areas of understanding as to boggle the mind. Ginosko is not so. Ginosko seems to apply almost exclusively to being acquainted with.

If I insert fuller renderings of the terms, then the verse reads something like this:

For since in the wisdom and understanding and deep knowledge of God the world through its wisdom and understanding and deep knowledge did not become acquainted with or perceive the existence of God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe.

The world has increased its store of knowledge consistently for centuries. We have learned amazing things and fathomed mysteries our forebears could only imagine wondering about. Despite this, we have failed to see God in the picture. This is not always the case, many great minds have held to faith in God in some form or another — Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Francis Allen, to name a few examples.

The fascinating thing is that God uses a simple message no matter the audience. The gospel always boils down to this: We are sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus is that Savior. He lived the perfect life. Died in our place. Rose again and ascended into Heaven. We, too, can be identified with His perfect life, death, and be able to go where He is: Heaven.  The message is simple. Children know that they have done wrong and need to wipe the slate clean and this message makes sense to them. Grown people who know very little indeed know that they need a fresh start; they crave it, in fact.

God chose a simple message so that it is accessible to everyone. He chose a simple message because the wise men of every age too often miss the very obvious truth that we are sinners in need of a Savior. I am no better or wiser or more insightful than anyone else because I have understood God’s message and accepted His offer to save me. Any child can do what I have done. And that is what I needed to be reminded of this morning: salvation is for all and no special learning or deep knowledge is necessary to understand our need and accept God’s offer. Any child can do it.

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