Paul seldom makes direct claims to certain knowledge about God, a point as well known to biblical scholars as it is surprising to most people, who think Paul as the first dogmatist of Christianity. Paul, on the contrary, asks, quoting Isaiah, “Who has known the mind of God?” (Rom 11:34; Isa 40:13), with the implied answer, “No one!” What we do know, according to Paul, we know only “in part” (I Cor 13:9, 12). Elsewhere Paul says, “Anyone claiming to know does not yet know; but whoever loves God is known by him” (I Cor 8:2-3). Paul shifts knowledge into the passive voice. To the Galatians, Paul starts off sounding as if he will make a positive claim about knowledge of God, but then reverses himself from active to passive: “Now that you have come to know God,” he first says, but then corrects himself, “or rather to be known by God” (Gal 4:9). For Paul, epistemology is constrained. Knowledge is partial, limited, through a glass darkly-or translated better into contemporary English: seen only as in a smoky, faulty, obscuring mirror, like trying to put on makeup while looking into a dirty chrome hubcap (I Cor 13:12). Paul’s epistemological reservation-the constraints of knowledge that come with our present, natural existence-limit what we can say about God and truth to little more than repeating the proclamation that in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus we have hope as long as we entrust ourselves to that event.
Dale B. Martin, “Teleology, Epistemology, and Universal Vision in Paul,” in St. Paul Among the Philosophers.