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Jesus Didn't Say, "Believe in me." - Part Two
In Part One of this series, I examined the problem with translating the Greek phrase, “believe in me,” the same as “believe me.” In English, the main difference between the two phrases are that “believing in” something means we believe in its existence like children “believe in” Santa Claus. This makes sense after Jesus lived because some people didn’t and don’t believe that Jesus existed. However, when he lived, he had no need to ask others to trust that he existed. This “believe in” phrase isn’t used commonly in Greek or in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, to refer to trusting someone or something, which is said without the preposition.
Jesus uses this phrase to say something specific about his kind of trust. What could he be saying that is different than “trusting him?” Is there an idea that makes sense in all of the eleven verses in which he uses this phrase? Yes, there is one that makes perfect sense, but it is something that is very hard for us to do. However, it is also what he claimed was the secret to accessing his level of Divine power, which should be a difficult thing to do. (This rest f article will become public in a month.)
The key word here is the preposition, eis (εἰς), which in addition to “into” a place, can also mean "as much as” a measure," "as far as” a limit," and "for” a purpose. As the earlier article explained, this preposition always implies movement. The stationary “in” is a different Greek word that Jesus uses to mean “remain in” or “stay in” something. This “in” is a “go in” or “put in” implying movement.
I humbly suggest that Jesus used this phrase with the verb “believe” or “trust” to mean “as much as” me. This implies movement. For example, if I said, “I wanted to put my trust in the Divine into my children,” I would be saying that I want them to trust as I do. When Jesus says “trust in me,” he is saying, “In regards to how you trust, turn into me.” This implies movement as change.
Let us look at how this works in some of the eleven verses in which Jesus uses this phrase. Since I started this journey analyzing, John 14:12, and it is important, let us see if replacing the “in” with “as much as” makes better sense.
Literal: Honestly, honestly I tell you, the one trusting as much as me, the deeds that I myself perform, that one there will perform. And greater than these he will perform because I myself go before the Father.
He is saying that we don’t get power by just trusting Jesus, but by trusting as much as he does. The standard must be higher than simply believing he exists. If we cannot do what he did, the problem is that we don’t trust as much as he did. This is a very high standard, but one that some saints have reached. This is why he commonly tells those who are healed that their trust was what healed them.
Another example is Matthew 18:6
KJV: But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me…
Literal: The one, however, when he trips up one of these little ones, these ones, these trusting as much as me?
He isn’t saying that the only children people should not abuse are those who believe Jesus existed. He is saying what he always says: all children are exemplars of trust that we should emulate. They trust as much as he does. This is why he describes himself as “the child of the man” (see this article).
KJV: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Literal: And everyone living and trusting as much as me should never die in this age.
We do die in this age and unlike Jesus are not immediately resurrected to see those we left behind. Why not? We don’t trust as much as he did.
KJV: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.
Literal: I have started a light in this society so that every one trusting as much as me might not want to remain in this darkness.
Trusting like Jesus is the key to enlightenment. It makes us what more light.
KJV: Of sin, because they believe not on me;
Literal: Of mistakes, on one hand, because they do not trust as much as me.
It is a mistake not to trust as much as Jesus did. Our mistakes in justice and judgment (a recent article topic) come from our lack of trust.
KJV: He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
Literal: The one trusting as much as me, as it said, those Writings, rivers from that inside of his should stream of living water.
Trusting as much as Jesus should cause us to gush.
KJV: I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Literal: I myself am the awakening and the living. The one trusting as much as me, even though he might have died will be alive.
Trusting as much as Jesus makes us alive. Without trust, we are dead. This is true even before we stop breathing.
More Complex Verses
No matter how well translating eis as “as much as” usually works when referring to Jesus, it doesn’t always work because there are two verses, (John 14:1) and (John 12:44) where Jesus use eis to refer to trusting “in the Divine” and “in the one who sent me” respectively. I don’t see Jesus as asking us to trust as much as the Divine. So what does Jesus mean by this? Is my entire “as much as” analysis wrong? Maybe it is, but trust me for a moment longer.
We must remember Jesus’s love of wordplay. That is what is going on in this two verses. The Greek word eis has another meaning when applied to a limit. It means “as far as.” Does this translation add more sense to these verses? Let us see.
KJV: He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.
Literal: Someone trusting as much as me, doesn't trust as much as me, but as far as the one sending me.
The first part of this verse signals that Jesus is having fun with us by stating something and then denying it. The meaning of eis changes to “as far as” because “the one sending me” is a reference to distance or a limit. It is also philosophically interesting because it describes “the one sending” as a limit or boundery, something for which we reach.
This leaves one last verse, a very popular one, John 14:1
KJV: Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
Literal: It mustn't be agitated, that heart of yours. Trust as far as the Divine and as much as me you trust.
There are two “trust” verbs in that sentence, one referring to the Divine and another Jesus uses to refer to himself. This indicates to me that he is referring to two different types of trust here. Remember, Jesus describes the Divine as “the father in the skies.” It is this height above us that separates us from God. We must trust as far as the skies to trust as much as Jesus.
Today’s religious leaders focus on trusting “in Jesus,” that is, trusting that he exists. This is not what Jesus asked of those hearing him. He asked them to trust “as much as” he did. Jesus sets a high standard for us in his teaching. Has that standard declined today so we only have to trust that he exists? Well, are we disappointed that we cannot perform the kind of miracles that Jesus did?
Perhaps trusting that Jesus exists is not enough for that kind of power. We must trust as much as he does. Of course, we can have that level of trust only when we want to do what the Father wants us to do. Do we trust as much as Jesus that we know the Father’s purpose for us? That is the limit.