English, Spanish, original Greek: In all three texts you can see that 2:23's "believed" shows that belief in Jesus is expressed in a finite moment, whereas in 2:24 Jesus's lack of belief in the same crowds is expressed using the imperfect.

Here is how I am attempting to construe the passage: the aorist communicates that the crowds believed Jesus only upon his having completed miracles (at a definite time and place of course), and perhaps that they stopped believing later on. Jesus, on the other hand, possesses the knowledge of the Creator as well as experience dealing with humans (not to mention being one). As Jesus's knowledge in 2:24 is recorded using a participial construction, it is imputed the temporal semantics of the head verb—as though to say, "people believed him here and there, but Jesus always knew better."

Is my reading correct? Am I, for my relatively poor knowledge of the language, reading a sense absent to the original audience?

1 Answer 1


In English we draw a distinction between "faith" and "belief". The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines "faith" as "complete trust or confidence", while it defines "belief" as "an acceptance that something exists or is true". The gap between the two words is sometimes closed with the expression "belief in", which signifies "trust or confidence in".

Greek does not have separate corresponding words for what we call "faith" and "belief": they are both signified by πίστις (pistis). By the same token, the related verb πιστεύω (pisteuō) can mean "believe" (also "believe in") and "trust" (i.e. "have faith in").

You see the same distinction in the Spanish translation you cite between creer and fiarse (although I think fiarse, can take on the kind of double meaning that pisteuō does).

So I think the issue you are grappling with here is not an issue of Greek syntax, but rather nuances in the meaning of the word itself.

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