The Knowledge of Christ

While knowing the things of the world is essential to earthly life, the knowledge of Christ is what every soul needs to live a godly life. Hence, Peter, in his second book, encouraged Christians to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

Of the words in the aforementioned verse, the more fundamental one is “knowledge”. It is the key to the book of 2 Peter. It appears seven times in three chapters, four of which refer to the knowledge of Christ (1:2-3, 5-6, 8; 2:20; 3:18). Also, “knowledge” is the translation of two Greek terms. One (“epignosis”) suggests the ability to discern or recognize something. The other (“gnosis”) refers to the understanding that one has about something. In the context of the book, which speaks of the false teachers of the first century who preached “another gospel” (Galatians 1:7), the apostle seems to urge Christians of that era to discern the true Christ as opposed to the pseudo-Christ of the false teachers. A number of them denied that Christ came in the world in the flesh while asserting that He remained entirely a Spirit. Let’s set the record straight — Christ is the incarnation of God who is a Spirit (John 1:14; 4:24).

Today, however, Christians face issues of a materialistic significance, but with the same result: falsehood. The Son of God is seen through the prism of materialism. Three examples will suffice. First, Jesus is portrayed on pictures (calendars, cards, etc.) as a handsome man, with effeminate features that compete with the facelifted features of some of the denominational preachers we see on television. But the Bible says, “He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2). The term “comeliness” means “elegance of figure” and suggests beauty. But the point is, Jesus was not aesthetically attractive in His earthly life; He instead pulled people to Himself like a magnet through the power of the goodness of His heart and character. His beauty resides in His kindness, compassion, and love.

Second, Jesus is viewed by many as somewhat a “goody-goody” person, someone who will tolerate disobedience to His word as long as those who view Him this way make a claim of being His followers (cp. 2 Corinthians 5:10). Third, there are those who claim, concerning the Lord’s second coming, that when Christ returns He will establish His kingdom and reign over it for 1,000 years. This is absolutely and palpably false! If we recognize and accept Jesus as “our Lord and Saviour”, then we wouldn’t dispute His authority. He had Paul write in His testament that at His return “the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Does this sound like the Lord will touch down on earth?

What about Christian living? There were some in the first century who argued that the way a Christian lived did not matter. They held that no matter how long one lived in sin, or how great their sins were, the grace of God covered them. At the core of this error was the belief that made knowledge superior to practice. All that mattered to them was the intellectual understanding of the corpus of information which constitutes the Christian faith (Jude 3), as well as the One from whom it emanates, namely Christ, but not the application of His doctrine nor the emulation of His character. Lewdness was the consequence of this doctrine against which Peter warned (2 Peter 2:20; cp. Romans 6:1).

The best way to guard against such erroneous teachings and many others about Christ is by reading for ourselves the story of Jesus in the Bible. The application of the truth Christ taught and lived becomes the proof of our knowledge of the Master. The more we get to know Christ, the more we enjoy a growing experience of Him as He gets “formed in you” (Galatians 4:19).

Adapted from Constant Coulibaly