A. E. Knoch Memorial Part Three

Faithful Laborers

(adapted from volume 56, number 3 of Unsearchable Riches magazine) 

In Memoriam

A. E. Knoch, 1874-1965

(Part Three)

As told in his own Words

EDITOR’S NOTE: In 1945, A.E.K. wrote this short survey of the earlier phases of his life in faith. This, it seems, was the only occasion when he tells of his own spiritual background.

When I left school I determined to study the best books thoroughly. As I had no funds to buy a set of Shakespeare, I began with an old Bible that was lying around. I started with Genesis, but my progress was very slow as I had made up my mind that a superficial reading was useless. I must get the sense. I intended to major in astronomy at the university, and, when I came to the sentence “He made the stars also,” I was quite overwhelmed by the simplicity and grandeur of the statement. I realized that I would not live long enough to exhaust the fullness of that one assertion. So I skipped to the epistle to the Romans. Why, I do not know. I could not make a better choice today, after half a century of study. There I was amazed to find things that I did not remember hearing in Sunday School. I believed and was saved. I have not had time for studying Shakespeare yet.


Being much alive to the things of God, I spoke to others, especially to an elderly Scotchman who was very enthusiastic about the coming of the Lord. In the printing office where I worked, I was given a circular to set, which advertised a series of meetings on this subject. I was much interested and never missed a meeting. The lecturer was one of the so-called “Plymouth Brethren” or “Open Brethren.” In response to his urging, I was baptized in the Los Angeles river. I was allowed to take the Lord’s supper with them each Sunday. I read their literature, “The Witness” magazine, “C.H.M.” (Mackintosh), especially books on prophecy and many tracts. I listened to a long series of lectures on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness and the Seven Churches of Asia. I eagerly swallowed all that I could get and was initiated into the differences between the various divisions among the Brethren themselves, as I was looked upon as one of their coming leaders.


They introduced me to the Newberry Bible, which has extensive marginalia correcting the inconsistencies of the Authorized Version. I wore out several copies of it. The best books that I got through the Brethren were Wigram’s concordances. These opened my eyes to the contradictions and discordant renderings in our version. I then determined to go by the original alone, so I bought a copy of Griesbach’s Greek testament. This I carried constantly. I made a special cover to keep it from going to pieces. Till this point, I had been a loyal “Brethren.” Now trouble began. I soon saw that they were concerned to defend what they called “the truth,” while I wanted God’s Word. I was silenced, and was not even allowed to quote the Scriptures in a Bible reading. Because I had fellowship with others outside their circle, I was put out. It was a great blessing in disguise.


Among the magazines commended to me by the Brethren (by mistake) was “Things to Come,” which, at first, was the organ of prophetic conferences in London. Through it, I became acquainted with Sir Robert Anderson’s writings, especially Human Destiny and “The Silence of God”. In the introduction to the former, Sir Robert requests anyone who had a better solution to the problem to let him know. I wrote and called his attention to the great truth of the reconciliation of all (Col.1:20) and the significance of the eonian times. But he was already too old to change.

I then joined a class in Greek in the local Bible Institute, and later had a class of my own in the Y.M.C.A. I found the textbooks so inconsistent on some points that I gave up teaching and made a complete index of every Greek form in the Scriptures, as a basis for my study.

Later, Things to Come was taken over by Dr. E. W. Bullinger, who had spent much time for ten years in compiling a discriminating concordance of the Greek Scriptures.

Before me, he had seen something of the confusion in our discordant version, and based his teaching on the original, hence he had more light than others. But, again, I could not follow his “dispensational” position. I was very much in awe of him, so feared to write and tell him my ideas, that all of Paul’s writings were for us, especially the prison epistles, so I wrote the article On Baptism in order to put it before him indirectly, and avoid giving offense.

To my surprise and delight, he published it with the following announcement in Things to Come:
“We purpose to commence in January 1907, if the Lord will, a series ‘On Baptism,’ by a brother in the U.S.A., who has dealt with this question in an exhaustive manner, so completely embodying the whole of the Biblical types and teaching, that we have never seen anything yet to equal the masterly way in which the whole subject is dealt with” (Things to Come, vol. 12, [1906] page 108).


After accepting “On Baptism,” Dr. Bullinger changed his position to accord with it. This is the backbone of what is generally called “Bullingerism.” I am thankful to see that it is spreading among thoughtful Bible students. Before he started the “Companion Bible,” he wrote to me saying that he had heard that I was contemplating a new version and asked what my plans were. I sent him a page with a version in one column and notes in the other, like that in the Companion Bible, and begged him to make a new translation. But he considered that too great a task at his age.

A Russian Bible teacher named Vladimir Gelesnoff saw On Baptism in Things to Come, and Wrote to Dr. Bullinger, requesting the right to issue it in pamphlet form. Dr. Bullinger referred him to me and very kindly sent him stereotype matrices, with which he published it in America. Later, when he started the magazine, Unsearchable Riches, he drafted me as associate editor. We were agreed as to the division of truth, but not on the subject of human destiny. At this time I still clung to Brethren teachings in some things. So I was much exercised about it. While waiting for a street car, on the way to my work, the truth of the fifteenth chapter of first Corinthians illumined me like a lightning flash. Christ’s kingdom is not endless, but eonian! God will be All in all.

By the continual use of a concordance, my prejudices were gradually swept away. But it was trying, tedious toil. I could not expect others to spend so much time and labor in order to conform their Bible to the inspired original. So I was burdened with a tremendous urge to make a concordant version, which would save so much work and give the Lord’s dear saints access to God’s Word, free from the prejudice which pops up on nearly every page of the Authorized Version, which, as every concordance will show, was made without any method, and was motivated principally by professional theologians who had to please King James.

A. E. Knoch

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