LIMITATIONS OF KNOWLEDGE

Now concerning food sacrificed to idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge can make one conceited whereas love edifies people. If anyone thinks that he knows anything, he has not yet known as he ought to know; but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him. Therefore, concerning the eating of food sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing at all in the world, and that there is no God but one. For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him (1Cor8:1-6)

Just a reminder that these posts are not intended to be a comprehensive commentary on each chapter of the bible; rather I am drawing out those aspects which either endorse or (according to the usual interpretations) challenge the broader benign providence I have been outlining in “The Little Book of Providence”. Nevertheless, if you have been following these posts or should you scan through them now you will observe that there is at least something to be said in that context within each and every chapter of the New Testament covered so far. However, in 1Cor8 my comments do not directly apply to my book** but to myself as its author. Nor do they focus on the primary point Paul is making in the chapter. That is to caution Christians about the use of their liberties, in this case the freedom or otherwise to eat food sacrificed to idols. A flagrant exhibition of doing what one is personally clear is OK may potentially wound the conscience of a fellow believer who (albeit mistakenly) believes that same activity to be prohibited – the use of alcohol might be a more contemporary example.

My main observation rather pertains to Paul’s general statement concerning knowledge itself: “Knowledge can make one conceited whereas love edifies people. If anyone thinks that he knows something, he has not yet known as he ought to know” (vv1b-2). Now I embarked upon this process because as a result of what I understand to be a prophetic insight I have come to understand the bible in a way I previously did not, the authenticity of which is affirmed at the personal level by the new interpretation’s ability to make the teaching of the Old Testament, Jesus and the various apostles entirely coherent. So I must take heed to St Paul when effectively he is saying “You think you have knowledge others do not possess? My friend, you (and I) currently don’t know the half of it!” (v2). And he will go on to write: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1Cor13:12). Note, the great apostle does not say “you” but “we” do not know these things. How much more should I or anyone claiming to have “words of knowledge” or a “prophetic insight”, even if we believe them to be from the Holy Spirit, acknowledge the limitations of our knowledge. That I am observing this principle should be evident from my previous post, in particular regarding the precise nature of the age to come, the geophysical aspects of the “New Earth” and the activities in which its inhabitants shall be engaged – beyond, that is, praising their God and Saviour for His munificent and undeserved benevolence towards them.  

** The PDF version is freely available HERE