John 17:3 says

"And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." (NKJV)

Matthew 25:12, in the Parable of the 10 Virgins, says

"But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’" (NKJV)

The verbs 'know' in this case appear different in the Greek.

The first is "they may know" using 'ginoskosin'.


The second is "I don't know" using 'oidas'.


Are these phrases' use of 'know' roughly comparable? Could they be referring to the same thing?


3 Answers 3


The Gospel Of John was written well after that of Matthew. As well, the intended audience was different.

This needs explaining. The “audience’ for Matthew was the Jews at that time. They were not ‘believers’ in the ‘sense’ that we are/can be, that is,’born again’ of the spirit. Their spirit was ‘dead’, via Adam. So it was impossible to have an ‘inward knowing’, a ‘deep perception’ as is the meaning on the word ‘know’ used in John. (ginōskō). Their ‘know’ was a ‘mental assent’, that is, ‘understanding/knowing in your ‘hesd’.’. (‘eido’).

John was written to believers, as in born again believers, hence it’s increased focus on the ‘spiritual’ dimension.

Eternal life, the subject of the verse you quoted from John, is about the ‘spirit’. Eternal life is ‘in’ the spirit. ‘Inside’ you. You ‘know’ (‘ginōskō’) it ‘in’ you. Physical life is ‘in’ the blood. That’s why Jesus’s resurrected body was [only] ‘flesh and bone’.

  • With the phrase "Eternal life is ‘in’ the spirit. ‘Inside’ you." Are you saying that the spirit "inside of us does not die?
    – user35499
    Jul 16, 2020 at 2:14
  • Man’ is a spirit. has a soul, and ‘lives’ in a body. Everybody is ‘eternal’, because they are ‘spirit’. Prior to being ‘born again’, mans spirit is ‘dead’, via Adam’s ‘Fall’. That is, ‘dead’ in the biblical sense, that is, separated from God. After ‘rebirth’, a believers ‘spirit’ is born again, and now has ‘Life’. (Righteousness). So everybody is either eternally ‘dead’, or eternally ‘alive’
    – Dave
    Jul 16, 2020 at 3:54
  • Does the bible support your statement that "Everybody is eternal", If everybody is eternal, why do we need to be resurrected after death?
    – user35499
    Jul 16, 2020 at 8:03
  • Yes, the Bible clearly supports that all are ‘eternal’. And, we could walk you through that, but would need more ‘room’ than comments allow. To your other query. The need for resurrection is that a ‘spirit’ needs a ‘body’. And that’s what happens at the resurrection - we get a new body. When ‘man’ dies, [physically] he (spirit) is separated from his ‘physical’ body. When Adam died ‘spiritually’, he was separated from God. For [Eternal] ‘Life’, we need to reverse that separation.
    – Dave
    Jul 16, 2020 at 19:18

W E Vine, in his Expository Dictionary of NT words offers this difference between γινώσκω and οἶδα -

The differences between ginosko (No. 1) and oida demand consideration: (a) ginosko, frequently suggests inception or progress in "knowledge," while oida suggests fullness of "knowledge," e.g., John 8:55 , "ye have not known Him" (ginosko), i.e., begun to "know," "but I know Him" (oida), i.e., "know Him perfectly;" John 13:7 , "What I do thou knowest not now," i.e. Peter did not yet perceive (oida) its significance, "but thou shalt understand," i.e., "get to know (ginosko), hereafter;" John 14:7 , "If ye had known Me" (ginosko), i.e., "had definitely come to know Me," "ye would have known My Father also" (oida), i.e., "would have had perception of:" "from henceforth ye know Him" (ginosko), i.e., having unconsciously been coming to the Father, as the One who was in Him, they would now consciously be in the constant and progressive experience of "knowing" Him; in Mark 4:13 , "Know ye not (oida) this parable? and how shall ye know (ginosko) all the parables?" (RV), i.e., "Do ye not understand this parable? How shall ye come to perceive all ..." the intimation being that the first parable is a leading and testing one; (b) while ginosko frequently implies an active relation between the one who "knows" and the person or thing "known" (see No. 1, above), oida expresses the fact that the object has simply come within the scope of the "knower's" perception; thus in Matthew 7:23 "I never knew you" (ginosko) suggests "I have never been in approving connection with you," whereas in Matthew 25:12 , "I know you not" (oida) suggests "you stand in no relation to Me."

  • John 17:3 uses the verb γινώσκω - "Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent." Note that John is saying while we know God, that knowledge can never be complete but is always growing.
  • Matt 25:12 uses οἶδα - "But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know you.' The doorkeeper in Jesus' parable is a divine figure that is capable of knowing us (one of the virgins) completely.

Thus, there is a difference in quality of knowing - one is progressive knowledge and the other is complete knowledge (in some sense).


Are these phrases' use of 'know' roughly comparable? There is a bit of overlap.

Could they be referring to the same thing? No, not in these two verses.

John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know [γινώσκωσιν] you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

Strong's G1097, ginōskō carries a deeper sense of knowing.

New King James Version Matthew 1:25 and did not know (G1097) her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
New Living Translation But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.

On the other hand,

Matthew 25:12 "But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I don't know [οἶδα] you.'

Strong's G1492, eidō could just mean to "see".

Matthew 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen (G1492) his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Matthew 25:12 can be translated as

"But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I have never seen you.' "

ginōskō God cannot be just a causal superficial knowledge of God. It is a bit like the difference between I have seen the President and I know the President and the President knows me.

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