Genuinely understanding the revelation of the Word of God means it is manifesting in our life. If we understand, we grow and change into the nature of Christ; old things are passing away and we are being made new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Without a change in our walk, we are simply hearers of the Word, not doers of the Word. (James 1:22-24). The Early Church, (pre 325AD) believed that understanding the Word meant to be changed and walk in its power.
Understanding means more than simply hearing and perceiving the meaning of something in our mind. According to the Hebrew language, understanding means “a careful hearing of someone or something as well as responding appropriately in obedience or action” (1) What is it that we are understanding? The Word of God. Jesus tells us that “the seed is the Word of God.” (Luke 8:11). What is a seed meant to do? It is sown in soil to produce a crop, or a sperm seed is sown into the womb to produce offspring. If for whatever reason we do not grow the crop to its maturity, or nourish the pregnancy to birth, the seed is worthless, and it has not completed what it was designed to do. Just like the Word (seed) of God, His nature (John 1:1), is meant to be cultivated in our lives.
If we do not grow and mature in the nature of God, doing the Word, the seed has become worthless to us. This is not of its own fault, but because of our own lack of diligence. Just as in the parable of the seed and the sower (Mark 4:3-9), it was not the fault of the seed (the Word of God), or the sower (the teacher) that caused there to not be a harvest, it was the condition of the earth. The earth is symbolic of our soul, as it is written, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” (Genesis 2:7, KJV) If we are not producing the fruit of Christ’s nature when we are hearing the revelation of the Word of God, can we really say we understand, when understanding it requires an action?
The meaning of ‘revelation’ itself confirms the above. Every revelation is a manifestation. (2) Revelation of the Word of God is not just when we perceive the hidden meaning in scripture, it is when Christ’s nature is revealed in us. How do we know that? Because revelation is a removal of the veil (3) and the veil is the flesh (Hebrews 10:20). Our flesh is our old way of thinking and doing, (1 Corinthians 3:1-3) and if we have a revelation, or our flesh is removed, our old nature is gone and thus manifesting the nature of Christ. If we are still manifesting our old nature, it means that the flesh is still on us, or we are still veiled and do not truly have a revelation. It is the engrafted Word that is able to save our souls (James 1:21). Engrafted means to germinate, to grow or spring up, produce. (4) This means the Word needs to be producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives.
We cannot become comfortable and believe the deception that simply being in a revelatory ministry is enough for our salvation, rather we must press on to become the revelation of Christ. Early Church Father, Origen of Alexandria writes:
“And the people made haste and crossed over the Jordan”. Now I do not think that the Holy Spirit was speaking idly when it said “that the people made haste to go across.” Thus it also seems to me that in our case too, when we are coming to saving baptism and are receiving the sacraments of the WORD of God, we should not act slowly and lazily but with haste and urgency until we all get across. For to “go across” everything is to fulfill everything that is commanded. Let us therefore make haste to “go across,” which means first of all to fulfill what is written: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Mt 5:3), in order that, having put aside all arrogance and put on the humility of Christ, we might deserve to come to the beatitude promised us. . . And when we are struggling through all these things which belong to the glory of virtue, not lazily or neglectfully but with all urgency and speed, this, it seems to me, is what it means to “cross over the Jordan” in haste. (5)
Here Origen is referring to the account in Joshua 3-4 where God’s chosen people, the children of Israel, were crossing over the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Origen uses this as a parallel of our Christian walk, those receiving the revelation of the Word of God. Once hearing the Word we must, with great earnestness, press to walk out the revelation, fulfilling what we are receiving. Origen says to battle through our flesh belongs to virtue and only when we have crossed over our flesh, will we come into the true promises of God, the fullness of His glory.
Concerning this topic, Lactantius, a third-Century Early Church Father so clearly and eloquently stated, “For if a man is able to understand divine things, he will be able also to perform them; for to understand is, as it were, to follow in their track.” (6)
Lactantius confirms our premise, that to truly understand revelation is to become it. Every time we hear the revelation of God’s Word, He removes a veil and shows us who we are to become, made in His image and likeness (Link article: Image and Likeness July 2021 to the words ‘image and likeness) (Genesis 1:26). The fullness of that revelation is when we are walking in Christ’s nature, and it is no longer us who live, but Christ who lives within us (Galatians 2:20). Without the manifestation of Christ in us we are still carnal, (1 Corinthians 3) even in a ministry releasing revelation. Let us run the race with endurance and push toward the goal of the fullness of the glory of God in us.
We leave you with this final exhortation:
“To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
1. Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible: ‘understand’ (H8085)
2. Strong’s Dictionary: ‘revelation’ (G602)
3. Thayer’s Lexicon: ‘revealed’ (G601)
4. Complete Word Study Dictionary: ‘engrafted’ (G1721)
5. Origen, Homily on Joshua, Homily 5 [Emphasis added]
6. Lactantius, Divine Institutes, Bk 7, Ch II [Emphasis added]
All scripture references from The Holy Bible: New King James Version: NKJV. Thomas Nelson, 2010, unless otherwise stated.