The F-Files (Part 2)
by Blake Anderson
Of the ninety eight times that believe is used in John there are possibly only three instances where there is either no direct or contextual relation to evidence for the belief. One of them is a quote from the Old Testament (John 12:38; cf. Isa. 53:1), and even this quote relates to a prophecy which has evidential value. Another occasion is in the context of unbelief due to a rejection of truth (John 8:45-46). The third instance is in the context of Jesus pointing out those would not believe because of His hard sayings and that one of the twelve would betray Him (John 6:64). Yet, even here there is no call to belief against the evidence, and it is those disciples who spent the most time with Him (except Judas) who accept Jesus in spite of His hard words (John 6:68-69). Their previous experience with Jesus gave them a basis to make a decision for trust in the face of difficult teaching.
The remainder of the uses of believe in John are in some way preceded or followed by a connection with a reason to believe. Some are associated very directly to evidence, while some are related to evidence within the framework of the broader narratives. The table in the attached chart (.pdf file format for download) lists the references using pisteuō and shows the evidential relationship in each. We will review the nature of the connectives before looking at John’s categories of evidence for belief.
Use of Connectives
Within the text there are a number of grammatical clues that show direct correlation between the belief and supporting evidence. Some are very obvious such as the use of hina, which is a conjunction that “denotes purpose, aim, or goal” and can be translated that, in order that, or so that. The hina conjunction is used nine times and has the following pattern: 1) evidence 2) so that 3) belief (John 1:7; 3:15; 6:30; 11:42; 13:19; 14:29; 17:21; 19:35; 20:31). For example, Jesus prophecies to His disciples about His betrayal “so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am He” (John 11:42). Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. ~14:29
Many other words or phrases are used (see attached table) to link statements of evidence with statements of belief…
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