Greek Word Study of πιστεύω (pisteuo, believe)


This word is used in this passage for the first time in John 11:15 where Jesus states that He is glad he was not there to prevent Lazarus’s death so that his disciples might believe. The word means, “To consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, belief”[1] It can also mean to entrust something to someone (Luke 16:11).[2] The object of the word is often God’s Word, and therefore scripture (John 2:22), the law and the prophets (Acts 24:14), what the prophets said (Luke 24:25), in the prophets (Acts 26:17), Moses or his writings (John 5:46f.), and what God said at the current time for example, through an angel (Luke 1:20, 45; Acts 27:25).[3] The word can also include the notion of obeying (as seen especially in Hebrews 11).[4] Paul particularly uses πιστεύω as a synonym of obedience (compare Romans 1:8 with 15:18).[5] To refuse to believe is not to obey the righteousness which the Gospel offers for faith.”[6] In the Gospel of John, the noun never occurs, but the verb is quite common and is used generally to denote the acceptance of the message about Jesus.[7] In the context of John 11, we see this belief to be one that Jesus desires people to place in him, and that through belief in him, salvation will come (John 11:25).


[1] William Arndt, A Greek-English Lexicon, 816.

[2] William Arndt, A Greek-English Lexicon, 818.

[3] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 6:205.

[4] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 6:205-206.

[5] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 6:205-206.

[6] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 6:206.

[7] Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, 6:222.

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