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St. Hilary now speaks of the distinction between the righteous, the sinner and the ungodly:

The source of this distinction lies in the following words: ‘For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.’ Sinners do not come near the counsel of the righteous for this reason, that the Lord knows the way of the righteous. Now He knows, not by an advance from ignorance to knowledge, but because He condescends to know. For there is no play of human emotions in God that He should know or not know anything. The blessed Apostle Paul declared how we were known of God when he said: ‘If any man among you is a prophet or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are of the Lord: but if any man does not know, he is not known’ (1Cor 14:37-38).

The translation of St. Hilary that I have been using is from The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers edited by Philip Schaff in the 19th century. Thus, its use of English is a bit dated and its translation can also be a bit inaccurate. Such is the case with this last quotation by St. Hilary of 1 Corinthians 14:37-38. It is therefore good to look at the Greek original.

Specifically, I am interested in the three uses of the word know:

  • In the first instance, the phrase let him take knowledge translates ἐπιγινωσκέτω which more accurately means let him recognize.
  • In the second case, the phrase does not know translates ἀγνοεῖ which is more accurately translated as be ignorant.
  • The same is true of the third case which uses the translation he is not known for ἀγνοεῖται which is more accurately translated as let him be ignorant.

All of these differ from the LXX Greek translation of the First Psalm which uses γινώσκει which is translated (the Lord) knows.

To be fair, the Greek word for knowledge (γνῶσις) is the root of all of these words. So, St. Hilary’s comparison is not as far fetched as it might at first appear. Thus, in translating all of this to English, Schaff et al. probably were interested in having a direct parallel between Psalm 1:6 and 1 Corinthians 14:37-38 rather than the indirect one used by St. Hilary because, whereas it works in Greek, it does not work at all in English.

For our purposes, however, using the more accurate understanding of the original Greek in 1 Corinthians is far more useful. To illustrate this, let us take a look at the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25, specifically verses 44-46:

Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

The goats are ignorant of the image and likeness of God within their fellow human beings (the hungry, the thirsty, the sick, the naked, the prisoner and the stranger) and therefore did not recognize Christ within them. Therefore, using the criteria of judgement that they have chosen — they refused to become knowledgable of God and therefore did not recognize Him — God will refuse to recognize them and they will go away to eternal punishment.

This, then, demonstrates St. Hilary’s comparison of Psalm 1:6 with 1 Corinthians 14:37-38. Sinners live in ignorance of God (do not know Him) because they love darkness instead of the light. Therefore, they do not recognize (know) the righteous and their counsel. In the end, God will not recognize them (know them) among the righteous and they will be judged.