Love’s Longing Prayer

“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.” (Philippians 1:9)

Paul’s longing for the Philippian church is eloquently expressed in his prayer for their maturation in the faith. It begins simply with a prayer for their growing love—love that will “abound yet more and more.” This phrase is only used two other times: in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 and 10. Essentially, the prayer is that their love would never stop increasing.

The focus of the ever-increasing love, however, is not emotive reactions or depth of feeling. It is a nonstop, ever-growing love for “knowledge” and “judgment.” And as one might expect, the Holy Spirit’s choice of words is important.

Several Greek words could be translated “knowledge.” This specific choice in Philippians 1:9 is epignosis, a term that emphasizes understanding of facts or truth and carries an intensive meaning with a fuller, clearer, more thorough knowledge than mere awareness of data. A person with epignosis knows both what and why they have certain facts.

“Judgment” is the translation of aisthesis, an unusual term that demands perception, understanding, and discernment of what to do with the knowledge. Both terms are intellectually based and require a growing grasp of information. But both are the product of love—not human standards of high intelligence.

We must be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17), speak “the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), and always be conscious of our relationships so that we “increase” the “edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

Finally, there is this overarching statement: “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (1 John 4:16). HMM III

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