What Is Knowledge According to the Bible?

In the Bible, “knowledge” refers to examples, truths, and commands that God wants us to know, believe, and heed. Remember the Garden of Eden? Lots of wonderful trees, but God said one was completely off-limits to Adam and Eve: The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

David Sanford
Tree sprouting from a book

Did you know California is home to the world’s largest, tallest, and oldest trees? The trunk of the first contains 52,500-cubic feet of wood, enough to produce 8.2 million books, which would overflow the libraries of any American university — with only five exceptions. That’s a lot of wood! The other two superlative California trees are 380 feet tall (think England’s famous Big Ben) and 5,069 years old (think 1,000 years before Genesis 12).

Some fun facts, but no real knowledge. Just like old phone books: A million facts, but nothing that would change your life.

In the Bible, “knowledge” refers to examples, truths, and commands that God wants us to know, believe, and heed. Remember the Garden of Eden? Lots of wonderful trees, but God said one was completely off-limits to Adam and Eve. God called it the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9; Genesis 2:17).

“Good” knowledge is what God wants us to know, believe, and heed. “Evil” knowledge is what Satan wants us to know, believe, and heed. It didn’t start with Eve’s first bite. Instead, it started with everything the Serpent said— that Eve decided to believe.

What Knowledge Is Not

1. Real knowledge isn’t a list of boring facts. Instead, as stated above, it refers to examples, truths, and commands that God wants us to know, believe, and heed.

2. Biblically, knowledge is not morally and ethically neutral. It’s either “good” or “evil.” That’s why the Apostle Paul says, “I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

3. Knowledge is not source-less. Real knowledge always comes from God and His Word. So-called knowledge always comes from the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Never trust your heart, which is terribly deceptive in its own right (Jeremiah 17:9).

4. Knowledge is not harmless. The Devil’s so-called knowledge is designed to kill, steal, and destroy us (John 10:10). No wonder he loves to tell a truth, a half-truth, and a lie. Never fall for that trick. It’s as old as the Garden and often just as deadly. That’s why it’s so important to put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17).

5. “Good” knowledge isn’t for a secret few. Instead, “God our Savior...wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Therefore, “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it” (1 Peter 3:15, NLT).

6. “Good” knowledge isn’t learned by osmosis. That’s why Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.” The latter isn’t a promise, but it is the likely outcome of doing the former.

7. Real knowledge isn’t enough. Ask God to also give you discernment, insight, understanding, and wisdom. Each is an important step in the right direction. That’s why thinking long and hard (meditating) on God’s Word can pay big dividends (Psalm 1; Psalm 19; Psalm 119). Ultimately, however, God’s ways are incredibly higher than we can think or imagine (Isaiah 55:9).

What Knowledge Is

1. Real knowledge is from God the Father (James 1:16-18), God’s Son Jesus Christ (John 14:6), and God’s Holy Spirit (1 John 2:20-27).

2. Real knowledge was taught by Jesus Christ’s apostles and early followers. Acts 2:42 says, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

3. Real knowledge is something we garner from God’s Word. May we be like Ezra, who “devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the Lord, and to teaching its decrees” (Ezra 7:10).

Biblical Truths to Affirm

1. I believe God knows everything — even what is in the human heart (Genesis 20:6; 1 Kings 8:39; Chronicles 29:17; Psalm 44:21; Psalm 94:11; Proverbs 24:12; Matthew 6:4; Luke 16:15; Acts 15:8).

2. I believe God is far wiser than anyone can imagine (Deuteronomy 29:29; Psalm 147:5; Jeremiah 32:19; Daniel 2:20; Romans 11:33; Romans 16:27; 1 Corinthians 1:20-25).

3. I believe nothing is more important than knowing God (Matthew 4:18-20; Matthew 6:24; Matthew 6:31-33; Matthew 10:37; Matthew 16:19-22; Mark 2:14).

4. I believe all who refuse to know God will face judgment (Matthew 7:22-23; John 3:18-19; John 16:8-9).

5. I believe God is the source of all true knowledge and wisdom (1 Kings 4:29; Proverbs 2:6; Daniel 2:21; Romans 11:33; Colossians 2:3; James 1:5).

6. I believe that human wisdom is futile apart from God (Isaiah 29:14; Daniel 2:10-11; 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 13:1-2).

7. I believe God gives some individuals special knowledge, wisdom, and insight (Numbers 23:5; 1 Kings 4:29-34; 1 Kings 6:11; Jeremiah 2:1; Ezekiel 1:3; Joel 1:1; Jonah 1:1; Haggai 1:1; Zechariah 1:1; Malachi 1:1; Luke 2:40; 1 Corinthians 12:8).

8. I believe in the scriptures, which God reveals the truth about Himself, creation, humanity, sin, salvation, eternity, and everything else we need to know in this life (Deuteronomy 29:29; 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25).

Biblical Commands to Obey

1. I long for and boldly ask God for knowledge, insight, discernment, and wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:10; Psalm 119:66; Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 2:10; Proverbs 8:10; Proverbs 10:14; James 1:5).

2. I actively seek to grow wiser (1 Kings 4:34; 1 Kings 10:7; Luke 2:52; Colossians 3:16).

3. I pray for others to grow wiser (1 Chronicles 22:12; Ephesians 1:17; Colossians 1:9).

4. I put my hope and trust in God (Psalm 34:8; Proverbs 22:19; Isaiah 26:4; Lamentations 3:24; John 3:18; 1 Timothy 6:17; Hebrews 10:23).

5. I put my hope and trust in God’s Word (Psalm 33:4; Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:43, 74, 81, 114, 147; Psalm 130:5).

6. I teach others from God's Word (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Ezra 7:8-10; Psalm 78:5-6; Acts 17:11; 1 Timothy 4:13; 2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Timothy 4:2; Hebrews 5:12).

7. I always put my trust in the Lord and in His Word (Genesis 49:18; Deuteronomy 1:32; Psalm 19:7; Psalm 119:43; Proverbs 3:5; Isaiah 26:4; Lamentations 3:24; John 14:1; Galatians 2:20; 1 Timothy 4:10; Hebrews 4:14).

While “good” real knowledge doesn’t grow on trees, it’s freely available to you and me. We can thank the Lord for that daily!

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Chinnapong


headshot of David Sanford new 2020David Sanford's book and Bible projects have been published by Zondervan, Tyndale, Thomas Nelson, Doubleday, Barbour, and Amazon. His newest book is Choose Courage: 3-Minute Devotions for Men.


Originally published July 10, 2020.