by Jim Rower
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
A few decades ago (yes, I’m that old), I was asked to give a kick-off talk about faith for a new small group of young parents called, “House of Faith.” This got me digging deeper into the true meaning of “faith.”
The Greek verb for believe—pisteuō—is derived from the Greek noun usually translated faith—pistis. So, what is the difference between believing in Jesus and believing in someone or something else? And what does it mean to have faith?
I had a feeling of scales falling from my eyes when I read John 3:16 in the Greek: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The phrase translated believes in is “pisteuō eis.” That little preposition “eis” translated “in” here denotes movement toward or into the noun that follows. In this case, “whoever believes in Him” is more literally translated, “whoever believes into Him.” In fact, every occurrence of believe in God or Jesus in the Gospels uses that phrase, “pisteuō eis”—believe into. A big lightbulb went off in my head.
Believe into… We wouldn’t use that phrase in English, but it really captures the essence of believing or having faith in Jesus Christ. Believing into Jesus is more than understanding that He is the Son of God, that He died to atone for our sins, that He was bodily resurrected and reigns in heaven today, and that one day He will come again. Believing into Him is putting our whole selves—everything we have and are; all of our thoughts, words, and actions; all of our trust—into Christ. It is full obedience to Him; full surrender to His will.
I know I fall far short of that concept over and over again. But I also know I am forgiven when I do, and I can continue to strive to fully believe into Him. Help me, Father God, each day, each hour, each minute, to believe into You—to put my full trust, my whole self, into you, and to be fully obedient to Your will. Amen.