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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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OMNISCIENCE (of Christ).—There are such great differences in the mental grasp of different persons, that no one can prove that all knowledge may not have been open to the human mind of Christ. On the other hand, no one can assert that because of His Divine nature in union with His human nature He must have possessed and exercised such powers. It seems to be left quite open to us, unbiassed in the one direction or in the other, to deal with each department of His knowledge,—as of history before His coming, of nature, and of the future,—and to come to the conclusion that His knowledge included any matter or did not include it, without introducing the dogmatic fallacy that He must, because of His omniscience, have known this or that. Apart from assurance of what God has done, we cannot say what He must do. And this applies to the conditions of the earthly life which it seemed good to the Father that Christ should live.

When we come to the testimony of Scripture, we find Christ growing in knowledge (Luke 2:52), and afterwards limiting Himself to be a teacher not even in matters of civil justice (Luke 12:14), but only in the highest region of religion. In a sense, every prophet who says what God will do, claims a knowledge which dominates all the details of God’s providence in every department (1 John 2:20 ‘Ye know all things’). And in this sense, and in higher measure, Christ was omniscient. In the words of Luther, ‘He was full of grace and wisdom, and able to judge upon and teach all that came before Him’ (Dorner, Person of Christ, ii. 92). Thus His disciples said of Him, ‘Thou knowest all things’ (John 16:30; John 21:17). ‘He knew what was in man’ (John 2:25).

It is usual to refer to Mark 13:32, where Christ disclaims knowledge of the day of His coming, as evidence that there were limitations to our Lord’s knowledge. On the other hand, in His discourse with Nathanael and with the woman of Samaria, He showed supernatural knowledge. See, further, artt. Accommodation, Kenosis.

Literature.—Liddon, Bamp. Lect.8 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] 456 ff.; Gore, Bamp. Lect.5 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] 147 ff.; Wendt, Teaching of Jesus, ii. 341 ff.; Beyschlag, Leben Jesu, i. 171 ff., NT Theol. i. 73 ff.; Orr, Christian View of God and the World, p. 287 ff.; Powell, Principle of the Incarnation, 125 ff.

T. Gregory,

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Omniscience'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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