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By Charles H. Welch

ACKNOWLEDGE. Epiginosko, epignosis.

Epiginosko. In the A.V. this is translated acknowledge 5 times, have knowledge of 1, know 30, know well 1, perceive 3, take knowledge of 2.

epignosis, acknowledging 3, acknowledgment 1, knowledge 16, with marginal reading acknowledge 1, acknowledgment 1. The distinction between knowledge and acknowledge, was not so sharply drawn in earlier days as it is now.

‘We knowledge Thee to be the Father of infinite majesty’ was the recognized form in the year A.D. 1535. Today ‘knowledge’ stands for the ‘stuff’ of knowledge, the information gathered, and the intelligence possessed, but this is a secondary meaning as any good English dictionary will reveal. The primary meaning of ‘knowledge’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is ‘acknowledgment, confession, recognition of the position or claims of any one’. epignosis does not mean the mere piling up of information, neither does it mean full knowledge, but rather does it mean ‘recognition’. Recognition to-day has a primary and a secondary meaning. Disregarding the secondary meaning that of ‘recognizing’ anyone’s features, manner, etc., the primary meaning that of ‘recognizing or acknowledging liability or obligation’, this English word would suit admirably.

Here are a few examples of the usage of the word epiginosko:

‘Ye shall know (i.e. recognize) them by their fruits’ (Matt. 7:16).
‘Elias is come already, and they knew (i.e. recognized) him not’ (Matt. 17:12).
‘Their eyes were holden that they should not know (i.e. recognize) Him’ (Luke 24:16).

An ordinary man does not ‘know’ all that there is to know about a ‘fig-tree’. Even if he were a master of the sciences of botany, zoology and horticulture, there would be infinitely more left unknown than any scientist has yet comprehended, but an illiterate observer could readily ‘recognize’ a fig-tree by its fruits. It is a natural sequence for ‘recognition’ to take on a moral colouring, and proceed from ‘recognizing’ a fig-tree, to ‘acknowledging’ Christ and His teaching. No persecution is likely to arise from the one, but the ‘recognition’ of Truth may be resisted. The earliest use of epiginosko by Paul is in 1 Corinthians 13:12:

‘For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know (ginosko) in part; but then shall I know (epiginosko) even as also I am known (epiginosko)’.

The bearing of this word on Dispensational Truth finds an illustration in Ephesians 1:17,18. In Ephesians 1:3-14 the apostle has revealed the outstanding characteristics of the dispensation of the Mystery (see MYSTERY) which he follows by prayer. He does not pray that his reader shall pile up knowledge, but pauses to say that ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation’ is given ‘in the acknowledgment of Him’ en epignosei auton.

Occasionally we have had to say of a fellow-believer ‘he did run well, he appeared to accept the principle of right division and the peculiar revelation of the dispensation of the Mystery - yet, he seems to have drawn back, and his testimony is silenced’. It is usually not lack of ‘knowledge’ or information that is at the bottom of this failure, it is not that such do not see clearly what is involved in the profession. Alas, they see all too clearly what the logical consequences must be of standing for such unpopular teaching, they shrink back from ‘acknowledging’ and growth ceases.

This is the theme of Ephesians 4:12-14 the only other occurrence of epignosis in Ephesians:

‘Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ: that we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro’ (13,14).

Here, once again we should read ‘the acknowledgment of the Son of God’ and the following analysis may enable the reader to follow the argument as it is indicated by the threefold use of eis ‘unto’.

‘Till we all come
Eis    Unto the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God,
Eis    Unto a perfect man,
Eis    Unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ’.

The ‘acknowledgment’ embraces all that is implied in ‘the perfect man’ and the subdivisions that follow. Yet other passages must be recorded:

‘That ye might be filled with the knowledge (epignosis) of His will’ (Col. 1:9).
‘Increasing in the knowledge (epignosis) of God’ (Col. 1:10).
‘To the acknowledgment (epignosis) of the mystery of God’ (Col. 2:2).
‘Which is renewed in knowledge (epignosis) after the image’ (Col. 3:10).

We must translate Colossians 1:10, thus:

‘Being fruitful in every good work, and increasing by the acknowledgment of God’ (Dative case, no preposition ‘in’).

Just as we learned from Ephesians 1:17,18, that ‘the spirit of wisdom and revelation’ we so much need is given ‘in the acknowledging of Him’ so here we learn that fruitful increase is ‘by the acknowledgment’ of Him, and without this acknowledgment growth will cease, sight will become dim and keenness will be dulled. The limits set by the title of this work, prevent us from giving in detail all the passages where this thought of ‘acknowledgment’ is uppermost, but we give here every occurrence of ‘acknowledge’ and ‘acknowledgment’ that is found in the A.V.



The verb epiginosko

1 Cor. 14:37

‘Let him acknowledge’.

1 Cor. 16:18

‘Therefore acknowledge’.

2 Cor. 1:13

‘Ye read or acknowledge’.

2 Cor. 1:13

‘Ye shall acknowledge’.

2 Cor. 1:14

‘Ye have acknowledged’.


The noun epignosis

Col. 2:2

‘The acknowledgment of the mystery’.

2 Tim. 2:25

‘Repentance to the acknowledging of the truth’.

Titus 1:1

‘The acknowledging of the truth’.

Phile. 6

‘The acknowledging of every good thing’.


If the reader will ponder the reference in 2 Timothy 2:25, relate it with its context (note ‘Right Division’ in verse 15) and carry with him what has been seen in Ephesians 1:17,18 he may perceive that no unconverted sinner caught in the toils of sin is here, but a believer held captive by ‘truth’ out of place, by ‘truth’ that is undispensational, a device of the Devil, more fully revealed in 2 Corinthians 4, and opened up under the heading HID 2 to which the reader is earnestly referred.

The verb epiginosko occurs once in the epistle to the Colossians, namely, in the phrase ‘and knew the grace of God in truth’ (Col. 1:6), and the substantive epignosis, occurs four times (Col. 1:9,10; 2:2; 3:10). Whether used as a noun or a verb each reference is practical in character and has growth as its goal.

The following paraphrase brings out the apostle’s meaning:

‘For this cause, namely, that you recognized the grace of God in reality (i.e. as the "body" as over against the "shadow" see Col. 2:17), and are manifesting this "recognition" by fruit bearing and increase, we do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that you might be filled, and this fullness is none other than the "recognition" of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding’.

It is ‘by’ not ‘in’ the acknowledgment of God, that we both bear fruit and grow.

The next occurrence of acknowledgment leads to the heart of the mystery, the R.V. reading ‘The mystery of God even Christ’ (Col. 2:2).

To deal adequately with this verse would demand an excursus into Textual Criticism and into the mystery of Godliness, namely that in Christ God was manifest in the flesh, even as Colossians 2:9 declares that in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. But important as these considerations are they lie outside the scope of this analysis which is devoted to the dispensational aspect of truth.

Let us nevertheless ponder the extreme importance, not only of knowledge but of its acknowledgment.