That You May Believe
Dr. F. J. May and Dr. H. Lynn Stone
Section III – The Lord Reigns Through His Passion (John 18-21)
Lecture 10, THE LORD AND THE FAITH WHICH RECEIVES HIM (John 20:31a)
A. Miracles and Signs
1. The Purpose of Signs Is That Men May Believe
John clearly states in his purpose in writing the fourth Gospel that the miracles of
Jesus were done, and he records some of them, in order that we may believe. "And many
other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this
book: but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God;
and that believing ye might have life through his name" (20:30,31). This is confirmed by
other verses throughout the Gospel.
Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in
his name, when they saw the MIRACLES which he did (John 2:23).
Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe
So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him,
Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house. This is again the
second MIRACLE that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea unto Galilee
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes
that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe (John 11:14,15).
2. Jesus and the Request of the People for a Sign (John 6:22-35)
When the people sought Jesus after He had fed the multitude He said to them, "Ye
seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were
filled" (v. 26).
Jesus did not rebuke the people for seeking for a sign, but rather He said to them,
"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto
everlasting life" (v. 27). When they asked, "What shall we do?" (v. 28), He replied, "This
is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent" (v. 29).
So then they said, "What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe
thee?" (v. 30), using as an example the bread of manna which was given to their fathers
in the wilderness. Instead of rebuking them for asking for a sign in order that they might
see and believe, Jesus gave them a sign. It was the sign of the "true bread from heaven...,
he which cometh down from heaven and giveth life to the world" (vv. 32, 33).
3. The Resurrection Is the Confirming Sign of All Signs
When the Jews specifically asked the Lord for a sign to document His authority
for "doing these things" He pointed directly to the resurrection. "Then answered the Jews
and said unto him, What SIGN shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it
up… When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had
said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said"
B. Etymology of Pisteuo, "To Believe"
1. Strong's Concordance Lexicon (#4100, p. 58)
The verb form "to believe" is from the noun "faith" or "PISTIS" (4102). This
noun (faith) is from another verb, PEITHO (3982). So we will look first at PEITHO
(3982), then PISTIS (4102) and finally PISTEUO (4100).
a. PEITHO (3982) – "To Persuade"
Strong says, "A primitive verb; to CONVINCE (by argument, true or false); by
analogy to PACIFY or CONCILIATE (by other fair means); reflexively to passively TO
ASSENT (to evidence or authority), to RELY (by inward certainty): – agree, assure,
believe, have confidence, be confident, make friend, obey, persuade, trust, yield" (p. 58).
b. PISTIS (4102) – "Faith" or "Belief"
Strong says, "PERSUASION, i.e. CREDENCE; morally CONVICTION (of
RELIGIOUS truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially
RELIANCE upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, CONSTANCY in such profession; by
extension the system of religious (gospel) TRUTH itself: – assurance, belief, believe,
faith, fidelity" (p. 58).
c. PISTEUO (4100) – "To Believe"
Strong says, "To HAVE FAITH (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing),
i.e. CREDIT; by implication TO ENTRUST (especially one's spiritual well-being to
Christ): – believe, believer, commit, commit to trust, put trust in" (p. 58).
2. Thayer's Lexicon
Thayer says, "To think to be true: to be persuaded of; to credit, place confidence
(1). Universally – "the thing believed being evident from the preceding context"
(Mt. 24:23; Mk. 13:21; I Co. 11:18).
(2) Specially – "in a moral and religious reference, PISTEUEIN is used in the
New Testament of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a
certain inner and higher prerogative and law of his soul:
(a). absolutely, to trust in Jesus or in God as able to aid either in obtaining
or in doing something (Mt. 8:18, Mk. 5:36);
(b). of the credence given God's messengers & their words.
(c). used especially of the faith by which a man embraces Jesus, i.e., A
CONVICTION, FULL OF JOYFUL TRUST, THAT JESUS IS THE
MESSIAH – THE DIVINELY APPOINTED AUTHOR OF ETERNAL
SALVATION IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD, CONJOINED WITH
OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST" (Thayer, pp. 511-512).
"To entrust a thing to one, i.e., to his fidelity (Lk. 16:11; Jn. 2:24). Passively, to
be entrusted with a thing" (Rom. 3:2).
C. Use of Pisteuo in the New Testament
1. General Ethical Sense
PISTEUO "is used in an ethical sense, of confidence in the goodness of men"
(Thayer, p. 511). For example, when Paul says to the Corinthians that AGAPE love,
"beareth all things, BELIEVETH all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (I Cor.
2. PISTEUO Is Used in Reference to God
PISTEUO is used to simply acknowledge that God exists. "Thou believest that
there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19).
However, this acknowledgement of God must also be joined with trust. "I will
therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having
saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not"
With this trust in God we then are to trust His promises. "For what saith the
scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness"
(Romans 4:3). This is further explained by Paul.
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be
sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is
of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all; (as it is written, I have made
thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who
quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though there were.
Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many
nations; according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be (Romans
3. PISTEUO Is Used In Reference to Christ as Messiah
Thayer says, "PISTEUO is applied also to the faith by which one is persuaded that
Jesus was raised from the dead, inasmuch as by that fact God declared him to be His Son
and the Messiah."
For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. For
Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth
those things shall live by them. But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on
this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring
Christ down from above:) Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring
up Christ again from the dead.)
But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that
is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth
the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the
dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness;
and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For
there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all
is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the
Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:4-13).
D. Use of Pisteuo by John
1. Used to Denote Various Degrees of Faith
John uses PISTEVO to denote various degrees of faith. It can refer to a faith that
barely is stirring in the soul. "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast
day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did" (John 2:23)
It is used of a faith that recognizes Jesus as a prophet like the Messiah but yet
does not recognize Him as the Messiah. "And many of the people believed on him, and
said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath
done?" (John 7:31).
Then again PISTEUO is used of that faith of fullest assurance. "Then said Jesus to
those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples
indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).
2. PISTEUO Used to Denote What High Level Faith Should Reach
John 11:14, 15 – "Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am
glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us
go unto him."
John 13:18, 19 – "I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the
scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me.
Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am
John 14:28, 29 – "Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again
unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my
Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is
come to pass, ye might believe."
John 19:34, 35 – "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and
forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record
is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe."
3. PISTEUO Used to Denote Full Faith in Christ as Messiah
John 20:31, 31 – "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his
disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his
Section 3, The Lord Reigns Through His Passion, Lecture 10
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