John 3:16 - What does "believe" mean to you?


I had a random evangelizing moment with a Protestant in Starbucks. He’s a very devote Christian, so I was just listening to his background as a first time talking. What he said is true: If we believes in God, we have everlasting life.

I didn’t want to dive into it as a first time talking, but it got me wondering on what it means to believe. That’s a verb, an action. It’s not passive, like “Yeah, I believe, but…” Belief, to me, means to believe in all that God teaches, to believe the mission Christ gave to the church, and to be a part in that mission - to believe and to live it out loud.

It just dawned on me that John 3:16 has much more weight than people realize.

What does John’s term “believe” mean to you? And what does the Greek translation of the word mean?


f a i t h …a c c e p t e d :wave::wink:


I was always taught that the Greek word means, ‘‘to put your whole faith and trust in’’.

It makes the word very personal, not just a vague belief in the existence of God.


I was just reading into another poster’s sign-line, “you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Jn 8,32.

Belief turns you into a disciple.


I like the saying, given to me by a business associate “if you don’t live it, you don’t believe it”.

If you continue to read to John 3:36 you will see that Jesus says those who do do not obey Him do not have life, but the wrath of God abides upon them.

Thanks for the question.


So I did a little search (I love words!) and this is the original greek for “Believes in him”: πιστεύων εἰς Αὐτὸν

**πιστεύω = pisteúō **(from pístis, “faith,” derived from peíthō, “persuade, be persuaded”) – believe (affirm, have confidence); used of persuading oneself (= human believing) and with the sacred significance of being persuaded by the Lord (= faith-believing). Only the context indicates whether pisteúō (“believe”) is self-serving (without sacred meaning), or the believing that leads to/proceeds from God’s inbirthing of faith.

Αὐτὸν = Auton (1) self (emphatic) (2) he, she, it (used for the third pers. pron.) (3) the same

more interesting, though, is the second word:

εἰς = eis (a preposition) – properly, into (unto) – literally, “motion into which” implying penetration (“unto,” “union”) to a particular purpose or result.

That’s kind of mind blowing to me! Have we been persuaded by Jesus to the point of unifying ourselves with him? Are we completely receptive to him penetrating our lives?

You’re right, it’s not enough to just believe that God exists. The devil believes that God exists. We must do what Jesus did, Go out of ourselves, into the lives of others, love them, bring God to them, and then bring them back to God. That’s hard, and it kind of scares me…


I have come to learn that it is an active belief. Like in the book of James, he says faith without works is dead and that even the demons believe and tremble. There has to be more.

If we believe then we live out that belief by obeying.


It means to believe Jesus is the Messiah and God.

From this everything else follows.


:thumbsup: Amen.



Belief is a choice.

***And Jesus said to him, “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” *(Mark 9:23-24)

Belief is an act of the will.



A great question and thread…:thumbsup:

Stephen really nailed it with his answer on the meaning of the words.

In conversations where someone says some variation of, “believe in Jesus and have eternal life”, I try to respond with 'Amen! but what does it mean to “believe in Jesus”.

That can lead to into the points that others have put forth.

To me - the word trust is perhaps more correct here. While I can believe something but not like or trust it…I cannot trust something without believing in it.



In his book Introduction to Christianity, Pope Benedict (then Ratzinger) spent 73 pages discussing what the words “I believe” mean.

I highly recommend the book. I’m not a fast reader and I may have to read it twice.


f a i t h …a c c e p t e d :wave::wink:

:heart:Mary - “Blessed is she who believed”

  :bible1:Abraham - "Father of all who believe"



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