We Know in Part
1 Corinthians 13:9-10
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.…

The apostle says this not simply of the "wisdom of this world," but of Divinely-given knowledge. A reverence not according to knowledge has led Christians to forget this, and to argue as if inspired writers gave us final and complete knowledge about the ways of God. This is not so, and hence much that is fragmentary even in Scripture, and representations which cannot be harmonised yet.

I. THE PART WE DO NOT KNOW — by far the greater part; and the more we know, the more we seem not to know — as the outside of a circle gets larger as the inside is increased. Only beginners are proud of their acquirements; discoverers, who stand upon the boundaries of human knowledge, gazing with earnest eyes over the boundless untrodden region beyond, feel themselves unable to spell out the very alphabet of the universe of God.

1. What do we know about the material world? Men observe that things have certain appearances, and that changes occur with a certain regularity; but why they appear so, and how these changes take place, which obviously are the most important points to understand, belong to the part we do not know. Why a star moves or a plant grows, it is useless to ask an astronomer or a botanist.

2. So in the spiritual world. How much of goodness and how much of trial make up the facts and events of our lives! But what can we know about them — how they come, and why? What an amount of ingenuity we spend upon these questions, and how much are we perplexed! But vain are our endeavours to get at the meaning.

3. It is the same in regard to the great facts of the Christian revelation. "Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners." Why was that necessary? How was it possible? That is the part we do not know; and we must content ourselves, having appropriate evidence, with the fact that it is so. Paul's eager mind did indeed press against the furthest boundaries of inspired knowledge; but he once stopped with, "O the depth of the riches," etc., and then turned to practical matters.

II. THE PART WE NO KNOW. It is natural to us to appreciate what we lack, and to undervalue what we have. In this, as in other respects, we are but children of a larger growth. As a thousand natural wonders and beauties lie at our feet which we have not eyes attentive enough to see, or minds awake enough to study, or hearts big enough to love: so with the marvels of Christ and Christianity, of which our tongues often speak parrot-like in hymns and prayers, yet the rich significance of which we seldom feel. Our prayer should be, "Lord, open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law."

(T. M. Herbert, M.A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

WEB: For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

The Partial and the Perfect
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