Each occurrence of the phrase knowledge of God in the Bible must be studied within its own context. Sometimes the author might be referring to God’s knowledge (Romans 11:33), while other times he may be referring to our knowledge of God (Romans 1:28). We will focus on the second sense, which is the most common. It is impossible to cover every nuance in every passage, but we can make some general observations about the way knowledge of God is used in the Scriptures.
The knowledge of God usually refers to knowing the truth about God (Romans 1:19–21). According to the Bible, the knowledge of God starts with God (Proverbs 2:6). He graciously chooses to reveal Himself to humanity in many ways (Isaiah 33:6). He reveals Himself to everyone through creation (Psalm 19:1–2), so that every person knows at least about His “eternal power and divine nature” (Romans 1:20). This basic knowledge of God’s righteousness and our moral responsibility is enough to condemn us for not following His law (Romans 1:18).
Those who fear God, or have a relationship with Him, can grow in the knowledge of God, as He reveals Himself (Proverbs 1:7; Isaiah 33:6). God reveals Himself through the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), through His people (Romans 15:14), through His Holy Spirit (John 14:26), and through His Son, who is His perfect image (Colossians 1:15).
In the Bible, the knowledge of God is closely tied to relationship with God. God gives knowledge to those who love Him, and rejection of knowledge results in broken relationship (Proverbs 2:4–6; Hosea 4:6; Romans 1:21–25). It is a little like our human relationships: the closer we get to someone, the more we know that person, and the more we get to know him or her, the closer we become. As we grow in the knowledge of God, we learn more about His will, His works, and His character.
Increasing in our knowledge of God, or learning more about Him, should motivate a change in our lives, as we contemplate His goodness, mercy, and glory (2 Peter 2:20). As Christians, we grow in the knowledge of God through our relationship with Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6). Our goal is to grow in the knowledge of God, so that we become more like His Son. Paul’s prayer for the Colossians is a beautiful example of this dynamic:
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:9–12).
Finally, as Christians, we do not keep the knowledge of God to ourselves. As we grow in the knowledge of God, we are to share it with others, so that they can come to know Him as well. Paul’s life of self-sacrificial ministry spread the knowledge of God to everyone around him (2 Corinthians 2:14). God also used Paul’s ministry to break down every obstacle in the human mind that prevented people from hearing the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). In the same way, we should share the knowledge of God everywhere we go, so that people would come to know Him through the grace of His Son. Then, as we serve one another in Christian community, we will build each other up until, by the grace of God, “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13).