Believe?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by thegospelgeek, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. thegospelgeek

    thegospelgeek
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    Basic Real simple stuff, Help me out here. John 3:16 says to believe. Greek pisteuo Strongs # G4100.
    The same word is used in James 2:19. Can someone explain the difference to me? Please support it with scripture.

     
  2. RAdam

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  3. thegospelgeek

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    Then it would include the "devils" mentioned in James?
     
  4. Webers_Home

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    Response to thegospelgeek

    .
    RE: (Joh 3:16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. The same word is used in James 2:19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Can someone explain the difference to me? Please support it with scripture.

    Actually your problem is with grammar and syntax. Watch; I'm going to deliberately misquote James.

    "Thou believest in God; thou doest well: the devils also believe in God, and tremble.

    Catch the revision? James doesn’t say the devils believe in God, nor does he say they believe in God's son. They merely believe God exists; in other words; believing in someone is much different than simply believing they exist; for example: I believe Mr. Obama is the current US President; but I do not believe in the man; in other words, I trust neither him nor his silly mantra of hope you can believe in.

    C.L.I.F.F.
    /
     
  5. thegospelgeek

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    But does the word believe used in James have a different meaning than the one used in John. It is my understanding that it is the same word. Is this so? If so, in what way can we assign a different meaning?
     
  6. Webers_Home

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    Response to thegospelgeek

    .
    RE: But does the word believe used in James have a different meaning than the one used in John. It is my understanding that it is the same word. Is this so? If so, in what way can we assign a different meaning?

    The answer to your question is located in post #4.

    C.L.I.F.F.
    /
     
  7. RAdam

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    That word that is translated believe comes from the same word we translate as faith. Believing has to do with placing faith it, looking on and believing by faith. We believe that Jesus is the Son of God by faith. And, really, that's the only way we can believe in Jesus.

    The devils believe in God and in Jesus Christ, but they believe in a much different way.

    How did we believe? Well, we heard the gospel preached (and/or read the bible) which proclaims Jesus to be the Son of God. It tells us what He did, who He is, what we are. We came to understand we are wretched sinners and that Christ died for our sins, putting them away by that action, and making peace between God and us. We believe this testimony, written by men who have been dead for thousands of years, by faith. Our faith looks to the Son of God and believes on Him. That is how we believe.

    The devils don't believe because they were convicted of their sins. They didn't hear a message preached or read some book. They didn't look with a broken heart on the Son of God for comfort by faith. They don't find comfort there and they don't have faith. The fact is they are, in fact, quite different from us. They are spiritual beings which we cannot see with our natural eyes. They know that God exists and that Jesus is the Son of God because they have spent their time fighting against Him, His will, and His people for the duration of time. They are the enemies of God. When they encountered Jesus in the flesh they knew exactly who He was and knew that He had power over them. They trembled in His sight. They, in other words, believe because to them it is simple reality, and a terrible one at that. They know they have only a matter of time until the Son of God casts them into an eternal torment.

    God's people believe and are happy to believe. We rejoice to believe in Jesus, it gives us much comfort. The devils hate to believe, as it gives them no comfort but dread.
     
  8. zrs6v4

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    It is the same word in the greek (Im no greek expert).

    I would agree with Radam's post, but my thinking also shifted to James' style of writing. It is different from Paul's or John's in how he used words. The heart of James' letter is tricky in how he speaks of being "justified by faith plus works" vs Paul's "faith alone" (context is huge here). Both of them are saying the same thing but using a different style of getting a message across.

    With that said, in my best estimation James, he is emphasizing in chapter two that what they call "faith/belief" without fruit is not how true faith fleshes out. In verse 19 when he says "even the demons believe" (paraphrase), he is simply saying the demons have the knowledge and assent to the Son of God as well, but the key is the trust that they seem to be missing. The trust is where the knowledge and assent of Jesus fleshes itself out in the complete circle of faith. Even if the demons did try to trust Christ for salvation they would be condemned and rejected so they are stuck in only knowing who He is and the reality of truth without hope of being with Him ever again.

    To sum up, by James saying even the Demons believe, he means even the Demons know and realize that Jesus is Lord like you say you do.. Whereas John is talking about the true essence of Belief in John 3:16.

    Im sure there is an easier way to say it but maybe that is food for thought :)
     
    #8 zrs6v4, Aug 3, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2010
  9. thegospelgeek

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    Yes they are the same word. Obviously they imply different meanings, the point of the OP is how do we distinguish the difference in the two. I also agree that Radam is pretty close. I know the scripture says that without faith it is imposible to please God, so that supports what he said to some degree. What I am looking for is a way to distinquish just what Jesus meant in John 3:16. Obviously it is more than just beleive as in a head knowledge or what James said could not be true. However we have to account for the fact that what Jesus said is true. If it were "believe and be baptised" as the CoC states then what Jesus said would be a lie, as well as many other verses. Do we have any Greek scholars who can distinguish between the use of the two words? Does the same word in Greek have multiple meanings like english does? All I have are a Strongs and a Vines and neither address this to my satisfaction. Just looking for more knowledge.
     
  10. thegospelgeek

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    Here is what Vines has
    Based on Vines, post #4 becomes untrue. So which is correct, Vines or post #4?
     
    #10 thegospelgeek, Aug 3, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 3, 2010
  11. John of Japan

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    It's very simple. The Greek word for believe is the same and means the same. The difference comes in what is believed in the passages. In John it is talking about believing on Christ as Savior, believing on a Person. in James 2:19 it is clearly talking about believing the fact that there is one God.

    If I believe in my wife, that she is faithful and wonderful, that is a different matter than if I believe the fact that the Braves are the best baseball team.
     
  12. John of Japan

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    The word has a fairly wide range of meaning. I have found the Anlex (from the Analytic Lexicon) to be accurate:

    Since the John 3:16 usage is with eis with the accusative, the meaning would be the (b) towards the end of the definition, "especially denoting the exercise of saving faith, with the object expressed by using εἰς or ἐπί and the accusative, believe in or on." The James 2:19 usage does not have an object, but is obviously referring to the belief in one God in the previous sentence, the first half of the verse, literally, "The God is one."
     
  13. zrs6v4

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    The context of how it is used. It seems to me with a compilation of different usages in the greek help, but understanding James letter and style is key. It doesn't seem that the meaning of the word in the sense that it is used is always going to fit into a nice little box if that makes any sense.. Please show me where I'm wrong, :)

    Jesus meant believe: Know, agree with, and place your complete trust in Him = Believe VS James sarcasm usage

    Thanks for the post by the way it is interesting to think about!
     
  14. thegospelgeek

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    Now we are getting to the meat of the OP. I often see people use word studies and references to the original greek to sort out a meaning of a verse. This is a good thing, but often times some people rely too much on this type of knowledge. In this case, the word study would lead you to confusion, however just reading the statements in context makes the meaning clear. In the example given, it is obvious that the two word have different meanings, yet the dictionary says that it is the same.

    Still interested in any Greek scholars out there that can give us some clues from sentence structure, etc.
     
  15. Greektim

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    The fact that demons believe in God or Jesus Christ has no bearing on saving faith. They lack something very important - a redeemer. More specifically a kinsman redeemer. God did not offer redemption to the angels. So they can believe all they want. Christ's cross-work has no efficacy toward angels.

    This doesn't really have to be about Greek syntax or lexis. A simple theological concept will clear up the confusion.
     
    #15 Greektim, Aug 5, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2010
  16. RAdam

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    I think that was gospel geek's point, and he makes a good one. Word studies are useful, but context is king.
     
  17. John of Japan

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    Sorry, if what we've written so far is no help, I don't know what you're after. Are you trying to teach us something, discuss the passage, really want to know the Greek, what?

    I did give you a short discussion from sentence structure, if you read my last post.
     
  18. Greektim

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    Word studies do not equal Greek exegesis. You see this kind of "exegesis" all of the time (many are pastors thinking they are unlocking great truths). If anything, the semantics and/or morphology of a word is only a small part of exegesis. And even the emphasis of a word meaning is often decided by the syntax and context of the rest of the sentance.
     
  19. Eagle

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    I totally agree with Greektim's posts and RAdam's first post, it is theologically a different matter. Christ did not come as an angel:

    That is really sort of the whole gist of Hebrews 1 & 2. Actually, we are not the same DNA as angels, hence, when Christ 'became' like unto us in the flesh, so that He might redeem us as a "kinsman" - it did not, and does not, apply to angels. Equally, the Gospel does not apply to angels.

    The question you ask in the OP really is answered theologically, as it has been.
     
  20. The Archangel

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    As it has been already said, this is mainly a theological issue. But, since the OP asks for a Greek explanation...here goes.

    John 3:16's "Whosoever believes" is actually not the most accurate translation. In John 3:16 the word for believe, πιστευω, is shown as a participle, a present-active, nominative-singular-masculine participle to be more precise.

    The better translation would be "All the ones believing." But that begs the question "Believing in what?" The answer is "in Him"--Jesus, the unique Son.

    When we see James 2:19 showing the word believe twice--"You believe" which is 2nd person singular, present active indicative and "The demons believe" which is 3rd person plural, present active indicative.

    So far as I can tell, there is no grammatical warrant for determining what the demons believe from the word believe itself. But, given the context, we know that James is getting in his audience's face over the claiming to have faith (and presumably not producing fruit of repentance and faith) and claiming to have faith and having that faith borne out by how one lives.

    So, James is, in an in-your-face manner, saying that you can believe that God is one...but if that's all you do, congratulations...you're only as good as the run-of-the-mill demon.

    The theological difference of these passages are significant. This is why individual context and a whole-bible context are so very important to interpretation.

    I hope that helps and doesn't muddy the waters further.

    Blessings,

    The Archangel
     

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