Knowing… in the biblical sense

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“I knew her… in the biblical sense” said the ribaldrous fellow with a wink and a nudge.

Many are aware that “knowing in the biblical sense” is shorthand for sex.  But few know what it is that’s ‘biblical’ about that ‘biblical sense.’

Well it all goes back to Genesis 4:1:

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain.”

To know in the biblical sense means a lot more than remembering her birthday.  There is a deeply relational aspect to knowing.  So, in the context of marriage, this kind of ‘knowing’ means ‘making babies.’

This reflects the intimate nature of all “knowing” in the bible.  It doesn’t have to be sexual.  Lots of “knowing” in the bible isn’t sexual.  But it is relational.  The bible’s idea of knowing is not just a cerebral excercise.

Perhaps it’s the effects of the Enlightenment, but we tend to consider knowledge as a matter of accumulating information.  Someone who “knows” is simply a person who’s had buckets of data poured into their head.

We think of knowledge quite impersonally.  Not so in the bible.  In the bible, knowing involves relationship and heart-commitments.

So Adam and Eve were tempted to “know” good and evil (Genesis 3:5).  This was more than an addition of information.  It was a taking of good and evil to themselves to possess those terms.

Or in Amos chapter 3, the LORD is speaking to Israel and says “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.”  Does the Almighty mean that He’s unaware of other nations?  Of course not.  But He knows Israel.  He is in deep fellowship with His special people.

So in this light let’s consider Jesus’ definition of eternal life in John 17:3

And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Eternity is not a matter of IQ or our ability to pass a theology quiz.  But it is determined by our knowledge.  Do we know God the Father and His Son Jesus?  Not simply, Do we hold orthodox ideas of them?  But personally, relationally, from the heart, do we know God in the biblical sense?

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