Archive for July 1st, 2022

My dad, 1994, age 83I was exceptionally privileged to have a model earthly father who served as a wonderful illustration of our heavenly Father. This is the design of fathers: a way to convey to us the nature of God. Unfortunately, in so many fathers, especially today, this design has been marred beyond use or recognition. This “present evil age”[1] has taken its irrevocable toll on the family, especially the image of the father.

My dad and me, 1959My dad, mom and me, 1961, 1962

I knew my father for 37 years, from the time I was born until he died in 1996.[2] Even after his death I have continued to grow in the realization of him.

My brother Billy and meA couple of years ago I visited my brother Billy and his wife Janet who live in Wilmington, NC. Now 85, he shared with me some things that I never knew about our father. Of course, why wouldn’t he be able to do so, since he knew him for 25 years before I was born? Yet there are still things about our father that neither of us knows (but there will be plenty of time to remedy this in the resurrection!)

The father that I “knew” as an infant increasingly changed as I became a toddler, juvenile, adolescent, teenager, adult, and then a father myself. Some of what I learned expanded my knowledge of him, while other things dispelled misconceptions.

One thing I have learned over the years is that we all have our own paradigms. For some, those paradigms were given to them as children, and barely if ever change. For others, like myself, these paradigms are ever-changing. Either way, we sometimes perceive ourselves to have “arrived” at the truth at a given stage or place in our lives. Among our greatest hindrances is to mistake our doctrinal frameworks for the truth. Over time, however, some of us have come to see that these conceptual scaffoldings, more often than not, reflect our human inability to grasp fully the things of God outside of divine revelation and illumination.

My dad and me, 1965Just as with my earthly father, I have always “known” God, to some degree, for as long as I can remember; and, like my earthly father, I have known Him in many different, progressive and ever-changing ways. In my early days I understood Him in my immaturity – “as a child.”[3] That perception was to a certain degree in truth, and to another extent in error, and certainly out of focus.

My dad, my son Clyde III, and me, 1988Now, though, I am grateful for a more mature view of God – “when I became a man, I put away childish things;”[4] yet, even with all of my progress, it would be more likely for an ant to fully understand me and my world than for me to fully grasp that of the Deity.

Little wonder that I have so many dear brothers who have so many varied differences in their understandings of God. Really, how else could it be? What kind of God would He be were He so fully and easily understood by humanly-constructed models, His infiniteness comprehended by our finiteness?

This does not mean that we do not have a revelation of Him in His Word, or that our perceptions of Him are not now beyond the mere groping of Him.[5] Such a progressive realization was Paul’s constant, passionate desire and prayer for us.

Therefore, I also, when hearing of the faith which relates to you in the Lord Jesus, and that for all the saints, do not cease giving thanks for you, making mention in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father glorious, may be giving you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in its realization of Him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, for you to perceive what is the expectation of His calling, and what the riches of the glory of the enjoyment of His allotment among the saints, and what the transcendent greatness of His power for us who are believing, in accord with the operation of the might of His strength, which is operative in the Christ, rousing Him from among the dead and seating Him at His right hand among the celestials, up over every sovereignty and authority and power and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this eon, but also in that which is impending: and subjects all under His feet, and gives Him, as Head over all, to the ecclesia which is His body, the complement of the One completing the all in all (Ephesians 1:15-23, Concordant Literal New Testament, adjusted to the 1930 edition).

Paul greatly longed for the saints to have a genuine “realization of God” – an epignōsis (ἐπίγνωσις)![6]

Gnōsis[7] is the Greek word for “knowledge,” while epi[8] is the prepositional prefix meaning “on,” “over,” “above.” The English words translated for epi (on-over-above) can be seen in bold type in the following examples:

… Jesus walking on the sea (John 6:19).

… a superscription also was written over him (Luke 23:38).

above all these things put on love (Colossians 3:14).

Epi is defined as “superimposition,”[9] and can be seen in our English words epidemic,[10] epitaph,[11] and epicenter.[12] Thus, epignōsis reflects that which is dead-center, spot-on, and over-and-above all previous knowledge. It is defined as:

  • full discernment (Strong)
  • clear and exact knowledge (Bullinger)
  • precise and correct knowledge (Thayer)
  • exact or full knowledge (Vine)

Epignōsis was possible based on only the pinnacle of the revelation found in Ephesians – an advanced unveiling of truth that Paul received from Christ.

A.E. Knoch (1874-1965) writes concerning this crucial point,

“The faith which relates to you” [1930 CLT] refers to the new truth set forth in this epistle. … His prayer for “a spirit of revelation” makes it evident that this epistle deals with a secret (Ephesians 3:9) of God’s purpose (:11) quite distinct from His counsels which had been revealed before.[13]

 The advancement in the realization of God is a lifelong process, one that will culminate in resurrection. However, I now know that the Sovereign[14] is “one,”[15] that He is “happy,”[16] that He is our “Father,”[17] and that He loves us unceasingly and unfailingly.[18]

I did not always have such knowledge (epignōsis) of these things. This is a far different understanding from what my paradigm has always allowed. As I remain on a constant, passionate pursuit of Him and His ways (i.e., the truth), what more could I desire now than the knowledge of a sovereign, happy, loving Father?

[1]     “Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us out of the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Galatians 1:4).

[2]     For more about my father see,  “A Memorial – Clyde L. Pilkington, Sr.,” Bible Student’s Notebook #172.

[3]     I Corinthians 13:11.

[4]     Ibid.

[5]     “They may surely grope for Him and may be finding Him, though to be sure, not far from each one of us is He inherent” (Acts 17:27).

[6]     Strong’s G1922.

[7]     Strong’s G1108.

[8]     Strong’s G1909.

[9]     Strong’s. Superimposition meaning “to place or lay over or above something” (Merriam-Webster).

[10]    A disease that comes “over” the people.

[11]    The writing “over” a tomb.

[12]    The location directly “over” the center of an earthquake.

[13]    Concordant Commentary on the New Testament (Ephesians 1:15).

[14]    “Seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all” (Romans 11:36), “Who is operating all in accord with the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11).

[15]    “There is one God, the Father, out of Whom all is, and we for Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through Whom all is, and we through Him” (I Corinthians 8:6).

[16]    “The evangel of the glory of the happy God” (I Timothy 1:11).

[17]    “One God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6).

[18]    I Corinthians 13:8:

“Love never fails” (Twentieth Century);

“Love, at no time, faileth” (Rotherham);

“Love never ends” (Holman);

“Love never disappears” (Moffatt);

“Love is never lapsing” (Concordant);

“Love will never die out” (Goodspeed).


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