This word study is intended to be a guide on studying what the Bible says about Belief. This will become a companion to several articles that I write when the topic of belief comes up.
When I began this study, it quickly became apparent to me what the Bible really means about belief. I was brought up in the church believing that if I believed in Jesus that I was saved. End of story. Then I ran across this verse in the Bible:
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” (James 2:19, NIV)
I wondered, do I really know what belief means in the Biblical context? What if I believe but that I have an incomplete faith? What does that mean for me? Well, I continued to read:
“You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. (James 2:20-26, NIV, emphasis added)
So when we read the words belief, believe, believed, believer, believers, believes, and believing, scripture uses the word Pisteuo most often (209 times to be exact). It refers most often to believing by obeying Jesus teaching. Consider Jesus’ own words when he was talking about Himself being the way to the Father:
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John, 14:12, NIV, emphasis added)
Belief, is incomplete unless you do as Jesus commanded.
Below is a list of the words used in the Bible for belief in its various forms. First is the word in the original language, then the number corresponding to the Strong’s NIV Exhaustive Concordance (I will provide a reference later), Then the definition.
Hebrew (Old Testament References)
Aman (586): To be faithful, be trustworthy, be established
Batah (1053): To trust, rely on, put confidence in
Yare (3707): To be afraid, be frightened; to revere, respect; to be awesome, be dreadful, be feared; to frighten, terrify, intimidate; in some contexts fear relates to terror and fright, in other contexts fear relates to honor, respect and awe.
Greek (New Testament References)
Hagios (41): Holy (moral quality), consecrated ([ceremonially] acceptable to God).
Apeitheo (578): To disobey, be disobedient
Apissteo (601): To disbelieve, be faithless, unfaithful. In some contexts unbelief has no implication of faithlessness or hardheartedness (Lk 24:11); in other contexts unbelief is a moral failure, not acting like a true follower (2Ti 2:13)
Apistos (603): Unbelieving, lacking in trust, doubting; as a noun: an unbeliever or outsider, one who does not believe the Gospel.
Pisteuo (4409): To believe, put one’s faith in, turst, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow.
Pistis (4411): Faith, faithfulness, belief, trust, with an implication that actions based on that trust may follow; “the faith” often refers to the Christian system of belief and lifestyle.
Pistos (4412): Faithful, trustworthy, reliable, believing.
This list shows the number corresponding to the words used for the variations of the word belief:
578, 586, 601, 603, 1053, 4409, 4411, 4412
603, 3707, 4412
41, 4409, 4412
Are we saved by faith alone, or do we need works, too?)