The Hidden Danger Of Biblical Knowledge

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Knowledge is good, but knowledge can fill a person full of pride…and that’s a problem.

The Blowfish

Blowfish (family of Tetraodontidae) are closely related to the porcupine fish and Puffer fish, and both are highly dangerous. These fish are listed as the second most poisonous vertebrate in the known world, not just in the ocean! They are highly toxic to human beings and anything else that tries to attack them. Their unique and distinctive natural defenses have the ability to inflate rapidly, while some produce a powerful neurotoxin called tetrodotixon, making them unpleasant to eat, and even lethal for some, so how are blowfish and people with biblical knowledge similar? A person who has a lot of biblical knowledge can easily become puffed up by believing they know more than others. Before you know it, they’re speaking to other Christians in a condescending manner, thinking they might even know more than the pastor does, and just like the blowfish, they can be highly toxic if they’re ever attacked, but sadly, those who are full of themselves often have few friends, and it’s not hard to understand why. They might be afraid to say something because they know they’ll be “corrected,” so they say little or nothing at all about the Word of God. Instead of letting iron sharpen iron, they take the Word of God and use it as a weapon against other believers, but that’s not the purpose of God’s Word. We are told to work out our own salvation (Phil 2:12-13), but not that of others. Of course, when we see others have the mistaken idea that Jesus is not God or that He was not born of a virgin, of course we can use Scripture to correct, rebuke, and exhort them, so the only time when we should be using our biblical knowledge is to help others understand proper biblical doctrine.

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18)

Knowledge Puffs Up

First Corinthians 8:1 is a popular verse within Evangelical Christianity. The proverbial portion of the verse states that “knowledge puffs up,” and it really does…and sometimes without a person even knowing it. A person who has a lot of biblical knowledge and/or education can fall in love with learning, but they can also fall into a pattern of correcting or chastising those who know less than they do. Having a lot of biblical knowledge can create an arrogant person. There’s one thing about the Bible; we already know far more than we can possibly obey, so instead of focusing on impractical, pride-feeding knowledge about trivial facts, we ought to use our biblical knowledge to build one another up. Knowledge devoid of love serves only to build a person up, not others. Sometimes it publically demonstrates a person’s selfishness. The Apostle Paul tells us that “if I have all knowledge . . . but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2). Atheists and agnostics have knowledge, but they don’t know the Lord, and so their knowledge is limited and will perish with them, but knowledge without love is like being nothing more than a Bible dictionary…not very compassionate.

Esteeming Others

Paul says that we should esteem others better than ourselves. It shouldn’t matter whether we know more of the Bible than others. That’s not his point. We can say, “I read the Bible many times,” but I ask them, “Did the Bible read you?” They might say, “I’ve went through the Bible many times,” but my question is, “Has the Bible when through them?” For some reason, when we know more than others, or think we do, our knowledge tends to make us esteem ourselves better than others, and we know this is sin! What do we have or know that we did not receive from God (1 Cor 4:7)? The answer is nothing! When a Christian is not using his or her knowledge to build up their brother or sister, and even also those outside of the faith, it doesn’t serve much purpose. When that knowledge is not coupled with love, we are no better than a Bible concordance sitting on someone’s shelf. If love is not the foundation of our knowledge, Paul says it is useless (1 Cor 13:1-4).

Brow Beating

I am not trying to discourage you from further learning. I am trying to encourage you to use that knowledge for good. If I only pass on knowledge to my children and grandchildren, but do it without love, it means nothing in the end. I have been a Christian for decades now, and it still saddens me to see other believers belittle other believers for their lack of biblical knowledge. It’s always best to keep the main things, the main thing, and not get into useless and endless debates about biblical knowledge that doesn’t really matter. If we disagree about things like the rapture, the millennium, and tongues, then we should agree to disagree and leave it at that. If we persist on attacking other believers over what they believe about non-essentials, then we are really persecuting Jesus Himself. Remember, the church is the Body of Christ, and anyone who attacks another believer, regardless of whether they are a Christian or not, is attacking or persecuting Jesus Himself (Acts 9:4).


Having a lot of knowledge can be a good thing. You can pass on that knowledge as a Bible teacher, pastor, Sunday school teacher, or just talking about God or the Bible, but pride can so easily puff us up. Porcupine fish, blowfish, and puffer fish get all puffed up when threatened. That’s the same kind of reaction that “puffed up” people have when told they might be wrong, so knowledge without love is not much good. If we also get too full of ourselves, we can be unpleasant to be around, and you know what’s been said about pride: “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom” (Prov 11:2).

Here is some related reading for you: What does the Bible Say About Knowledge?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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