Knowing Facts and Knowing People

There are two verbs that mean to know in the Spanish language. One is “saber” which means to know facts. For example, I know my multiplication tables and I know the colors of the rainbow. The other verb is “conocer” which means to know a person. For example, I know some of the people at my church. It’s a large church, so I don’t know many of them well. However, I know my husband well, or at least as well as I think I can since we have been married for almost fifty years.

Now here is the Spanish version. Note the uses of “saber” and “conocer.”

The word for having knowledge of facts is used in the first part of the verse, having some knowledge but not all the factual knowledge that they should have. Then, the last part of this Scripture switches to use knowledge of people Those who love God are known by Him. He doesn’t have us memorized like facts, but He knows us, inside and out, the “good, bad and ugly” and He loves us anyway. When the Bible refers to knowing God, it uses the verb “conocer” because God is to be known as a person, not a fact that you claim to know a lot about.

“Saber” is used in this verse because knowing that you have eternal life is a fact that you can know, requiring certain actions on our part, including confession and repentance.

“Conocer” is used here because it is referring to knowing God as a person. If we truly know someone, we know what will disappoint them and what will make them happy with us.

Jesus knows His children as his friends. How well do we know Him? Do we just know the facts that we have been taught about His life, death and resurrection? Or are we striving to really know Him, to know His heart and what would make Him delight in us. Saber or conocer?

I have barely touched on this topic of the two differences in these verbs. If you use an online version of the Bible, it is a simple thing to change to a Spanish translation (American Latina is best) and see for yourself which verb is used when you see the word “know.” I’m amazed at all we can learn about God and truly know Him by reading and studying His word.

May your day be blessed with the knowledge of him who saved you and loves you.

7 thoughts on “Knowing Facts and Knowing People

  1. Amen. May we know Jesus more and more personally. 🙏🏻🥰 Beautifully explained.

    Thought of sharing this.
    Our language here in our city is called chabacano. And we use the same words or quite similar, “saber” for knowledge of facts or things and “conoce” for knowing a person.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, thank you for these interesting thoughts, Vickie. These distinctions are also in French and in German. Savoir and connaitre, and wissen and kennen. It seems to be the English that lacks the subtlety. I love how much other languages can teach us about truth and I often ponder how the Bible would have read in the original language by the people in that time, as it is also true that language changes structure and meaning over time too. Even in my own life-time, many words have taken on new meanings by the new generations making their own stamp on them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting observations. I knew French had the same differences as Spanish, but I did not know that German did as well. I would enjoy being able to read the original Greek and find out the origins of some of the words from the original authors.

      Liked by 1 person

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