The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus My Lord

"Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the xcellency 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  

I do not claim to be knowledgeable in the Greek language. But by doing a Word Study I have learned the words KNOW, KNOWN, KNEW and KNOWLEDGE all come from several different Greek words and are used many different ways in the Scriptures. An example of this is I Corinthians 8:1-3: "we know (Eido = conscious of a fact) that we all have knowledge (Gnosis = learning). Knowledge (intellect) puffeth up, but charity (Agape = God's love) edifieth. And if any man think that he knoweth (Eido = understands spiritually) anything, he knoweth (Ginosko = from experience) nothing yet as he ought to know (Ginosko = absolutely from experience). But if any man love God, the same is known (Ginosko = absolutely known - Cf II Tim. 2:19) of him." There is a difference between KNOWING intellectually, and KNOWING BY EXPERIENCE. There is HEAD KNOWLEDGE which comes from "Learning About" and there is A SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE which is made KNOWN only by the Holy Spirit of God.

There is a difference between THE EXCELLENCY OF THE KNOWLEDGE that Paul is talking about, and the INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE or LEARNING that puffeth up. Paul is not only speaking of THE SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE that the child of God has in time, but he is also speaking of the EXCELLENCY (the highest form, supreme or superior knowledge) that child of God will know from experience when he departs this earthen vessel and goes home to be with God (Read  II Cor.5:1-8). Paul KNEW (from a personal experience) whom he had believed while he lived here on earth. He also looked forward to the time when he would KNOW more perfectly, as he says, "That I may KNOW HIM and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his suffering, being made con- formable unto his death, if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead" (Phil 3:10-11). While we have this hope in time "we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: - the things which are eternal (II Cor. 4: 17-18). "For now we see through a glass, darkly (not fully understanding); but then face to face (after the resurrection - see I COR.  15:50-54): now I KNOW (Ginosko = by experience) in part; but then shall I KNOW (from an absolute experience) even as also I AM KNOWN (absolutely by God).

Most people KNOW ABOUT God - most people KNOW ABOUT Jesus Christ. In this country it is difficult for one to grow up beyond a few years before one hears about God or about Christ. The way most people profane the name of God and Christ as curse words, a child hardly gets out of diapers before they know how to use God's name in vain. If they are fortunate enough to escape the profane language of ungodly parents, they soon pick it up at school or elsewhere in this ungodly world. Anyone can learn about God and Christ from television or from our "money" which has (presently) printed on it "In God We Trust." There are very few in this world who don’t know about God and Christ. The “excellent knowledge” under consideration is not knowing ABOUT, but from experience.

Paul the Apostle knew about God and Christ before HE KNEW CHRIST. In the name of God, he persecuted the Church of the living God, and put to death those who believed in Christ. Paul held the clothes of those who stoned Steven to death while Steven preached Jesus Christ. (see Acts 7:58).  Paul knew about Christ, but he did not KNOW Christ until Jesus introduced himself on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-6). Then Paul began to have a personal, intimate, spiritual knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord that would grow and grow until Paul could say "I know whom I have believed”.

There is a big difference between KNOWING ABOUT SOMEONE and KNOWING SOME- ONE. I KNOW ABOUT Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Paul. I have READ and STUDIED ABOUT each of them to some degree. I suppose I could write a book ABOUT what I KNOW ABOUT these men. But the truth is I DON'T KNOW any of them.  Furthermore, it is not critical that I KNOW any of them. What is critical is: First that I AM KNOWN OF GOD and CHRIST. In this I have no part. If I am not known of God; if I am not one of God's chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world -- I can not make myself such by doing anything. Not by knowledge (learning) or by doing deeds of righteousness. Now I have a "hope of eternal life, which God, who can not lie, promised before the world began." This hope I have by the witness of God's Spirit, for "The Spirit himself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16). The second critical witness is that I KNOW MY LORD, MY GOD, MY SAVIOUR, even if in time it is only in part, that in eternity I will KNOW EVEN ALSO AS I AM KNOWN.   Hallelujah!!  and Amen!!

The gift of Eternal Life does NOT come by knowing about God and Christ from the reading of the Scriptures. This is not to diminish the importance of reading Scriptures. We do far too little reading and study of the Scriptures. But Jesus said, "Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life; and they are they which testify of me.  And ye will not come to me that ye might have life" (John 5:39-40). Eternal Life is NOT in a human knowledge of the scriptures. Again Jesus said "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW THEE, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent" (John 17:1-3). John wrote "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and THIS LIFE IS IN HIS SON (Note: In His Son, not in the record - ba). He that hath THE SON hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life" (I John 5:11-12).

Unregenerate Jews had heard about Christ - they knew about God and Christ. In John 8 we read about Jews claiming God as their Father. Jesus said to them "If God were your Father, ye would love me -- Ye are of your father the devil -- He that is of God heareth God's words; ye hear them not, because ye are not of God" (John 8:39-47). These Jews knew about God but DID NOT KNOW GOD - because they were not of God.  Again, some unbelieving Jews said to Jesus "If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus said to them "I told you, and ye believed not --- because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you" (John 10:24-26). Does anybody in their right mind think any other gospel preacher can get the message across better than Jesus. These Jews had heard about Christ directly from Christ himself. Who can do better than that? Jesus obviously did not give Eternal Life to these Jews who had read and heard about Him, because they were not of His Sheep and could not believe because they were not of His Sheep. Eternal Life is not HEAD KNOWLEDGE or LEARNING gained from reading Scriptures about Christ or hearing the Gospel about Christ – Eternal Life is IN Christ Himself.

The Gospel informs God's people of the great and gracious salvation provided for them in Christ. The Gospel brings to light "life and immortality" promised to God elect before the foundation of the world (See II Timothy 1:7-12). The Scriptures are given to provide understanding to those whom God has given life by his Spirit. The natural unregenerate person, who has not the Spirit of God, can not understand the Scriptures (which are Spiritual) for these things are foolishness unto them. The Scriptures must be SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED (Read I Corinthians 1:9-16). Some of the worlds most renown infidels have had great head knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, but have no spiritual knowledge of Christ whom they deny. "Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father" (I John 2:23). Only by the Holy Spirit can one KNOW CHRIST.

Paul wrote, "Because the carnal mind (the mind of the natural unregenerate person who has not been quickened by the Holy Spirit of God) is enmity against God." "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" - "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:5-17). In John 14, Jesus said, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but YE KNOW HIM; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, I will not leave you comfortless, I WILL COME TO YOU." John said "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in them. And hereby WE KNOW that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." And again John wrote "Hereby KNOW WE that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit" (I John 3:24 & 4:13). Only in the Holy Spirit can we have communion with God and a taste of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ our Lord in this time world, KNOWING by that same Spirit God shall also quicken our mortal bodies (Rom. 8:11).

How often do we doubt what we know? Thanks be unto our heavenly Father that the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal, “God knoweth them that are His.”  Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine” (Jon 10:14). 

The Passover, High Sabbaths and The Sabbath

On Friday, millions and millions of well intended professing believers in the gospel of Christ will observe what the religious world calls “Good Friday”. They will do this because of man’s misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches about the Passover, the Lamb that was to be slain on the Passover, the high Sabbaths connected with the Feast of Unleavened Bread that followed the Passover, and the regular seventh day Sabbath that was observed three days after the Passover.

According to Scripture the first Jewish Passover (Pessach) took place on the 14th day of the first month of their calendar year. The Passover was to be a memorial in remembrance of their deliverance (redemption) from bondage in Egypt.  In Exodus 12 we read, “And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.  Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.”   

The Evening of the “fourteenth day” (14th)   would have begun after 6 PM. Jewish Days are counted from 6 PM to 6 PM whereas our Gentile days are from 12 midnight to 12 midnight. This is in keeping with the counting of days established by God in creation where it says, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day”. A Biblical twenty four (24) hour day starts in the evening.  

The killing of the first Passover Lamb (a type of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God foreordained before the foundation of the world to die for the sins of his people) took place in the evening of the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish year. The blood of that Lamb was applied to the door post of the Hebrew homes, and God himself passed through the land “that night” – slaying the firstborn of every house where there was NO blood applied. In Exodus 12 we read where God said, “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”

The Passover was to be a perpetual memorial observed by the Hebrews for ever. God himself set the date and the pattern the Passover was to be observed. Natural man never had a right to change the pattern or the date. In Exodus 12:14 we read, “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.” Only the Lamb of God had a right to ever change it, when He became OUR PASSOVER sacrificed for us (I Cor. 5:7-8).

Immediately following the Passover the Hebrews were to observe The Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread as specified in Exodus 12:15-19, “Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel. And in the first day (of the seven day feast- ba) there shall be an holy convocation (high Sabbath – ba) , and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation (high Sabbath – ba) to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you. And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even. Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.”

The details of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread and High Sabbaths are set out in Leviticus 23:4-8 where we read, “These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons. In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’S passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” Note that the Passover was to be followed by TWO holy convocations or High Sabbaths. Thus it is important to know what day the Passover was observed each year according to the Jewish Lunar Calendar because that day was not always on a Friday. An examination of one hundred prior Jewish years shows that the 14th of Nisan fell on a Wednesday or Thursday about 60 percent of the time, and on a Friday only about 13 percent of the time.

There are many High Holy Days or High Sabbaths in Judaism, such as the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashana (on Tishri 1 and 2) and Yom Kippur (on Tishri 10), in September or October. The Talmud establishes Tishri as the first month of the Jewish year and links these two major festivals. Consequently, these High Sabbaths are used by Jews to designate the first 10 days of their religious year. The three High Holy Days, properly so-called, and also the days between, makeup the 10-day period which is more accurately called Aseret Yeme Teshuva (Ten Days of Penitence). One can easily see from this, that there are at least three (3) and possibly four (4) Sabbaths in this 10 day period of time. Likewise, when the Passover day of the 14th of Nisan comes on a Wednesday or Thursday there would be three (3) Sabbaths in the seven (7) day celebration of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  

According to the Bible (not the Talmud) the first month of the Jewish year (Calendar) is called Abib. In Exodus 14:3 we read, “And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. This day came ye out in the month Abib.” During the Babylonian captivity we find this same first month referred to as Nisan. In Esther 3:7 we read, “In the first month, that is, the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that is, the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, to the twelfth month, that is, the month Adar.” Here we also note that the twelfth (12th) month of the Jewish year (Calendar) was called Adar. HOWEVER, some where along the way MAN has been at work to change things and bring in confusion. In the modern day Jewish calendar Nisan has been adopted as the name for the month Abib. Nisan (or Abib) corresponds to the Gregorian calendar month of March or April. The beginning of the Jewish year has been changed to Tishri which corresponds to September or October, and Nisan comes about half way through the Jewish year – not at the first of it.       

A Calendar is a system to measure and record the passage of time. All Calendars either reconcile this measurement of time to the Lunar and Solar system established by God to control the “seasons, days and years” (Gen. 1:14) or else the Calendar becomes useless, with winter coming in the summer months, etc. Historically some Calendars have been  arbitrarily adjusted from time to time, by adding or subtracting days, to bring them into conformity with the Astronomical Solar Year which has 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. The study of Calendars and the many that have been used in the history of man is vast, and not the subject under consideration, but a few observations are needed.

The Chaldeans and Babylonians are among the first to use Astronomy (the scientific study of the stars, moon and sun) to measure time. Their Calendar Years represented their limited understanding that the Earth revolved around the Sun in a Solar year. Some calendars would have 12 months while others would have 13 months. The Babylonians found that they had to add and extra month three times every eight years to keep their calendar in sync with the Lunar and Solar year.  The Egyptians (from whom Moses led the Hebrews to freedom on the Passover night) were the first to adopt a calendar based mainly on a solar year. They recognized a year of 365 days made up of twelve 30 day months, and then added an extra five days at the end of the year. They did not allow for the extra fourth of a day in the exact solar year. However they dated the beginning of man’s history at 4,236 BC in terms of the Gregorian calendar we use today.  That date corresponds more closely to the Chronology found in the Bible that fixes the history of man from 4,036 BC than does the Jewish calendar of 3,760 BC.

The modern day Hebrew calendar begins with this estimated date of creation before the birth of Christ. However the birth of Christ is not recognized in their measurement of time. Thus the year 2002 AD (after the birth of Christ) is the Jewish year 5,762. IMO, they could not have followed the dated events recorded by Moses in Scripture and arrived at this number of years, which falls short of Biblical Chronology by about 281 years. Furthermore the modern day Hebrew calendar shows the beginning of their year as September or October depending on which year it is. The Bible clearly tells us that the first month of the Hebrew year was to be Abib (or Nisan as Abib is called).

The Hebrew calendar is primarily based on a Lunar measurement of time and consist of twelve (12) months of 30 and 29 days each.  The months are Tishri, Heshvan, Kislev, Tebet, Shebat, Adar, Nisan, Iyar, Sivan, Tammuz, Ab, and Elul.   However in order to bring the Jewish calendar into harmony with the Solar year, seven times during every 19-year period they add an extra 29-day month, called Veadar. This extra month is inserted between Adar and Nisan. At the same time, Adar is given 30 days instead of 29.  So now that we have all that figured out, let’s move on with the Passover.

According to two Jewish calendars I examined the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread in the year 2002 AD, will begin on Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan. This date corresponds to March 27th according to the Gregorian calendar that we Gentiles go by. In the year 30 AD (Jewish year 3790), the year our Lord was crucified as the Lamb of God, the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread also began on Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan. This evidence gives further proof to our previous study that showed Christ was crucified on Wednesday, the Passover Day, and was placed in the borrowed tomb just before 6 PM because the next day was to be a Holy Convocation or HIGH SABBATH according to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. That “High Sabbath” came on a Thursday and was followed by a regular seventh day Sabbath on Saturday.

The High Sabbath is mentioned in John 19:31, “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.”  Thus Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus asked for the body of Christ and buried him in a tomb that was near by.  We read in John 19:38-42, “And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.”

Christ himself said he would be in the grave three (3) days and three (3) nights or seventy two (72) hours. This reconciles with the burial time of near 6 PM Wednesday and when Mary found the tomb empty right after the regular Seventh Day Sabbath. Matthew 28:1 reads, “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” The 72 hours Christ was in the grave covered two Sabbaths and a Friday. The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread which immediately followed the Passover on the 15th Day of the first month, was a Holy Convocation or “High Sabbath”. Lev. 23:7 reads, “In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” Since the Jewish calendars show that the Passover was on Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan, the Holy Convocation or “High Sabbath” had to be on a Thursday. Friday was used by the sisters to buy and prepare the spices. Then they had to wait until after the regular Sabbath on a Saturday to go to the tomb to anoint the body of Christ, when they found HE had already risen.

When the Bibles says in Matthew 28:1 “In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.” – the Sabbath under consideration here is the regular seventh day Sabbath which followed the “high Sabbath” or Holy Convocation on Thursday, which is clearly referred to in John 19:31. Therefore we must conclude that Christ was crucified on Wednesday, the 14th of Nisan, the Passover Day – that he was buried just before 6 PM and that he arose from the grave at the end of the regular seventh day Sabbath or shortly after in order to be in the grave three days and three nights.  There is therefore, no such thing as a “Good Friday” or a “Sun Rise Resurrection” taught in the Scriptures. The Gospel message is “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”. I am glad that the gospel is not according to man’s traditions.