John 2:24
But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.

John 13:34
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

How to love someone whom we don't even trust?

  • 1
    Why do you think God wouldn't want us to love people we don't trust? Is there no one in your life who you care about who is not unreliable in some way? The "how" question is important, but not one we can handle on this site. That's something to talk about with a trusted Christian advisor!
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 19, 2021 at 2:56
  • 3
    Jesus said "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you love your enemies and pray for thosewho persecute you" (Matthew 5:13-14). Nobody trusts an enemy but Jesus said we must love them. Does that answer your question?
    – Lesley
    Feb 19, 2021 at 13:06
  • @Lesley Well technically you could trust an enemy to act contrary to your interests...
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 19, 2021 at 22:32
  • @curiousdannii But the meaning of "trust" in your "trust an enemy" is different than the meaning of "pisteuō" in Biblical use, including the sense in John 2:24. Feb 19, 2021 at 23:02
  • @GratefulDisciple Hmm, I'll have to check BDAG, but I wouldn't have thought it was so different in meaning.
    – curiousdannii
    Feb 19, 2021 at 23:53

5 Answers 5


John 2:24 and John 13:34 use entirely different verbs: trust (pisteuō) and love (agapaō) respectively.

The short answer is: Yes, we are commanded to love people, but we are not commanded to trust them. We are to love God and people, but to trust God alone. Jesus is our role model. He love people (c.f. the famous John 3:16) but He doesn't trust them.

How to love people we don't trust? Some tips:

  • Loving a person means wishing that person's true happiness (which comes from God).
  • Love is a will, not a feeling. Wishing someone happiness is not a feeling, but a readiness to act when necessary; thus a choice, a will.
  • Love is sometimes defined as being unselfish, which implies sacrificing some element to our own happiness. But that is a bad definition, since it turns a positive word (wishing other's happiness) to a negative word (unselfish). (I learned this from C.S. Lewis.) It is okay if it promotes a worthy person's happiness, such as a spouse or our own child. But if the person is untrustworthy, and if the unselfish act is not morally necessary, the act is NOT an obligation and we need to use our wisdom so that the untrustworthy person doesn't become worse by being habitually dependent on our kindness.
  • Love is choosing to act benevolently so as not to compromise another person's happiness. Benevolent here means to help the person walk in the right path that leads to his/her OWN happiness. They have to own the walk.
  • Love is unconditional, but Trust should be earned. As Jesus said in Matt 10:16: "... be wise as serpents and innocent as doves" (see interpretation here). We can therefore be as untrusting as necessary but still love innocently. Wisdom and love can coexist.
  • Love innocently does NOT mean letting ourselves to be deceived and being taken advantaged of; that would be naivete. Instead, we should confront those who try to use us in the name of love by speaking the truth of their sins of control and manipulation because their sins are getting in the way of their own happiness.
  • Loving includes giving an opportunity for someone to repent, reform, and receive forgiveness. We always give ourselves this opportunity when we are aware of our own sins, so we should give the opportunity to others as well. But even though God forgives us FIRST, we can only apply God's forgiveness by repenting before God. Similarly, even though we forgive an untrustworthy person right away (by not holding grudges), we have the right for expecting the untrustworthy person to say sorry first before receiving our verbal forgiveness.
  • Loving ourselves means challenging ourselves to actively search and destroy sin in our own hearts and gain knowledge of ourselves as a result. We do this to help ourselves move further in the path of happiness & holiness. Loving others means spurring them to undertake the same challenge and sharing with them the experience of our hard-won lessons so they too can move further in their path of happiness.

More on John 2:24

If we examine John 2:24 in context, we should quote the entire paragraph, John 2:23-25, as a transitional paragraph between Jesus's encounter with the Jewish leaders (who didn't trust Jesus) to the forthcoming Nicodemus and Samaritan passages in Chapters 3 and 4 (who both need to trust Jesus). John 2:23-25:

²³ Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. ²⁴ But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people ²⁵ and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

ESV Study Bible notes on John 2:23-25:

This section serves as an introduction to Jesus’ encounter with Nicodemus in ch. 3. Believed and did not entrust himself constitutes a wordplay in Greek (both use the verb pisteuō). Jesus knew all people, an affirmation of divine omniscience. His knowledge of people’s hearts is displayed in his encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman in chs. 3 and 4.

  • 2
    Thank you for your helpful answer.
    – user35953
    Feb 19, 2021 at 18:42
  • 1
    Excellent answer. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 19, 2021 at 20:24

I love my grown up daughter, but I can't trust her to drive the car on her own, if she doesn't have a vehicle licence.

I love my son, but I can't trust him with the chain saw, if he is only eight years old.

I love my next door neighbour but I cannot trust their interpretation of Romans 3:12 if it is opinion-based and not hermeneutical.

I love the homeless guy I found in a doorway but I couldn't trust him to wisely spend the entire content of my wallet on food so I took him to the store, let him choose what he wanted and paid for it myself.

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.

And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

[Matthew 22:36-39 KJV]

Do I trust myself ? No, I know myself too well and I know that the Lord will yet have cause to chasten me and correct me.

Do I love myself ?

Yes, I do. Despite my distrust.


Love is demonstrated in forgiveness and forgiveness is an attitude that is prepared in the heart in advance: The Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world. While one cannot have forgiveness ready beforehand for a specific offense by a specific person, one can foster within a readiness to forgive based upon one's own forgiveness received from Christ. Specific forgiveness is then given upon specific repentance.

Forgiveness prepared and available is not forgiveness given and received. Christ died for all and yet not all receive him.

Love is demonstrated in the preparation and the offer:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8

And it is appreciated in the reception:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. - 1 John 4:16

The giving of love is not denigrated by it's lack of reception. Jesus loved even those who rejected his advances.

He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, - John 1:10-12

It is very biblical (and Godly) to truly forgive an offense on a human level and yet hold back complete reinstatement of trust until repentance has been demonstrated, all the while relying upon the forgiveness coming down from the One who sees the heart. It is not easy and it is contrary to the voice of the world, the flesh, and the devil.

It is a spiritual battleground and well worth the fight! Love and forgiveness are acts of faith. Take courage, God has gone before you!


John 2:24

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people.

ἐπίστευεν (episteuen)
Verb - Imperfect Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 4100: From pistis; to have faith, i.e. Credit; by implication, to entrust.

Jeremiah 17:5

This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

God demands our total trust in Him as trust is related to faith.

Love, on the other hand, is a completely separate matter.

Matthew 5:44 (as pointed out in Lesley's comment)

But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Hate is a natural act. Love is a supernatural act that overcomes untrustworthy people.

How to love someone whom we don't even trust?

We do it in the name of God supernaturally.


The word ‘love’ used in the commandment in John 13 is ‘agapaō’. There are several Greek words which are translated into ‘love’, and they all have very different meanings, that is, they convey differing understandings.

And, the English understanding of Love doesn’t always accurately convey, or lead to the correct interpretation of, or rather accurately reflect the differences that those Greek words intend.

We too easily interpret ‘love’ as a feeling. And you won’t ever ‘feel’ any love towards some - for various reasons. Agape is often described as the ‘highest form of Love’, but even that thought doesn’t help.

Agape is a choice. You choose to ‘love’, totally independent of, or at times, in stark opposition to your ‘feelings’ and also contrary to what your ‘head’ (reasoning) is trying to “say’. In some situations, your ‘head/feelings’ will be saying/motivating one direction, but your heart will be saying the opposite - and here you choose. You make a choice between one, or the other.

But there is more to understand about this. Agape May be difficult for believers, but, Agape is impossible for unbelievers. Absolute impossible. Agape requires a transformed heart. One that is ‘recreated’ in Christ. Your heart (believers) will be saying ‘act in love’. Without this, people have only their own reasoning or will look to their feelings, to rely on (which may? be influenced [either way] by emotion/sympathy, etc.

The difficulty with this is that some of the other Greek words translated ‘love’ totally involve Emotions and/or physical feelings (Eros). Or ‘phileo’ (Fraternal or brotherly love). But, here in this passage the word is not those, but agape.

So yes, we are to ‘agape’ all, even those we don’t trust. But, ‘agape’ doesn’t require you trust them, nor like them, nor even back down in confrontations. The meaning of ‘agape’ doesn’t require this in order to fulfil it’s intent.

But yes, even for believers, that choice may not always be easy. Many are influenced by their emotions, and these are powerful. The understanding here is everything in ‘Christianity’ (actually everything in life) is, or comes to a choice. And this includes agape. This started right from the first man.