The word διακριθητε (basic singular form διακρίνω) is found in Matt 21:21.

Also in other declensions in Mark 11:23, Act 10:20, 11:12, Rom 14:23, Jam 1:6, Jude 1:9, 1:22.

I find it very difficult to trust translations because they often paraphrase what original text say, so I did a search of more ancient Greek dictionaries.


  • separate from one another
  • separate into components or elementals
  • set apart
  • distinguish/discriminate
  • decide, adjudge
  • set apart in consecration
  • interpret
  • analyse
  • question
  • doubt, hesitate, waver

Reference (click on the various dictionary links at the top of the declension table):

But these are the very qualities that modern engineering practice, religious fundamentalism, philosophical debates encourage and mandate.

It seems that the primary meaning of {διακρίνω} is {be-analytical} and whereas {hesitate, waver} is merely latter idiomatic use.

Let me jump to (reasonable) conclusion: It would appear that contradictory to original Christian scriptural texts, modern doctrine of faith vs doubt, is to discourage analysis, questioning, but just git'er done.

So that James 1:6,7 for example, would be saying

  • Yet whomever seeks in belief (translated as faith), but yet not as one who analyses, for by analysing, it would appear as surge of the sea driven by wind and tossed about. So that not think that such person shall get any alongside the master/lord.

That is

  • Since it would appear to whomever seeks in belief, but yet not as one who analyses, that analysis is surge of sea driven by wind and tossed about, therefore, do not think that such person shall get any alongside the master/lord.

And in Jude 1:9

  • Yet michael the archangel when to the accuser analysing about the body of moses ....

But in Jude 1:22

  • and whom indeed merciful are analytical

Matthew 21:21

  • then in responding, the Jesus said to them, truly I say to you, in-case you have belief, and no analysis, not only of the fig tree you shall be doing, it shall be that you would be saying to the mountain, you be lifted up and cast into the sea.

It seems that Matthew 21:21, when his disciples got analytical about the parched fig tree, depicts Jesus as saying,

  • if you have belief but no analysis, you will cause fig trees to dry up, and you will be saying stupid things like telling a mountain be thrown into the sea.

To my meagre understanding of koine greek, it would seem that modern and medieval Christian doctrine on "faith" and "doubt" is non-existent in the somewhat original Greek scriptural texts.

That is, the doctrine of faith/doubt is a modern/medieval invention of the church to extract subservience from their adherents.

Please comment and correct my koine greek reading and opinion of the matter.

The question is the placing of the term {γεινεται}, in Matthew 21:21 or Mark 11:23,

  • believing without analysis, saying to the mountain be thrown into the sea, what you say it shall be

Or, is it saying

  • believing without analysis, it shall be that you say to the mountain be thrown into the sea. Which is a pointless endeavour.

I have tried searching for ancient hellenistic or aramaic idioms for "throwing mountain into the sea" but have not found any.

  • 3
    Let me say that some of my posts have been downvoted for being disorganized. Ok personal confession, I'm autistic and not prone to good verbal organization. So don't downvote, help edit and reorganize my thoughts. But without removing any ideas of the question. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 23 '17 at 18:13
  • This question has bugged me for many years, and today, I decided to sit down and write it out. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 23 '17 at 18:22
  • Is your "legal connotations" a modern philosophical elicitation of the meaning, or is that bearing on the ancient meaning as found in socrates' and plato's arguments? – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 23 '17 at 20:02
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    That's great. But - one big question a time, is more than a enough - in this format. – elika kohen Jul 23 '17 at 23:13
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    Issues such as lexical ambiguity make it impossible to give a general meaning that will be true in every context. Consider the following sentence: "She is looking for a match." Is the subject trying to light a candle or find a romantic partner? The 'gloss' definition here is ambiguous and gives us no help disambiguating the meaning in this context. Human language is not mathematics. Engineering practices do not apply so well in many cases (this comes from someone who did graduate study in computational linguistics). – Dan Jul 25 '17 at 14:28

I understand what you're saying, but I don't think this is the case with Matthew 21:21. One major problem with your interpretation is the word γενήσεται at the end of the sentence, which means "it will come to pass" or "it will become". It seems you have removed ἀλλὰ κἂν and moved γενήσεται in its place. The actual Greek say:

answering moreover the Yeshua said to them truly I say to you if you have belief and not do [over]analyze not only that of the fig tree but even if to the mountain this you should say be you taken away and be you cast into the sea it will come to pass

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ἐὰν ἔχητε πίστιν καὶ μὴ διακριθῆτε οὐ μόνον τὸ τῆς συκῆς ποιήσετε ἀλλὰ κἂν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ εἴπητε ἄρθητι καὶ βλήθητι εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν γενήσεται

The point of the passage is, if we believe that God is able, then mankind is also able. Consider how Yeshua stopped the winds. He never thought "I hope this works". He knew it would work because he knew that God was able, and that God has given rulership of earth to mankind.

  • You are willy nilly massaging the meaning of {γενήσεται} as "shall come to pass" to your liking for this verse only. Does {γενήσεται} mean "shall come to pass" in Luke 8:17? In John 4:14? John 16:20? 1 Cor 3:13? 1 Cor 4:5 ? I don't think you have a working knowledge of koine greek, – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 3:33
  • @CynthiaAvishegnath Yes I do believe that either "shall come to pass" or "will become" is the correct translation of γενήσεται in all of those verses. "Nothing indeed is hidden which not manifest will become" Luke 4:14. Either "will come to pass" or " it will become" work. "...be you cast into the sea and it will become". Seriously I'm all with you regarding mistrust of English translations and pagan influence, and I was excited to check out this verse. I tried to make it read as you see it, but I can't find any evidence that it does. – Cannabijoy Jul 28 '17 at 4:59
  • "It will be" being selectively massaged into "it shall come to pass"."Come to pass" is a KJV's selective amplification of the verb. The verb declension γενησεται is "it will be". {It will be you would be saying to the mountain ...}. There is also to consider the subjunctive {ειπητε} "you would/might be saying". The evidence is the actual and pervasive meaning of {διακρίνω} is "analysis/dissolution into elements". What you need to prove is that the meaning "hesitant doubt" was not a church era acquired idiomatic meaning. Produce the contemporaneous greek literature. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 10:32
  • @CynthiaAvishegnath Yes διακρίνω means analyze, but my main concern is that ἀλλὰ κἂν has been taken completely out of your translation. So it's not "it will be you might be saying" because the Greek says "but even if you might be saying...it will be". Unless I'm missing where you've added ἀλλὰ κἂν.. If you can show me how these words work into your translation I can definitely be persuaded, however "but even if it will be you might be saying" doesn't make sense to me. Also I don't understand why you're moving γενησεται to the beginning of the phrase when Yeshua says it at the end. – Cannabijoy Jul 29 '17 at 10:59
  • Do you even read the Greek text at all. Do you know that Greek is an synthetic language and the position of verb does not modify the meaning of a phrase, unlike an analytical language like English. That is the first thing you learn in the 1st lesson in Greek class in Bible school. Did you compare to 2Pet 1:20, or Heb 11:6, where γεινεται is found at the end of a phrase? Did you study koine Greek at Bible school? – Cynthia Avishegnath Aug 1 '17 at 3:29

OK, so let's break down the Greek and get to the fundamental essence of the word, before we judge what is a good translation or overall meaning, so that we can judge between (no pun intended) different instances and choices of translation.


So this word is made up of a root κρίνω krinó meaning: 'judge (legally or privately), deem, choose, discern

Modifier for the root word

And in this case what serves as an intensifier or modifier for this root, qualifying it a little, δια dia—'because, on account of, for the sake of, over.'

So this can come out meaning different things for different contexts, given its nonspecific nature.

Its essense is, loosely: think over, dispute, discern through a critical analysis or judgement, within oneself or with another, about a certain thing.

Or put another way: concerning oneself with a subject until a conclusion is reached, or for the purpose of coming to a conclusion.

Hence the variety of contexts and translations: dispute, doubt, being critical of, etc.

Jesus' Teaching

Jesus' contrasting this with faith (trust, belief) is telling. It means to Jesus, diakrino means doubting, in at least this context.

I wouldn't read too much into His hyperbole about moving mountains with your faith. He used a lot of hyperbole to make the teaching easily memorable (especially for His audience whose culture was oral-learning based) and/or to make the teaching more more solemn (important).

He is showing that faith can be very powerful when one has no doubts, which are exclusive of faith, and allow no room for it.

It's also interesting that He contrasts doubt with faith, meaning He is teaching faith is the acceptance of certain truths, rather than mere earthly 'hope' or what is called 'blind faith.' This resonates with what the Bible teaches about all being able to know God through what has been made. (Romans 1; Wisdom 13 etc).

  • This is what the koine greek says: Truly, I say to you, if you ever have belief and without analysis/discernment, not only of the fig tree (which shriveled as described in prior verse) you will cause, it will be you are saying to this mountain lift you up and be you thrown into the sea. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 3:42
  • What context? The whole body of Greek literature has {διακρίνω} to mean "analysis, to discern". And you just willy-nilly invent a context and then say, "oh in this context that I freshly invented which happens to contradict the whole body of greek literature, this is the context of this verse." – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 3:44
  • You didn't engage with anything I actually said, you just made an ad hominem. Also, you aren't interested in an answer, as is shown by the fact that you answered it in your last comment. – Sola Gratia Jul 28 '17 at 16:15
  • I attacked your method and questioned your understanding of greek styles and grammar. But not your person. You don't understand the meaning of ad hominem. I am interested in an answer, but not an anachornistic one. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 19:05
  • Feel free to choose other answers! I would invite you to know that Biblical use is not necessarily the extrabiblical use. And that the meanings I assigned to the word is as you will find them in most concordances.. so I guess you are not attacking me, after all. – Sola Gratia Jul 28 '17 at 19:46

Whenever there is a multiple choice of meaning for the translation, context must rule the choice of the English word used. The context of Matt. 21:21 is the meaning that is opposite of "faith", or belief. That would necessarily mean the best fit for "διακριθῆτε" is doubt, that of questioning belief, or unbelief.

And, to get the full meaning of what the Messiah was doing, we need some background from the Old Testament. The tendency of many today is to only consider the literal sense, and they forget that the Bible originated in an Eastern metaphorical mind set.

In speaking of the plagues YHWH brought against Egypt, Psa. 105:33,

"And He smiteth their vine and their fig, And shivereth the trees of their border." (YLT)

In the couplet of Prov. 27:18,

" The keeper of a fig-tree eateth its fruit, And the preserver of his master is honoured." (YLT)

The fig tree is portrayed as bearing fruit and therefore good or beneficial and profitable.

In judgment of the nations, the prophesy of Isa. 34:4,

" And consumed have been all the host of the heavens, And rolled together as a book have been the heavens, And all their hosts do fade, As the fading of a leaf of a vine, And as the fading one of a fig-tree." (YLT)

In the metaphorical language of prophesy, the "heavens" were the rulers and kings of the nations, and their "host" were all of their ruling authorities. Rolling them together as a book... closing the book... was shutting down their kingdoms. The wicked were compared to the fading away, or dying of the fig-tree.

Prophesying of the judgment against Judah and Jerusalem, Jer. 8:13,

" I utterly consume them, an affirmation of Jehovah, There are no grapes in the vine, Yea, there are no figs in the fig-tree, And the leaf hath faded, And the strength they have passeth from them." (YLT)

The picture of a fruitless fig tree was the picture of an unfaithful, and disobedient people or nation.

Now, looking again at Matt. 21, the background is of Christ's entrance and judgment of the temple, casting out all those who had turned His Father's house into a den of thieves (vs. 12-13). That He withered the fig tree was the symbol of the judgment against Jerusalem that was coming upon them, and which He delineated in Matt. chap. 24.

The next symbol is of the mountain they were passing by, most probably that of the Mount of Olives as identified in Matt. 21:1. We need to see how mountains were used in scripture.

In rejoicing at their release from Egypt, in Ex. 15:17,

" Thou dost bring them in, And dost plant them In a mountain of Thine inheritance, A fixed place for Thy dwelling Thou hast made, O Jehovah; A sanctuary, O Lord, Thy hands have established;" (YLT)

Calling to Israel, Isa. 56:7,

"I have brought them unto My holy mountain, And caused them to rejoice in My house of prayer, Their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices [Are] for a pleasing thing on Mine altar, For My house, `A house of prayer,' Is called for all the peoples." (YLT)

God's holy mountain was a sanctuary, a place of worship, or a temple. But, the people turned from His mountain to other mountains of idolatry.

Telling the children of Israel as they are about to conquer the evil nations of Canaan, in Deu. 12:2-3,

"ye do utterly destroy all the places where the nations which ye are dispossessing served their gods, on the high mountains, and on the heights, and under every green tree; 3 and ye have broken down their altars, and shivered their standing pillars, and their shrines ye burn with fire, and graven images of their gods ye cut down, and have destroyed their name out of that place." (YLT)

In 2. Chron. 21:11, speaking of their disobedience and turning away from God to idols,

" also, he hath made high places in the mountains of Judah, and causeth the inhabitants of Jerusalem to commit whoredom, and compelleth Judah."

The mountains were the "high places" of altars to idols, and idolatrous worship; also often called "groves". See High Places

In Ezek chap 20, he remonstrates with Israel for following after idols and idol worship in their "high places". Verses 28-29.

"28 And I bring them in unto the land, That I did lift up My hand to give to them, And they see every high hill, and every thick tree, And they sacrifice there their sacrifices, And give there the provocation of their offering, And make there their sweet fragrance, And they pour out there their libations. 29 And I say unto them: What [is] the high place whither ye are going in? And its name is called `high place' to this day." (YLT)

Contrasting with the mountain of God in verse 40,

"For, in My holy mountain, In the mountain of the height of Israel, An affirmation of the Lord Jehovah, There serve Me do all the house of Israel, All of it, in the land -- there I accept them, And there I do seek your heave-offerings, And with the first-fruit of your gifts, With all your holy things." (YLT)

Again, the reproach of Israel in Jer. 3:6,

" And Jehovah saith unto me, in the days of Josiah the king, `Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? She is going on every high mountain, and unto the place of every green tree, and committeth fornication there." (YTL)

Speaking against Babylon, Jer. 51:25,

"Lo, I [am] against thee, O destroying mount, An affirmation of Jehovah, That is destroying all the earth, And I have stretched out My hand against thee, And I have rolled thee from the rocks, And given thee for a burnt mountain." (YLT)

So, the mountains were the places of worship, whether of God, or the peoples' idolatrous "high places". God's mountain where He gave the law to Israel, Mt. Sinai in Exodus 19 - 20, and God's holy city for Mt. Zion in Jerusalem were the exalted mountains of the Lord.

But, the wicked nations, including backsliding Israel were mountains of idol worship, or mountains that would be pulled down. See 1 Kings 19:11; Job 9:5; Isa. 5:25; 34:3; 40:4; Ezek. 38:20; Amos 9:13; Micah 1:4; Nah. 1:5, etc.

Therefore, when Christ told the disciples in Matt. 21:21 that they could move that mountain, the meaning was from the metaphorical usage of mountains as places of idol worship, or of wicked nations who disobeyed God.

The gospel of Christ was the message (Dan. 2:45, Joel 2:32; 3:16, 1 Pet. 2:6) that would break down all "mountains" and all high places, and the disciples of Christ would, through their faith, be spreading that gospel message. Those that responded to the gospel would become the mountain of the Lord (Dan. 2:35, Micah 4:7; Heb. 12:22; ) that would replace all other mountains.

The result that the disciples would see in their lifetime, in the first century AD, was the destruction of the "mountain" of the unfaithful Jerusalem, the same unfruitful fig tree that He withered.

Isa. 52:7,

" How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!" (KJV)

All bold emphasis is mine.

  • I didn't vote you down. But you are confusing me, because your answer has much to do with my question as a duck is related to a sanitary pad because both have wings. – Cynthia Avishegnath Jul 28 '17 at 3:48
  • I understood your question to be whether or not "throwing the mountain into the sea" was an idiom, and identified what the symbols of Matt. 21;21 are. I also answered that the context governs the meaning of the word, and that is would necessarily be the opposite of "faith". The symbols of the fig tree and the mountain were of backsliding, unfruitful, unbelieving Jerusalem, Christ was not speaking of literally throwing the mountain into the sea. – Gina Jul 28 '17 at 13:16

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