Gnorizo: News Worth Sharing

Word of the Week

June 10, 2023


Gnōrizō:  News Worth Sharing


Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

Luke 2:15b


Christmas is the time to open presents, to rip off the paper and reveal the treasure that has been hidden by the wrapping paper.  That box has been under the tree for two weeks, and your son can’t wait to see what’s inside.  Frankly, you can’t wait to watch him rip it open and find the cool new LEGO set inside.

Even though it’s not Christmas, there are important lessons we can learn from the Christmas story.

The first Christmas was a time for revealing long-hidden gifts.  God had planned from eternity past to bestow the gift of His Son for our salvation.  He had predicted it hundreds of years earlier.  And now it was time to unwrap the package.

Drowsy shepherds jerked to attention when an angel showed up to announce that the Child was born, resting in a feed trough nearby.  To underscore the point, the sky instantly filled with an army of angels!

When the sky had once again darkened, with nothing to see but stars, the shepherds jumped up and headed for town.  “Let’s go see what the LORD has made known to us!”

Without realizing it, they had caught the core of Christmas:  This was a time when God was making something known, opening the package to reveal something that He knew, something that He wanted us to know.

As soon as the shepherds made their visit to the manger, they went their way doing the same thing God had done.  “And when they had seen, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child” (Luke 2:17).

Both verses use the same Greek word, gnōrizō, which is usually translated “to make known.”  It appears 28 times in the New Testament, almost always with the idea of taking what you know and sharing it with someone else.

Greek has a very common term, ginōskō, which means “to know.”  It’s an incredibly important idea, because the whole Christian life is built on our knowledge of God and His purposes.  But gnōrizō goes a step further.  Knowing a crucial truth is good, but revealing it to others is better.

Survey the uses of gnōrizō in the New Testament and you’ll find that most of them fit the pattern in Luke 2.  Half of them describe what God makes known to people, and half describe people making things known to other people.  It’s a pattern that runs in two directions:  first a vertical revealing from God to us, then a horizontal revealing from person to person.

God gave the good news to the shepherds, then they passed it on to everyone they met.


God makes things known to people.

Everything starts here, because God knows everything and there’s no way we can find out what He’s thinking unless He chooses to make it known.  And we can’t even imagine how much He knows.  Jesus said that every hair on your head is numbered.  The average head has about 100,000 hairs, and the estimated world population in December 2018 was 7.7 billion.  That means that God has cataloged 770,000,000,000,000 hairs – and that’s one of the most trivial segments of His knowledge base.

We can’t unwrap the mind of God, but He can choose to make it known to us.  Here are some of the things He has chosen to gnōrizō to us:

  • Jesus said that he had made the Father known to his disciples (John 15:15; 17:26).
  • God uses His dealings with mankind to make known His power and glory (Romans 9:22-23)
  • Paul loves to talk about the “mystery,” the previously unexplained plan of God to provide salvation and to create a new organism called the “church,” where Jew and Gentile alike can live in closest relationship to God (Ephesians 1:9; 3:3, 3:5; Colossians 1:27). The Lord even intends to use the church – that’s us! – to demonstrate His multi-faceted wisdom to the entire universe (Ephesians 3:10).


People make things known to people.

 God is not the only one who reveals.  We all know things that we want to share with others.

We might want to share routine personal details.  Paul assigned his friend Tychicus to report to the churches on how Paul was doing under house arrest (Ephesians 6:20; Colossians 4:7, 9). More importantly, he wanted to make it clear to the Galatians that he was not preaching a self-invented message, but a gospel he had received from God (Galatians 1:11).  In 2 Corinthians 8:1, he reported on the latest activities of sister churches in another region.

We might be communicating important doctrinal truths.    The apostle Paul used gnōrizō to describe the core truths of the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1. He also made known the vital truth that you can’t just believe everyone who claims to be giving a message from God; you have to check to content of the message (1 Corinthians 12:3).


We can make things known to God.

Only one New Testament passage suggests that we should make things known to God:  Philippians 4:6 tells us not to be anxious, but to “let your requests be made known to God.”  Does He already know what we need?  Of course!  But He still wants us to say what is in our hearts – for our good, not because He needs the information.

In Ephesians 6:19, the apostle Paul asks for prayer that he might have the ability “to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel.”  That’s the pattern of gnōrizō:  first God makes the good news known to us, then we make the good news known to others.  That’s God’s plan for the world!


Study Hint:

As always, words have multiple meanings and gnōrizō is no exception.  It appears often in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) with the meaning “to know,” rather than “to make known.”  It also means “to know” in other contemporary writers such as Josephus and Philo.  In the New Testament, however, the only passage where it seems to mean “know” is Philippians 1:22, where says that he does not “know” whether it is better to live or die.



Q:  I am studying Genesis 1:2, which says, “The earth was formless and void.”  I looked up the word “void” in Hebrew, but I would like to find out about the Greek word used to translate that in the Septuagint.  Can you help me with this?

A:  Sure!  The Greek word is akataskeuastos and it is never used in the New Testament, so it doesn’t appear in the usual word study tools.  I had to dig out a huge old copy of the lexicon by Liddell and Scott, which is the standard dictionary for classical and other eras of Greek.  It gives this definition:  “unwrought, rough, inartificial.”  Obviously written by a scholar who speaks a different brand of English than I do!  The basic idea describes something that is like a rough draft, basically complete but in need of final touches to polish the details.

One word of perspective:  Your interpretation of Genesis should be based on the Hebrew text, not the Greek translation.  The Greek may give you useful insights about the way that Jewish scholars understood Genesis, but the original statement was in Hebrew.


Coming Up

At the base of that odd word we found in Genesis is a Greek word that has a fascinating story of its own.  Next week we will take a closer look at it.


©Ezra Project 2023

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