Obedient faith or disobedience

There are some bizarre definitions of faith in the world. One of the most prevalent seems to be that one only believes in Jesus, and that automatically confers salvation on that person.

Not even John the Baptist, however, agreed with that prevalent idea. In John 3, in a discussion by John with his disciples, the cousin of Jesus said, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him,” (John 3:36 NASB).

Many translations don’t correctly render the verb in this verse. It is the only time in the New Testament that this verb occurs. It is the verb ἀπειθέω and means “does not obey.” Only the American Standard and New American Standard versions use the phrase, “he that is disobedient to the Son will not see life.”

This translation is consistent with James’ description of faith in how works of obedience are an integral part (James 2:14-20). Even the renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson in his Word Pictures of the Greek New Testament, verified that disobedience to Jesus means ‘a person will not see life.” 

David Lipe, in his commentary on John, wrote, “John used an affirmative followed by a negative: the individual who continues in an obedient faith has eternal life, which the one who continues in disobedience will not see life.”/1

Belief without obedience isn’t faith. Only faith that produces works of obedience is the kind that saves people. Obedient faith has always been God’s standard.

1/ Truth for Today Commentary: John 1-12 (2019) Resource Publications: 150-151.


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