by Mike Ratliff
23 Ὡς δὲ ἦν ἐν τοῖς Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐν τῷ πάσχα ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ, πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ θεωροῦντες αὐτοῦ τὰ σημεῖα ἃ ἐποίει· 24 αὐτὸς δὲ Ἰησοῦς οὐκ ἐπίστευεν αὐτὸν αὐτοῖς διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν γινώσκειν πάντας 25 καὶ ὅτι οὐ χρείαν εἶχεν ἵνα τις μαρτυρήσῃ περὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου· αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐγίνωσκεν τί ἦν ἐν τῷ ἀνθρώπῳ. (John 2:23-25 NA27)
23 And when he was in Jerusalem during the Passover, during the feast, many believed in his name, seeing his signs which he was doing. 24 But Jesus, himself, was not entrusting himself to them because he knew all men, 25 and because he had no need that anyone should testify about man, for he himself knew what was in man. (John 2:23-25 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)
I was in a quasi-theological discussion with a fellow I work with not that long ago. We were discussing matters directly relevant to John 2:23-25 (above) in that just because people committed themselves to some religiosity or temporal experience or the personality of a “religious leader” with a “social cause” or whatever, does not mean Jesus is necessarily committed or entrusted to them. That was basically my stance and when I stated it, the jaw of the fellow I talking with dropped and he looked at me as if I had said something that he could use against me somehow or at least challenge me. He seemed positive that he could tear up my arguments. Of course, as he objected, I offered to debate him on any of his “issues” with what I said, but only if his part was to challenge what I said biblically. That ended it. All he had was platitudes from his favorite preacher who sounded a lot like Joel Osteen. Right now, that fellow is the most “Politically Correct” person I know so I do all I can to not have any one-on-one encounters with him at all.
In v23 the word “believed” translates the verb ἐπίστευσαν (episteusan), “believe, entrust.” In v23 ἐπίστευσαν is in 3rd person, aorist, indicative, active case. This is not continuous action, but is something done by the subject. On the other hand, in v24 the word “entrusting,” speaking of Jesus’ not having in part in those who believed only on temporal or experiential grounds, is the verb ἐπίστευεν (episteuen), “believe, entrust.” Yes, these are both forms of the same verb. Here ἐπίστευεν is in the 3rd person, singular, imperfect, indicative, active case. What’s the difference? This is continuous or linear action in the past. Jesus deliberately did not commit himself to these people. Why? According to some versions of the Gospel I have heard in our day, this is something he would never do.
The following is from John MacArthur on this passage:
John based these two phrases on the same Greek verb for “believe.” This verse subtly reveals the true nature of belief from a biblical standpoint. Because of what they knew of Jesus from his miraculous signs, many came to believe in him. However, Jesus made it his habit not to wholeheartedly “entrust” or “commit” himself to them because he knew their hearts. Verse 24 indicates that Jesus looked for genuine conversion rather than enthusiasm for the spectacular. The latter verse also leaves a subtle doubt as to the genuineness of the conversion of some (cf. 8:31–32). This emphatic contrast between 2:23–24 in terms of type of trust, therefore, reveals that, lit., “belief into his name” involved much more than intellectual assent. It called for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life as Jesus’ disciple (cf. Matt. 10:37; 16:24–26).
I have had more people than I care to count throw back at me when I bring this up, “Yes, but God is love…” My response is that yes he is, but that is not the gospel. No one comes to saving faith in Jesus Christ through any way other than how he has prescribed and it isn’t by hearing feel-good sermons about social justice and political correctness nor about health, wealth and prosperity.
I suppose all generations of the Church have had to deal the growing apostasy, but I never thought those who I would have attacking God’s Truth with most veracity are those within the visible church.
If you are in Christ and Christ is in you then you know what I am talking about. If you are not then this message probably seems hateful to you or perhaps it has caused a lot of questions. If it is the latter then don’t hesitate to contact me. I would be glad to share the gospel with you.
Soli Deo Gloria!