An elusive criminal has been on a spree, burglarizing cars and houses. Investigators have dogged his trail, scouring for clues, searching for DNA, cross-checking old files and cold cases. They are looking for patterns or mistakes, anything that can lead a wanton thief to custody and justice. Finally, despite his skill, he satisfies them by leaving a fingerprint at a victim’s house. They check it against the system and find a match. Officers get an address, rush over and surprise him as he is leaving. A short chase ensues and near the fence behind an adjacent abandoned factory, he is handcuffed and then hauled downtown. Another ne’er-do-well is apprehended.
Apprehended is a word we associate with capturing or bringing into custody, usually with the idea of some sort of pursuit. A similar concept is found in the New Testament, but it is often used in a positive manner. A pair of words from the same word family are used a few times in scripture to depict apprehending by the senses. The original idea is to perceive, primarily with the external senses, but it is used in the Bible to speak of spiritual perception and understanding.
In Luke nine, after Jesus healed one with an unclean spirit which the disciples were unable to heal, the Lord proclaimed that He was going to be delivered into the hands of men and the disciples didn’t understand the statement “and it was concealed from them so that they would not perceive it” (45). Twice, the same word is found in the Septuagint. In Job’s struggle, he says, “I would learn the words which He would answer, and perceive what He would say to me” (Job 23:5). He longed to grab a hold of an answer from God for His suffering. Solomon tells his son to “know” (or perceive) that wisdom is for the soul what honey is for the taste buds (Prov. 24:13-14). He wanted him to get a grasp of that invaluable truth.
A word from the same family is used in Philippians 1:9, as Paul prays Philippi’s love would abound more and more in knowledge and discernment. He wanted them to pursue it and come to obtain it because it affected their spiritual standing. It had been eluding up to that point.
How dedicated are we to taking possession of truth, a relationship with God, wisdom, and spiritual discernment? Are we willing to investigate, hunt, scour, and move heaven and earth? Jesus taught, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:45-46). These things are there for the taken, if we will stay on the case. God wants them in our custody. May we ever stay in hot pursuit!