KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
Reflections on the Word of God
There is no substitute for a thorough knowledge of God. Proverbs 19:2 says: “Without knowledge, even zeal is not good.” Since love is a God-graced decision based on God-graced knowledge, then, knowledge of God and knowledge of His will for us are to be considered fuel for our spirituality; for any personal relationship with Jesus. Because we are here to love God, and since one cannot love what one does not know, it follows that the more we come to know God, who is the Ultimate Good, the more will our love for Him increase. So, knowledge of God is a primary quest for us Christians, and is food for our spirituality.
Now, among the important things Peter has said, two complementary things stand out concerning Scripture:
2 Peter 3: 15 And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, as our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, also wrote to you, 16 speaking of these things as he does in all his letters. In them there are some things hard to understand that the ignorant and unstable distort to their own destruction, just as they do the other scriptures.
2 Peter 1: 20 Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation, 21 for no prophecy ever came through human will; but rather human beings moved by the holy Spirit spoke under the influence of God.
So, Peter said ‘No’ to Personal Interpretation (which is a Protestant doctrine contrary to Scripture). The mention of ‘prophecy’ in the above quote does not help those who try to defend Personal Interpretation, because all Scripture is ‘prophecy,’ relying on its definition, as adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia: Understood in its strict sense, prophesy means the foreknowledge of future events. It may also apply to past events of which there is no memory, and to present hidden things which cannot be known by the natural light of reason. As an example, St. Paul, speaking of prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14, does not confine its meaning to predictions of future events, but includes under it Divine inspirations concerning what is secret, whether future or not.
So, Scripture in many instances cannot be explained correctly by the reader himself. True, that the Holy Spirit that is in us is our Teacher, but, who says that we are trained to differentiate between the three main prompts that are in us, the prompts of the Holy Spirit who has been given us as a first installment (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14; CCC 851); the prompts of the flesh, our selfish fleshly desires (Matthew 26:41); and, the prompts of the Devil (John 13:2; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9)?
Not being trained to differentiate between these three main prompts that are in us, we are like a ship without a rudder. Actually, living the Christian life is learning to discern the inner voice of the Holy Spirit and learning to abide by His commands. For that, we need knowledge, and, we have no recourse but to go to “the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). There, stored within her, is all the Truth and all the Revelations of God. For, the Sacred Oral Word within her was before the Bible and the Bible was extracted from the Sacred Oral Word. The Sacred Oral Word ruled the Church throughout the first five centuries of her history. The Sacred Oral Word, nowadays, is called Sacred Tradition or Oral Tradition or just Tradition, with a Capital ‘T’ (2 Thessalonians 2:15; and, CCC 78, 79, and, 126).
The following paragraphs point out some difficult passages that cannot be explained correctly through one, two, or more readings. Even 10 readings are not sufficient to connect these passages with other passages and their footnotes to give ingredients that the Holy Spirit may use to give us understanding. This is why Peter and Paul, each hammered on us the words: ‘Knowledge of God’ and ‘Knowledge of His will for us.’ Actually, there are more than 30 Bible verses that specifically mention ‘knowledge of God,’ ‘knowledge of His will,’ or ‘knowledge of the truth’ (Romans 11:33, 12:2, 15:14; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 15:34; 2 Corinthians 2:14, 4:6, 8:7, 10:5; 11:6; Ephesians 1:17, 4:13, 5:17; Philippians 1:9; Colossians 1:9, 10, 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Timothy 2:25, 3:7; Hebrews 10:26; 2 Peter 1:2, 3, 5, 8, 2:20, 3:18; 1 John 2:3-6+12-17+20+their Footnotes). Best of all is Paul’s: “For some have no knowledge of God; I say this to your shame” (1 Corinthians 15:34). Also, Ephesians 5:17: “Therefore, do not continue in ignorance, but try to understand what is the will of the Lord.”
Reading the Scriptures from Catholic Bibles and referring to the footnotes and the cross references will definitely help the building blocks of knowledge and prepare and train the reader to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit and to be receptive to His guidance. So will the reading of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially through the use of its semi-interactive subject index. Just Google: catechism index and select the Vatican index and the St. Charles Borromeo Church index. Each has its own specific application. Thumbnail them among your ‘Favorites.’
In this endeavor of getting to know God better, here below are some explications of a few difficult Bible passages based on the wordings and the Footnotes of the New American Bible:
Difficult Passage No. 1
It is appropriate to start difficult passages with this one, as the concept is basic and can be utilized hereafter:
Matthew 13: 12 To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away.
And you thought that this passage was about money and business! Well, think again! Now, read the footnote:
Footnote: In the New Testament use of this axiom of practical “wisdom” (see Matthew 25:29; Mark 4:25; Luke 8:18); the reference transcends the original level [money, possessions – YT]. God gives further understanding to one who accepts the revealed mystery; from the one who does not, he will take it away (note the “theological passive,” more will be given, what he has will be taken away).
Therefore, in our quest to know God more (so we can love Him more, because love is a God-graced decision based on God-graced knowledge), if we accept His revealed truths, more truths will be revealed, because Jesus promised to reveal Himself to those who love Him:
John 14: 21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.
In one way, you got this one wrong, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!
Difficult Passage No. 2
Matthew 18: 1 At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child over, placed it in their midst, 3 and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
You have read this before and you thought that the presumed innocence of children is the passport to eternal life. Well, think again! And now, read the footnote:
Footnote: Become like children: the child is held up as a model for the disciples not because of any supposed innocence of children but because of their complete dependence on, and trust in, their parents. So must the disciples be, in respect to God
You got this one wrong too, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!
Difficult Passage No. 3
John 5: 25 Amen, amen, I say to you, the hour is coming and is now here when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.
John 5: 28 Do not be amazed at this, because the hour is coming in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and will come out, those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation.
While reading this before, you dismissed the matter as being repetition by Jesus, did you not? Well, think again!
And now, read the footnote:
Footnote: While John 5:19-27 present realized eschatology, John 5:28-29 are future eschatology; cf Daniel 12:2
(Eschatology is that branch of systematic theology which deals with the doctrines of the last things – Catholic Encyclopedia).
So, it is not repetition. You got that one wrong as well, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!
Difficult Passage No. 4
Ephesians 4: 10 The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things. 11 And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
You found nothing extraordinary in verse 11, above, have you? Well there is, and it is a big deal: If you count the tasks, you will find them to be five, but, if you take the grammar into account, you will discover that the persons are four. St. Augustine made an exhortation some 1,600 years ago concerning this, explaining that Paul put pastors and teachers together as one entity to indicate that the pastor has a double duty of pastoring and teaching! The words ‘others as’ joins the two together into one person. Check the footnote below:
Footnote: 4  Concerning this list of ministers, cf 1 Corinthians 12:28 and Romans 12:6-8. Evangelists: missionary preachers (cf Acts 21:8; 2 Timothy 4:5), not those who wrote gospels. Pastors and teachers: a single group in the Greek, shepherding congregations.
So, it is not business as usual for that sentence. You got that one wrong as well, didn’t you? See what you miss when you try to interpret Scripture without the Church!
So have millions who have subscribed to Personal Interpretation. NO TO PERSONAL INTERPRETATION!!! And, that makes the Church a necessity, which is not what our Separated Brethren want. They have the Bible Alone, as doctrine, and have no need for the Church, they say. The Bible Alone, as doctrine, is erroneous, and we can prove it. That makes the Church a necessity!
She provides us with Christ, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. And, she provides us with more knowledge of God and knowledge of His will for us through Sacred Tradition (2 Thessalonians 2:15; 1 Timothy 3:15; CCC 77, 78, 83, 126) and Sacred Scripture, i.e., the Deposit of Faith, which has been guarded zealously by the (Catholic) Church through 2,000 years to bring it to us, unadulterated and protected from change, just as Paul described in Galatians 2:4-5. Both, the Church, with the Sacred Real Presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, and the Deposit of Faith are necessary to keep us on track. In fact, such knowledge is the fuel for any personal – as well as any communal – relationship with Jesus Christ, our Lord!
Let St. Vincent explain it to you, again:
St. Vincent of Lerins (d. after 434 A.D.) “Guard” says St. Paul, “what has been committed”. What does it mean? It is what has been faithfully entrusted to you, not what has been discovered by you; what you have received, not what you have thought up; be not the leader but the follower!
What has been entrusted to Timothy, the bishop, is guarded by the Church, in the Church! The Catholic Church is necessary for salvation. Refer to CCC 837 (http://www.catholicdoors.com/catechis/cat0781.htm#836).