Believing with your feet


What does the word “Believe” mean in the Bible?


John 6
28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."


The work God requires is to believe in the one He has sent.  What does this type of believing entail? 


The conclusion of this document is this:  In regards to initially and continually receiving salvation through Christ, true believing, like true faith, is accompanied by actions, and synonymous with obedience. I use only scripture and biblical dictionaries to prove this definition below.


Definition #1

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines it this way:




To place one's trust in God's truth; one who takes God at His word [in their life] and trusts in Him for salvation.

Mere assent to God's truth is not saving faith, according to the Bible <John 8:31‑46; Acts 8:13‑24; James 2:14‑26>.

(from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary)

(Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


John 8:31‑32

31To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

32Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."



Acts 8:13

13Simon himself “believed” and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 



However, Simon later he tried to buy the Holy Spirit! 


James 2:14‑17

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?

15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food.

16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.





Believing:  Obeying; Entrusting



Obedient believing


John 6
28Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
29Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."


Many read this scripture with a falsely incomplete definition of the word believe in mind.  They think that belief is nothing more than “mere mental assent”.  But if Jesus had intended this modern definition, then He would contradict himself and other Bible writers.  Yes, mental assent is required for salvation, but that is not all that Jesus is referring to when he uses the word “believe”.


In other places, belief is not the only word prescribed to receive salvation through Christ.

Mark 1:15
"The time has come," he said. "The
kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
(Whole Chapter: Mark 1 In context: Mark 1:14-16)


Romans 16:26
but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him–
(Whole Chapter: Romans 16 In context: Romans 16:25-27)


1 Corinthians 15:2
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
(Whole Chapter: 1 Corinthians 15 In context: 1 Corinthians 15:1-3)


Hebrews 10:39
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
(Whole Chapter: Hebrews 10 In context: Hebrews 10:38-40)


So in regards to initially and continually receiving salvation through Christ, true believing, like true faith, is accompanied by actions, and synonymous with obedience.


Believe = obey

Here are some examples of the Greek word for believe (“pisteuo”) in places where it was not translated as “believe”, but as other English words.  It means trust (for your life), follow, obey, and ‘give in to”.


Hebrews 3:18
And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed[
3:18 Or disbelieved] ?
(Whole Chapter: Hebrews 3 In context: Hebrews 3:17-19)


Luke 11:22

22But when someone stronger attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up the spoils.



Acts 5:37

37After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.



Acts 23:21

21Don't give in to them, because more than forty of them are waiting in ambush for him. They have taken an oath not to eat or drink until they have killed him. They are ready now, waiting for your consent to their request."



Rom 2:8

8But for those who are self‑seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.



Gal 5:7

7You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?



James 3:3

3When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal.



Believing actions

Here are examples of true belief being accompanied by action on the part of the believer:

Psalm 78:32
In spite of all this, they kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.
(Whole Chapter: Psalm 78 In context: Psalm 78:31-33)


Jonah 3:5
The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.
(Whole Chapter: Jonah 3 In context: Jonah 3:4-6)


Mark 16:16
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
(Whole Chapter: Mark 16 In context: Mark 16:15-17)


John 16
8When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt[1] in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer;


Acts 4:32
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.
(Whole Chapter: Acts 4 In context: Acts 4:31-33)


Acts 19:18
Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds.
(Whole Chapter: Acts 19 In context: Acts 19:17-19)


Acts 21:20
When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the law.
(Whole Chapter: Acts 21 In context: Acts 21:19-21)



Definition #2

Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words defines the term this way:




1. pisteuo ^4100^, "to believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence. It is most

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)




A. Verbs.

1. pisteuo ^4100^, "to believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence. It is most frequent in the writings of the apostle John, especially the Gospel. He does not use the noun (see below). For the Lord's first use of the verb, see <1:50>. Of the writers of the Gospels, Matthew uses the verb ten times, Mark ten, Luke nine, John ninety‑nine. In <Acts 5:14> the present participle of the verb is translated "believers. See COMMIT, INTRUST, TRUST.

2. peitho ^3982^, "to persuade," in the middle and passive voices signifies "to suffer oneself to be persuaded," e. g., <Luke 16:31; Heb. 13:18>; it is sometimes translated "believe" in the RV, but not in <Acts 17:4>, RV, "were persuaded," and <27:11>, "gave (more) heed"; in <Acts 28:24>, "believed. See AGREE, ASSURE, OBEY, PERSUADE, TRUST, YIELD.

Note: For apisteo, the negative of No. 1, and apeitheo, the negative of No. 2, see DISBELIEVE, DISOBEDIENT.


B. Noun.

pistis ^4102^, "faith," is translated "belief" in <Rom. 10:17; 2 Thes. 2:13>. Its chief significance is a conviction respecting God and His Word and the believer's relationship to Him. See ASSURANCE, FAITH, FIDELITY.

Note: In <1 Cor. 9:5> the word translated "believer" (RV), is adelphe, "a sister," so <7:15; Rom. 16:1; Jas. 2:15>, used, in the spiritual sense, of one connected by the tie of the Christian faith.


C. Adjective.  pistos ^4103^, (a) in the active sense means "believing, trusting"; (b) in the passive sense, "trusty, faithful, trustworthy." It is translated "believer" in <2 Cor. 6:15>; "them that believe" in <1 Tim. 4:12>, RV (KJV, "believers ");in <1 Tim. 5:16>, "if any woman that believeth," lit. "if any believing woman." So in <6:2>, "believing masters." In <1 Pet. 1:21> the RV, following the most authentic mss., gives the noun form, "are believers in God" (KJV, "do believe in God"). In <John 20:27> it is translated "believing." It is best understood with significance (a), above, e. g., in <Gal. 3:9; Acts 16:1; 2 Cor. 6:15; Titus 1:6>; it has significance (b), e. g., in <1 Thes. 5:24; 2 Thes. 3:3> (see Notes on Thes. p. 211, and Gal. p. 126, by Hogg and Vine). See FAITHFUL, SURE.

Notes: (1) The corresponding negative verb is apisteo, <2 Tim. 2:13>, KJV, "believe not" RV, "are faithless," in contrast to the statement "He abideth faithful."

(2) The negative noun apistia, "unbelief," is used twice in Matthew <13:58>; <17:20>), three times in Mark <6:6; 9:24; 16:14>, four times in Romans <3:3; 4:20; 11:20,23>; elsewhere in <1 Tim. 1:13> and <Heb. 3:12,19>.#

(3) The adjective apistos is translated "unbelievers" in <1 Cor. 6:6>, and <2 Cor. 6:14>; in <v. 15>, RV, "unbeliever" (KJV, "infidel"); so in <1 Tim. 5:8>; "unbelieving" in <1 Cor. 7:12‑15; 14:22‑ 24; 2 Cor. 4:4; Titus 1:15; Rev. 21:8>; "that believe not" in <1 Cor. 10:27>. In the Gospels it is translated "faithless" in <Matt. 17:17; Mark 9:19; Luke 9:41; John 20:27>, but in <Luke 12:46>, RV, "unfaithful," KJV, "unbelievers." Once it is translated "incredible," <Acts 26:8>. See FAITHLESS, INCREDIBLE, UNBELIEVER.#

(4) Plerophoreo, in <Luke 1:1> (KJV, "are most surely believed," lit., "have had full course"), the RV renders "have been fulfilled." See FULFILL, KNOW, PERSUADE, PROOF.

(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words)

(Copyright (C) 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)



Required for Salvation


John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–
(Whole Chapter: John 1 In context: John 1:11-13)


John 3:16
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[
3:16 Or his only begotten Son] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
(Whole Chapter: John 3 In context: John 3:15-17)


John 3:18
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.[ 3:18 Or God's only begotten Son]
(Whole Chapter: John 3 In context: John 3:17-19)


John 3:36
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."[
3:36 Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 30.]
(Whole Chapter: John 3 In context: John 3:35-37)


John 5:24
"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.
(Whole Chapter: John 5 In context: John 5:23-25)


John 5:38
nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent.
(Whole Chapter: John 5 In context: John 5:37-39)


John 6:40
For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
(Whole Chapter: John 6 In context: John 6:39-41)


John 6:47
I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.
(Whole Chapter: John 6 In context: John 6:46-48)


John 8:24
I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am ,[
8:24 Or I am he; also in verse 28] you will indeed die in your sins."
(Whole Chapter: John 8 In context: John 8:23-25)



Continual belief required


Luke 8:12
Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved.
(Whole Chapter: Luke 8 In context: Luke 8:11-13)


Luke 8:13
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
(Whole Chapter: Luke 8 In context: Luke 8:12-14)


Luke 12:46
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
(Whole Chapter: Luke 12 In context: Luke 12:45-47)


John 8:31
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.
(Whole Chapter: John 8 In context: John 8:30-32)


John 10:26
but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.
(Whole Chapter: John 10 In context: John 10:25-27)


John 12:46
I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
(Whole Chapter: John 12 In context: John 12:45-47)


Acts 10:43
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
(Whole Chapter: Acts 10 In context: Acts 10:42-44)


2 Thessalonians 2:12
and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
(Whole Chapter: 2 Thessalonians 2 In context: 2 Thessalonians 2:11-13)

1 John 5:5
Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
(Whole Chapter: 1 John 5 In context: 1 John 5:4-6)


Here, believers can also be translated as “faithful”:


Ephesians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints in Ephesus,[ 1:1 Some early manuscripts do not have in Ephesus.] the faithful[ 1:1 Or believers who are] in Christ Jesus:
(Whole Chapter: Ephesians 1 In context: Ephesians 1:1-2)


James 1:12
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
(Whole Chapter: James 1 In context: James 1:11-13)


Revelation 2:10
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
(Whole Chapter: Revelation 2 In context: Revelation 2:9-11)


So, when we say that someone is a “believer”, their actions should validate this testimony.  How can you really know who your Christian brother is and who is not?  Click here to find out.



By Grace


Acts 18:27
When Apollos wanted to go to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples there to welcome him. On arriving, he was a great help to those who by grace had believed.
(Whole Chapter: Acts 18 In context: Acts 18:26-28)




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