The Journal of Biblical Accuracy

„But knowledge puffs up” (PDF) PDF version

"But knowledge puffs up"

„Puffed up”. What comes to my mind with these words is a big bubble with nothing inside other than just air. It grows and grows but only on the outside and just a little prick is enough to make it collapse and come down to nearly zero. In the second category of the parable of the sower there is something similar. There we find the seed which “fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” (Matthew 13:5-6). As the Lord explains: “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” (Matthew 13:20-21). These hearers of the word of God, received it with joy and it sprang up quickly in them; they seemed very promising, growing fast. But they had no roots. When the sun came and the wind blew, when tribulation and persecution arose, they withered away. It seemed that what they showed on the outside didn’t correspond to what they were in the inside. What proved their shallowness and unfaithfulness? Persecution and trials. Persecution and trials test the real substance we have. They test our foundation, our roots and whether we have built on the rock or just on sand. Substance then is what is important; not overblown “growth”. And how is substance built up? By knowing God and the Bible, some may say. Well let’s see what the Bible says:

1 Corinthians 8:1
“Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “we all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”

“Knowledge puffs up but love builds up”. Seek to excel only in knowledge and you will be puffed up. You will be inflated, shown as somebody great but like a bubble it will be just air. On the contrary, seek to excel in love and the substance, the building up, the rooting will take place more and more. As the next 2 verses of 1 Corinthians 8:2-3 tell us:

1 Corinthians 8:2-3
“Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. But whoever loves God is known by God.”

If you think you “know”, then you know nothing! But whoever loves God is known by Him. Now some have misunderstood this too. For they consider loving God as something isolated. Something that may have to do with the amount of the Bible they know or the seminars they have taken. But loving God is not like this. Loving God passes through loving man, your brothers and sisters. As John tells us:

1 John 4:20
“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”

And what is love? “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

So let’s avoid saying “I love God, I love God”. We don’t even need to think about it. Let us just love man and by loving man, by loving our brothers and sisters, we love God. Or to put it differently and exactly in the way John says it: we don’t love God if we don’t love our brothers and sisters. This then, loving our neighbor as ourselves, is what edifies, what builds up. Do we want to have substance, deep roots in the faith? Then it is not just more and more knowledge that will do this, but more and more love. Then there will be nothing that could move us for we would be “rooted and established in love” (Ephesians 3:17). No more moved by every wind of doctrine (Ephesians 4:14), by liars “who worm their way into homes and gain control over gullible women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:6-7). Instead we will be firmly and established in love, trees that nobody can move, planted by the waters and giving continuously fruit. For such ones Christ is looking to come and make His home in them:

John 14:23
“Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word; and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”

and John 15:9-12
“As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

Let’s strive to do this; doing His will and His commandments, chief of which is one: to love one another. Let’s not strive to only learn and learn more and more knowledge but instead let us strive to come through love to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:6-7).


Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou