Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:7 KJV
This verse is one of many, in the Word of God, that instructs men regarding their relationship with their wives. At first reading I notice that it includes at least five important points, but I’m only going to consider one. I’ll use it to demonstrate one of the ways that we can allow Scripture to speak for itself.
Most people, whether preacher, blogger, or theologian, approach Bible verses as standalone proverbs. Then they expand on them, speculating wildly. They don’t consider each verse within the totality of God’s Holy Word. This is an utterly dishonest methodology. Christians accept it because so few really believe that the Bible is God’s Word.
The Roman Catholic Church, at least, is honest about this: it admits that it places the traditions of men above the Bible. Protestant denominations proclaim Sola Scriptura, but base their doctrines on tradition, opinion, and emotion.
Let’s consider one word in 1 Peter 3:7: “knowledge.” Husbands are to dwell with their wives according to knowledge. Knowledge of what? Fine art, the Kama Sutra, her preferred foods? This verse doesn’t say.
One of the keys to understanding the Bible is to look at how concepts and words are used by God. It is often especially revealing to look at the first usage of a particular word. When I refer to “a word,” I don’t mean an English word. The Bible wasn’t originally written in English; we need to go back to the original language texts for understanding.
“Hold on there, Rick,” you say. “I can’t read Hebrew or Greek!”
Don’t be alarmed. Except for esoteric points of grammar, it isn’t necessary. There are online tools available that allow us to do this sort of research. I’ll show you how I research the word “knowledge.” We can have some fun together if you open another browser window and follow along.
First, we go to BlueLetterBible.org. There’s a search box on the homepage. Here I could type “1 Peter 3:7” and click the magnifying glass. I generally prefer to click the QuickNav button (under the words “Search the Bible”). Next I click “1 Peter,” then “3.”
Now we see a listing of all verses in 1 Peter 3. We can read the verse in its context—very important to proper understanding. Let’s assume that I have read the chapter without noticing anything that helps define “knowledge.” Time to dig deeper.
Beside each verse is a “Tools” button. We click the one next 1 Peter 3:7. This expands a box with six tabs. “Bibles,” which displays others versions, is sometimes helpful in the Old Testament. The “Interlinear” tab is the most useful tool.
Click “Interlinear.” By default it displays the words in the order of the English text. This is easiest to use if you aren’t fluent in Koine Greek. Scroll down to the word “knowledge.” To its right is a strange number: “G1108.” This is part of the “Strong’s Numbering System,” an easy way to look up Greek (or Hebrew) words. Further to the right is the Greek word and its English transliteration. Click the speaker button to find out how gnosis is pronounced.
Next, we click on “G1108.” This opens the lexicon page. It has more information than I’m equipped to use, but some is very helpful.
Let’s see what we can learn. Its part of speech is “feminine noun.” It’s a thing, not an action (verb). Unless the noun is a person, the gender doesn’t tell us anything. G1108 comes from the root word G1097. You might want to look at that later. “Dictionary Aids” simply give us men’s opinions. If we wanted that, we wouldn’t be doing this study.
I like to look at Thayer’s lexicon, which considers profane (non-scriptural) sources to get a broader definition. The only definition given is (…wait for it…) “knowledge.” If I click on the “rest of the entry” link I find a list of opinions; what it might mean in this verse or that. Moving on…
We scroll down farther. Look, there’s a list of every verse where gnosis is used. Now we’re getting somewhere!
The first time that it’s used is in Luke 1:77. “The knowledge of salvation.” Where do we get the knowledge of salvation? God’s word, the Scriptures, of course.
The next entry is not quite as clear. I click on Luke 11:52 to see the context. If we go up to Luke 11:45 and read down to verse fifty-two we see that Jesus is speaking to lawyers (lawyers of Old Testament law – not Roman law). He is rebuking them for their unbelief of God’s word. When we reach verse fifty-three we understand; What they have taken away from God’s people is an understanding of Scripture.
Click the browser’s “Back” button to return to the list of verses. If you get lost, put G1108 in the search box and hit enter. Neat, huh?
In Romans 2:20 we click on the reference to read the context. It’s very similar to the one in Luke: Jews (Judeans) who had a form of scriptural knowledge but didn’t believe or practice it themselves.
In Romans 11:33 it’s the “knowledge of God.”
After a long passage about prophecies concerning Jesus Christ, Romans 15:14 concludes that Paul is persuaded that the believers are “full of all knowledge.” Yet the next verse begins with “Nevertheless.” “But I wrote to remind you.” He then begins a whole new subject. So he was reminding them about the knowledge of Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:3 tells us that the source of the knowledge in verse 4 is God in Christ.
1 Corinthians 8:6 and 7 together define the meaning of knowledge in that chapter.
In 1 Corinthians 12:8 gnosis is used in the phrase “the word of knowledge.” What is “the word of knowledge?” It’s a manifestation of the spirit. A full understanding of this subject requires a lot of research; For now we will simply note that it’s knowledge given by God.
Chapters thirteen and fourteen are part of the context of chapter twelve; G1108 has the same definition. Note that it appears with “prophesy.”
So we continue, checking each context. Are you getting a clearer picture of how God uses this word? In each case it’s talking about knowledge of, or from, God.
In 1 Timothy 6:20 we see a slightly different usage. Here the King James version translates the word as, “science.” Any knowledge that is in opposition to God’s Scriptures is false knowledge.
I continue reading till the end of the list. I’m reading silently, to myself. You do the same.
Done? Me, too.
The very first time that G1108 was used it was “the knowledge of salvation.” Finally, in 2 Peter 3:18, it is “the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Did anyone else have an epiphany?
The word gnosis is used regarding various aspects of God’s plan of salvation. This began with the prophecy of the Messiah in Genesis 3:16. The Old Testament believers were to look forward to his coming. It was this understanding that the lawyers stole from God’s people.
But now, Christ has already come. We strive, with God’s help, to comprehend the totality of Jesus Christ’s salvation, both spiritual and practical. I’m going to go back and read all those passages again.
This is the knowledge according to which we dwell with our wives. And according to which we live our lives.