1 Corinthians 8:3
As the passage treats of man's knowledge professed, supposed, and real, we should expect in this verse to find a statement regarding man's knowledge of God. And by some the second clause of this verse has been interpreted in this sense. If this somewhat strains the language, and if it is necessary to understand that we have here an assertion that the lover of God is known by God, all the same the apostle must be acknowledged here to affirm a spiritual intimacy between the human spirit and the Father of spirits..


1. It is a condition which could scarcely occur to man apart from revelation. Men fear God, reverence God, worship God, seek to avert the wrath of God; but to love God is not an exercise of mind which seems congruous to the relation between the Creator and his creatures.

2. It is a condition which Christianity renders possible and natural. By revealing God as love, by bringing that love home to the heart in the incarnation and the sacrifice of the Son of God, Christianity makes a claim upon human love. The manifestation of affectionate interest and benevolence in a way so remarkable, so unique, is sufficient to account for a new relationship, and for new emotions corresponding therewith.

3. It is a condition capable of universal fulfilment. "If any man love God." There are many whose natural powers of body and of mind are very limited. But there is none who has not the capacity for love. There may be a moral unpreparedness, but this may be overcome. The Gentile as well as the Jew, the illiterate as well as the learned, are capable of loving the Author of salvation.

II. THE CHARACTER OF THIS INTIMACY. Love is represented as leading to, as involving, knowledge.

1. On the side of God himself. This is the explicit statement of the text: "The same," i.e. the man who loves, "is known by him," i.e. by God. Knowledge is, in Scripture, according to a Hebrew idiom, often used as equivalent to favour; even as we say we know a person intimately, meaning in the knowledge of friendship. Of course, the Omniscient knows all his creatures; but he has a friendly, fatherly, affectionate, intimate knowledge of those who love him. He reads the language of their hearts. "The Lord knoweth them that are his." He knows them to watch over and keep, to guide and govern, to strengthen and to save them.

2. On the side of man. This is the implicit statement of the text; for he who in the sense affirmed is known by God also knows God. How true it is that he who loves God knows him too! There are many respects in which we cannot know our earthly, human associates, unless we are drawn to them by the cords of love. Love opens the doors of knowledge. It creates that sympathy which gives intensity to the intuitive gaze of the soul. Thus it is that, whilst many learned and philosophic minds are ignorant of the Deity, there are to be found, among the lowly, the ignorant, and the feeble, those who, with hearts quickened and softened with grateful love, live in a hallowed intimacy with him who is the Father of their spirits and the God of their salvation. - T.

But if any man love God, the same is known of Him.

1. Whence it proceeds.

2. What it implies.

3. What its fruits.

II. ITS PRIVILEGE. It secures —

1. The favour of God.

2. Fellowship with Him.

3. The enlightening influence of His Holy Spirit.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

"Papa," said the son of Bishop Berkeley, "what is the meaning of the words 'cherubim' and 'seraphim,' which we meet with in the Holy Scriptures?" "Cherubim," replied his father, "is a Hebrew word, signifying knowledge; seraphim is another word of the same language, and signifies flame. Whence it is supposed that the cherubim are angels who excel in knowledge, and that the seraphim are angels likewise who excel in loving God." "I hope, then," said the little boy, "when I die I shall be a seraph; for I would rather love God than know all things."

From the love of man, which must be the sense of the word in ver. 1 (see 1 Corinthians 13:1), the apostle passes insensibly to the love of God, partly because God is the implied, though not expressed, subject of the previous clause, partly because He is the only worthy and adequate object of Christian love.

I. For THE CONNECTION OF KNOWLEDGE AND LOVE (1 John 4:7, 8). St. Paul substitutes "is known of Him," for "knows Him," to express that man can, in this life, hardly be said, in any sense, to know God. It is sufficient to be the object of His knowledge, which in itself implies that we are brought into so close a relation with Him, as to be the object of His care and love, and ultimately, therefore, to know Him.


III. For THE IDENTIFICATION OF GOD'S KNOWLEDGE OF MAN WITH MAN'S KNOWLEDGE OF GOD compare the similar blending of the spirit of man with the Spirit of God in Romans 8:15, 16; 1 Corinthians 2:11; also John 10:15. "As the Father knoweth me, even so I the Father."

IV. FOR THE GENERAL TURN OF THE WHOLE EXPRESSION, as implying that every part of our redemption, but especially our knowledge of God, is more properly His act than ours see 1 Corinthians 13:12; Galatians 4:9; Philippians 3:12. For the unexpected substitution of one thought and word for another see 1 Corinthians 9:17; 1 Corinthians 10:18.

(Dean Stanley.)

I. THE CHARACTER THAT IS HERE PRESENTED TO US, the man that loves God. This love will be manifested by —

1. The state of the heart.

2. The tenor of the thoughts.

3. The influence of God's Word.

4. Delight in holy pursuits.

II. THE PRIVILEGE ASSERTED. "The same is known of Him" —

1. This knowledge is individual and personal.

2. It embraces all the circumstances of his present state.

3. It is a loving, parental delight in him.

4. It is a pledge of final acknowledgment.Application:

1. What a source of pure and solid delight!

2. What a powerful incentive to holiness!

(C. Simeon, M. A.)

This verse is the antithesis of ver. 2. Without love, no knowledge; with love, true knowledge. But why instead of "The same knoweth God," does the apostle say, "The same is known of God"? Does he mean to deny the first of these two ideas? Assuredly not. But he clears, as it were, this first stage, which is self-understood, to rise at a bound to the higher stage which implies it. To be known of God is more than to know Him (Galatians 4:9). In a residence every one knows the monarch; but every one is not known by him. This second stage of knowledge supposes personal intimacy, familiarity of a kind; a character which is foreign from the first. We need not therefore take "known of God" as equivalent to "acknowledged by," or "approved of," or "put into the possession of the knowledge of," God. The word "know" is taken in the same sense as in Psalm 1:6. The eye of God can penetrate into the heart that loves Him and His light, to illuminate it. In this light an intimate communion is formed between him and God; and this communion is the condition of all true knowledge — of man's being known by God as of God's being known by man.

(Prof. Godet.)

Sinner, let this be thy comfort, that God sees thee when thou beginnest to repent, He does not see thee with His usual gaze, with which He looks on all men, but He sees thee with an eye of intense interest. He has been looking on thee in all thy sin, and in all thy sorrow, hoping that thou wouldst repent, and when He sees the first gleam of grace, He beholds it with joy. Never warder on the lonely castle-top saw the first gray light of morning with more joy than that with which God beholds the first desire in thy heart. Never physician rejoiced more when he saw the first heaving of the lungs in one that was supposed to be dead, than God doth rejoice over thee, now that He sees the first token for good.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. ITS CONDITION. It is a condition —

1. Which could scarcely occur to man apart from revelation. Men fear, reverence, worship, seek to avert the wrath of God; but to love Him is not an exercise of mind which seems congruous to the relation between the Creator and His creatures.

2. Which Christianity makes possible and natural. By revealing God as love, by bringing that love home to the heart in Christ's atonement and sacrifice it makes a claim upon human love.

3. Capable of universal fulfilment, "If any man." There are many whose natural powers of body and mind are very limited; but there is none who has not the capacity of love.

II. ITS CHARACTER. Love is represented as leading to, as involving knowledge.

1. On the side of God Himself knowledge is often used as equivalent to favour. Of course the Omniscient knows all His creatures; but He has a Fatherly, affectionate knowledge of those who love Him. He knows them to watch over, keep, guide, govern, strengthen, and save them.

2. On the side of man. This is the implicit statement of the text; for he who in the sense affirmed is known by God also knows God. How true it is that he who loves God knows Him too! We cannot know our earthly friends thoroughly unless we love them. Love opens the doors of knowledge. It creates that sympathy which gives intensity to the intuitive gaze of the soul. Thus it is that while many learned minds are ignorant of God, many lowly saints whose hearts are quickened with love, live in hallowed intimacy with Him.

(Prof. J. H. Thomson.)

You and I would dearly like to be known of God. Day by day we would like to be consciously at peace with God. We may know that there is no condemnation for us, that the gulf of spiritual death is behind and not in front of us, that life and immortality brought to light by the gospel are ours through grace, if love for God and our brethren reigns supreme within us. And now let us look, each one, into his heart and conscience, and examine himself as to how far he can truthfully say and feel, "I love God: I am known of Him." "We love God, because He first loved us." He, in the first instance, did so infinitely much that a rightly affected person could not possibly dwell upon without loving Him. And again, the statement of the inspired apostle bears yet another sense. We cannot love God without the Holy Spirit having been first given to, and dwelling within us, as His consecrated temples. But, again, let me press home the question, "Do we love God?" I think we seem to fall back into the days of our childhood again when we answer this question truly and profitably. In our memories of those earliest years we shall certainly find experiences of our past feelings treasured up that will help us in our endeavour to find an answer to it. Those of us who had good, loving parents dearly loved them in return. We grew up beneath the sunshine of their smiles, and thrilled at the sound of their loving words. We strove to do all things that we knew would give them pleasure. We tried to obey all their commandments. We knew, too, what would please them, even though they did not ask us to study closely everything that they wanted of us. Our love for them was not fickle or changeable. Now and then, indeed, we had our naughty, rebellious passions hindering the outward flow of our love for them, but, underneath the strong torrent of those passions, our love for our good parents lingered on calm and unmoved, just as, fathoms down below the storm-tossed waves of the sea, the water is calm and still. And when our childhood's offences had been atoned for by our soul-felt tears of penitence, then we were ready enough to inveigh against ourselves as having been solely to blame for the interruption of the happy interchange of parental and filial love, with a great joy we threw ourselves into our fathers' or mothers' arms again, when we saw that they had forgiven our offence completely, and again our hearts welled forth their love for them, and all was once more peace and joy within us. Now have you these sacred memories of your childhood to help you to reply to my question? If so, it is very well, for are not God's people as just so many little children in His sight? And will they not then be happiest when they act towards Him, in all His dealings with them in providence and grace, as well disposed little children act towards their earthly parents? Will they not then feel consciously that they love God, and that God loves them?

(J. C. Boyce.)

In the midst of His glory the Almighty is not inattentive to the meanest of His subjects. Neither obscurity of station, nor imperfection of knowledge sinks those below His regard who worship and obey Him. Every prayer which they send up from their secret retirements is listened to by Him; and every work of charity which they perform, how unknown soever to the world, attracts His notice.

(J. Blair.)

Christian Age.
Thick on the moors, pushing up through the mosses, side by side where the blueberries grow, sprang up and blossomed the wild rose. There was no one to see its beauty, to breathe its fragrance. Mile after mile spread the moor, purple in the dawn. glowing in the noontide, rosy in the sunset after-glow, yet there was none to see. Overhead there was the blue vault, soft and deep and silent. The wild, sweet breath of the sea swept over the moors, and tenderly touched the cheek of the wild rose. "In thy heart, O Rose," it said, "what beauty, in thy form what loveliness! Yet there is none to see. Wherefore, O Rose, give thy fulness of bloom where no eye may see, where nought looketh down but the sun and the stars, and no voice save mine may whisper to thee?" "God looketh down," answered the Rose. "He seeth me, and remembereth His gracious promise, 'The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose.' In the day when He turneth the captivity of His people Israel and His ransomed shall come to Zion with everlasting joy, shall my mission be fulfilled. But now, I look up to God and whisper, 'Though He tarry, wait.' Even so I praise Him and magnify Him for ever."

(Christian Age.)

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