Adding Knowledge To Virtue — Adam Carlson

In 2 Peter 1:5, Peter instructs his readers to grow in knowledge. Peter understood that knowledge is an essential part of life, especially the Christian life.  It should constantly be increasing and supplementing our faith. Understanding this, it is imperative to have a working knowledge of Scripture, which is the focus of this article.

How To Grow In Knowledge

Read the Scriptures. If one is to grow in biblical knowledge, it is logical to go to the Scriptures themselves and spend time in simply reading them.  Ezra did this in the time of Nehemiah so the people would have a better understanding of the Law of Moses.  “And he read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand.  And the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law…They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading” (Ne. 8:3, 8).

In another example which shows the importance of reading, consider when a copy of the Law was found after being neglected during the time of Josiah.  “Go, inquire of the Lord for me, and for the people, and for all Judah, concerning the words of this book that has been found.  For great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us” (2 Ki. 22:13, emp. mine).  One can’t have the knowledge God desires if he doesn’t take the time to read the Word.

Similar instruction is found in the New Testament as well.  Paul reminded Timothy to give attention to reading in addition to exhortation and teaching (1 Ti. 4:13).  It is noteworthy that Paul saw fit to mention reading first.  Again, if one desires to have a good knowledge of Scripture it must first be read.

At times it may be a good idea to consult reliable reference tools, such as concordances or commentaries, to gain a better understanding.  While caution must be exercised with outside resources, it can be beneficial to one’s study as long as it is understood that such are simply tools not to be elevated to the same level as Scripture.

Apply what has been read. Reading is beneficial and absolutely critical when it comes to obtaining knowledge, but it must be realized that reading alone isn’t enough. What is read must be applied to our everyday lives; otherwise it’s of no benefit. It is important to remember the words of James:  “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like” (Ja. 1:23-24, emp. mine). Knowledge is a good thing but it must be put to use (He. 5:14).

Why We Must Grow In Knowledge 

To understand the importance of spiritual growth, it is equally important to understand why one must grow in knowledge.  The reasons will be discussed in the succeeding points:

To go from infants to maturity. Physical development of the body and mind take place as a child grows from infancy to adulthood.  Likewise, Christians must do this in a spiritual sense.  There are instructions regarding this.

Immaturity was why Paul wasn’t able to address Corinth as he wished to do (1 Co. 3:1-3).  The Hebrew writer faced the same problem, which prompted his point that a knowledgeable Christian is one who is able to go beyond the basics (He. 5:12-6:1).  Peter likewise reminds his readers to grow in this manner (1 Pe. 2:2).

A lack of knowledge is one of the reasons some of the problems within the Lord’s church exist.  If there were an unusually high infant mortality rate, there would be action taken to determine the reasons why and how to prevent it.  Yet, in a spiritual sense some never grow past infancy.  It is the duty of mature Christians to assist them in their growth and walk in Christ.

To withstand false doctrines and Satan. One of Paul’s great concerns for his brethren is found in his letter to Ephesus.  His desire was for them to not be “children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” (Ep. 4:14).

There are numerous warnings about false doctrines and those who teach them throughout Scripture.  They are written within the inspired pages so that we may not be deceived by error.  Some brethren are led astray by these things simply because they do not study the Scriptures as God intended them to be read; rather, they look at them through the lenses of their presuppositions.  Studying in context without preconceived biases will prevent this from being an issue.

In addition to false doctrine, Paul’s other concern was Satan himself.  Thus, he further instructed the Ephesians to withstand the devil by putting on the armor of God (Ep. 6:11ff).  Just as a soldier must be adequately equipped to meet his enemy on the battlefield, Christians must be equally prepared to meet our spiritual enemy.  Knowledge is one way in which this can be accomplished.


As seen from this study, growth in knowledge isn’t an option.  It’s a command.  So let’s continue to grow in knowledge!

Adam graduated from the Tri-Cities School of Preaching and Christian Development in 2011 and since 2013 has been preaching at the Valley Church of Christ in Kingsport, TN.  He is the son of the late Richard and Carla Carlson (the former of whom had been a valued member of the Carolina Messenger board of directors).

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