Most languages differentiate between simply acquaintance, intuitive feelings and real knowledge. But most Bibles do not offer an explanation of which verb “to know” is under in any passage which means the translator must do the work.
Different Verbs for Know
Here is an example of why the King James can be confusing:
Acts 19:15 the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?
There are two different words for ‘know’ here, so let’s translate this again:
Acts 19:15 Jesus I know, and Paul I’ve heard about, but who are you?
In English we say I am getting to know you, or the first level of interpersonal relationship. We could also say that the first few years of schooling are getting to know words and numbers. We memorize at this level but there is no foundation of understanding; information is impersonal, understanding is personal.
Ginosko vs. Ouida
Greek, the language of the New Testament, has two words for knowing – ginóskó: to come to know, recognize, perceive and ouida, a word reflecting the knowledge of personal experience.
Ginosko is a root common in English seen in words such as knowledge or agnostic. It means perception or understanding; it goes deep into the personality. Believers respond occasionally to the question, How do you know you are saved and they reply, “I know that I know that I know.” For the non-believer it isn’t much of an answer but for other believers, we all understand.
Oida according to artists is an acronym for Observe, Imagine, Discover and Apply by looking at the natural world and creating something new based on your appreciation. Writers would not use this word for knowing God; they use gnosis instead.
Here are some Bible verses that use the word ginosko:
Genesis 2:9 And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Notice that God did not give man knowledge if physics and French literature, just good and evil. On this foundation mankind was to make good decisions enforcing good and resisting evil. Clearly this did not happen.
The Sexual “Know”
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
Here is a common use of the word ‘know’ in King James English, the sexual “knowledge” of two persons required to be exclusive to them. You do not hear it much these days but Bible readers need to understand this usage.
The Book of First John has 31 references to the word know. It profiles all the things believers should know, and how you, the reader can discern the difference between truth and lies.
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keeps not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
In this case the truth that is missing is Jesus who is the way, truth and life. (John 14:16) The passage is telling us that the person is not born again.
Jesus “Not Knowing You” is Important
Matthew 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Holy Spirit Baptism
Finally there is spiritual knowledge imparted in the Holy Spirit Baptism:
I Corinthians 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
This kind of knowledge comes straight from the spirit of Christ to your spirit and then to your brain. Many people confuse the baptism of the Holy Spirit with knowledge that is obtained through study or from another person. But Holy Spirit directed information is especially helpful to you because it empowers you to apprehend situations and truths when others do not.
How often have you heard someone say, “I get bad vibes about that guy” and later it is discovered that he had hidden problems. That kind of intuition is given by the spirit. Very often small children have this feeling as well.
If you want an instructive Bible study, find a concordance and look up every use of the word know and tie them all back to the original Greek. It will be an eye opener.