“Know thyself,” said the ancient inscription on the pagan temple at Delphi. This seemed to be the highest aim, the most noble sentiment, of the ancient world. Unfortunately, self-knowledge seems to be the primary aim of our age as well. To both worlds--ancient and modern--the urgent command from the Bible rings out: “Know the Lord!”
One Greek word for know is ginosko (gih NOS ko) Before we see how it is used in the New Testament, let’s check the background of the word in the Old Testament. A survey of over 700 uses of the word there shows that the people were to “know that I am the LORD” (79 times), and to know what God has done (over 100 times). Rarely, however, do they directly know God himself. “Know the Lord” is a command (3 times), a prayer (once), and a promise (4 times), but it is a direct statement of fact only when people do not know the Lord (17 times). Notice that to know God is a far greater thing than just to know that he is God!
Before we leave the Old Testament we should note one more use of know, which appears at first to be a mere curiosity. In Genesis 4:1 we read that “Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived.” The same use of know in the marital relationship is found in a number of other places. We note from this that the word includes the sense of intimate involvement, culminating in the creation of new life. Let’s keep this in mind as we move to the New Testament.
The idea of knowing God is especially prominent in John’s writings, found a dozen times in just his first epistle. It is in John’s gospel, though, where we learn that people come to know God through Christ. When Jesus came, the world did not know Him (1:10), but finally the disciples came to know Him as the Holy One of God (6:69). Just as Jesus said, he knew his sheep and was known by them (11:14). He said that to know him was to know God (14: 7), and to know God was eternal life (17:3). To know God himself in this intimate, productive way is not just the path to eternal life, it is eternal life! Do you know the Lord?