[This is part 6 of a blog series on Scriptural Epistemology that I am writing. If you want to see where this whole study begins, check out the recap of parts 1-5 here. Links to parts 1-5 will be posted at the end of this post.]
§ 1. Non-Propositional Knowing?
In my last examination of the Scripture’s teaching regarding the nature of knowledge and how it is we acquire knowledge, I briefly mentioned that there is a use of the word knowledge that is used metaphorically throughout Scripture to signify relational intimacy between either God and man or between human parties only. We first see this relational use of the word in Gen 4:1, where we read: “Now Adam knew his Eve his wife…” Here the word is functioning euphemistically, signifying sexual intercourse. Here is a list of such instances in the Scriptures. The following is an extensive listing of the use of the word typically translated as know/known/knowledge/knew functioning either as a euphemism for sexual intercourse or signifying an intimate relationship between individuals.
The Old Testament
…Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived…
…Cain knew his wife, and she conceived…
…And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son…
…And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.”
“…Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man….”
…The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known…
…he did not know her again…
…every woman who has known man by lying with him…
…all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him…
…women who had not known man by lying with him…
…She had never known a man…
…“Bring out the man…that we may know him…”
…So the man seized his concubine…and they knew her…
…And they found…400 young virgins who had not known a man by lying with him…
E. 1st Samuel:
…And Elkanah knew his wife..
F. 2nd Kings:
G. 1st Chronicles:
…Solomon, my son, know the God of your father…
…my familiar friends…
…I will not know a wicked person…
The ox knows…but Israel does not know…
…you shall call a nation that you do not know,
and a nation that did not know you shall run to you…
The way of peace they do not know…
…they know me not…
…they do not know the way of the Lord…
…they know the way of the Lord…
…the stork in the heavens
knows her times,
and the turtledove, swallow, and crane
keep the time of their coming,
but my people know not
the rules of the Lord.
…they do not know me…
…they refuse to know me…
…he understands and knows me…
Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not…
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord…
And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me…
The New Testament
…[Joseph] knew her not until she had given birth to a son.
“…‘I never knew you…’”
“…I do not know a man…”
“I know my own and my own know me…”
“…just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…”
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…”
“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip?”
“…the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him…”
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
“O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.”
“Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?”
…the way of peace they have not known.
F. 1st Corinthians:
…if anyone loves God, he is known by God.
G. 2nd Corinthians:
…he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again…
…that I may know him…
“…they have not known my ways…”
“And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor
and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’
for they shall all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.”
K. 1st John:
…by this we know that we have come to know him…
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar…
I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
…no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
…Whoever knows God listens to us
…whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
Anyone who does not love does not know God…
§ 2. What is Relational Knowing?
Given the numerous instances of “relational knowing,” it is pertinent for us to inquire as to the nature of this “relational knowing.” Is it a literal epistemological process which is not propositional? The simple answer is that relational knowing is not an epistemological process at all. Rather, the word know signifies acknowledgment of another as familiar to oneself. Common idioms in our own day perform the same function. Idioms such as “I don’t know you from a hole in the wall” and “I don’t know you from Adam” express a lack of a bond between two or more persons. The individuals who use these idioms may in fact know much about the person or persons of whom they speak. Thus, when God the Son addresses his enemies on the day of judgment he says “I never knew you,” signifying not his ignorance of these pretenders but the fact that he has never acknowledged them as his own sheep. Between God and his enemies there is no bond of familiarity, no reciprocal exchange of familiarity. The wicked claim to know God, but they do not. The Lord does not know the wicked, but he knows the righteous.
The idiomatic use of “know” outlined above underscores the relationship between the intellect and the act. Strictly speaking, knowledge of another consists of true propositions revealed by God. Idiomatically speaking, knowledge of another is the acknowledgment, in one’s thoughts, words, actions of another of which one already has true (i.e. propositional) knowledge. What some have attempted to call non-propositional knowledge, we see, is not knowledge. Rather, commands like “Know your God” and declarations like “I never knew you” a figurative, signifying one’s behavior.
Soli Deo Gloria
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Here are the links to parts 1-5.
 Gen 4:1.
 Gen 4:17.
 Gen 4:25.
 Gen 19:5.
 Gen 19:8.
 Gen 24:16a.
 Gen 38:26.
 Num 31:17b.
 Num 31:18.
 Num 31:35.
 Jud 11:39.
 Jud 19:22.
 Jud 19:25.
 Jud 21:12.
 Ruth 2:1.
 1st Sam 1:19.
 2nd Kings 10:11.
 1st Chron 28:9.
 Job 19:14.
 Pss 31:11.
 Pss 55:13.
 Pss 88:8 & 18.
 Pss 101:4.
 Isa 1:3.
 Isa 53:3.
 Isa 55:5.
 Isa 59:8.
 Jer 4:22.
 Jer 5:4.
 Jer 5:5.
 Jer 8:7.
 Jer 9:3.
 Jer 9:6.
 Jer 9:24.
 Jer 10:25.
 Jer 24:7.
 Jer 31:34.
 Matt 1:25.
 Matt 7:23.
 Luke 1:34.
 John 10:14.
 John 10:15.
 John 10:27.
 John 14:7.
 John 14:9.
 John 14:17.
 John 17:3.
 John 17:25.
 Acts 19:15.
 Rom 3:17.
 1st Cor 8:3.
 2nd Cor 5:21.
 Gal 4:9.
 Phil 3:10.
 Heb 3:10.
 Heb 8:11.
 1st John 2:3.
 1st John 2:4.
 1st John 2:13.
 1st John 2:14.
 1st John 3:1.
 1st John 3:6.
 1st John 4:6.
 1st John 4:7.
 1st John 4:8.