Immediately after partaking of the first communion with Jesus, Luke’s account in chapter 22 records that the disciples then started bickering over who was the best disciple and should therefore take over the mantle of leadership. This head-shaking episode is another example of the difference between two Greek words translated as “know” in the New Testament.
Ginosko means to come to know through learning and study. It’s equivalent to gathering the data and noting the facts. Oida takes it a step further. It’s that a-ha moment when you finally see the point of all the learning. It’s when what you have gained in information now makes sense on a practical level. In our time, it’s the difference between knowing information and understanding it so you can apply it in your own life.
It’s a pretty safe bet to assume that even though Jesus had just finished teaching the disciples how to take communion and even what the elements symbolized (ginosko information), they did not yet understand the depth of meaning behind it and the power of communion in the lives of believers (oida understanding). This is why the New Testament writers so often encouraged believers to be in the Word and to practice the Word.
In John’s record of the Last Supper (chapter 13), we see another example of this critical distinction between ginosko and oida. After they had finished eating, Jesus gets up from the table, removes His outer garments, picks up a bowl of water, and grabs a towel. He begins to wash the disciples’ feet. This was a common chore completed by a lowly household servant because walking dirt roads left all sorts of dust and who knows what else on the feet of the guests.
This untimely gesture—long after they had entered the room and had already eaten—was meant to send a signal. In light of Luke’s account of the bickering disciples, we can see why Jesus thought it was necessary. The brash and impulsive Peter balks at the foot-washing idea. That is until Jesus tells him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this. If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Now, of course, Peter wants Jesus to wash all of him!
As amusing as Peter can be at times, the point here is that Jesus used these two terms in His response to Peter. At that moment, the disciples didn’t get the purpose and significance of the object lesson in Jesus’ example of servant-leadership. But they would eventually come to oida-know the principle and practice it.
The Chronos Lesson: This distinction strikes at the heart of the matter of knowing and understanding the times. When Jesus introduced the signs of the times, His coming, and the rapture in the Olivet Discourse, He finished the informational part of the teaching and then used parables to drive hope the points He had made. He knew they wouldn’t get this paradigm shift right away.
So He gave them the essentials, knowing that the Holy Spirit would later be poured out upon them and would help them come to perceive and understand the significance of the information He had just shared. As with the foot-washing episode, they would come to grasp (oida knowing) and practice the principles involved. That is, that we can know and therefore see the Day of the Lord approaching.
In between the parables about looking for the kairos signs, Jesus added, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Mt 25:13). The word for know here is ginosko. In a sense, He was warning them that even though they didn’t fully grasp what was about to happen after the resurrection, they need not be troubled. All they have to do is watch for the kairos signs and note the chronos times revealed in the Scriptures.
Sadly, this statement and another statement Jesus made in the Olivet Discourse have been taken out of context and used to distort what Jesus taught about the signs of this age and His coming. People use the statement, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36) to say that we cannot know when Jesus is returning, even though that is the point of His whole teaching!
In this case, readers violate the laws of grammar and separate the sentence—which begins with a conjunction or connecting word—from the sentence before it. The context is Jesus assuring His disciples that all the information He had just imparted to them about the signs of this age and His coming would indeed take place. “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation [of the Church Age] will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:34-35).
Notice that the day and hour issue in verse 36 is connected to verse 35 when the heavens and earth pass away, which happens at the end of the ages. At the end of the last and 7th great Day, God makes the new heavens and new earth in which there is no sin, sorrow, war, or death. It is when the final objective of Daniel’s divine to-do-list is fulfilled: eternal righteousness in the new earth!
If you’ve been following this blog, then you know this refers to the Perfect Day, the Day of God, which is an eternal Day like no other. No human can fathom what that future perfect eternity will be like. That is what is unknown, and not the Day of Christ’s return, which is the Day of the Lord. May you not only see the Day approaching but be ready for it!