The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Matthew 7:23 and the word "knew"


This is an appeal to all the Greek scholars who contribute to the Forum.

The English word “know” is used in the KJV to translate several Greek words. 2 Tim 1:12 “That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I KNOW whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day”. That statement of Paul must be one of the most succinct yet powerful testimonies ever written.

The English verb “know” appears many times throughout the Bible. The same word is used as translations of various Greek words with slightly different meanings. The most commonly used of these are the verbs “ginosko” and “eido”. “Ginosko” refers to a deep, intimate knowledge such as when Jesus said “I know my sheep”. “Ginosko” is also used in the Septuagint where we read in Gen. 4:1 “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived and bore a son …”. The verb in that context describes the most intimate knowledge a man and woman can share. “Ginosko” seems to be almost synonymous with “love” as in John 10:14.

“Eido” describes more a conviction, a sure knowledge, based on experience. “I know that an abscessed tooth hurts”. How? “Because I have experienced it”. “I know fire is hot and can burn us”. The word used by Paul in 2 Tim 1:12 is “eido”. Paul knew Jesus with a sure certain knowledge. He KNEW what he believed.

But what does the Greek word translated “knew” actually mean as used by Jesus in Matt. 7:23? “I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity”. Those He was addressing professed to love Him but it would appear Jesus did not love them.

How do I square this with what I am trying to learn from EU/CU?


Well, for what it’s worth from a non-scholar…

There are all kinds of universalists. I believe God is love, exclusively love. In Matthew 7:23 I believe Jesus is grimly addressing deceived religious people—whom he nevertheless sincerely loves—and banishing them to the lake of fire, as per,

I believe the lake of fire is a literal place, but temporary, and remedial, as I discuss at the end of, Is God Violent, Or Nonviolent?” I think these folks, who were prophesying and doing miracles in Jesus’ name, were not genuine Christians (that is, they were not born again). Not being a Greek scholar, I don’t know why Jesus uses ginōskō when he tells them, *“I never knew you.” * But I focus on the word “never”: he says he never knew them.

On the other hand, regarding the foolish virgins of Matthew 25, Jesus does NOT say that he “never” knew them, but that right now, he doesn’t “oida” them (he cannot ‘see or perceive’ them ‘with the outward senses’? because it’s too dark? or perhaps because the door is now shut?):

I believe this discussion of the virgins is an allegory for the first rapture. These people are virgins (genuine believers), whose lamps are going out (because of lack of spiritual fellowship with him, having ignored his mandate to be ready, to watch and pray; compare Luke 21:36 with Rev. 7:14). The pre-Tribulation rapture is selective. It is a reward, not a right. (I believe there will be at least two more raptures after this, for those believers who are ready to leave.)

As to ‘an appeal to Greek scholars in this forum’: I would argue a Greek scholar is someone who focuses on Bible Greek daily, and has formally studied it at the masters or doctoral level. As far as I know, there are no Greek scholars here.

As to the distinctions between oida/eídō (Strong’s G6063) and *ginōskō *(Strong’s G1097), here is a

("‘it+is+precarious+to+try+to+maintain+a+strict+distinction"&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNjp-2geDYAhVG21MKHZGRAWkQ6AEIJzAA#v=onepage&q="‘it%20is%20precarious%20to%20try%20to%20maintain%20a%20strict%20distinction"&f=false) from A Translator’s Handbook on the Gospel of Mark (United Bible Society, 1961):

Btw, here is the link to an interesting short work-out on eido, ginosko, and epiginosko, from person unknown, qualifications unknown.



Thanks, Hermano:

For a ‘non-scholar’ your reply was very helpful. I also appreciate your views about the parable of the 10 virgins. I had not heard that interpretation before.

You also wrote: “The pre-Tribulation rapture is selective. It is a reward, not a right. (I believe there will be at least two more raptures after this, for those believers who are ready to leave.)” As one who is partial-preterist, I do not subscribe to a future Great Tribulation with the rapture happening before it, mid-way through it, or after it; nor in a future millennial kingdom. I don’t allow myself to get worked up about it.