This word, found only a score of times in the Bible, translates nevertheless about half as many different Hebrew and Greek originals with a corresponding variety of meanings.
In Genesis 37:33 "without doubt" is to be taken in the common sense of "certainly"; in Job 12:2 in the sarcastic sense of "indeed!" In Daniel 5:12,16, it is used as a difficult problem or mystery to be explained, and these are the only cases of its employment in the Old Testament.
In the New Testament it is about equally used to translate diaporeo, and diakrino, and their cognates. The first means "to be without resource," "utterly at a loss," "nonplussed"; and the second, "to judge diversely." For the first, see John 13:22; Acts 2:12 the King James Version; Acts 5:24 the King James Version; Acts 10:17 the King James Version; Acts 25:20 the King James Version; and Galatians 4:20 the King James Version. For the second see Matthew 21:21; Mark 11:23; Acts 10:20; Romans 14:23. The last-named is deserving of particular attention. "He that doubteth is condemned (the King James Version "damned") if he eat," means that in a case of uncertainty as to one's Christian liberty, it were better to err on the side of restraint. In Luke 12:29 "to be of doubtful mind" (meteorizo, literally, "to suspend"; see Thayer, under the word), means "to be driven by gusts," or "to fluctuate in mid-air."
Here, as in Matthew 14:31, "doubt" does not indicate a lack of faith, but rather "a state of qualified faith":
its weakness, but not its absence.
James M. Gray
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