TBU: The Bible Unpacked: In-Depth Edition

I.  Getting Right with God

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Chapter 21  Part I

Getting Right with God

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The Bible does not simply repeat one basic formula as to how to get “right with God”. However there are two prominent themes, which basically encompass the other things that the Bible mentions. These two fundamental themes are repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.

Bear in mind that in using the expression “right with God”, this chapter largely has in view being deemed righteous in God’s eyes, which involves the forgiveness of one’s sins. As such, it also means that we are at peace with God.

Note the topic of Baptism cross-referenced above, for it is also relevant to the subject of getting right with God, as basically it signifies that one has become “right with God”.

God’s Invitation

God and Jesus Christ invite all people to come to them and be saved . . .

Isa 45:22  Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. ▤ 

Isa 55:1-3  Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. ▤ 

God invites all people to come and have their spiritual thirst and hunger satisfied, that their “soul may live” (v. 3).

Matt 11:28-30  Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ▤ 

Jesus’ invitation is in a sense an invitation to salvation as the promised “rest” appears to encompass rest from: trying to obey the OT law to be righteous before God, particularly with how it was embellished by the Jews; the burden of sin; and any troubles in our lives that weary and burden us.

Matt 22:9-10  Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.’ 10And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good. So the wedding hall was filled with guests. ▤ 

The wedding banquet for the king’s son in this parable (cf. vv. 1-14) appears to allude to the messianic banquet of the afterlife and so the invitation to the banquet amounts to an invitation to salvation. Note that in saying that “both good and bad” (v. 10) were invited, Matthew may be emphasizing that all people are invited – even those who are considered to be bad.

John 7:37  On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. ▤ 

This is in effect an invitation to salvation (cf. Rev 2:17 ), which involves the satisfying of one’s spiritual thirst.

John 10:9  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. ▤ 

This suggests that we are invited to enter the “door” that is Jesus, and so be saved.

Rev 22:17  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. ▤ 

Note that the two occurrences of “Come” may be calls for Jesus Christ to return (cf. vv. 12, 20), rather than appeals to non-believers (here made by the Holy Spirit and the “Bride” or church). However the latter is definitely the focus in the second half of the verse.

. . . For God wants all people to be saved, making salvation open to everyone

See also:

1Tim 2:3-4  This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ▤ 

2Pet 3:9  The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,w not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. ▤ 

w Some manuscripts on your account

Acts 17:30  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, … ▤ 

The fact that God commands all people to repent suggests that salvation is open to everyone.

Rom 10:11-13  For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” ▤ 

Here Paul stresses that salvation is open to all people. Note that as v. 13 suggests, to “call on” the Lord (v. 12) in effect means to pray for salvation, believing in him (cf. BKC).

1Tim 4:10  For to this end we toil and strive,x because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. ▤ 

x Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

The description of God as “the Savior of all people” implies that his salvation is open to all, although it only comes to fruition for “those who believe”.

Titus 2:11  For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, … ▤ 

Most likely this means that in his grace God has made salvation open to all people. (cf. NBC)

Luke 2:10-11  And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. ▤ 

The phrase “all the people” (v. 10) probably refers to all the Jewish people, but quite possibly it alludes to or at least is applicable to all humankind (cf. vv. 30-32) – “everyone” (CEV, NLT). From this it can be inferred that this good news of a savior and his salvation is for everyone.

John 1:7  He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. ▤ 

Note that the reference is to John the Baptist.

John 3:16-17  For God so loved the world,y that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ▤ 

y Or For this is how God loved the world

  • God is not willing that any “little ones” be lost:

Matt 18:12-14  What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14So it is not the will of myz Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. ▤ 

z Some manuscripts your

Many commentators consider that “little ones” is referring to young believers or believers generally who change and “become like children”, humbling themselves (vv. 3-4). If, however, it does refer to or is applicable to children generally (cf. v. 10), then this reference also supports the assertion that God wants all people to be saved.

God wants us to earnestly seek him – and so find him

See also:

Acts 17:26-27  And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, … ▤ 

Acts 15:16-17  After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen; I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, 17that the remnanta of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things … ▤ 

a Or rest

In these verses James quotes Amos 9:11-12, which probably ultimately refers to the end of the age. Here James appears to use it to affirm that the contention that God wants the Gentiles to come to him to be saved (cf. v. 19) is consistent with the Scriptures.

Heb 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ▤ 

Presumably enabling people to find him is one prime way in which God “rewards those who seek him”.

Deut 4:29  But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul. ▤ 

The reference is actually to God’s people seeking him again after being unfaithful, but it is also applicable to people initially seeking him. The same applies below to Jeremiah 29:13-14a and Amos 5:4-6.

1Chr 28:9  And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. ▤ 

Jer 29:13-14  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. 14I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile. ▤ 

Matt 7:7-8  Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. ▤ 

This is in fact referring to persistence in prayer, but this teaching is also applicable to earnestly seeking God and “knocking” on “the door” to God’s kingdom.

  • God’s call to wayward Israel to seek him and live:

Amos 5:4-6  For thus says the Lord to the house of Israel: “Seek me and live; 5but do not seek Bethel, and do not enter into Gilgal or cross over to Beersheba; for Gilgal shall surely go into exile, and Bethel shall come to nothing.” 6Seek the Lord and live, lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, with none to quench it for Bethel, … ▤ 

This call is applicable to all people, for them to seek God and have spiritual life.

We have the choice of whether or not to respond to God and Jesus Christ

See also:

John 3:36  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ▤ 

This indicates that we have the choice of believing in or rejecting Jesus Christ.

Deut 30:15-19  See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16If you obey the commandments of the Lord your Godb that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules,c then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, … ▤ 

b Septuagint; Hebrew lacks If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God

c Or his just decrees

Moses gave the people what was in effect a choice between life and death (vv. 15, 19). He urged the people to choose life (v. 19) by loving and obeying God (v. 16) – as opposed to choosing the path to death, by turning away from God to other gods (v. 17).

Josh 24:14-16, 22  “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” 16Then the people answered, “Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, ▤ 22Then Joshua said to the people, “You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.” And they said, “We are witnesses.” ▤ 

Note that in v. 15 Joshua is speaking of a further choice of which gods to serve – if the people chose not to serve God.

Isa 1:19-20  If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; 20but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. ▤ 

God’s words to the people of Judah, who had turned away from him, indicate that they had the choice as to whether or not to respond to him. This reflects the assertion that all people have such a choice.

Ps 119:30, 173  I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me. ▤ 173Let your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts. ▤ 

Isa 56:4  For thus says the Lord: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, … ▤ 

John 7:17  If anyone’s will is to do God’sd will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. ▤ 

d Greek his

Prov 1:29  Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, … ▤ 

Matt 23:37  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! ▤ 

On the whole, the people of Jerusalem were not willing to respond to Jesus – i.e. they chose not to come to him.

Heb 12:25  See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. ▤ 

  • People are responsible for rejecting the gospel:

Acts 18:6  And when they opposed and reviled him, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” ▤ 

We must believe in God and what he says

See also:

We must believe in God, believing that he exists and believing what the Bible teaches about him, including the words that the Bible attributes to him.

Heb 11:6  And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. ▤ 

Acts 16:34  Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. ▤ 

1Pet 1:21  … who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. ▤ 

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ▤ 

Jesus’ words were from God, who sent him. It is critical that we believe God’s words.

Rom 4:16-24  That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. 18In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” 19He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. 20No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. 22That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, … ▤ 

In describing Abraham as “the father of us all … in the presence of the God in whom he believed” (vv. 16-17), Paul indicates that Abraham is the spiritual father of all people who follow in his steps in believing in God (cf. vv. 23-24) and believing in what God says (vv. 20-21). Note that in speaking of Abraham as “the father of many nations” (vv. 17, 18), Paul links and draws parallels between Abraham being the father of many nations physically and him being the father of all believers spiritually.

We need to be open to believing and responding to God

See also:

Note that most of the following passages illustrate the need to be open to believing and responding through the examples of people who were not open to doing so, in some cases even in the face of compelling evidence (cf. Luke 16:29-31 ; John 5:39-47 ; John 12:37-40 ).

Jer 6:10  To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the Lord is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it. ▤ 

The term “uncircumcised” indicates that their ears were effectively closed to God’s word, as if they were people not in a covenantal relationship with God. The verse illustrates that those whose ears or minds are closed to God’s word, will not heed or listen to it. Additionally, it shows that such people often find God’s word objectionable, further hardening themselves against responding to it.

Matt 18:2-4  And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. ▤ 

Similarly in Mark 10:15 Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” These verses refer to the humility, openness and receptiveness of little children, characteristics which are required to believe Jesus’ message and enter God’s kingdom (cf. 11:25).

Mark 16:14  Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. ▤ 

Luke 11:34-36  Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light. ▤ 

We need to ensure that we are not spiritually blind. We need good eyes – openness to spiritual truth, which will enlighten us.

Luke 16:29-31  But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ▤ 

Verse 31 indicates that for those whose minds are closed to God’s word – and so refuse to repent (v. 30) – not even the testimony of someone raised from the dead will open their minds. This would be shown to some extent at least by Jesus Christ’s resurrection, which possibly is alluded to here.

John 3:19-21  And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God. ▤ 

The phrase “comes to the light” (v. 21a; cf. v. 20) speaks of coming to Jesus Christ, the light. This passage indicates that unrepentant evil doers will not come to Jesus Christ for their deeds will be shown for what they are (v. 20). Thus because of their evil ways they are not open to believing and responding to Jesus Christ – in contrast to those who seek to do what is true or right (v. 21).

John 5:39-47  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41I do not receive glory from people. 42But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? ▤ 

The Jews, particularly the Jewish authorities, blankly refused to believe Jesus and to come to him to have life (v. 40); they were not open to Jesus and his message. Factors in this included: studying the Scriptures with closed minds (vv. 39-40) and so in fact not believing what the Scriptures actually teach (vv. 45-47); not having the “love of God” (v. 42), probably love for God (cf. CEV, GNT, NIrV); and their desire for glory or praise from men rather than from God (vv. 41-44).

John 12:37-40  Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 39Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, 40“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” ▤ 

Verses 39-40 speak of God’s judicial blinding of many of the Jews – with their subsequent lack of spiritual perception and openness – as being the reason for their unbelief (vv. 37-38).

Luke 8:15  As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. ▤ 

One can infer from this that having “an honest and good heart” is important for being open to responding to God’s word and holding to it.

  • One needs to recognize one’s sin:

Matt 21:31b-32  Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him. ▤ 

Here Jesus is addressing the self-righteous chief priests and elders. These verses exemplify the fact that admitted sinners are open to believing and responding to God’s message, in contrast to those who are self-righteous. To be open to the message one must recognize one’s sin (cf. 9:13b).

Now is the time to seek God and to respond to him

Isa 55:6  Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; … ▤ 

Hos 10:12  Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. ▤ 

2Cor 6:1-2  Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. ▤ 

To underline the urgent need to respond to – or to secure – the offer of salvation that God has given in his favor or “grace” (v. 1), Paul cites Isaiah 49:8, applying it to the present time.

Heb 4:6-7  Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” ▤ 

“Today” – the present time, which will not continue indefinitely – is the time to respond positively to God’s voice. Here the particular context concerns taking hold of the opportunity of entering God’s rest (cf. vv. 1-12).

Mark 1:14-15  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤ 

Jesus Christ’s life, ministry and sacrifice inaugurated the kingdom of God in its current form – a spiritual, present reality, to be fully consummated at the end of the age when God’s authority will be fully imposed once and for all. With the nearness of its present form – before its consummation – now is the time for the required response, to “repent and believe in the gospel” (v. 15)

Luke 12:54-59  He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. 55And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. 56You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time? 57“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? 58As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. 59I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”e ▤ 

e Greek lepton, a Jewish bronze or copper coin worth about 1/128 of a denarius (which was a day’s wage for a laborer)

Despite the fact that the people could read the signs which indicated a change in the weather (vv. 54-55), they could not – or were not willing to – interpret the signs of the present time (primarily what God was doing through Jesus) and respond accordingly. Jesus uses the illustration in vv. 58-59 to portray their plight and highlight the urgency for them to take action now to be reconciled to God. Jesus’ teaching is very much applicable today. Note that in v. 58, “accuser”, “magistrate”, “judge” and “officer” may all refer to God, reflecting various aspects of his position in regard to people while they remain not reconciled to him.

Luke 13:23-25  And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ ▤ 

Instead of addressing the issue of how many would be saved (v. 23), Jesus speaks of what one needs to do in order to be saved – i.e. we must do all we can to enter the narrow door of salvation (cf. Matt 7:13-14 ). In speaking of this, Jesus refers to the need to act now, saying that the time will come when the door will be closed and it will be too late for those who want to enter then (v. 25).

Other preliminary points to consider

See also:

Matt 7:13-14  Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easyf that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ▤ 

f Some manuscripts For the way is wide and easy

This implies that determined effort is required to: find the “gate” or way that leads to life; enter through the “gate” (cf. Luke 13:23 ); and keep to the narrow way to life.

Luke 14:15-24  When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. 17And at the time for the banquet he sent his servantg to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24For I tell you,h none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” ▤ 

g Greek bondservant; also verses 21, 22, 23

h The Greek word for you here is plural

This is a parable portraying God’s invitation to all people to come into his kingdom (v. 15). It largely contrasts the responses of the self-sufficient – with their higher priorities (vv. 18-20) – and the needy, who it implies generally do respond positively (vv. 21-22). As such it warns against: being self-sufficient, seeing little need for God in our lives; and giving other things a higher priority than God, leaving no time for him.

Note that the instruction to go beyond the city limits to urge people to come in (v. 23), may allude to the extension of God’s offer of salvation to the Gentiles. Thus the uninterested group would then appear to largely signify those of the Jews who were self-sufficient and self-righteous – notably the religious leaders of the day.

Luke 14:28-33  For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. ▤ 

The cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is enormous (v. 33). So those who want to respond and follow him should first count the cost (cf. vv. 29-32).

Heb 2:2-3a  For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? ▤ 

If people were accountable under the OT law – as a means of obtaining righteousness in God’s sight – how much more so are we in the light of God’s greater offer of salvation through Jesus Christ. Neglecting it will bring dreadful consequences.

Note: Apart from God, life is pointless

See also:

The following references are from Ecclesiastes. Its main theme, often underlying some of its more despairing conclusions, is that apart from God everything is pointless. In conveying this, “vanity” is often used. The word translated as “vanity” literally means “vapor” (cf. 1:2 text note), pointing to something being without substance, fleeting and/or elusive. Thus “vanity” presumably has the sense of being “in vain” – being worthless, empty, futile and/or unfulfilling.

Relevant to this whole section (God’s Invitation) is the assertion apparent in the references that to live without God – with life’s realities being what they are – leaves one’s life a largely pointless existence.

Eccl 1:2-10  Vanityi of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. 3What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? 4A generation goes, and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever. 5The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastensj to the place where it rises. 6The wind blows to the south and goes around to the north; around and around goes the wind, and on its circuits the wind returns. 7All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again. 8All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. 9What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. 10Is there a thing of which it is said, “See, this is new”? It has been already in the ages before us. ▤ 

i Hebrew vapor (so throughout Ecclesiastes)

j Or and returns panting

Verses 5-7 portray the unchanging patterns of nature, which the author uses to illustrate that no matter what people do, nothing really satisfies (v. 8) or changes (vv. 9-10).

Eccl 1:14-15  I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.k 15What is crooked cannot be made straight, and what is lacking cannot be counted. ▤ 

k Or a feeding on wind; compare Hosea 12:1 (so throughout Ecclesiastes)

Verse 15 appears to be saying that much of what is wrong in life cannot be fixed – although there other interpretations.

Eccl 2:1-2  I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. 2I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” ▤ 

Eccl 2:15-16  Then I said in my heart, “What happens to the fool will happen to me also. Why then have I been so very wise?” And I said in my heart that this also is vanity. 16For of the wise as of the fool there is no enduring remembrance, seeing that in the days to come all will have been long forgotten. How the wise dies just like the fool! ▤ 

Eccl 2:22-23, 26  What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? 23For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. ▤ 26For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. ▤ 

In v. 26 the author asserts that the sinner’s efforts are useless to him, toiling for no benefit to himself.

Eccl 3:19  For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. ▤ 

Eccl 4:4  Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. ▤ 

If one’s labor basically stems from envy of others – wanting what they have – then it is a rather pointless, hollow exercise.

Eccl 4:13-16  Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with thatl youth who was to stand in the king’sm place. 16There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind. ▤ 

l Hebrew the second

m Hebrew his

The previous king was foolish (v. 13), and so presumably the people were not happy with him. At first the new king, the youth, pleased the people – but later subjects were not pleased with him either. Such cycles of making a change in leadership only to be followed by disenchantment with the leader is to a large degree a pointless phenomenon. (The thought could also be applied to making some other kinds of changes in life.)

Eccl 11:8, 10  So if a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all; but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity. ▤ 10Remove vexation from your heart, and put away painn from your body, for youth and the dawn of life are vanity. ▤ 

n Or evil

In later life, with one’s failing health, there will be many dark days; enduring many of them appears a meaningless proposition (v. 8). By the same token we should not be overly troubled by problems and physical disorders we encounter earlier in life, for youth and good health are short lived anyway and so soon come to nothing (v. 10).

Pray for persecuted Christians

Repentance

See also:

The words in the Bible that are translated as “repent” speak of: changing one’s mind, regret and consequently turning around. When people are called to repent, they are called to change their mindset and turn away from sin to God.

Repentance and belief (or faith) are inextricably linked. Prior to repentance we must believe that God exists and that he requires us to turn to him. On repenting we must believe in Jesus Christ for forgiveness of the sin that we have turned away from.

We must repent

See also:

Matt 3:1-3  In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepareo the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” ▤ 

o Or crying: Prepare in the wilderness

The call in v. 3b is in effect a call for repentance (complementing the one in v. 2). Its implication appears to be that people should prepare themselves for the Lord, straightening out their lives – making them right and true.

Matt 4:17  From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ▤ 

Like John the Baptist in 3:1 above, Jesus emphasizes the need and urgency for one to repent by warning them that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand”, meaning that the kingdom “has come or is coming soon” (NLT text note). See also the introductory comment on The Kingdom of God.

Mark 6:12  So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. ▤ 

Acts 17:30  The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, … ▤ 

  • Jesus called people who recognized themselves as sinners, to repentance:

Luke 5:32  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. ▤ 

In this context “the righteous” refers to those who saw themselves as such – self-righteous people.

Confess your sins . . .

See also:

Mark 1:4-5  John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. ▤ 

This suggests that confession of sins is a significant act in the process of repentance, with the people “confessing their sins” (v. 5) in undergoing John’s “baptism of repentance” (v. 4).

Acts 19:18  Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. ▤ 

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ▤ 

This was actually written to Christians, rather than people turning to God for the first time. Confession, like repentance, is something believers need to keep doing when they inevitably sin. (See also Confess your sin to God.)

Luke 15:21  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’p ▤ 

p Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants

Here Jesus was drawing a parallel between the Prodigal Son’s return to his father – which involved this confession of his sin – and that of repentant sinners coming to God.

. . . and turn from sinful ways

See also:

Ezek 33:11  Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? ▤ 

2Tim 2:19  But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” ▤ 

Acts 3:26  God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. ▤ 

John 8:11  She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ▤ 

Jesus was speaking here to a woman who had been caught in adultery.

Jonah 3:8  … but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. ▤ 

In turning from sin, do what is good and right . . .

See also:

Ps 34:14  Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. ▤ 

Isa 1:16-17  Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. ▤ 

Jer 7:5  For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly execute justice one with another, … ▤ 

Jer 35:15a  I have sent to you all my servants the prophets, sending them persistently, saying, ‘Turn now every one of you from his evil way, and amend your deeds, and do not go after other gods to serve them, and then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to you and your fathers.’ ▤ 

To “amend” our deeds means that we must change the way we act (cf. NIrV). As such we need to turn from evil and sin, and begin to do what is good and right (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV).

Dan 4:27  Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity. ▤ 

Ezek 18:21  But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. ▤ 

Matt 3:8  Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. ▤ 

People are to do things that show they have repented (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT; Acts 26:20 ).

Acts 26:20  … but declared first to those in Damascus, then in Jerusalem and throughout all the region of Judea, and also to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds in keeping with their repentance. ▤ 

. . . and turn to God

See also:

Isa 45:22  Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. ▤ 

Acts 14:15  Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men, of like nature with you, and we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them. ▤ 

Acts 20:20-21  … how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

1Thes 1:9  For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, … ▤ 

Acts 11:21  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. ▤ 

Here the reference is to turning to Jesus Christ (cf. v. 20).

1Pet 2:25  For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. ▤ 

In the light of the context, Peter seems to be speaking of his readers’ pre-conversion state. Thus “returned” would appear to have the sense of “turned” (NLT). The “Shepherd and Overseer” is Jesus Christ.

2Ki 23:25  Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. ▤ 

  • God accepts those who do what is right (and fear him):

Acts 10:34-35  So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. ▤ 

Repentance is required for the forgiveness of sins

See also:

Note that the above subsections speak of what is involved in repenting. This and the following subsections speak of the outcomes of repenting (and of not repenting).

Mark 1:4  John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. ▤ 

The repentance that John’s baptism signified brought forgiveness of sins.

Luke 24:47  … and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. ▤ 

The inference is that repenting brings forgiveness of sins (cf. CEV, NLT), because of what Jesus has accomplished (cf. Acts 2:38 ).

Acts 2:38-39  And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” ▤ 

Note that this speaks of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit as a further outcome of repentance.

Acts 3:19  Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, … ▤ 

Acts 5:31  God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. ▤ 

As with Luke 24:47 above, the inference is that repentance brings forgiveness of sins (cf. NLT).

Acts 26:17-18  … delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. ▤ 

Although in this and the following references repentance is not specifically referred to, the actions spoken of are indicative of it. As such the actions lead to God’s forgiveness.

Isa 55:7  … let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. ▤ 

Ezek 33:14-16  Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is just and right, 15if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, not doing injustice, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 16None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him. He has done what is just and right; he shall surely live. ▤ 

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ▤ 

  • Repentance is linked with redemption:

Isa 59:20  “And a Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who turn from transgression,” declares the Lord. ▤ 

This seems to anticipate Jesus Christ’s redemptive work. Note that Jeremiah 4:14a similarly links repentance with being saved: “O Jerusalem, wash your heart from evil, that you may be saved.”

Repentance leads to life

See also:

Acts 11:18  When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” ▤ 

Ezek 18:21-23, 26-32  “But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 22None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. 23Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live? ▤ 26When a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice, he shall die for it; for the injustice that he has done he shall die. 27Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life. 28Because he considered and turned away from all the transgressions that he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die. 29Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? 30“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin.q 31Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? 32For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.” ▤ 

q Or lest iniquity be your stumbling block

The references to living and dying in this passage are probably primarily in regard to physical life and premature death, but they also can be readily applied both to spiritual life in the present and in the afterlife.

Repentance leads to spiritual enlightenment

See also:

2Tim 2:25-26  … correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, 26and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. ▤ 

2Cor 3:14-16  But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when oner turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. ▤ 

r Greek he

One can infer from this that whenever anyone turns to the Lord they are spiritually enlightened; any “veil” blocking spiritual insight is taken away. Note that rather than turning to the Lord in repentance from sin, this may well be primarily speaking of turning from the ways of the old covenant to the Lord Jesus Christ and the new covenant that he introduced. Even so, what it says is applicable to repentance from sin.

John 7:17  If anyone’s will is to do God’ss will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. ▤ 

s Greek his

Choosing to do what one knows of God’s will – and evaluating Jesus’ teaching in the light of this – leads to the realization that Jesus’ teaching does come from God (cf. Luke 7:35 ). Thus this reflects that repentance leads to spiritual enlightenment.

  • By following Jesus’ teaching, one’s life will show his teaching to be true:

Luke 7:35  Yet wisdom is justified by all her children. ▤ 

Jesus most likely meant that his and John’s wisdom or teaching is “shown to be true” (GNT; cf. AMP) “by the lives of those who follow it” (NLT, cf. CEV, GNT).

Not repenting will result in judgment and eternal punishment

Rom 2:5  But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. ▤ 

Matt 3:8-10  Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. ▤ 

Repentance needs to be genuine, reflected in what we do (v. 8). Anything but genuine repentance will result in destruction (v. 10), as John the Baptist warned the Jews (vv. 9-10).

Matt 11:20-24  Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” ▤ 

Matt 12:41  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. ▤ 

The implication is that unlike the people of Nineveh, the Jews largely did not repent. As such they faced condemnation at the final judgment.

Luke 13:1-5  There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” ▤ 

Although the victims referred to had died terrible, untimely deaths, this did not mean that they were worse sinners than others. All people are sinners and whoever does not repent will also perish – they will die spiritually, a tragic spiritual ending paralleling the tragic physical deaths mentioned here.

John 5:14  Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” ▤ 

Scholars differ in their understanding of what Jesus meant in referring to something “worse”. It may be eternal punishment or something in the present life.

Ps 7:12  If a mant does not repent, Godu will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; … ▤ 

t Hebrew he

u Hebrew he

Although not or not necessarily speaking of eternal punishment, the punishment for not repenting in this and the following passages serve to further illustrate that God will punish those who do not repent.

Ps 55:19  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old, Selah because they do not change and do not fear God. ▤ 

Ezek 3:19  But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. ▤ 

Rev 16:8-12  The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursedv the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. 10The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds. 12The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up, to prepare the way for the kings from the east. ▤ 

v Greek blasphemed; also verses 11, 21

The implication may be that any who had repented (vv. 9b, 11b) would have been spared from the ensuing judgments (vv. 10-11a, 12).

Note: The great rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents

Note that the following are adjacent passages in Luke 15.

Luke 15:1-7  Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” 3So he told them this parable: 4“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. ▤ 

Commentators differ over whether the “ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (v. 7) refers to people already saved or, with irony, to people such as the scribes and the Pharisees (v. 2) who consider themselves righteous with no need to repent.

Luke 15:8-10  “Or what woman, having ten silver coins,w if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? 9And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.’ 10Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” ▤ 

w Greek ten drachmas; a drachma was a Greek coin approximately equal in value to a Roman denarius, worth about a day’s wage for a laborer

Luke 15:11-14, 17, 20-24  And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. ▤ 17“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! ▤ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’x 22But the father said to his servants,y ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate. ▤ 

x Some manuscripts add treat me as one of your hired servants

y Greek bondservants

The role of the father parallels that of God – and presumably the celebration parallels that in heaven over a repentant sinner.

  • Rather than be angry, God’s people should share in the rejoicing over a repentant sinner:

Luke 15:25-32  “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’” ▤ 

The attitude of the older son reflects that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law (cf. v. 2). This latter part of the parable of the Prodigal Son is in effect an exhortation to them to, like God, be accepting of repentant sinners. Note that in view of this and the criticism of Jewish leaders (cf. v. 2) which apparently prompted the ensuing parables (above), the rejoicing of God’s people – along with that of angels in heaven (cf. v. 7 , v. 10 ) – over a repentant sinner is probably being portrayed here (vv. 25, 32; cf. vv. 23-24 ).

Pray for persecuted Christians

Belief in Jesus Christ (I): General

See also:

Believe in Jesus Christ

Believing in Jesus Christ involves believing what the Bible says about: who he is; what he taught and did; his death and resurrection; and the results of his death and resurrection. Regarding the results of his death and resurrection, we are to believe that as a result of his death and resurrection Jesus Christ provides the things discussed below in Belief in Jesus Christ (III): Outcomes.

John 6:29  Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” ▤ 

1Jn 3:23  And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. ▤ 

To “believe in the name” of Jesus Christ is basically to believe in Jesus Christ (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV) and all that he signifies.

John 3:16, 18  For God so loved the world,z that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ▤ 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ▤ 

z Or For this is how God loved the world

John 9:35-38  Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”a 36He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. ▤ 

a Some manuscripts the Son of God

Note that the term “the Son of Man” (v. 35) is a title Jesus commonly used for himself. It is a messianic title (cf. Dan 7:13-14), but it also underlines Jesus’ humanity.

John 12:36a  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light. ▤ 

As elsewhere in John’s gospel, “light” is associated here with Jesus and his teaching. “While you have the light” presumably has Jesus’ departure in view. It reflects the urgency to “believe in the light” while one still has the opportunity to do so.

Acts 14:23  And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. ▤ 

1Tim 3:16  Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: Heb was manifested in the flesh, vindicatedc by the Spirit,d seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. ▤ 

b Greek Who; some manuscripts God; others Which

c Or justified

d Or vindicated in spirit

Believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God

See also:

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

John 11:27  She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” ▤ 

John 6:69  … and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God. ▤ 

The “Holy One of God” is a title referring to the Messiah or Christ (cf. John 11:27 ).

1Jn 4:15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. ▤ 

1Jn 5:5, 13  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? ▤ 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. ▤ 

Implicit in believing “in the name of the Son of God” (v. 13; cf. John 3:18 ; 1Jn 3:23 ) is believing that Jesus is the Son of God.

Acts 8:35-37  Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. 36And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?”e ▤ 

e Some manuscripts add all or most of verse 37: And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

See v. 37, in the text note.

Further key things to know and believe about Jesus Christ

See also:

John 4:42  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” ▤ 

John 10:37-38  If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father. ▤ 

In saying: “the Father is in me and I am in the Father” Jesus points to the oneness or unity of himself and God – including their unified purpose in their work.

John 17:8  For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. ▤ 

Rom 10:9  … because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ▤ 

The confession “Jesus is Lord” indicates that one believes Jesus is Lord over all creation.

1Thes 4:14  For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. ▤ 

  • Thomas’s initial doubt and then belief in Jesus’ resurrection:

John 20:24-29  Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin,f was not with them when Jesus came. 25So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ▤ 

f Greek Didymus

Similarly Mark 16:9-13 contains further instances of Jesus’ followers at first not believing that he had risen. These instances are followed by Jesus’ appearance and rebuke in v. 14b: “… he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.”

Believing in Jesus Christ is integral to believing in God . . .

See also:

Believing in Jesus Christ is necessary for believing in what God has said and done/accomplished – an essential part of believing in God himself.

John 12:44  And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. ▤ 

Acts 16:31, 34  And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ▤ 34Then he brought them up into his house and set food before them. And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God. ▤ 

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ▤ 

Jesus’ words were from God, who sent him. As such, believing what Jesus said is integral to believing what God says.

1Pet 1:17-21  And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. ▤ 

It can be inferred from this passage that it is through “knowing” (v. 18a) – and so believing – such things about Jesus Christ that we believe in God, the one who raised and glorified him (v. 21a). As such, basically our faith and hope are in God (v. 21b) as the one who has orchestrated all that has been accomplished by and through Jesus Christ.

1Jn 4:14-16a  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. ▤ 

Here knowing and believing God’s love for us (v. 16) is correlated with believing that Jesus is God’s Son (v. 15), whom God in his wondrous love sent to save the world (v. 14).

. . . One’s response to Jesus Christ is one’s response to God, who sent him

See also:

Whatever is one’s response to Jesus Christ is in effect one’s response to God, for it was God who sent Jesus Christ, to accomplish his will.

John 13:20  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. ▤ 

Luke 10:16  “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” ▤ 

Mark 9:37  “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” ▤ 

John 5:23  … that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. ▤ 

John 15:23  Whoever hates me hates my Father also. ▤ 

1Jn 2:22-23  Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. ▤ 

Verse 2 indicates that to deny Jesus – more specifically, to deny that Jesus is the Christ – is to deny God as well. Verse 23 then enlarges on this, correlating both denying Jesus Christ with not having God and acknowledging Jesus Christ with having God.

  • We need to have faith in the power of God, who raised Jesus:

Col 2:11-12  In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. ▤ 

This is probably speaking of faith in God having the power to have raised Jesus Christ from the dead and to also raise us – both to spiritual life now and life ever after.

Superficial belief is not enough . . .

See also:

Luke 8:13  And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away. ▤ 

Such belief is superficial rather than deep-rooted. It is not entrenched in one’s thoughts, persistently influencing one’s behaviour. Moreover, it does not last.

John 2:23-25  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ▤ 

Jesus may well have had in view superficial belief that is based on miraculous signs alone and that comes with following what others are thinking – one that does not produce commitment.

Acts 8:13, 18-23  Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miraclesp performed, he was amazed. ▤ 18Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23For I see that you are in the gallq of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” ▤ 

p Greek works of power

q That is, a bitter fluid secreted by the liver; bile

Simon’s belief (v. 13) was shallow or at best intellectual. It had not affected his heart (vv. 21-22) and his inner state (v. 23), leaving him vulnerable to condemnation (v. 20).

James 2:19-20  You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? ▤ 

Faith that does not produce good deeds is useless, merely superficial. True faith or belief must affect our lives as a whole – as the following subsection indicates.

Ps 106:12-14  Then they believed his words; they sang his praise. 13But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. 14But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; … ▤ 

This is an example of superficial or weak faith in God, evidenced by the people’s later actions (vv. 13-14).

. . . We are to both believe and repent

See also:

As reflected by the previous subsection, our belief in Jesus Christ must be a genuine, committed belief – of which one key aspect is repentance.

Mark 1:14-15  Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” ▤ 

Acts 20:20-21  … how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

Acts 11:17-18  If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” 18When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.” ▤ 

In v. 17 Peter speaks of fellow Jews and himself as having “believed in the Lord Jesus Christ”, whereas in v. 18 the Gentiles are spoken of as having repented. In view of this and the context, the suggestion is that Peter saw belief and repentance as complementary aspects of “getting right” with God.

Acts 11:21  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. ▤ 

Acts 19:18-19  Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. ▤ 

Here belief is accompanied by repentance demonstrated by confession of sin (v. 18b) and turning from evil things (v. 19a).

Acts 26:17-18  … delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. ▤ 

This closely associates repenting (“turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God”) with faith (“that they may receive… a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me”).

Rom 16:25-26  Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith ▤ 

Obeying God – here associated with faith or belief – is of course a key aspect of repentance.

Jonah 3:5-10  And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. 6The word reachedr the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” 10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. ▤ 

r Or had reached

Note the remorse shown by the Ninevites, in conjunction with believing (v. 5) and repenting (vv. 8, 10). See also Be sorrowful over your sin.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Belief in Jesus Christ (II): Reasons to Believe

See also:

Jesus Christ’s words and knowledge

See also:

John 1:47-50  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” ▤ 

Here and in some of the following passages, Jesus’ words clearly reflect his complete knowledge – his omniscience – a compelling reason to believe in him and what he taught.

John 4:17-18, 29  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” ▤  … [The woman:] 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” ▤ 

Jesus’ words, revealing his knowledge of all things, caused the woman to believe or at least seriously consider that Jesus could well be the Messiah.

John 4:41-42  And many more believed because of his word. 42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” ▤ 

John 8:30  As he was saying these things, many believed in him. ▤ 

John 14:28-29  You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. ▤ 

Confirmation of Jesus’ knowledge of the future gives reason to believe in him (cf. John 2:14-22; 13:19). Note that “I am going to the Father” (v. 28b) appears to speak of Jesus’ ascension, which implies that “I am going away” (v. 28a) is also. As such, “I will come to you” (v. 28a) is often understood to refer to Jesus’ second coming (cf. v. 3) – which may well be the case. However by then it would be too late to believe, if confirming their belief in him for salvation is what Jesus has in mind in v. 29. Another possibility is that it refers to the coming of the Holy Spirit, which could be what is in view with the identical clause in v. 18 (cf. vv. 16-17).

John 16:30  Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God. ▤ 

The clause “do not need anyone to question you” may be meaning that Jesus had the capacity to answer a person’s question even before it was asked (cf. NCV).

Jesus Christ’s deeds

See also:

John 2:11  This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. ▤ 

In turning water into wine (cf. vv. 1-10) Jesus “manifested His glory”. As such Jesus “displayed His greatness and His power openly” (AMP), pointing to his divine nature – leading his disciples to believe in him.

John 2:23  Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. ▤ 

John 4:49-53  The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51As he was going down, his servantsg met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hourh the fever left him.” 53The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. ▤ 

g Greek bondservants

h That is, at 1 P. M.

John 7:31  Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?” ▤ 

John 11:14-15, 41-45  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” ▤ 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, … ▤ 

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

  • Jesus criticized the attitude of refusing to believe in him unless one saw miracles:

John 4:48  So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” ▤ 

Miracles give one little choice but to believe. Such belief is hardly faith and may even restrict the growth of one’s faith in God, making it dependant on further miracles to develop. Moreover, miracles are not enough to convince people who are not open to believing – “Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him …” (John 12:37). Jesus also criticizes the seeking of signs in Matthew 12:38-39 in the following subsection.

Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection

See also:

Matt 27:50-54  And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Soni of God!” ▤ 

i Or a son

Note that “what took place” (v. 54) may well not include the resurrection of the many holy people (v. 52), which seems to have not been apparent till after Jesus’ resurrection (v. 53). For further comment see Jesus Christ’s resurrection was essential for our resurrection.

John 2:18-22  So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. ▤ 

In v. 18 the Jews questioned Jesus’ authority to drive the money-changers and traders out of the temple (cf. vv. 14-16), preventing their commercial activities being carried out in the temple. Some commentators consider that they also had in view his reference to the temple as “my Father’s house” (v. 16) as being a messianic allusion and were essentially questioning such a claim to be the Messiah. Jesus gave his death and resurrection (vv. 19, 21) as proof that he had such authority and – if his messiahship was in question – that he was the Messiah. Thus when his death and resurrection occurred, his disciples believed him (v. 22). Note that in referring to destroying and raising up the “temple” or his body, possibly Jesus is alluding to himself replacing the actual temple as the means of accessing God.

John 8:28  So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. ▤ 

Jesus Christ is speaking of his crucifixion, where he would be “lifted up” on the cross. This would lead to people knowing that he was who he claimed to be – presumably through the events marking his death (cf. Matt 27:50-54 ) and his subsequent resurrection.

John 13:19  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. ▤ 

It appears that “before it takes place” refers to Jesus’ death – with the preceding events, including his betrayal (cf. v. 18) – and his subsequent resurrection. In addition to the importance of his death and resurrection themselves in showing who Jesus was, the fact that he predicted them also proved his claims (cf. John 2:18-22 ). The phrase “I am He” (cf. 8:38) is most likely meaning that he is the Messiah, the one for whom the Jews were waiting.

John 20:6-8  Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’j head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; … ▤ 

j Greek his

The clause “he saw and believed” is primarily referring to believing that Jesus had risen. But additionally we can conclude that because Jesus had risen, John would have then naturally believed in Jesus and his claims – if he had not already.

  • The period of Jesus’ death would be a sign for the Jews:

Matt 12:38-40  Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. ▤ 

Jesus’ supernatural emulation of Jonah’s experience – and the fact that he prophesied it – would be a sign to his generation of the validity of his claims. Note that the phrase “three days and three nights” is commonly understood to be referring somewhat figuratively to three days or parts thereof.

Testimonies about Jesus Christ . . .

Luke 1:1-4  Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, 2just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, 3it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught. ▤ 

Luke’s gospel – as with the other gospels – is a carefully investigated account (v. 3). As such, it gives one confidence about the certainty of what it (and the NT) teaches about Jesus – giving reason to believe it and so reason to believe in Jesus Christ. The fact that there were many other written accounts of testimonies of eyewitnesses (vv. 1-2) adds to the certainty.

John 5:31-34  If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not deemed true. 32There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. ▤ 

John the Baptist’s testimony regarding the truth about Jesus gives reason to believe and be saved (cf. John 10:40-42 ). In v. 32, Jesus could be referring to God (cf. v. 37 ) rather than to John and his testimony, though John and his testimony are clearly in view in vv. 33-34. Note that in the first part of v. 34, Jesus is saying that he does not accept – or at least does not depend upon – human testimony.

John 4:39  Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” ▤ 

John 10:40-42  He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing at first, and there he remained. 41And many came to him. And they said, “John did no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” 42And many believed in him there. ▤ 

It would appear that “many believed in him” (v. 42) because of John’s testimony (v. 41b) in relationship with what would have taken place when many people came (v. 41a) to Jesus. These things would primarily have been Jesus’ performing of miraculous healings and his teaching – which would have confirmed critical aspects of John’s testimony.

John 19:31-37  Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.” ▤ 

Verses 36-37 explain the significance of what was testified to in vv. 33-35; i.e. it was a fulfillment of Scripture regarding the Messiah, pointing to Jesus being the Messiah.

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

The phrase “these are written” (v. 31) refers to the miraculous signs that John did record as testimony to Jesus Christ being the son of God, so that people might believe.

John 17:20-21  I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. ▤ 

The unity of his followers in himself and God is a practical testimony from believers in all eras to others of Jesus’ claims, here in particular to him being sent by God. Note that in regard to the phrase “be in us”, some “ancient authorities read be one in us” (NRSV text note; cf. CEV, NCV).

. . . God himself testified to Jesus and his claims

See also:

Matt 3:16-17  And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him,k and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; 17and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son,l with whom I am well pleased.” ▤ 

k Some manuscripts omit to him

l Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

As well as God’s voice (v. 17), the Holy Spirit’s descent on Jesus “in bodily form, like a dove” (Luke 3:22) was effectively a testimony from God, being apparent not only to Jesus but also to John (cf. John 1:32) and so presumably also to others present.

Matt 17:5  He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son,m with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” ▤ 

m Or my Son, my (or the) Beloved

At Jesus’ transfiguration (cf. vv. 1-3) God repeated his testimony to Jesus given at Jesus’ baptism (cf. Matt 3:17 ).

John 5:37-39  And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, … ▤ 

The testimony of God referred to (v. 37) may be: the voice from heaven at Jesus’ baptism (cf. Matt 3:16-17 ); God’s word (vv. 38-39); or possibly the weighty testimony of the work that the Father had given Jesus (cf. v. 36). Irrespective of whether God’s word is in view in v. 37, the fact that the Scriptures are stated to bear witness about Jesus in v. 39 further points to God giving testimony to Jesus, through his word.

John 12:27-30  “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. ▤ 

God’s voice, in response to Jesus’ words, served to testify to and illustrate the authenticity of Jesus’ claims to being of God (as implied in v. 30). God’s words appear to mean that he had glorified his name through Jesus’ life, and would now do so again through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Note that the crowd as a whole did not recognize the voice for what it was (v. 29a), although some at least realized it was a supernatural voice (v. 29b).

Acts 2:22  Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know ▤ 

John 6:26-27  Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” ▤ 

God’s “seal” is thought by some commentators to refer to God’s authentication – his “seal of approval” (NIV®; cf. GNT) – of Jesus as the one who can give “food that endures to eternal life” (v. 27) by enabling him to perform miraculous signs (v. 26), such as miraculously providing physical food for thousands of people (cf. vv. 10-14). Alternatively it may be a more general reference to him being approved by God in being chosen and sent on his mission, or a reference to his anointment with the Holy Spirit.

John 8:17-18, 54  In your Law it is written that the testimony of two people is true. 18I am the one who bears witness about myself, and the Father who sent me bears witness about me.” ▤ 54Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’n ▤ 

n Some manuscripts your God

In saying that God witnessed to him (v. 18) and glorified him (v. 54), likewise bearing witness to him, Jesus may well have had his miracles primarily in view.

1Jn 5:9-11  If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ▤ 

Verse 1 gives the essence of God’s testimony. The verses preceding this passage (vv. 5-8) are generally understood to indicate that the testimony was given through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

John 1:51  And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,o you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” ▤ 

o The Greek for you is plural; twice in this verse

One interpretation of this verse is that Jesus is implying that the disciples would see heaven, or God, testifying to who he is. For further comment see God’s people have access to God through Jesus Christ – by the Holy Spirit.

Pray for persecuted Christians

Belief in Jesus Christ (III): Outcomes

Note that in conjunction with the following things being outcomes of believing in Jesus Christ, we are to believe in Jesus Christ for these things being granted to us, believing that he has made them possible by what he did. (This is reflected in some of the comments.)

We are forgiven of our sins and purified

See also:

We are to believe in Jesus Christ for God’s forgiveness of our sins. As such we are to believe Jesus Christ to be (with what he has accomplished) the means of forgiveness – and trust in him for the forgiveness of our own sins.

Acts 10:43  To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name. ▤ 

The term “his name” here speaks of Jesus Christ and what he has accomplished.

Acts 15:9  … and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. ▤ 

Acts 26:18  … to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. ▤ 

In association with being forgiven, believers receive a place among those who are “consecrated and purified by faith in Me” (AMP). As such, they become part of God’s holy people.

  • By faith people receive the benefits of the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ:

Rom 3:25a  … [Christ Jesus] whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. ▤ 

The term “propitiation” speaks of the wrath of God against guilty sinners being turned away or quenched. This only occurs through our sins being taken away by faith in what Jesus Christ accomplished through his death.

We are granted righteousness and justified before God

See also:

On being forgiven, we are made righteous and justified before God. We are to believe in Jesus Christ for all these things. Note that the theme of this subsection is dealt with in more detail in Righteousness Not by Law, but Faith in Jesus Christ, cross-referenced above.

Rom 1:17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,s as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”t ▤ 

s Or beginning and ending in faith

t Or The one who by faith is righteous shall live

Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 to support his assertion that one can only be deemed righteous by faith, implying by it that because of their faith the righteous will live. Note that the phrase “revealed from faith” appears to be speaking of this righteousness being revealed through faith, with the subsequent phrase “for faith” meaning either: that it is for those who have faith (cf. CEV); or that it is for having (ongoing) faith.

Rom 3:21-26  But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. ▤ 

The clause “to be received by faith” (v. 25) appears to speak of being “justified by his grace as a gift” (v. 24a).

Rom 5:1  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, weu have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. ▤ 

u Some manuscripts let us

Rom 10:6, 10  But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) ▤ 10For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. ▤ 

For comment on v. 6b, see the comment on Rom 10:1-10 – under . . . This is the way of the righteousness from God, who justifies by faith – not by law.

Gal 3:5-9, 24  Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justifyv the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. ▤ 24So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. ▤ 

v Or count righteous; also verses 11, 24

Just as Abraham believed God and was credited with righteousness, the same applies to those who believe, Abraham’s spiritual children. They have faith and so are blessed with justification along with Abraham (v. 9; cf. By faith Abraham was declared righteous and received the promise – and so will all who emulate him.)

Acts 13:38-39  Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 39and by him everyone who believes is freedw from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. ▤ 

w Greek justified; twice in this verse

Regarding the use of “freed”, as per the text note the Greek term can be translated as “justified” (NIV®, NKJV).

We are saved

Mark 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ▤ 

Note that baptism is an affirmation of one’s faith, rather than an additional requirement of salvation.

Luke 7:50  And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” ▤ 

Acts 16:30-31  Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” ▤ 

In v. 31 Paul and Silas tell their jailer that if he and his family believed in Jesus Christ they would be saved, i.e. those who believed would be saved (cf. AMP, CEV). Verse 34 tells of how he and his whole family came to faith.

Rom 1:16  For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. ▤ 

Rom 10:9  … because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ▤ 

The confession “Jesus is Lord” is a statement of one’s belief in him.

1Cor 1:21  For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. ▤ 

Eph 2:8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, … ▤ 

2Thes 2:13  But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruitsx to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. ▤ 

x Some manuscripts chose you from the beginning

The phrase “belief in the truth” refers to belief in the gospel message about Jesus Christ, believing its claims about him and what he accomplished.

1Tim 4:10  For to this end we toil and strive,y because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. ▤ 

y Some manuscripts and suffer reproach

The description of God as “the Savior of all people” implies that his salvation is open to all, but it only comes to fruition for “those who believe”.

2Tim 3:15  … and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. ▤ 

Heb 10:39  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. ▤ 

1Pet 1:8-9  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ▤ 

2Thes 2:10  … and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. ▤ 

We have eternal life

See also:

Those who believe in Jesus Christ have spiritual, eternal life. It begins when one believes and continues forever.

John 3:14-16, 36  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.z 16“For God so loved the world,a that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. ▤ 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ▤ 

z Some interpreters hold that the quotation ends at verse 15

a Or For this is how God loved the world

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ▤ 

In believing we move from the state of spiritual death to that of spiritual life, life that is eternal.

John 6:27-29  Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” ▤ 

By believing in Jesus Christ we do the “work” required for the spiritual food – found in Jesus himself (v. 27a; cf. v. 48-58 ) – that endures to eternal life.

John 6:40, 47-58  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” ▤ 47Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48I am the bread of life. 49Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the breadb the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” ▤ 

b Greek lacks the bread

There are two subtly different interpretations of what Jesus meant when he spoke metaphorically of “eating” of him, the bread of life, and drinking his blood, shed in his death. One is that it simply means to believe in him and depend on his death, for eternal life. The other is that it means to partake of Jesus Christ – including following him, trusting him and living in fellowship with him – for the sustenance of one’s life, which likewise leads to eternal life.

John 11:25-26  Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.c Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” ▤ 

c Some manuscripts omit and the life

Those who believe in Jesus Christ will live even though they die physically (v. 25b); in a spiritual sense they will never die (v. 26a).

John 20:31  … but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

1Tim 1:16  But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. ▤ 

1Jn 5:13  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. ▤ 

Rom 1:17b  “The righteous shall live by faith.”d ▤ 

d Or The one who by faith is righteous shall live

  • Through faith in the power of God we are raised with Jesus Christ:

Col 2:12  … having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. ▤ 

Through faith in God’s power we are raised with Jesus Christ in a spiritual sense, to spiritual life.

We become a child of God

See also:

John 1:12-13  But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ▤ 

When one is “born … of God” one is made alive spiritually, and begins a process of growing into God’s likeness.

Gal 3:26  … for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. ▤ 

1Jn 5:1  Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. ▤ 

Note that instead of meaning that being “born of God” is an outcome of believing Jesus is the Christ, this may more precisely mean that believing is evidence that one has been “born of God”.

We are given God’s Holy Spirit

See also:

John 7:38-39  Whoever believes in me, ase the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. ▤ 

e Or let him come to me, and let him who believes in me drink. As

Acts 11:17  If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way? ▤ 

The “gift” is the Holy Spirit (cf. v. 15).

Gal 3:2, 5  Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? ▤ 5Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— ▤ 

The rhetorical questions imply that one receives the Holy Spirit by belief – not by observing the law.

Gal 3:13-14  Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spiritf through faith. ▤ 

f Greek receive the promise of the Spirit

The latter part of v. 14 may seem like it is talking about having faith in receiving the Spirit. But as reflected by v. 2 above, its context shows that it is almost definitely meaning that if we have faith in Christ, we will receive the Spirit that God has promised (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

  • On believing, one is included “in” Christ – sealed by the Holy Spirit:

Eph 1:13  In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, … ▤ 

On hearing and believing the gospel we are included “in” Jesus Christ (cf. God’s People Are ‘in’ Jesus Christ) in whom we are marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, who is given to dwell within us.

Other results of believing in Jesus Christ

Rom 5:1-2  Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, weg have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2Through him we have also obtained access by faithh into this grace in which we stand, and wei rejoicej in hope of the glory of God. ▤ 

g Some manuscripts let us

h Some manuscripts omit by faith

i Or let us; also verse 3

j Or boast; also verses 3, 11

Verse 2a quite probably is referring to believers being justified and at peace with God (v. 1), a position in which they stand by grace. Note that this and the following two references (John 16:27; 1Jn 4:15) speak of aspects of the new, rich relationship that those who believe have with God.

John 16:27  … for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.k ▤ 

k Some manuscripts from the Father

1Jn 4:15  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. ▤ 

1Pet 1:8-9  Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ▤ 

Similarly Acts 16:34 speaks of the joy of the believing Philippian jailer: “And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.”

John 6:35  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. ▤ 

The phrases “shall not hunger” and “shall never thirst” indicate that one’s spiritual needs will always be satisfied.

John 12:36a, 46  While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” ▤ 46I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. ▤ 

The term “sons of light” (v. 36a) probably refers to living according to the light of Jesus’ teaching, and so increasingly bearing the characteristics of Jesus, “the light”. As such, one who trusts and believes in “the light” will not remain in spiritual darkness (v. 46).

1Jn 5:5  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? ▤ 

To “overcome the world” means to rise above its sinful way of life. This victory comes through believing that Jesus is the Son of God.

2Thes 1:10  … when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. ▤ 

On Jesus Christ’s return, he will receive glory “in his saints” who have believed. This glory will presumably be due to what they are (cf. NCV) and their praise of him (cf. CEV, GNT, NLT). Additionally, they shall marvel at him – no doubt with a sense of joy and delightful anticipation of all that awaits those who have believed in him.

Heb 4:1-3a  Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.l 3For we who have believed enter that rest … ▤ 

l Some manuscripts it did not meet with faith in the hearers

Likely the rest to be experienced in the afterlife is primarily in view, in which believers will be free of the struggles of this life.

  • Blessed are those who have not seen the risen Christ and yet have believed:

John 20:29  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ▤ 

Those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are condemned and do not have life . . .

See also:

Mark 16:16  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. ▤ 

John 3:18, 36  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ▤ 36Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. ▤ 

John 5:39-40  You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ▤ 

Verse 40 indicates that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ (cf. v. 28) do not have eternal life (cf. v. 39).

Acts 13:39-41, 46  … and by him everyone who believes is freedm from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about: 41“‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.’” ▤ 46And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. ▤ 

m Greek justified; twice in this verse

After saying “everyone who believes is freed” (v. 39), by way of implication Paul then gives a solemn warning of the consequences if his listeners did not respond in belief. He quotes Habakkuk 1:5 where God warned those who scoffed at his word that they would “perish”, in which they would be punished in a way that they never thought possible (v. 41). The “word of God” (v. 46) primarily refers to the gospel about Jesus Christ. To reject it is to spurn eternal life.

2Thes 2:9-12  The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ▤ 

In the NT “truth” (vv. 10, 12) is often identified with Jesus and the gospel, which would appear to be the case here. Those who do not believe in Jesus and the gospel message centered on him, will be condemned (v. 12) and perish (v. 10). Note that v. 11 mentions a further result of not believing, at the time of “the lawless one” (v. 9): God will judicially delude such people so that they will believe the falsehood stemming from the lawless one (cf. v. 4), probably the antichrist of the end time. This is applicable to all eras, in that those who do not believe in Jesus Christ are prone to believing what is untrue (cf. Titus 1:15 ).

Heb 3:18-19  And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. ▤ 

The Israelites – who in their unbelief disobeyed God – were prevented from entering the promised land where they were to experience God’s rest. In its context this reference implies that likewise those who refuse to believe the gospel will not enter God’s rest in the afterlife (cf. Heb 4:1-3a ).

1Jn 5:12  Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. ▤ 

The context (cf. vv. 6-13) indicates that to “not have the Son of God” is akin to not believing in him.

Rev 21:8  But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. ▤ 

The “faithless” may mean the “unbelieving” (NASB; cf. NCV, NIV, NKJV, NLT), hence the verse’s inclusion here. Alternatively it may be speaking of the “untrustworthy” (NASB text note).

Luke 20:17-18  But he looked directly at them and said, “What then is this that is written: “‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone’?n 18Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him.” ▤ 

n Greek the head of the corner

This ends “The Parable of the Tenants” (cf. vv. 9-16) in which Jesus portrayed the Jews’ rejection of him. Verse 18 is possibly referring to a saying of the time. It appears to mean that: like a pot that falls on a stone or one on which a stone falls, so everyone who rejects Jesus “the capstone” (v. 17) will be doomed (cf. NSB).

1Pet 2:7-8  So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”o 8and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. ▤ 

o Greek the head of the corner

Those who do not believe in Jesus, the “stone” (cf. Luke 20:17-18 ), “stumble”; as such they fail to obtain life. In v. 8b, “they disobey the word” is indicative of and alludes to not believing the message of Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, GNT, NLT).

John 8:24  I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins. ▤ 

The expression “die in your sins” probably refers to – or at least involves – dying without one’s sins being forgiven (cf. CEV), pointing to the consequences of eternal death.

. . . Further implications of not believing in Jesus Christ

See also:

John 5:38  … and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. ▤ 

John 8:46-47  Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. ▤ 

It can be inferred from this that those who did not believe do not belong to God (cf. John 10:26 ).

John 10:26  … but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock. ▤ 

This makes a similar point to 8:46-47 above, indicating that those who do not believe do not belong to Jesus Christ, not being of his “flock”.

John 16:8-9  And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; … ▤ 

This speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit who would convict the world of being guilty of sin by not believing in Jesus Christ. Thus it indicates that in not believing in Jesus Christ, one is in fact committing sin.

Titus 1:15  To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled. ▤ 

This associates not believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ with defiled “minds and … consciences”. Lack of belief leaves one vulnerable to such things, and accompanying false beliefs – such as what Paul has in view here. He is speaking in particular of people incorrectly believing some things to be morally impure.

1Jn 5:10-11  Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. ▤ 

  • Blessed are those who are not offended by Jesus:

Matt 11:6  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians

Reasons for Assurance

The verses in this section give reasons for assurance of things such as being saved and being in a close relationship with God – and as a consequence give assurance of being made right with God. Reasons for assurance of such things can also be found in the other sections of this chapter (particularly in Repentance and Belief in Jesus Christ (III): Outcomes) and in a number of parts of other chapters – notably in 13. Salvation through Jesus Christ; and in chapters 16-20 (e.g. God protects his people from all evil, including Satan; God and Jesus Christ keep their people as their own – until the end; and God strengthens them spiritually, until Jesus Christ’s return).

God’s word, including his promises

God’s word, including his promises (cf. Rom 4:16 ; Heb 6:12-19 ), gives great assurance to those who believe God. Numerous verses in this chapter are examples of God’s word providing assurance, for those who believe. Below are a few exemplary ones.

1Jn 5:10-13  Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. ▤ 

Believing the testimony God has given about his Son, in his word, brings assurance. For it means that one has the inner testimony (v. 10) that God has given us eternal life in Jesus Christ (vv. 11-12). Thus in believing God’s word and consequently believing in Jesus Christ, we can know that we have eternal life (v. 13).

John 20:30-31  Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. ▤ 

One can infer from this that in giving reason to believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (v. 31a), God’s word (such as John’s gospel) gives reason to believe and have assurance that we may have life through Jesus Christ (v. 31b).

Rom 4:16  That is why it [God’s promise to Abraham] depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, … ▤ 

The promise relates to an aspect/s of salvation (cf. By faith Abraham was declared righteous and received the promise – and so will all who emulate him; Heb 6:12-19 ). It comes by faith and so is “guaranteed” to all who have faith. So those who have faith have the assurance of such a guarantee – rather than facing the uncertainty of performing works, in adherence to the OT law, in the dubious hope of earning it (cf. vv. 1-15).

Heb 6:12-19  … so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. 13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” 15And thus Abraham,p having patiently waited, obtained the promise. 16For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, … ▤ 

p Greek he

The promise made to Abraham is here applied to all God’s people – “the heirs” (v. 17) – in regard to their salvation. God’s promise to Abraham and his confirmation of it with an oath – the “two unchangeable things” (v. 18) – gives believers strong hope and assurance that as Abraham’s spiritual heirs they will experience God’s consummate fulfillment of the promise.

Jesus Christ’s death and his ministry in his risen life

Rom 5:9-10  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. ▤ 

The final clause of each verse refers to Jesus Christ’s ongoing life and ministry for believers in his risen life.

Rom 8:34  Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.q ▤ 

q Or Is it Christ Jesus who died . . . for us?

For comment, see the comment on Rom 8:33-34 – under Note: God’s people are free from condemnation.

Heb 7:25  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermostr those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. ▤ 

r That is, completely; or at all times

Believers can be assured that Jesus Christ will save them completely (cf. text note) as he always lives to speak to God on their behalf.

Heb 10:19-22  Therefore, brothers,s since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. ▤ 

s Or brothers and sisters

The “holy places” (v. 19) alludes to God’s presence. The phrase “full assurance of faith” (v. 22) appears to refer to a full assurance “that comes from having faith” (CEV). The phrase “with our hearts sprinkled clean” (v. 22) alludes to the sprinkling of blood for ceremonially cleansing under the old covenant; in parallel Jesus Christ’s blood has in a sense “sprinkled” our hearts to cleanse us. The phrase “our bodies washed with pure water” (v. 22) is understood by some to be a reference to baptism, but more often it is seen as a reference to being made clean by Jesus’ sacrifice. The expression draws a parallel with the washing of the priests under the old covenant. Being cleansed as such by Christ’s death and having him as our priest (v. 21) – coupled with faith about the reality of these things – gives great assurance of being accepted into God’s presence.

  • It is God’s will that Jesus Christ will not lose any believer, but raise them to life at the end of the age:

John 6:39  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. ▤ 

Having the Holy Spirit

See also:

Note that one can be confident that God has given the Holy Spirit to them through evidence such as: indications of the “fruits” of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life (cf. Gal 5:22); having a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit (some of which are more obvious than others); and recognition of the Holy Spirit’s help, such as his empowerment or guidance. Moreover, one can sense or have an inner awareness of God, which is constant evidence of the Holy Spirit’s presence (cf. 1Jn 3:24 ; 1Jn 4:13 ).

Acts 15:8  And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, … ▤ 

The clause “bore witness to them” speaks of God accepting these people (cf. NCV, NIV, NLT).

Rom 8:15-16  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, … ▤ 

The Holy Spirit enables us to instinctively call on God as our Father (v. 15), engendering a relationship in which we love, enjoy and trust God as a Father. In conjunction with this the Holy Spirit assures our spirit that we are God’s children (v. 16).

Gal 4:6  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” ▤ 

Similar to Romans 8:15 above, this implies that as the Spirit who calls out “Father” is in the hearts of believers, they also participate in calling on God as “Father” – reflecting the fact that they are God’s children and assuring them that this is so (cf. Rom 8:16 ).

1Cor 2:12  Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. ▤ 

The “things freely given us by God” are all that by grace we have been given by God – which is inclusive of biblical truths and God’s blessings, notably salvation. Having an understanding of these things – through the Holy Spirit – gives one great assurance.

1Jn 3:24  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,t and Godu in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us. ▤ 

t Greek him

u Greek he

1Jn 4:13  By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. ▤ 

Rom 5:5  … and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ▤ 

Through the Holy Spirit, given to a person when they believe, God fills each of his people with his love. One can conclude from this that sensing this love of God for them – given through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit – gives believers a strong conviction that they are accepted by him.

  • Having the Holy Spirit is a guarantee of the fulfillment of God’s promises of the afterlife:

2Cor 1:21-22  And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, 22and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.v ▤ 

v Or down payment

This teaching is discussed more deeply in The Holy Spirit is God’s seal, guaranteeing what is to come.

Obeying God and doing what is right

See also:

1Jn 2:3-6  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. ▤ 

Note that apart from the last phrase, this passage is often translated to be referring to God rather than Jesus Christ (cf. CEV, GNT, NCV, NLT).

Acts 10:34-35  So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. ▤ 

Peter’s realization was largely focused on God’s acceptance of people from all nations, in contrast to only Jews. His words can nevertheless be readily applied to our need to realize and thus be assured that God accepts “anyone who fears him and does what is right”.

Heb 6:9-12  Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. 10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. 11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. ▤ 

We need to persist in doing the things God wants, things indicative of salvation (v. 9b) – such as serving other Christians, which also is indicative of love for God (v. 10). In doing so we will “have the full assurance of hope until the end” (v. 11).

1Jn 2:29  If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. ▤ 

Imitating God – notably his righteousness (cf. 1Jn 3:7, 10 ) – evidences that one has been born of him, having his characteristics. (Note that Jesus Christ may be in view here rather than God. The point being made is applicable to both.)

1Jn 3:7, 10  Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. ▤ 10By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. ▤ 

3Jn 1:11  Beloved, do not imitate evil but imitate good. Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God. ▤ 

Those who persist in doing good show themselves to be of God – “God’s children” (CEV, NLT; 1Jn 2:29 ; 1Jn 3:10 ).

Loving other Christians

See also:

1Jn 3:14, 18-20  We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. ▤ 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 19By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. ▤ 

Tangible facts should take precedence over our feelings. So “whenever our hearts condemn us” (v. 20a) the fact of our sincere actions of love (vv. 14, 18) should “reassure our heart before him” (v. 19), realizing that God knows the whole picture (v. 20b).

1Jn 4:7, 12, 16-19  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. ▤ 12No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. ▤ 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 19We love because he first loved us. ▤ 

Christian love for each other is a product of God’s love (cf. vv. 7, 12), including his love for us (cf. vv. 16, 19). Knowledge of such love drives out fear of judgment and punishment (vv. 17, 18) – they cannot coexist; they are incompatible, both logically and experientially.

In regards to the first statement in v. 16, interpretation of it depends on whether it is referring to the preceding verses (cf. 1Jn 4:14-16 ) or to what follows (v. 16b-17). Most modern translations imply the former, by having a paragraph break immediately after the statement, i.e. in the middle of the verse. However the latter is a possibility. Also a possibility is an integration of the two views: the statement may mean that we know the love God has for us by the evidence of our love for others (vv. 16b-17) and thus – knowing the extent of it (cf. vv. 14-15a) – we can believe or rely on it for assurance of having a right and close relationship with him.

  • The love a woman showed Jesus was proof that her sins had been forgiven:

Luke 7:44-50  Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49Then those who were at table with him began to say amongw themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” ▤ 

w Or to

Note that in v. 47a Jesus is saying that the woman’s great love showed that her many sins had been forgiven – rather than saying that it was the reason for why they were forgiven. It was in fact her faith that had saved her (v. 50).

Further reasons

John 6:37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. ▤ 

Jesus assures us that he will not reject anyone who comes to him.

Phil 1:6  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. ▤ 

This appears to be implying that the very fact that God had begun a good work in the Philippians gave Paul assurance that God would complete it, for God does not leave things unfinished. Seeing evidence of God’s work in our lives should likewise give us such assurance.

2Tim 1:12  … which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.x ▤ 

x Or what I have entrusted to him; Greek my deposit

If the alternative rendering in the text note is to be preferred (cf. NASB, NIV, NKJV, NLT, NRSV), then Paul would appear to be speaking of trusting God to guard his ministry and its fruits, along with himself – even through death. As such, this would be inclusive of Paul’s salvation. Knowing God, Paul was convinced that God would keep it secure.

1Jn 1:9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ▤ 

1Jn 2:28  And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. ▤ 

We can be sure that if we continue in Jesus Christ (cf. We live “in” Jesus Christ – and he in us – by faith . . .) we will be confident and unashamed before him on his return.

1Jn 4:14-16a  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. ▤ 

This gives two reasons for assurance – acknowledgement of Jesus with its implications (v. 15), and “the love that God has for us” (v. 16a). The latter quite possibly refers to God’s love demonstrated in sending his Son to save us (v. 14). Also bear in mind the comment on v. 16a in the previous subsection.

  • The sharing of our faith gives us a full knowledge of all we have:

Philem 1:6  … and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ.y ▤ 

y Or for Christ’s service

The phrase “the sharing of your faith” could be speaking of: the sharing in our faith with fellow believers, including the participation in and fellowship of our faith (cf. AMP, GNT, NASB); the sharing that is part of our faith, i.e. sharing of our possessions and/or ourselves with others (cf. NLT); or sharing what we believe with non-believers (cf. NIrV).

Note: God’s people are free from condemnation

John 3:18  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. ▤ 

John 5:24  Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. ▤ 

Rom 5:16-18  And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18Therefore, as one trespassz led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousnessa leads to justification and life for all men. ▤ 

z Or the trespass of one

a Or the act of righteousness of one

God’s people are no longer under condemnation as Jesus Christ’s work – his “act of righteousness” (v. 18) – has brought them righteousness and justification. Note that the gift (v. 16) is “the free gift of righteousness” (v. 17).

Rom 8:1-2  There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.b 2For the law of the Spirit of life has set youc free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. ▤ 

b Some manuscripts add who walk not according to the flesh (but according to the Spirit)

c Some manuscripts me

It is through the OT law that people are condemned – when they break its commands. So being free of the law one is not open to its condemnation. Note, however, that this interpretation is based on taking “the law of sin and death” (v. 2) to refer to the OT law; see the comment on Rom 8:2-3 – under We have been freed from the law to live by the Holy Spirit. Paul could instead be speaking of believers being set free from the controlling power of sin.

Rom 8:33-34  Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.d ▤ 

d Or Is it Christ Jesus who died . . . for us?

With the rhetorical question in v. 34a, Paul may simply be asking how anyone could condemn us – as in v. 33a – when Jesus Christ is at God’s right hand and interceding for us. However, it could be that the question has in view Jesus Christ (cf. AMP, NLT) as the judge and so therefore the one who will condemn the guilty. In this case too, believers would have no reason to fear condemnation as the one who pronounces condemnation is the very one who died for them and is now interceding for them.

Col 1:22  … he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, … ▤ 

When presented “holy and blameless and above reproach” before God, believers will clearly not face condemnation.

Ps 34:21-22  Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. 22The Lord redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. ▤ 

Condemnation in earthly courts may be in view. Even so, this is still applicable to condemnation (and freedom from it) before God.

Isa 50:8-9  He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 9Behold, the Lord God helps me; who will declare me guilty? Behold, all of them will wear out like a garment; the moth will eat them up. ▤ 

The term “adversary” in the context speaks of an “accuser” (NIV®; cf. CEV, GNT, NCV). This is a prophecy indicating that God would vindicate his servant, the Messiah, keeping him from accusation and condemnation. It has an application to all God’s people.

  • God’s people are holy and blameless in his sight:

Eph 1:4a  … even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. ▤ 

Pray for persecuted Christians