Re: Pisteuw

From: Jim West (
Date: Thu Apr 30 1998 - 14:51:30 EDT

At 11:42 AM 4/30/98 -0700, you wrote:
> I'd like to know your thoughts on "pisteuo," the Greek word for
>believe that Christ uses in John 3:16 among other places. Many today say
>that the Biblical idea of belief in Christ does not include any type of
>commitment or submission to Christ's lordship. They claim that the true
>meaning of "pisteuo" supports their claims. However, I can hardly
>believe this, especially in light of Jesus's commands to take up one's
>cross and follow him. Your thoughts are more than welcome.

An excellent discussion of the word is found in the Theological Dictionary
of the NT, ed. G. Kittel., s.v. pistis, pisteuw, ktl.

In brief, yes- the word connotes "trust, belief, confidence in...", etc.
But the idea of "submission to" is not inherent in the word. Likewise, any
theological reading which has the word refer to "Christ's lordship" is a
misreading of the word itself. Such connotations are purely theological, so
that when we say that "pisteuw means to submit to Christ's lordship" we are
saying FAR more than the word itself says. Is simply means "to trust".

Now, of course, it may or may not be true that faith is submission- but that
cannot be shown by this little word. That requires a theological motive
which is foreign to the word itself.

(now whether the "red letter edition" is right and this is really a word
Jesus used, or even knew, is another question altogether).

Finally, I do not think that the call to "take up your cross..." anywhere
contains the word "faith" which means that already categories have been
confused or combined and the simple sense of the word has been left in the
shadows of a theological agenda.



Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

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