Question & Answer Forum

David Oliver

What is the meaning and context of "known of Him" in 1 Corinthians 8:3?

Some at Corinth seemed content in knowing that idols were not actual gods. They therefore were free to eat in their own homes meat that had been dedicated to idols before they bought it. Their knowledge inflated their view of their own value; love would actually have increased the spiritual value of others (8:1). Anyone whose supposed knowledge inflates his view of self has not begun to grasp true knowledge (8:2). The ultimate in knowledge is not to know about divine things, but to know and love God. Such a relationship excels mere knowledge. A believer enjoying a divine relationship is "known of Him" (8:3).

Since Paul doesn’t seem to question the reality of his readers’ salvation, this expression, "known of Him," hardly seems to be in contrast to the Lord words to unbelievers, "I know you not." Nor does it seem significant to say that God is acquainted with ("known of Him") a believer who enjoys a relationship with Himself. Paul is carrying his thought forward, though, if we view the expression as being similar to "the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous" (Psalm 1:6) or "He knoweth them that trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7). This is "approving knowledge." The meaning, therefore, seems to be: the Lord is aware of and smiles on one ("he is known of Him") who is living in relationship with Him, that is,who loves Him.

The Lord taught that love for God and love for others are interdependent (Matthew 22:37-40) and inseparable (see 1 John 4:20, 21). Such a relationship with God manifests itself in caring for others, a thought continued in the passage (see verse 12). This is well-pleasing to God.

D. Oliver

Is the meaning of "known of Him" the same in Galatians 4:9 as in 1 Corinthians 8:3?

Yes, this understanding of the phrase lends meaning to the passage.

A number of commentators indicate that the expression, "ye have known God - or rather are known of God" is equivalent to "ye are saved." This is in contrast to the previous verse, when, in their unconverted state, they had no knowledge of God and were in bondage to idols. Now, how ironic that they were saved and yet had

turned to another form of bondage, keeping the ceremonial law!

There may also be a further thought in Paul’s adding, "or rather are known of God." He may be noting, in contrast to their reliance on their own initiative in keeping the law, that salvation ("ye have known God") was the result of God’s initiative toward them ("rather are known of God"). They responded to God’s initiative then and are to likewise respond to God’s initiative by the Spirit’s work in their daily living.

Understanding the expression to mean the same as in 1 Corinthians 8:3 may further extend Paul’s argument and may more completely fit the context. Paul goes back to their salvation ("ye have known God") and to their happy condition at that time ("known [approvinglyl of Him"). When they were enjoying God’s smile on them, they welcomed the message of salvation apart from the law (verse 14), enjoyed true blessedness, and would have given him their eyes (verse 15). Instead of enjoying such divine favor, they had now gone backward through their subjection to the ceremonial law.

D. Oliver

Does "that day" refer to the same day in its three uses in 2 Timothy?

This expression appears four times in Paul’s writings, three times within the four chapters of this epistle. It is safe therefore to expect a similar meaning and to consider each context to verify that. Paul seems to have "that day" in his mind as he closes his ministry and is about to depart.

In chapter 1:12, Paul is thinking of the gospel entrusted to him by the Lord. This "good thing" (verse 14) involved a stewardship both for Paul and now for Timothy to which it had been transferred. Paul had committed the keeping of the deposit of truth to the Lord and labored to pass it to others, particularly Timothy, in order to perpetuate it. Ultimately, though, he would have to give account of his stewardship (Luke 16:2; 1 Corinthians 4:1-4) to the Lord. "That day" was the day of review, the Judgment Seat of Christ. It is clear that the same occasion is on Paul’s mind in 4:8 when he speaks about the Lord giving him a crown of righteous in "that day," a day of rewards.

The meaning of the passage in chapter 1:16-18 may be decided by the meaning of mercy. W. E. Vine indicates that mercy assumes a need and "resources adequate to meet the need." "Mercy is His [God’s] attitude toward those who are in distress." In 1:15, Paul names two who turned away from him. In contrast, Onesiphorus deliberately associated himself with the imprisoned apostle (verse 17). He may now have gone home to heaven as a result of his boldness in standing by truth and Paul, its ambassador. Paul desires mercy for him in "that day" (verse 18), when the Lord would fully bless one who had suffered on earth for the sake of the gospel. Twice Paul uses an expression unique to this passage: "the Lord give" or "grant" (verses 16, 18). His wish was for divine resources to respond in the present to Onesiphorus’ household’s needs and to respond in the future to Onesiphorus’ costly faithfulness. "That day" will be a day of recompense.

D. Oliver

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