“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
The Holy Spirit used two different Greek words that the KJV translates as “know.”
The first Greek word used in our text verse, “we know,” is from the root word “oida” (#1492). In brief, this word describes what you know. That is, you understand what you see, or the object/person.
In the first phrase of 1 John 5:20, “And we know” (oida); what is it they knew? John said what we (the Born of God) know is “that the Son of God is come.” John said we know (or have knowledge) that Jesus Christ was God incarnate; that is, God dwelled in a human body (yet without sin; Hebrews 4:15).
John and the early Church fought the heresy that Christ was not God in the flesh, but was only a good man. (See 1 John 2:18-26.) John called them “antichrist.”
But John said, “we know (oida)”; we have the revelation that Jesus Christ was God in the Flesh; and that He “is come” in answer to all prophecies of the Old Testament of Him coming to earth to be Savior and King to His People (Isaiah 9:6-7). That is, we recognize, as did Nicodemus, “…we know (oida) that thou art a teacher come from God…” (John 3:2a). This knowledge that Nicodemus had of Jesus came from seeing the miracles Jesus performed, “…for no man (no ordinary man) can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him” (John 3:2b).
There are many people that know God has come. But they lack the second Greek word in their spirit.
The second word is “ginōsko”; to know by experience. Not only to see an object and identify it; such as to see a bottle and know it is a bottle; but to know (ginōsko) the object, there must be a tasting of the liquid in the bottle.
John describes it “… and hath given us an understanding…” (1 John 5:20b). (The Greek word for “understanding” is “dianoia” (#1271); “the mind as the faculty of understanding, feeling, desiring”; the understanding, or perception in the mind or spirit.) John said, God by His Sovereign Power in Regeneration has given us an understanding, or a perception, of not only the object, but a perception of Who He is (John 3:3-8).
To prove this, John continues, “… that we may know (ginōsko) him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ…” (1 John 5:20c). We not only know (oida) What about Him. But we also know (ginōsko) Who He is. We know by the New Birth, Christ. We have tasted Him by experience, or by Regeneration (Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:5-6). We also know we now (after Regeneration) are “in Christ” (Romans 8:1).
Then since regeneration, there is a full understanding that Christ is the True God (not a good man, but God Himself), and that He is Eternal Life, and that this Life, even Christ, dwells in the Born of the Spirit (John 17:3).
The questions that arise are:
Do you know (oida) about Him (Jesus Christ); or do you know (ginōsko) Him? That is, do you only have a recognition of Jesus Christ; or do you have an intimate relationship with Christ?
Do you know that you are in Him and He is in you? (See John 14:18, 20-21, 23.) Has Christ manifested Himself to you? Do you know (by experience; an internal witness) that Christ has come unto you; and made His abode with you? Do you love and desire His honor and fellowship above all things, even above yourself?
Have you counted His Cost of being your Substitute, Sacrifice, and Savior for your sin debt? Have you chosen Him above all other relationships of this life?
“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)
“And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
Have you committed your entire being (body, soul, and spirit) to Him and said, “Lord…Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8)? Have you counted all things of this world but dung; that you may win Christ?
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” (Philippians 3:7)
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,” (Philippians 3:8)
That you may be found in Him; that you may know Him? (See Philippians 3:9-11.) And the list goes on and on for the Believer to examine themselves; for you to examine yourself to see if you know (oida) about Him, or if you know (ginōsko) Him by experience.
If you do “know” Him, your life will reflect Him in your words, walk and witness. You will turn from this world and its philosophies; and turn to God and walk even as Christ walked, in love, holiness, and peace (1 John 2:4-6; Hebrews 12:14); and therein will love be perfected in you. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:20-24; John 14:15.)
The question remains, Do you know (oida) about him? Or do you know (ginōsko) Him; that is Who He is? The True God and Eternal Life (1 John 5:20)
If you only know about him, you are still living in the flesh and walking by sight. But if you “know Him,” you are walking by faith (Galatians 2:20), and you are brought to Oneness in Him and to be able to view His Glory (John 17:21-24).