“Now that you know God — or rather are known by God — how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles?” ~Galatians 4:9
Paul corrects himself here in the middle part of his letter to the churches in Galatia. Knowing God is good and it’s important, but it’s not the main thing, it’s not the main point. Rather, Paul says, or more importantly, you are known by God. That’s the primary thing.
When Paul says “or rather,” he’s saying “This is more important.” “Or rather” shifts the emphasis to this second thing. The accent, the force, is not on “you know God,” it’s on “you are known by God.” Being known by God is infinitely more important. God knowing me takes a much larger salvation priority than me knowing God.
Think about it. Our knowledge of God is incomplete at best. You might even say our knowledge of God is sometimes distorted or even flat out wrong. Me knowing God is important, it’s needed. But it’s lacking. It’s not perfect. God knowing me — that’s everything.
And we’re not talking about God’s general omniscience here. This is not about God’s knowing all things about all people at all times. Of course, that’s true about our God. But Paul’s talking about something different here. He’s talking about something deeper. Richer. More personal.
This is very personal. This is one of the very few places in all of Paul’s writings where he uses the singular pronoun for “you.”
In ninety-nine percent of Galatians, when Paul writes “you,” it’s plural. You all. Y’all. Y’all are children of God through faith, y’all belong to Christ, y’all are no longer slaves. But now that you — singular, not your spouse, not your dad, not the person who’s gone to church longer than you, not the one who knows more about God than you — are known by God. The Bible wants you to hear this personally.
In the Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy and Edmund and their cousin Eustace are on a ship searching for Aslan’s home country. Eustace and Edmund are having a conversation about Aslan and Eustace asks Edmund, “Who is Aslan? Do you know him?” Edmund replies, “Well — he knows me.”
God knowing me is much better and much more important then me knowing God. That’s why Paul corrected himself in Galatians 4:9. And I’d like to explore this together in three or four posts this week. Tomorrow we’ll look at how the phrase, “known by God,” is used in the Old Testament in the context of God’s choosing. Wednesday, we’ll consider how God knowing us means God really understands us. Thursday we’ll look at how God knowing me gives me security and a sense of permanent belonging with God. We’ll conclude with some closing thoughts on the topic this Friday. It’s a rich concept and a powerful truth for followers of Christ: You are known by God.