March 7, 2017 at 6:47 pm #895JamesKeymaster
Every Christian desires to be filled with all of the fullness of God. It’s just who we are. In Ephesians 3:19, Paul tells us how that happens. He said we just need to find out how much God loves us, “… to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.” (NASB)
It doesn’t seem like the modern Church believes this, maybe because it is too simple and doesn’t require us to do anything religious. Most people believe the only way to be filled with all the fullness of God is to do the right things, whatever they are. But, Paul’s writings explain it clearly. As we come to know the love of God toward ourselves, we find ourselves filled with Him.
But, even though translations like this from the NASB are true statements, they don’t tell us what Paul actually said. What he said is even better. Because the modern Church has wandered so far from the way early Christians thought, the following may seem complicated. But it isn’t. Once you begin to understand what the first believers understood, it’s easy.
The lives of modern Christians don’t look like First Century believers. Have you ever wondered why? It is obvious that something has changed. What could have changed? I am convinced the answer can be found in words. If modern believers want to experience the power of God in their lives, they need to know what God knows and believe what Jesus believes. To do this, we need to learn what words meant 2000 years ago versus what they mean today. That is, we need to know what God is actually saying (rather than what people today think He is saying). The plan of Darkness, from the beginning, has been to keep making subtle changes in the meaning of what God says so that a reasonable person could not believe that today’s definitions of First Century words have changed.
Take your time as you go through the following short explanation of Ephesians 3:19. Only a little of this is technical. You may not understand all of it, but you will understand some of it. That will be enough. Greek geeks will probably enjoy all the technical stuff.
The three words usually translated in Ephesians 3:19 as “surpasses knowledge” are interesting. First, the word translated “surpasses” is a participle made from two other words: ὑπέρ (ὑper), a preposition which means “over,” and βάλλουσαν (ballousan) a participle which means “throwing” as in throwing a ball. Putting the two words together produces the meaning “overthrowing.” But, because the Church no longer has the foundational doctrines understood by believers in the First Century, the literal translation “overthrowing knowledge” doesn’t make sense. Thus, using reasonable logic, scholars simply settle for a figurative meaning that does make sense and, they think, must be what Paul meant to say. Unfortunately, because translators so frequently take these types of liberties when translating God’s Word, we have been unwittingly deprived of wonderful, life-changing truths of the Gospel.
Next, the word translated “knowledge” has a definite article (“the”) in the Greek text and is in the genitive case, so, if translated literally, should be rendered “of the knowledge.” Thus, a literal rendering of “ὑπερβάλλουσαν τῆς γνώσεως” (“surpassing knowledge”) would be “overthrowing of the knowledge.” But, scholars have another way of translating these words, which is to give them a figurative meaning like “surpassing knowledge” or “exceeding knowledge.” So, they might also render the passage, “the love of Christ that exceeds knowledge.” Regardless how it is translated, this passage always seems to mean that the love of Christ goes beyond what we can know with our minds. And, that is true. But again, not what the Apostle Paul meant. What he meant is far better.
By the way, “overthrowing of the knowledge” refers to the body of false knowledge which mankind has accumulated since the Garden of Eden. It is the entire body of what mankind knows. It is the body of knowledge which Jesus took to our deaths in Himself when we died with Him on the Cross.
The love about which Paul was writing is so powerful that it overthrows everything a person knows and replaces it with a new type of knowledge, which is what God knows. God wants His children to know what He knows. What God knows is true knowledge. Everything else is fake. God said His people were destroyed because they didn’t know what He knows (Hosea 4:6). Instead, they embraced false knowledge, which didn’t come from Him. God, our Father, desires to share His knowledge with us. Over and over He tells us that the only knowledge we need is what He knows. And, He says we can know what He knows, but only He can teach us. That’s why Jesus sent the Holy Spirit.
So, it makes a big difference whether we translate Ephesians 3:19 “love that surpasses knowledge” or “love that overthrows knowledge.” The first simply means knowing better knowledge but doesn’t erase all that we know that is not true and which is preventing us from enjoying the reality of God’s truth. But, the latter says that the love of God replaces what we have known with a new type of knowledge that is what God knows. It is a knowledge that yields wonderful fruit in our lives. It is knowledge by which we live without struggling.
Jesus said knowing the truth will make us free. Free from what? The struggle and bondage that accompanies trying to live by knowledge that is not true. As we come to know how much God loves us, the knowledge of His love literally destroys what we thought we knew, because now we know the truth, instead. We know we are always unconditionally loved and never have to do anything to earn it. God is not a god we have to satisfy. He’s our Father and delights that we believe Him.
For you Greek geeks, one of the oldest Greek-English lexicons available confirms my definition of hyperballousan. Liddell & Scott (1875) includes the definition “to conquer, prevail over.” So, my literal rendering of “overthrow” is quite accurate. Unfortunately, that definition has been removed from many newer, more modern lexicons.
Feel free to ask questions. Let’s take this further. It will change your life, no matter how much you already know.
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