‘Taking in Knowledge of God and Jesus’
“THIS means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) So said Jesus in prayer to his heavenly Father, and in this way he showed a vital prerequisite for gaining eternal life. Why, though, does the New World Translation render this verse “taking in knowledge of . . . God” instead of “know . . . God,” as most other translations of the Bible express it?—See also the footnote to John 17:3.
The Greek word here translated ‘take in knowledge’ or “know” is a form of the verb gi·noʹsko. And the rendering in the New World Translation is designed to bring out as fully as possible the meaning of that word. The basic meaning of gi·noʹsko is to “know,” but the Greek word has various shades of meaning. Note the following definitions:
“GINŌSKŌ (γινώσκω) signifies to be taking in knowledge, to come to know, recognize, understand, or to understand completely.” (Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W. E. Vine) Hence, rendering gi·noʹsko ‘take in knowledge’ is not ‘changing the Bible,’ as critics of the New World Translation have alleged. In a discussion of the various shades of meaning the word can encompass, renowned lexicographer James Hope Moulton states: “The present simplex, γινώσκειν, is durative, ‘to be taking in knowledge.’”—A Grammar of New Testament Greek.
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament explains gi·noʹsko as it appears at John 17:3 as “implying a continuous process.” A further comment on this Greek word appears in Word Studies in the New Testament, by Marvin R. Vincent. This says: “Eternal life consists in knowledge, or rather the pursuit of knowledge, since the present tense marks a continuance, a progressive perception.” (Italics his.) A. T. Robertson’s Word Pictures in the New Testament suggests translating the word “should keep on knowing.”
Therefore, in the original Greek, Jesus’ words at John 17:3 imply continuous effort to get to know the true God and his Son, Jesus Christ, and this is well brought out in the rendering of the New World Translation. We acquire this knowledge by diligently studying God’s Word and by obediently conforming our lives to its standards. (Compare Hosea 4:1, 2; 8:2; 2 Timothy 3:16, 17.) What fine reward awaits those who acquaint themselves with God’s personality and with that of his Son and then strive to imitate them? Everlasting life!