…. they were unschooled, ordinary men …. they had been with Jesus …. the crippled man healed standing with them – Acts 4:13,14

Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom in the Bible, what did Jesus mean?

In Jesus time, the religious leaders had knowledge of God’s word, … however, did they understand?  Were they wise?

Recently, came across a few verses that helped shed light upon these words as expressed in the Bible — knowledge, understanding and wisdom.

Knowledge, understanding and wisdom
sound similar, … and yet somehow different.
If we poll for an explanation we’ll probably receive quite a number of points of view.

By exploring the Bible, and using the Bible to explain words in the Bible, … knowledge, understanding and wisdom, …
we avoid introducing unintended contemporary meanings, or inserting/adding our views into Bible words/terms.

(As in most field, definitions derived from first  principles are important, … and is usually the starting point of meaningful discussion.)

Paul wrote:
When we tell you these things,
we do not use words that come from human wisdom.

Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit,
using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths.
1 Corinthians 2:13 (NLT)

In this post, we’ll begin by exploring attitudes towards knowledge & wisdom.
Then, we’ll take a look in the book of Proverbs.
And, followed by what did Jesus meant by knowledge, understanding and wisdom, and the Holy Spirit.

On a side note, a grasp of these words has implications on what and how we share & teach the Bible to others.

Please note, this post will not cover:

** the gifts of the Spirit — word of knowledge and the word of wisdom (1 Corinthains 12)
** the Spirit of wisdom & revelation, Spirit of knowledge (Ephesians 1:17, Isaiah 11:2, Acts 6, Daniel 1).

Knowledge and wisdom attitudes

The following is a sample of some knowledge and wisdom attitudes that the Bible describes.

But knowledge puffs up
while love builds up.
2 Corinthians 8:1 (NIV)

Share knowledge to build others up in love;
rather than feeling superior or proud about one’s knowledge, qualifications.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil.
Proverbs 3:7 (NIV)

The danger of thinking one is so wise,
such that the counsel from God’s word, and from other people is overlooked,
as one goes ahead with one’s plans and way.

James wrote:
14 But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts,
do not boast and lie against the truth.

15 This wisdom
does not descend from above,

but is earthly, sensual, demonic.
James 3:14, 15 (NKJV)

A form of wisdom where one’s ideas or plans are motivated, inspired
and conceived by bitter envy and self-seeking desires.

And the fruit of such wisdom?

16 For where envy and self-seeking exist,
confusion and every evil thing are there.
James 3:15, 16 (NKJV)

Paul wrote:
21 For since in the wisdom of God

the world
through its wisdom

did not come to know God,

God was well-pleased
through the foolishness of the message preached
to save those who believe.

A form of wisdom where its possible to be so wise that one reasons away faith in Jesus and the word of God.

However, for us who believe in Jesus,

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness
to those who are perishing,

to us who are being saved

it is the power of God.

24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
Christ the power of God
and the wisdom of God

1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 (NKJV)

Christ is our wisdom of God.

Interestingly, Paul also wrote that its possible to be
always learning
but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth
2 Timothy 3:7 (NIV)

its possible to attend Bible studies, seminars, conferences, meetings,
read Christian books, videos, audios,
or strive for qualifications, certifications …

and somehow,
miss the knowledge of the truth.

i.e.  more & more information / qualifications
… may not translate to a knowledge of the truth

Why? … what’s missing?

We’re uncover this in the next sections.

Another interesting thought about ‘knowledge’ and ‘to know’ expressed in Paul’s prayers

17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 

18 may be able to comprehend with all saints
what is the breadth and length and depth and height,
19 and to know the love of Christ

which surpasses knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do
exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine,
according to the power that works in us,
21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:17-21 (MEV)

To know the love of Christ which  surpasses knowledge,
the immense, fathomless breath, length,  depth and height  … of the love of God.
till we  be filled … to the measure of all the fullness of God.

To prayerfully desire to know,
comprehend, appreciate how immeasurably great is the love of God to us,
as we receive His love and experience His love.

 In blessed assurance, … knowing God truly loves us,
exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine,
… to Him be the glory!

Knowledge, understanding, wisdom — Proverbs

Before we explore what Jesus said about knowledge, understanding and wisdom,
let’s look at the book on wisdom in the Old Testament – Proverbs.

Proverbs 9:10 (NKJV, AMP)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The [reverent] fear of the Lord
[that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome]
is the beginning and the preeminent part of wisdom
[its starting point and its essence],

And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding and spiritual insight.

This verse has all 3 words – knowledge, understanding, wisdom,
(an often quoted verse about this topic)
and gives us some clues as to how to start looking.

From this verse, its clear that knowledge, understanding and wisdom
are first and foremost, centered upon the Lord.

What are we to know?
What knowledge should we gain?

the knowledge of the Holy One
Knowing the Holy One, the Lord personally,
… first-hand, as revealed in God’s word … (rather than thru man’s thoughts or words … or someone else’s experience),
experience & encounter Him.

Jesus said to the religious leaders

37 And the Father who sent me has testified about me himself.
You have never heard his voice or seen him face to face,

38 and you do not have his message in your hearts,
you do not believe me
—the one he sent to you.

39 “You search the Scriptures
because you think they give you eternal life.
But the Scriptures point to me!

40 Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.
John 5:37-40 (NLT)

The focus of the scriptures is … Jesus,
“the Scriptures point to me”
the knowledge of the Holy One

How do we gain  understanding, spiritual insight ?

Through the knowledge of the Holy One,

What’s needed?

John 5:38 and you do not have his message
in your hearts
because you do not believe me
—the one he sent to you.

Believe, … faith in our heart to believe and follow the Holy One,
through believing His Word, led by His Spirit.
(even though we have not physically seen Him)

and though you have not seen Him,
you love Him,

and though you do not see Him now,
but believe in Him,
you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
obtaining as the outcome of your faith
the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1: 8,9 (NASB)

How does one begin  to gain  wisdom ?

Reverent fear of the Lord,
worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome from Proverbs 9:10
The road to wisdom begins with a worship attitude of reverent fear of the Lord, submitting to Him, believing in Him.

The reverent fear of the Lord, what does the Bible mean?

Proverbs 8:12, 13 (NKJV)
12 “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence,
And find out knowledge and discretion.
13 The fear of the Lord is to hate evil;
Pride and arrogance and the evil way
And the perverse mouth I hate.

Proverbs 3:7 (NKJV)
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

Psalm 111:10 (NKJV)
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments.
His praise endures forever.

Psalm 128:1 (NIV)
Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
who walk in obedience to him.

Psalm 34:11-14 (NKJV)
Come, you children, listen to me;

I will teach you
the fear of the Lord.

12 Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?

13 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The fear of the Lord = to hate evil, depart from evil, do good, seek peace, speaking truth

.. reverent worshiping Him & regarding Him as truly awesome,
.. i.e. do His commandments,
walk in obedience to him

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom Proverbs 9:10

Jesus said,
“If you love Me,
keep My commandments”
John 14:15 NKJV

Obeying him = loving Him in reverent worship

John shared,
We love Him
because He first loved us.
1 John 4:9 (NKJV)

Thus, in response to God’s great, awesome love for us through Jesus, … we love Him.  We obey God’s commandments out of love for Him, inspired by His love and amazing grace,
i.e. wisdom.

In the sermon on the mount, Jesus used hyperbole to jolt us to the seriousness of departing from evil in  reverent fear of the Lord,

“If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Matthew 18:8,9 (NKJV)

Peter explained:
15 But just as he who called you is holy,
so be holy in all you do;
16 for it is written:
“Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:15, 16 (NKJV)

A down-to-earth example,

Nehemiah wrote:
Moreover, from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah,
from the twentieth year to the thirty-second year of King Artaxerxes, for twelve years,

neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance.

15 But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people.

But I did not do so
because of the fear of God.

16 I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work.
Nehemiah 4:14-16 (NASB)

Nehemiah did not follow the ways of his predecessors,
instead he chose to honor the Lord in the way he carried out his daily work.

God honoring integrity on the job in the marketplace, … (beyond just Sunday at church) …

Let’s return back to the verse in Proverbs 9 and look at its context,

Proverbs 9:8-10 (NKJV)
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The wise person is open to be taught & instructed,
and … listen & receive rebuke, correction, feedback from others and the Lord,
In corporate-speak … continuous improvement … a life-long learner … accountability.

Let’s pray with the Psalmist,
Teach me your way, O Lord,       
that I may walk in your truth;    
give me an undivided heart
revere your name.
Psalm 86:11 (NRSV)

Knowledge – the knowledge of the Holy One

What are we to know?

Jesus said:
And this is eternal life,
that they may know You, the only true God,
and Jesus Chris
t whom You have sent.

John 17:3 (NKJV)

17 the Spirit of truth,
whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him;
but you know Him,
for He dwells with you and will be in you.

John 14:17 (NKJV)

And you shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free
John 8:32 (NKJV)

Jesus answered and said to them,
“Are you not therefore mistaken,
because you do not know the Scriptures nor the power of God?
Mark 12:24 (NKJV)

“… 26 I have made you known to them,
and will continue to make you known
in order that
the love you have for me
may be   in them
and that I myself may be   in them.”
John 17:26 (NIV)

To know:

** the only true God, Father, Jesus & Holy Spirit
** the truth, the Scriptures, the Word of God (His will)
** the power of God
** the love of God

Paul wrote:
that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,
and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of
the Father and of Christ,
3  in whom
are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Colossians 2:2, 3 (NKJV)

24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks,
the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1 Corinthians 1:24 (NKJV)

Knowing the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
Knowing the wisdom of God,  …  personally.

Know and experience God … firsthand,
through God’s Word and His Spirit.

This is also consistent with the prayers of Paul in Philippians 3:8-11, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:17-19

And if we reject the knowledge of God,

Paul wrote:
And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,
God gave them over to a debased mind,
to do those things which are not fitting;

People did not think it was important to have a true knowledge of God.
So God left them and allowed them to have their own worthless thinking
and to do things they should not do.

Romans 1:28 (NKJV, NCV)

Knowledge, what we know, … influences … our thoughts, our thinking, our minds.
Our thoughts … direct the things we do, our actions,
our deeds, how we act & react.

In an era of post-truth, alternative facts, truthiness, fake news, influenced by social media,
as Christians, let’s heed what Paul wrote,
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing.
They perish because
they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that
they will believe the lie

12 and so that all will be condemned
who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 9 (NIV)

they refused to love the truth    (a choice)
they will believe the lie,   (deceived by deception)
having not believed the truth 

People do not believe lies because they have to,
but because they want to.

Malcolm Muggeridge

Jesus prophesied,
24 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders
to deceive, if possible, even the elect.

25 See, I have told you beforehand.
Matthew 24:24 (NKJV)

Jesus revealed himself as the truth that we can know personally,

John 14:6;  8:31,32, 46,47 (NASB)
14:6 Jesus said to him, 
I am the way, and the truth, and the life;
no one comes to the Father but through Me.

8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him,
“If you continue in My word,
then you are truly disciples of Mine;

32 and
you will know the truth,
and the truth will make you free.”

8:46 …  If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 
47 He who is of God hears the words of God; …

Jesus is the wisdom of God,

24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, 
Christ the power of God
and the wisdom of God. 

1 Corinthians 1:18, 24 (NKJV)

At the last supper, a poignant question was asked by Jesus,
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip,
even after I have been among you such a long time?
John 14:9 (NIV)

Prayerfully, … do we know Jesus personally … firsthand ?

Understanding –  the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding

In the parable of the sower and seed, Jesus taught:
13 Therefore I speak to them in parables, because
seeing they do not see,
and hearing they do not hear,
nor do they understand.

14 And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says:

‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand,
And seeing you will see and not perceive;
15 For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,

Lest they should see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,

Lest they should understand with their hearts
and turn,

So that I should heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes for they see,
and your ears for they hear;

17 for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets
and righteous men desired to see what you see,
and did not see it,
and to hear what you hear,
and did not hear it.

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower:
19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom,
and does not understand it,
then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.
This is he who received seed by the wayside.
Matthew 13:13-19 (NKJV)

The people saw and heard
Jesus words and His deeds;

they received the knowledge, .. the information, .. the data,
they did not understand


For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes …
Matthew 13:15 (NLT)

Their hearts directed what they choose to hear and see,
… they have closed their eyes

On a separate note, physical/natural knowledge and understanding is gained through the evidence of empirical observations (eg see, hear, touch, sensors, etc), … from which people derive and test models, explanations, theories.

God’s kingdom is known through what is seen, heard, experienced.

19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.
20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
Acts 4:19, 20 (NKJV)

(its not all theory or academic 🙂 )

For understanding, we have to
understand with our hearts and turn
to the Lord;

For the seed sown by the wayside:
when the listener
does not understand it,
results in the God’s word sown in the heart being quickly snatched away by the wicked one. 

So, what is required to gain understanding?

Hebrews 4:2 (NKJV, NCV)
For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them;
but the word which they heard
did not profit them,

not being mixed with faith
in those who heard it.

because they heard it but did not accept it with faith.

Faith in God’s word, … the seed.

Faith, believe, trust from our heart
in the Lord and His Word.

By faith
we understand

that the worlds were framed by the word of God,

so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.
Hebrews 11:3 (NKJV)
Creation – the worlds were framed by the word of God,

by faith we understand, what God’s word has said,
i.e. God’s view of things,
… despite all the theories of the origin of the universe,
or our own opinions and ideas.

In the same way, by faith we understand Jesus blood and sacrifice cleanse us of our sins, … once and for all.


For by Him all things were created,
both in the heavens and on earth,
visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities
—all things have been created through Him
and for Him.

Colossians 1:16 (NASB)

We understand from the word of God
that there exists a visible physical realm,
and an invisible spiritual realm, that is present also.

5 Trust in the Lord
with all your heart

And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and depart from evil.
It will be health to your flesh,
And strength to your bones.
Proverbs 3:5-8 (NKJV)

Knowledge of God & His word + Faith in the Lord and His word = Understanding in one’s heart

Knowing and believing, putting our faith in  God’s word, trusting the Lord.

Jesus said,
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,

that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (NASB)

John wrote the reason for writing his book:
Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book;

31 but these have been written
so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing you may have life in His name.

The emphasis on what John wrote is not to
just   know   that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (information, data)
rather, more importantly,

that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing
you may have life in His name

believing (faith, trusting)
not just knowledge of what’s written.

Thus, its possible for one to know a lot,
yet, one may not believe,understand.

Therefore, besides acquiring more information,
becoming Bible-smart, … filling up Bible study guides, etc,

let’s personally read God’s word,

let’s build faith, .. believe, trust God’s word,
led by His Spirit, … walking in God’s word.

For believers in persecuted countries,
although they may sometimes only have a precious fragment or a page of God’s word in their hands.
Yet, they put their faith upon whatever they know of God’s Word in spite of very difficult circumstances.
They understand God’s word and live it out;  faithfully standing on God’s Word.

Thus, understanding is not measured by greater amounts of knowledge,
rather its believing, putting our faith in what we know,
i.e. seeing and understanding God’s view of things.

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because
when you received the word of God which you heard from us,
you welcomed it not as the word of men,
but as it is in truth,
the word of God

which also effectively works in you who believe.
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV)

It begins with an attitude that what we hold in our hands,
is truly … the word of God, … the word from God.

Understanding in one’s heart:

** the only true God, & Jesus Christ
** the truth, the Scriptures (Word of God)
** the power of God
** the love of God

My son, if you receive my words,
And treasure my commands within you,
So that you incline your ear to wisdom,
And apply your heart to understanding;
Proverbs 2:1,2 (NKJV)

receive my words, … and apply your heart to understanding;

The Bible warns us about a hardened heart

15 For the hearts of these people are hardened,
    and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
    so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
    and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
    and let me heal them.’
Matthew 13:15 (NLT)

God desires us to
turn to Him, by faith
and let Him heal us
of our ways,
lead us in His way.

We’ll end this section with  Jesus and His disciples in a boat on a journey,

Mark 8:16-18 (NASB)
16 They began to discuss with one another the fact that
they had no bread.

17 And Jesus, aware of this, *said to them,
“Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread?

Do you not yet see or understand?
Do you have a hardened heart?

18 Having eyes, do you not see?
And having ears, do you not hear?

And do you not remember,

19 when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?”
They *said to Him, “Twelve.”

20 “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?”
And they *said to Him, “Seven.”

21 And He was saying to them,
“Do you not yet understand?”

In Matthew’s account of this story, Matthew recorded,

But Jesus, aware of this, said,
“You men of little faith,
why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?
Matthew 16:8 (NASB)

Logically, rationally … yes, the disciples like us, should be concerned about provisions for the journey.
However, … Jesus was in the boat with them.

On previous occasions,  when the disciples were hungry,
they personally saw, smelled, tasted, ate & experienced Jesus feeding them, along with 5000 and 4000 people.
So much food was multiplied by Jesus that they had leftovers of 12 and 7 basket fulls.
And all this abundance came miraculously through Jesus from 5 and 7 loaves of bread.

Jesus was reminded them that He is able to miraculously do it again, … even without bread.

The disciples saw, … they heard, … but did they really understand
who Jesus really is ?

a believing faith in Jesus

This is exactly what Jesus wants to reveal to everyone through His life, word and deed on earth,
who He really is ?

here and now … in our midst, … with us in the boat ….

John 1:14 (NASB)
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we saw His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.

With or without bread in the boat,
… as we put our faith in Him,
Jesus, the bread of life,  will provide.

Give us this day our daily bread.
Matthew 6:11 (NASB)

And Jesus answered saying to them,
Have faith in God.”
Mark 11:22 (NASB)

However, whenever we choose to close our eyes, close our ears to God,
our hearts grow hardened,
our hearts cannot understand,
… unbelief grows.

10 For it is with your heart
that you believe ….

17 Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message,
and the message is heard through the word about Christ
Romans 10:10, 17 (NIV)

Let’s pray with the Psalmist,

11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.

34 Give me understanding,
and I shall keep Your law;

Indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
Psalm 119: 11, 34 (NKJV)

   to   keep Your law

with my whole heart
   to    observe Your law

And Jesus said to them,
“Do you not yet understand?”

The Holy Spirit gives us Understanding 

We need the Holy Spirit to teach, guide and lead us.

How does one receive the Holy Spirit?

Acts 2:38 (NIV)
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized,
every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ
for the forgiveness of your sins.

And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

In introducing the Holy Spirit, Jesus said,

John 14:17, 16:13 (NIV)
14:17 the Spirit of truth.
The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him.
But you know him,
for he lives with you and will be in you.

16:13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes,
he will guide you into all the truth.
He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears,
and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Paul explained:

1 Corinthians 2:9-14 (NIV)
However, as it is written:

“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love him—

10 these are the things God
has revealed to us
by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them?

In the same way no one knows
the thoughts of God
except the Spirit of God.

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit who is from God,
so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

13 This is what we speak,
not in words taught us by human wisdom
in words taught by the Spirit,
explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

14 The person without the Spirit
does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God
but considers them foolishness,
and cannot understand them
because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

... without the Spirit … cannot understand …

The Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God.
By the Holy Spirit,
the things God is revealed by his Spirit to us who believe,
things that are discerned only through the Spirit.

The Holy Spirit enables us to  understand what God has freely given us,
in words taught by the Spirit,
explaining spiritual realities
with Spirit taught words.

The person without the Spirit
cannot accept such things from the Holy Spirit,
and considers them foolishness,
not able to understand them.

Wisdom – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

At the end of the sermon on the mount, Jesus taught:
24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine,
and does them,
I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:
25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine,
and does not do them,
will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand:

27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”
Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

Jesus defines simply what it means to be wise,
and the difference between a wise man and a foolish man;
with contrasting outcomes and end result.

The wisdom of the wise man is
hears these sayings of Jesus, and does them
hears Jesus words and ·obeys   [acts on; practices]  them (EXB)
hears these words of Jesus and puts them into practice (NIV)

Thus, wisdom takes place,
when we obey God’s word and put God’s word into practice
in our daily lives in holiness, in love, grace, and truth,

i.e. living out God’s word, … first-hand experience in God’s Word.

Thus, the implication on our lives is — a change, a transformation of our way of life, … from the way we used to live.
Walk the talk.

James wrote:

James 1:22 (NKJV, Voice)
But be doers of the word,

and not hearers only,
deceiving yourselves.

Put the word into action.

If you think hearing
is what matters most,

you are going to find you have been deceived

In obeying God’s word, putting God’s word into practice,
implies that Godly wisdom is about  aligning our choices and decisions in life with the Word of God,
aligning our will to the Word of God;
the will of God in our daily lives

This is consistent with beginning on the road to God’s wisdom — the fear of the Lord,
The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, depart from evil

The word often associated with departing from evil is ‘repent’.
Interestingly, the word ‘repent‘ in the original Greek is  μετανοέω, metanoeō,   which means:
to change one’s mind    of (on account of) something,   
to change one’s mind    for the better, heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins  (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
… in agreement with Romans 12:2 of   be transformed by the renewing our mind,
according to God’s word

The goal is not to make you a smarter sinner 
but to make you like the Savior.”
— Howard Hendricks

Paul wrote
Therefore be careful how you walk,
not as unwise men
but as wise

Ephesians 5:15 (NASB)

carefulwalk as wise — walk in the ways of God in our daily lives, a lifestyle

The writer of Hebrews wrote:
But solid food is for the mature,
who by constant use
have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

But solid food is for the [spiritually] mature,
whose senses are trained by practice
to distinguish between what is morally good and what is evil.

Hebrews 5:14 (NIV, AMP)

Through the various situations in life,
as we regularly refer to God’s word to guide us,
by constant use, … as we train by practice to
apply and put His word into practice in our lives,
… we grow in Christ, able to distinguish and discern good from evil,
becoming spiritually mature, … being wise.

Part of Solomon’s prayer for wisdom,
So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people
and to distinguish between right and wrong. … 

1 Kings 3:9 (NIV)

The foolish man – hears Jesus teaching and doesn’t obey (NLT)

When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house,
it will collapse with a mighty crash. (NLT)

How to tell if God’s wisdom is at work?
What’s the fruit of Godly wisdom?

James describes the characteristics of God’s wisdom in a believer’s life.
But the wisdom that is from above is
first pure,
then peaceable,
willing to yield,
full of mercy
and good fruits,

without partiality
and without hypocrisy.

18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3:17 (NKJV)

James’ list of characteristics is very different
from how conventional wisdom is described and defined.

Unlike conventional wisdom,
Godly wisdom is not centered upon one’s IQ … or intelligence … or problem solving skills … or insight into problems,
… else the smart, the intelligent will do very well.

Godly wisdom is also not acquired through a person’s age … whether one is young or old,
or how long one has known the Lord, … recently … or for a long time,
as Paul advised young Timothy

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young,
but set an example for the believers
in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV)

set an example … in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity
living out God’s word in everyday life,
put them into practice,
in word and deed, … in faith, in love, in purity.

Furthermore, in James’ list of characteristics of Godly wisdom characteristics,
its focused upon our actions, reactions, responses
in our relationships with other people, … in our daily interactions with others,
i.e. how we respond to other people.

(btw, James’ list is echoed in the Old Testament in Psalm 19:9 & Psalm 34:11-14)

wisdom that is from above is
first pure, …
Godly wisdom has an unchanging & absolute ethical, moral, Biblical compass
— reverence to the Lord, His word and His ways.

In contrast, .. to conventional wisdom,
where its possible for one to logically explain the ‘rightness’ or ‘goodness’ of an action,
depending on whichever way one looks at it (situational ethics).

Paul wrote:
… I want you to be wise in what is good
and innocent in what is evil.
Romans 16:19 (NASB)

The Psalmist wrote:
The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever. …

Psalm 19:9 (NIV)

willing to yield,
full of mercy   and good fruits
in our response, in our relationships with others, … so that we,

… “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

10 Love does no harm to a neighbor.
Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:9, 10 (NIV)

walking in the footsteps of  Jesus in our relationships.

peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits,
involves humility, … humble service & response to others on our part, … in love,
sown in peace … by those who make peace

without partiality
fair, just, not bias/prejudice, non-discriminatory,
objective, open-minded,
not for personal gain,
hearing all sides

and without hypocrisy
truthful, with honesty, sincerity

And, flows from  … righteousness … sown in peace by those who make peace,
i.e. peacemakers in relationships.

Jesus said,
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they shall be called sons of God.

Matthew 5:9 (NASB)

the fruit of righteousness:

Proverbs 11:30 (NASB, NCV)
The fruit of the righteous
is a tree of life,

And he who is wise wins souls.
A good person gives life to others;
the wise person teaches others how to live
Godly wisdom exudes, radiates, breathes a Godly influence upon others.
It was written about Jesus :
Luke 2:40, 52 (NKJV)
40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit,
filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature,
and in favor with God and men.
wisdom in favor with God and men
by the grace of God upon Him.
We need His grace to walk in His wisdom,
in favor with God and men.
James also wrote in his letter:
As the body without the spirit is dead,
so faith without deeds is dead.

faith without works [of obedience] is also dead

so faith that does nothing is dead!
James 2:26 (NIV, AMP, NCV)

i.e. how our faith in the Lord,
is   expressed.

Expressed through good deeds, in obedience to God’s word.

James explained:
Who is wise and understanding among you?

Let them show it
by their good life,
by deeds done in the humility
that comes from wisdom.

James 3:13 (NIV)

How do we discern the wise and understanding amongst us?

Let them show it,   (just do it)
live out God’s wisdom as revealed in the Word of God,
by their good life,  .. by deeds .. done in the humility that comes from wisdom

 Knowledge + Faith + obeying, experiencing, living out God’s word in daily life = wisdom

And David behaved wisely in all his ways,
and the Lord was with him.
1 Samuel 18:14 (NKJV)

Knowledge, Understanding, Wisdom

Let’s join the Psalmist in his prayer,

Teach me your way, O Lord,       (knowledge)
that I may walk in your truth;    (wisdom)
give me an undivided heart         (understanding)
revere your name.    (love, worship, submit to the Lord)
Psalm 86:11 (NRSV)

Recapping, Jesus parable on how to build a strong house,
“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them,
I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock

this is elaborated in Proverbs,

Through wisdom a house is built,
And by understanding it is established;
By knowledge the rooms are filled
With all precious and pleasant riches.
Proverbs 24: 3,4 (NKJV)

In this context, a house can refer to an individual or a family.

filling … established … built ..

What are we filling ourselves with?
Through what … are we building?

Back to the parable of the sower and the seed.
Let’s look at the good soil that bears multiplying fruit

But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart,
who hear the word, retain it,
and by persevering produce a crop.

And the seed that fell on the good ground is like those
who hear God’s teaching with good, honest hearts
and obey it and patiently produce good fruit.

Luke 8:15 (NIV, NCV)

the seed that fell on the good ground … produce a crop, good fruit

knowledge —
hear the word
understanding, faith — with good, honest heart
wisdom — obey the word, and by persevering produce good fruit

Thus, from information –> to life transformation,
through knowing God’s word, … loving God,
and living out God’s word,
… a living faith,

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

God’s word –> our mind & thoughts –> our heart & faith –> action in everyday life

Knowing Him –> loving Him –> changed by Him, .. living for Him

25 And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying,
“Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 He said to him,
“What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?”

27 So he answered and said,
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’

28 And He said to him, “You have answered rightly;
do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28 (NKJV)

Loving God with our
– knowing God, … knowledge
heart – believing God, … understanding
soul and strength – living out, experiencing God’s word in daily life, .. wisdom, … ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’

Jesus said,
“do this
and you will live’

love … in action.

Therefore whoever hears Jesus words,
and does them,
is a wise man/woman.


In summary,

Knowledge … understanding, … wisdom,
Know, believe, walk … in the truth, God’s word, led & filled with His Spirit.

Teach me your way, O Lord,      
that I may walk in your truth;  
give me an undivided heart
revere your name.

Psalm 86:11 (NRSV)

For the Lord gives wisdom;
From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:6 (NASB)


We need God’s help, we need the Holy Spirit to teach us.
We’ll end with 2 prayers,
… from the Old Testament, and New Testament 🙂

Let’s hear the earnest cry for knowledge, understanding and wisdom in Proverbs,

Proverbs 2:1-11 (NIV)
My son, if you accept my words

    and store up my commands within you,

turning your ear to wisdom
    and applying your heart to understanding—

indeed, if you call out for insight
    and cry aloud for understanding,

and if you look for it as for silver
    and search for it as for hidden treasure,

turning our ear, … applying our heart, ..
call out, … cry aloud, … 
look for it, … search for it,

accept God’s word, … store up His commands

you will understand
the fear of the Lord

find the knowledge of God.

For the Lord gives wisdom;
    from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.

He holds success in store for the upright,
    he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless,
for he guards the course of the just
    and protects the way of his faithful ones.

Then you will understand what is right and just
    and fair—every good path.

10 For wisdom will enter your heart,
    and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

11 Discretion will protect you,
    and understanding will guard you.

Amen,  … wisdom will enter your heart
Praise God, for His mercy & grace.

.. Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God ..
1 Corinthians 1:24 (NKJV)

Let’s pray with Paul in his prayer for the believers in his epistles,

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it,
we have not ceased to pray for you
and to ask
that you may be filled

with the knowledge   of His will
in all spiritual   wisdom and understanding,

10 so that

you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,
to please Him in all respects,
bearing fruit in every good work
and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 strengthened with all power,
according to His glorious might,
for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously

12 giving thanks to the Father,
who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NASB)


Praise the Lord!
How blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
Who greatly delights in His commandments.
Psalm 112:1 (NASB)

Bible | Effective Teaching

by 林弟兄, bro Lim
March 10, 2017

Copyright © 林弟兄 bro Lim, Laymanointing, 2014-2017 – All Rights Reserved
Creative Commons License


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