By Steve Ray

WITH COMMENTS IN BLUE BY WWW.BIBLESTUDYMANUALS.NET

[Ray]

My mother asked me, "How would you like fifty cents?" I responded very quickly, "I would like it very much." What a silly question to ask an eight year old. Of course I would like fifty cents. Fifty cents was a lot of money when I was a little boy. My mother continued, "Here is a Bible verse I want you to memorize, and when you can recite it perfectly, I will give you the money." And that is how I first learned and memorized some of the most well-known passages of the Bible. I memorized all of Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd . . . " I learned Psalm 119:105, "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path," which was a constant reminder of the Bible's place of preeminence in my life, the sole rule of faith and practice.

Of course the most important verse to be memorized by any Evangelical Protestant child is John 3:16. It is a verse that encapsules the Gospel of Christ in one elegant and pregnant sentence, a sentence that reaches to the heart of God and explains the essence of history and salvation in twenty-five short words. The key action words stand out with stark clarity: loved, gave, believe, perish, and have. We can possess (have) something because of God's act of love, and a response by man. The loving act of God in history, opened an otherwise locked and bolted door, providing man with an escape from damnation and an offer of eternal life.

No one comes to the Bible, or any other information for that matter, with complete objectivity, without a tradition and mindset by which the information is filtered. Before finding the Catholic Church last year, my wife and I, like our Evangelical friends, held to the fundamentalist traditions of belief in Christ and justification by faith alone. Recently I was approached by a Fundamentalist who said that "Abraham believed God and was made righteous (Gen. 15:6), and since the word believed is in the past tense, it meant that Abraham was saved in the instant He believed God. Abraham supposedly was saved and had eternal security from that point in time based upon his one-point-in-time mental assent. The Fundamentalist friend then moved to John 3:16 and tied Abraham's belief to our belief in Christ.

There is an interesting twist with this verse that seemed to elude my Fundamentalist friend. I asked him if he had ever looked carefully at the tense of the action words in John 3:16. He hadn't, and because his tradition tells him that one-time-belief is the basis of salvation, he automatically understood John to mean that by a momentary mental assent to Christ, one could be assured of eternal security and a guaranteed place in heaven. I dissected the verse to give him the information he lacked, and which I had lacked all my life before Catholic Church.

[RESPONSE]:

ANOTHER PASSAGE CANNOT CHANGE WHAT ANY OTHER PASSAGE SAYS

[Consider Ro 4:3]:

"What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

"believed" = "episteusen" = aorist, indicative mood

"it was credited" = "elogisthE" = aorist, indicative mood

Notice: Abraham believed God = completed action, a single moment of believing and then he received a completed action of being declared by God as righteous, i.e., saved unto eternal life.

If another verse says something different from the verses about Abraham being justified by faith once for all time that difference would not change what God declared about Abraham. There would simply be a conflict, a contradiction, and we would have a bible that contradicted itself. As a matter of fact though, when Jn 3:16 is honestly and more carefully considered, such is not the case.

[Ray, cont.]

First a note about the action words. In Greek, the language of the New Testament there are many tenses for verbs. We will discuss two: aorist and present. The Aorist tense describes one point in time. It is as simple as that. Present is the current, ongoing present action. It is also as simple as that. Aorist is represented by a point ( . ). Present is represented by a continuous line ( ----- ).

[RESPONSE]

ENGLISH AND FIRST CENTURY GREEK REQUIRES SPECIAL CONTEXT OR ADDITIONAL QUALIFYING WORDS TO MAKE PRESENT TENSE ACTION CONTINUOUS THROUGHOUT THE PRESENT

Present tense signifies action in present time for the duration of whatever the context indicates. The Greek present tense by itself does not automatically convey continuous action - nor does the English equivalent. It may or may not be continuous - depending upon the context and/or the presence of qualifying words. Present tense action in the absence of qualifiers demands a singular action in the present moment without requiring that it be continuous throughout the present. No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as 'continue to believe' without the necessary additional qualifiers to the present tense.

[Compare Hebrews 13:15]:

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name."

"anapherOmen ..thusian .aineseOs diapantos"

"we should offer sacrifice of praise continually"

Notice that "anapherOmen" = "we should offer" is present tense. Yet in order to emphasize continual action the word "diapantos" = "continually" must be inserted.

[Compare 1 Thes 2:13]:

"And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. "

"hEmeis eucharistoumen tO theO .....adialeiptOs" =

"we .......give thanks .............to God ..unceasingly"

Notice that "eucharistoumen" = "give thanks" is present tense, indicative mood. Yet in order to emphasize unceasing activity the word "adialeiptOs" = "unceasingly" must be inserted to picture unceasing action.

[Compare 1 Thes 5:16-18]:

(v. 16) "Be joyful always;

(v. 17) pray unceasingly;

(v. 18) give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

"adialeiptOs proseuchesthe" =

"unceasingly pray"

Notice that "proseuchesthe" = "pray" is present tense, imperative mood. Yet in order to emphasize unceasing activity the word "adialeiptOs" = "unceasingly" must be inserted to picture unceasing action.

[Compare Jn 3:16]:

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."

"whoever believes in Him" = "pas ho pisteuon" = lit, whoever [is] the believer, nominative particple, i.e., a noun

"should have eternal life" = "all echE zOEn aiOnion" = present tense verb (echE)

If the present tense were the verb in the original Greek text of John 3:16, "whoever believes" - and it is not, it is the noun, 'pas ho pisteuon' = whoever [is] the believer', then a special context and/or additional words such as "diapantos" = continually and the future tense 'will have eternal life' instead of 'have eternal life', must be inserted into the text in order to convey the idea of continuous believing in order to have eternal life.

Consider the individuals who are found guilty of various offenses before a magistrate in a court in the times of the ancient Roman Empire - New Testament times. The magistrate declares before the group of guilty people in koine Greek, the language of the New Testament, in a statement that directly parallels the second half of Jn 3:16, 'Whoever pays his fine shall not perish in jail, but have freedom to go, with his life.' Does the present tense of 'Whoever pays' demand continuous - uninterrupted payment of the fine in order for an individual to "have freedom to go, with his life?" The answer is obvious, the present tense does not always demand continuous uninterrupted action in the present.

Just as the payment of the Magistrate's fine was done once in present time such that it results in freedom - the payment not having to be continuous;

so the believing in Christ as Savior, when it begins in present time, immediately results in the aorist completed action of never perishing and the present tense reception of eternal life such that the believing need not continue in order to keep the result of never perishing and possession of eternal life continuous because the never perishing is a completed action and the eternal life by its very nature once received is continuously eternal.

[Ray, cont.]:

Now, with this simple understanding, lets look at John 3:16:

John 3:16 "For God so loved (aorist, a past point in time) the world, that he gave (aorist, a past point in time) his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (present, current, progressive action)

[RESPONSE]:

"WHOEVER BELIEVES" IN JN 3:16 IS A NOUN NOT A PRESENT TENSE VERB, SO A SINGLE MOMENT OF BELIEVING AND NOT A CONTINUOUS ONE IS THEREFORE IN VIEW IN ORDER FOR ONE TO BECOME A BELIEVER

"whoever believes" = "pas ho pisteuon" = relative pronoun "pas" = "everyone who" with a definite article "the" = "ho" + the present participle verb, 'pisteuon', functioning as a noun, lit. "everyone who is the believing one" = a believer.

["Syntax of New Testament Greek", Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 144]:

"The Substantival Participle

The participle, like an adjective, may be used in the place of a noun or other substantive. The participle itself then functions as a noun. Its case, gender, and number are determined by its use in the sentence. It may be used in most of the ways in which a noun is used, e.g. as a subject nominative, as a dative of indirect object, as an accusative of direct object, etc. It may be used with or without an aritcle. It always stands in the attributive position [following the article]."

[Compare Mark 6:14]:

"King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, 'John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.' "

"John the Baptist" = "iOannEs ho baptizOn" =

"ho baptizOn" = "the baptizing one" = present, active, participle as a noun = "the Baptist"

So "pas ho pisteuon" in Jn 3:16 = "everyone who is the believing one", i.e, everyone who is the believer at the moment one begins believing.

Just as John the Baptist was still considered the one who baptizes even while he was in jail, (Mt 14:8), and even after he was beheaded, (Mk 6:14 quoted above);

and just as Paul referred to the Corinthians as "sanctified in Christ Jesus", (v. 1:2), "in Christ", (v. 3:1) yet they were not acting faithfully at all, (3:3),

so a believer is legitimately referred to as a believer from the moment he trusts in Christ for eternal life, at which moment he receives possession - continuous and forever - of eternal life because possession of eternal life is forever.

[Dr. Robert Wilkin states, The Grace Report, Monthly Report of the Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx. ges@faithalone.org, Mar 1999, Notes and Letters, p. 4]:

'''The articular participle (= the article "the" [='ho'] plus a participle [pisteuon = believing] functions as a verbal noun. Thus ['ho pisteuon' =] 'the one who believes' does not mean ''he who keeps on believing and believing and believing' but means 'the believer.' [i.e., one who at some time exercised a single moment of faith alone in Christ alone].

Anyone who comes to faith in Christ is from that moment forward 'the believer.' '''

In other words, the nominative present participle has in view one who at some moment in present time exercised a single moment of faith in whatever is specified, in this case, trusting that God gave His one and only Son for one as a believer.

IF THE PHRASE "WHOEVER BELIEVES" WERE PRESENT TENSE, (AND IT IS NOT - IT IS A NOUN), THE CONTEXT WOULD DEMAND THAT IT BE IN THE AORISTIC PRESENT IN VIEW OF THE AORIST TENSES OF "GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD", "THAT HE GAVE HIS ONE AND ONLY SON", AND "SHOULD NOT PERISH"

The aoristic present tense presents the action as a simple event or as a present fact without any reference to its progress. []

The phrase "should not perish" in Jn 3:16 is in the aorist tense providing a completed state of never perishing

at the moment in the present one becomes the believer.

This is all as a result of the aorist tenses of God so loving the world that He gave His one and only Son. Since all of the above actions are completed action moments, the aoristic present "whoever believes" would be in view if ."whoever believes" in Jn 3:16 were to be in the present tense.

[Ray, cont.]:

Now, with this simple understanding, lets look at John 3:16:

John 3:16 "For God so loved (aorist, a past point in time) the world, that he gave (aorist, a past point in time) his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (present, current, progressive action)

[INCORRECT: It is a noun, not a present tense verb = 'pas ho pisteuon' = 'whoever (is) the believer']

in him should not perish (aorist, a past point in time),

[Notice, aorist tense = completed action in a point of time of not perishing when one becomes the believer. Completed action means just that: the believer will not perish ever!, tantamount to having eternal life forever]

but have (present, current, progressive action) everlasting life." (KJV).

[forever action of having everlasting life because possession of everlasting life is everlasting]

[RESPONSE]:

THE DURATION OF EVERLASTING LIFE ONCE RECEIVED IS EVERLASTING

The duration of everlasting life is not dependent upon the believer maintaining a continuous state of believing or the present tense verb "should have" to be continuous and everlasting but on the eternal characteristic of eternal life itself once it is received. Eternal life, after all, is eternal, so its possession is eternal.

THE AORIST TENSE "SHOULD NOT PERISH" IS A COMPLETED ACTION THAT PROVIDES A BELIEVER WITH A STATE OF NEVER PERISHING AT THE MOMENT HE BECOMES A BELIEVER

Notice that "should not perish" is in the aorist tense providing a completed state of never perishing at the moment one becomes the believer. A completed action of never perishing is thus not effected by whether or not the believing continues on after that. Furthermore, a completed action of never perishing is another way of saying one is in a state of having eternal life which immediately follows in parallel in Jn 3:16 after the connective word, "but" = "whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". The two are inseparable, you are never perishing when you have eternal life.

One would then ask the question, 'Why would a continuous state of believing be necessary if a completed action of the aorist tense of 'never perishing' resulted at the moment one becomes a believer?' Answer: it is not necessary.

If continuous believing were necessary to provide one with a state of not perishing then Jn 3:16 must be changed to read "whoever continuously believes in Him will not perish but will have eternal life."

[Ray, cont.]:

Interesting, uh? The present tense "that whosoever is believing in Him" puts a different light on the verse. One would expect the word believe to be aorist, to show it's a "once-and-for-all" act, a "one-point-in-time" event.

[RESPONSE]:

"SHOULD NOT PERISH" IS AORIST = COMPLETED ACTION OF NEVER PERISHING AS A RESULT OF THE FIRST MOMENT OF BELIEVING TO BECOME THE BELIEVER

Once one expresses that first moment of believing, he becomes "pas ho pisteuon" = "whoever is the believer" and immediately receives a completed state of never perishing, i.e., he has everlasting life forever. Never perishing = having everlasting life, same concept expressed in different words.

"WHOEVER BELIEVES" IS A NOUN NOT A PRESENT TENSE VERB = LIT. "WHOEVER IS THE BELIEVER"

The nominative participle 'pas ho pisteuon' = a noun, the believer has the same effect as the aorist tense: the initial moment of believing in Christ and one is immediately 'the believer' which then provides the result of aorist completed action tense state of never perishing and present tense possession of eternal life forever because never perishing is never and eternal life is forever.

[Ray, cont.]:

I used to say, "I believed in Christ on such and such a date so I know I am saved." But now I say, I did believe in Christ, I am believing in Christ and I am being saved." One could ask why Jesus switched to the present tense [noun not present tense] in a verse full of aorists. The present tense implies continually believing, a process of believing, and not the past mental assent I once thought.

[RESPONSE]:

OTHER SALVATION PASSAGES DO HAVE THE AORIST TENSE SUCH AS ACTS 16:31 WHICH INDICATES COMPLETED ACTION OF A MOMENT OF BELIEF IN ORDER TO BE SAVED UNTO ETERNAL LIFE

In Acts 16:31 the word rendered "believe" is aorist, a point action completed in a moment's time and salvation is then the promised result:

[Acts 16:30-31]:

30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

"Believe" = "pisteuson" = aorist, active, imperative.

"Will be saved" = "sOthEsE" = future, passive, indicative.

CONTINUOUS - UNINTERRUPTED SAVING FAITH IS NOT POSSIBLE WITH MAN EVEN IF IT IS IN VIEW IN JN 3:16 - AND IT IS NOT

Can an individual express saving faith in Christ as Savior continuously - without any interruption all his life even during moments when he is asleep - completely in unconscious sleep?

Suppose while in a deep sleep with your active mind unconscious, you no longer are continuously maintaining faith in Christ as Savior, you die in your sleep and then because of this unconscious lapse, wake up in Hell - after a long life of faithful service to God!!!!

Can an individual maintain perfect, uninterrupted saving faith in Christ as Savior throughout his waking day? Consider an accountant who is in deep concentration, keying in figures on a spread sheet making sure of his accuracy. Can he also be maintaining a deep concentration on trusting in Christ as Savior without interruption?

Have you ever lost your salvation during the moment when you are considering what to have for lunch instead of continuing to believe in Christ to save you - as your thoughts are not for the moment on Jesus Christ but on the Tuna Melt sandwich on the menu? What do you then need to to do to get it back? Is it really eternal life if you keep losing it every time your mind wanders to some other subject? Wouldn't it be better to call it 'For the Moment Life' rather than eternal life? And how do you get eternal life back after your momentary lapse?

IF CONTINUOUS UNINTERRUPTED ACTION IS ALWAYS REQUIRED OF THE PRESENT TENSE THEN SCRIPTURE TEACHES THAT NO ONE CAN BE SAVED - ALL WILL GO TO THE LAKE OF FIRE

[Compare 1 Jn 1:8]:

"If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."

The appeal to force the simple present tense to mean continuous action would lead to havoc in many passages in the New Testament. For example, 1 John 1:8 reads, "If we [born again believers] say that we have no sin [="ouk echomen" = present tense] we deceive ourselves". If this verse is rendered in the continuous mode, it would be read, "If we say that we do not continuously have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." This indicates that in spite of becoming born again believers there is no time in the believer's life that he can claim not to be living a lifestyle of continuous, unadulterated sin - no time for anything else!!!

[Ray, cont.]:

Notice that "have everlasting life" is also in the present tense. It does not say you will have eternal life in the past or future, but that you will currently be having eternal life.

[RESPONSE]:

ACTS 16:31 DOES STIPULATE THAT ONE WILL BE SAVED (FUTURE TENSE) AS A RESULT OF A COMPLETED ACTION MOMENT OF BELIEVING (AORIST TENSE) IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST

Note that Acts 16:31 does stipulate that one will be saved (future tense) as a result of a completed action of belief (aorist tense) in the Lord Jesus Christ:

[Acts 16:30-31]:

30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

"Believe" = "pisteuson" = aorist, active, imperative.

"Will be saved" = "sOthEsE" = future, passive, indicative.

[Ray, cont.]:

One Greek Grammar explains the present tense this way, says, "The present tense is basically linear or durative, ongoing in its kind of action. The durative notion may be expressed graphically by an unbroken line ( ), since the action is simply continuous. This is known as the progressive present. Refinements of this general rule will be encountered; however, the fundamental distinction will not be negated. He who is currently, habitually and continuously believing . . . will be currently and presently having eternal life. One needs to be careful with the interpretation of the Bible, for what what believes and understands has eternal consequences.

[RESPONSE]:

ENGLISH AND FIRST CENTURY GREEK REQUIRES SPECIAL CONTEXT OR ADDITIONAL QUALIFYING WORDS TO MAKE PRESENT TENSE ACTION CONTINUOUS THROUGHOUT THE PRESENT

(REFER TO THE FOOTNOTE SECTION AT THE END OF THIS STUDY FOR MORE INFORMATION )

Present tense signifies action in present time for the duration of whatever the context indicates. The Greek present tense by itself does not automatically convey continuous action - nor does the English equivalent. It may or may not be continuous - depending upon the context and/or the presence of qualifying words. Present tense action in the absence of qualifiers demands a singular action in the present moment without requiring that it be continuous throughout the present. No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as 'continue to believe' without the necessary additional qualifiers to the present tense.

THE PRESENT POSSESSION OF ETERNAL LIFE FOR THE ONE WHO IS THE BELIEVER IS FOREVER CONTINUOUS DUE TO THE QUALITY OF ETERNAL LIFE ITSELF BEING CONTINUOUS AND ETERNAL

The present possession of eternal life must be a forever possession, never to be lost. This is so not because of a verb tense or some continued action on the part of an individual but because the context of the word eternal itself which is everlasting. Once you have it you have it forever because it is forever!

[Ray, cont.]:

Does the word believe mean a mere mental assent. The biblical term believe can't be reduced to just a mental acceptance.

[RESPONSE]:

BELIEVE IN NT GREEK IS DEFINED AS MENTAL ASSENT

[The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, Wesley J. Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Ma, 1992, p. 329]:

"The New Analytical Greek Lexicon which is a dictionary of the koine Greek language of the Bible, (Wesley J. Perschbacher, Editor, Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Ma; 1992, p. 329), states as the meaning of the word pisteuo which is translated believe in the English Bible translations as follows:

"(4100)... [pisteuo] 1 pers. sg. pres. act. indic., fut... [pisteuso] ...to believe, give credit to, Mark 1:15; 16:13; Luke 24:25; intrns. to believe, have a mental persuasion, Matt. 8:13; 9:28; James 2:19; to believe, be of opinion, Rom. 14:2; in N.T. [pisteuein en, eis] to believe in or on, Matt. 18:6; 27:42; John 3:15, 16, 18; absol. to believe, be a believer in the religion of Christ, Acts 2:44; 4:4, 32; 13:48; trans. to intrust, commit to the charge or power of, Luke 16:11; John 2:24; pass. to be intrusted with, Rom. 3:2; 1 Cor. 9:17"

Note that the Greek word used in the Bible which is translated into forms of the verb 'to believe' is defined according to the Greek dictionary to mean a trust in the information presented, i.e., a mental assent - devoid of additional actions on the part of an individual other than the mental agreement.

BELIEVING UNTO ETERNAL LIFE ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE IS SIMPLY A MENTAL ASSENT, A MENTAL ACCEPTANCE - AN ACCEPTANCE OF THE TESTIMONY OF GOD ABOUT HIS SON:

[1 Jn 5:9-12]:

9 "We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son.

10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son.

11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life."

Accepting God's testimony that eternal life is in His Son, which is a mental assent that what God is saying about eternal life being in His Son is true, is equated with believing in God's testimony that eternal life is in His Son - which results in eternal life. So saving faith is indeed a mental assent.

[Ray. cont.]:

The word believe in biblical times carried with it the concept of obedience and reliance. Kittel says "pisteuo means 'to trust' (also 'to obey') . . ." Vines says, ". . . reliance upon, not mere credence . . ."

[RESPONSE]:

TO OBEY THE GOSPEL IS TO SIMPLY OBEY WHAT IS COMMANDED OF ONE: BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU WILL BE SAVED - ACTS 16:31 - A SINGLE MOMENT OF MENTAL ASSENT

[Compare Heb 5:9b]:

"He [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him."

"obey" = "hupakouousin" = a word which, depending upon the context, may have obedience in deed in view and/or obedience in mental response. The Ten Commandments, for example, prohibit a number of mental attitude sins, such as coveteousness. To disobey one of these mental attitude commandments is to have that mental attitude of coveteousness - no actual deeds required! If one believed that coveteousness was a sin and did not practice such a mental attitude, then one was obeying that commandment within one's mind, and without any actions.

And what is it that we are to obey relative to salvation:

[Acts 16:30-31]:

(v. 30) "He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'

(v. 31) They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household.' "

Answer: an aorist tense completed action moment of mental assent in Jesus Christ and you will be saved unto eternal life.

[Compare 1 Pet 1:17-23]:

(v. 17) "Since you [believers, v. 18] call on a Father Who judges each man's work impartially, [relative to rewards, 1 Cor 3:11-15] live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

(v. 18) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.

[Notice the word "redeemed". The subject is salvation. Peter is reminding Jewish believers that they were saved not by things nor by their "empty way of life", i.e., by trying to be saved by the deeds of the Law handed down by their forefathers but they were saved by the blood of Jesus Christ]:

(v. 18 cont.) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers.

(v. 19) but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

(v. 20) He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. [And the basis upon which the blood of Christ saved you, Peter says to fellow believers, is faith, i.e., belief in the gospel of salvation]:

(v. 21) Through Him you believe in God, Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him, and so your faith and hope are in God [relative to salvation unto eternal life]

(v. 22) Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart."

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth" = Now that you have received perfect righteousness, i.e., purification unto eternal life by "obeying the truth" = by believing in the gospel of salvation, (cp v. 21).

(v. 23) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring Word of God."

So obeying the truth according to Scripture is believing in it. Verse 21 states that believing in God, in what He did relative to His Son: His Son's death, burial, resurrection and glorifiication (the Gospel of salvation) will result in purification, i.e., eternal life. And verse 22 describes this action of believing in the gospel of salvation as "obeying the truth." Then verse 23 confirms that the subject is being born again, i.e., salvation.

[Ray, cont.]:

This is confirmed further by John the Baptist's statement in John 3:36 "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (apeitheo) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (KJV) The work apeitheo is understood by all good translators and commentators to mean obedience. The opposite (antonym) of believe is disobey. The verse in the RSV says "He who believes ("is believing", present tense) in the Son. . . he who disobeys ("is disobeying" present tense) the Son . . . " The NASB translates the verse like this: "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him". Kittel, a Protestant reference work, clearly defines apeitheo to mean "to be disobedient." The word belief has the element of obedience wrapped in its arms and the opposite of biblical belief is disobedience.

[RESPONSE]:

JOHN 3:36 DOES NOT INDICATE ANYTHING MORE THAN TO BELIEVE IN CHRIST AND YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE AND IF YOU DISOBEY THIS COMMAND TO BELIEVE THEN YOU DO NOT HAVE ETERNAL LIFE. IT DOES NOT ADDRESS THE IDEA OF AN OBEDIENT LIFESTYLE AT ALL

[Jn 3:36]:

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, [but] whoever rejects the Son will not see life for God's wrath remains on Him."

1) "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life" = "Whoever believes" = "ho pisteuon" = "pisteuon" = nominative participle = "the believing one", i.e., the believer.

Contrary to objectors who insist that Jn 3:36 stipulates that one must maintain a constant state of believing as result of the phrase "He who believes" = "ho pisteuon", the form of the verb to believe is not a present tense form but it is actually a nominative, singular, masculine, present active participle, i.e., a participle acting as a noun indicating "one who believes" [in Christ as Savior], i.e., a believer.

["Syntax of New Testament Greek", Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 144]:

"The Substantival Participle

The participle, like an adjective, may be used in the place of a noun or other substantive. The participle itself then functions as a noun. Its case, gender, and number are determined by its use in the sentence. It may be used in most of the ways in which a noun is used, e.g. as a subject nominative, as a dative of indirect object, as an accusative of direct object, etc. It may be used with or without an aritcle. It always stands in the attributive position [following the article].

[Compare Mark 6:14]:

"King Herod heard about this, for Jesus' name had become well known. Some were saying, 'John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.' "

"John the Baptist" = "iOannEs ho baptizOn" =

"ho baptizOn" = "the baptizing one" = present, active, participle as a noun = "the Baptist"

So "ho pisteuon" in Jn 3:36 = "the believing one" = the believer at the moment one begins believing.

Just as John the Baptist was still considered the one who baptizes even while he was in jail, (Mt 14:8), and even after he was beheaded, (Mk 6:14 quoted above);

and just as Paul referred to the Corinthians as "sanctified in Christ Jesus", (v. 1:2), "in Christ", (v. 3:1) yet they were not acting faithfully at all, (3:3);

so a believer is legitimately referred to as a believer from the moment he trusts in Christ for eternal life, at which moment he receives possession - continuous and forever - of eternal life because possession of eternal life is forever.

Therefore, Jn 3:36 stipulates that the believer, i.e., one who has expressed a belief in the Son for eternal life "has eternal life" which must by definition be eternal and even lapses in faith cannot take away that which is permanent and eternal in duration once it has begun in the believer.

[Jn 3:36 cont.]:

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, whoever rejects the Son will not see life for God's wrath remains on Him."

2) "but whoever rejects the Son will not see life for God's wrath remains on Him." =

This second half of verse 36 is the opposite of the first half = the opposite result of believing and having eternal life. Therefore not ever having become a believer is in view in order to not see [eternal] life and remain under God's wrath:

"but whoever rejects the Son" = "ho de apeithon" = lit., "but the one disobeying" = "apeithon", pres., active participle noun = but the unbeliever.

["A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature", Arndt & Gingrich, 2nd Ed., 1958, Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, p. 82]:

''' "apeithon" = "disobedience... a refusal to believe the gospel... [to] disbelieve, be an unbeliever''' = root word: "apeitheO", Str #544.

[The Unbound Bible Lexicon, http://unbound.biola.edu/strongs/index.cfm?lang=English]

Strong's Lexicon - GREEK "apeitheO", Str. #544 =

"Total Occurrences: 16 KJV Word Usage:

believe not (8) , disobedient (4) , obey not (3) , unbelieving (1) from 545 ; TDNT-6:10,818; v Definition:

1) not to allow one's self to be persuaded 1a) to refuse or withhold belief 1b) to refuse belief and obedience 2) not to comply with"

[Compare Acts 19:8-9]:

(v. 8) "Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.

(v. 9) But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus."

"they refused to believe" = "Epeithoun" = Imperfect, indicative, Str #544, root word: "apeitheO" [same as Jn 3:36]

[Robert N. Wilkin states, 'Confident in Christ', Grace Evangelical Society, Irving, Tx, 1999, pp. 172-173]:

"The fact that the two halves of verse 36 are antithetical (opposites) makes it easier to understand what.. [the speaker] ...was saying. The first half deals with eternal salvation, the second with eternal condemnation. The condition of eternal salvation is believing in Christ. The condition for eternal condemnation, we would expect, is failing to believe in Him.... In this and other contexts... the Greek verb 'apeitheo' is an antonym of "pisteuo", referring to disbelief... This word 'apeitheo' is consistently used in the New Testament to refer to the disobedience of unbelief."

So to disobey the command to believe is to disbelieve.

[Jn 3:36 cont.]:

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, [but] whoever rejects the Son will not see life for God's wrath remains on Him."

3) "for God's wrath remains on Him." = This very last phrase of the verse has the word "remains" which signifies that the individual never had eternal life in the first place in order for God's wrath to remain on him, i.e., he never began believing in Christ at any time so that he could be out from under God's wrath.

So the second part of Jn 3:36 refers to those who never ever believed and so remain under condemnation. Notice faith alone saves and never having believed causes one to remain under God's wrath.

[Ray, cont.]:

One cannot consider themselves to be biblical if they teach salvation by mental assent (which amounts to cheap grace) without the subsequent and corollary present and ongoing obedience.

[RESPONSE]:

GRACE IS NOT CHEAP IT IS FREE - NO STRINGS ATTACHED

Grace is not cheap it is free - no obligation - no strings attached. The grace of God which saves an individual is not from anything the individual does, it is a gift, not by works:

[Compare Eph 2:8]:

(v. 8) "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -

(v. 9) not by works, so that no one can boast."

[Compare Ro 11:6]:

"And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."

[Notice that if you insert works into a grace operation it cancels the grace entirely]

[Compare Ro 3:21-24]:

(v. 21) "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

(v. 22) This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference,

(v. 23) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

(v. 24) and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."

So salvation is by "grace" = "chariti" = unrecompensed and unmerited favor - it is free! One is "justified freely" = "dikaioumenoi dOrean", i.e., you do - NOTHING - to receive your salvation at any time and have nothing to offer to recompense God for it at anytime - it is totally free. This PRECLUDES - EXCLUDES - PROHIBITS - any contribution on ones part for any reason; for that would lead to a meritorious situation canceling out the grace basis of God's offer of salvation and continuining one under God's eternal condemnation.

Furthermore, if salvation by a one time mental assent without ongoing obedience is unbiblical then Acts 16:31 (aorist: believe), John 3:16 (noun: believer), Eph 2:8-9 (perfect participle + present: saved by faith), and hundreds more passages which stipulate a moment of faith and you are saved, i.e., have eternal life forever - these passages must be stricken from God's Word including the ones Mr. Ray mentioned about Abraham being justified by a moment of faith.

[Ray, cont.]:

My Fundamentalist friend has never responded to the explanation of these verses. I hope someday he will see past the high walls of his Fundamentalist traditions and see the great beauty of the Church and her past. The wall is very difficult to peer over, but many of us have done it. Many of us have not merely peered over the great barrier, we have actually climbed and struggled, finally scaling the barrier and finding the glory of the Catholic Church.

[RESPONSE]:

Why not simply do what the Philippian jailer did when he asked Paul, 'What must I do to be saved.'

[Acts 16:30-31]:

(v. 30) "He [the Philippian jailer] then brought them [Paul and Silas] out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

(v. 31) They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

"Believe" = "pisteuson" = aorist, active, imperative = single moment action.

"Will be saved" = "sOthEsE" = future, passive, indicative = completed action when one believes in a single moment.

[Ray, cont.]:

***********************************************************************

Endnotes:

1. Aorist Tense: The aorist tense is characterized by its emphasis on punctiliar action; that is, the concept of the verb is considered without regard for past, present, or future time. There is no direct or clear English equivalent for this tense, though it is generally rendered as a simple past tense in most translations. The events described by the aorist tense are classified into a number of categories by grammarians. The most common of these include a view of the action as having begun from a certain point ("inceptive aorist"), or having ended at a certain point ("cumulative aorist"), or merely existing at a certain point ("punctiliar aorist"). The categorization of other cases can be found in Greek reference grammars. The English reader need not concern himself with most of these finer points concerning the aorist tense, since in most cases they cannot be rendered accurately in English translation, being fine points of Greek exegesis only. The common practice of rendering an aorist by a simple English past tense suffices in most cases.

[RESPONSE]:

And in view of the punctiliar - completed action of the aorist tense, consider Acts 16:31:

[Acts 16:30-31]:

30 He then brought them out and asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved--you and your household."

"Believe" = "pisteuson" = aorist, active, imperative = one time action of believing.

"Will be saved" = "sOthEsE" = future, passive, indicative = future guarantee of eternal life.

[Ray, cont.]:

2. Present Tense: According to Dana and Mantey in their A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament "The fundamental significance of the present tense is the idea of progress. It is the linear tense . . . the progressive force of the present tense should always be considered as primary, especially with reference to the potential moods, which in the nature of the case do not need any "present punctiliar" tense . . ." Narrowing it down further they say, "There are three varieties of the present tense in which its fundamental idea of progress is especially patent. Under The Progressive Present "This use is manifestly nearest the root idea of the tense. It signifies action in progress , or state of persistence . . ." In short the present tense expresses ongoing action in the present time.

[RESPONSE]:

ENGLISH AND FIRST CENTURY GREEK REQUIRES SPECIAL CONTEXT OR ADDITIONAL QUALIFYING WORDS TO MAKE PRESENT TENSE ACTION CONTINUOUS THROUGHOUT THE PRESENT

Present tense signifies action in present time for the duration of whatever the context indicates. The Greek present tense by itself does not automatically convey continuous action - nor does the English equivalent. It may or may not be continuous - depending upon the context and/or the presence of qualifying words. Present tense action in the absence of qualifiers demands a singular action in the present moment without requiring that it be continuous throughout the present. No first century Greek reader or hearer was likely to get a meaning such as 'continue to believe' without the necessary additional qualifiers to the present tense.

[From: "Syntax of New Testament Greek" in {} brackets, Brooks & Winbery, 1979, University Press, Lanham, Md, pp. 82-90]:

{DESCRIPTIVE PRESENT

This category is sometimes referred to as the progressive present of description. This use of the present describes what is now actually taking place. It might even be called the pictorial present. It depicts an action in progress.}

[Mt 8:24-25]:

(v. 24) "Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.

(v. 25) The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

"We're going to drown" = "apollumetha" = lit., "we are perishing", (i.e., going to drown), ..............................................................present, indicative

Notice that the context indicates that one is approaching the point of perishing in the water during the ongoing storm. But they are not yet in the water, nor drowning as yet. But the possibility of drowning is imminent. So the context is dictating the action of the verb "apollumetha" = "we are perishing" which is not a literal continuous scenario of perishing in the water as yet, i.e., continuous action is not in view here.

[1 Jn 2:8]:

"The darkness is passing away and the true light already is shining."

"is passing away" = "paragetai" = present, indicative mood

"is shining" = "phainei" = present, indicative mood

Notice that continuous action is in view here - but an end is in sight as the context indicates, i.e., when the light is completely shining.

{DURATIVE PRESENT

Some grammarians call this the progressive present. An action or a state of being which began in the past is described as continuing until the present. The past and the present are gathered up in a single affirmation. An adverb of time is often used with this kind of present, but a verb alone is sometimes sufficient as in the final example given below. This use of the Greek present is usually translated by the English present perfect. Although impractical to bring out in English translation, the full meaning is that something has been and still is.}

[Luke 13:7]:

"Behold, I have been coming for three years seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I have found none."

"I have been coming" = "erchomai" = lit., "am coming", present, indicative

"I have found none" = "ouch heuriskO" = lit., "am finding", present, indicative

Note that context establishes that the action portrayed is not absolutely continuous to the extent that when it has begun, it is unceasing; but it is an action which is nevertheless ongoing in a repetitive manner - He comes one time, and then another and another comes, goes and then comes again.

[2 Cor 12:7-9]:

(v. 7)"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.

(v. 8) Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.

(v. 9) He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in weakness."

"is sufficient" = "arkei" = present, indicative

"is made perfect" = "teleitai" = present, indicative

Notice that the context indicates continuous action which began in the past and continues in the present - very similar to the perfect tense.

{ITERATIVE PRESENT

The iterative present depicts an action which is repeated at various intervals. It might be illustrated by a series of dots (....) rather than a straight line (_______). Sometimes the repetition takes the form of a local, as opposed to universal, custom or practice. It is necessary to distinguish this use from those statements of universal truth called 'gnomic'...}

[1 Cor 11:26]:

"As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord."

"you proclaim" = "kataggellete" = present, indicative

[Notice that the context established by "as often as you eat and drink" establishes the repetitive action of "you proclaim" which is distinctly not continuous]

{TENDENTIAL PRESENT

The present tense is sometimes used to indicate an action being contemplated, or proposed, or attempted but which has not actually taken place. The name is derived from the intention to produce the desired result. Other grammarians call this the conative present or the inchoative present. An auxiliary verb such as 'attempt,' 'try,' 'go,' or 'begin' may be used in the translation.}

[Gal 5:2-4]:

(v. 2) "Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.

(v. 3) Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

(v. 4) You who are trying to be justified by law [i.e., works of righteousness such as circumcision] have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace."

"are trying to be justified" = "dikaiousthe" = lit., "are being justified", present, indicative.

Note: continuous action in the present of attempting to be justified is in view as a result of the context indicating that one cannot be justified by law = works of righteousness.

{GNOMIC PRESENT

The gnomic present is used to express a universal truth, a maxim, a commonly accepted fact, a state or condition which perpetually exists, and a very widespread practice or custom. The time element is remote even in the indicative mood because the action or state or truth is true for all time - the past and future as well as the present. Such words as 'always,' 'ever,' and 'never' are often used in the translation.

In attempting to determine whether a present which depicts a custom or practice is iterative or gnomic, the following should be taken into consideration. If the custom or practice is local in nature and/or is confined to a comparatively brief period, the present is iterative. If the custom or practice is widespread and/or extends over a comparatively long period of time the present is gnomic. It should also be remembered that the iterative present expresses linear action, the gnomic punctiliar action.}

[Matt. 7:17]:

"Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."

"bears" = "polei" = present, indicative

Note: The action indicated by "polei" is not continuous in the sense that it is unceasing in the present moment. When the good tree produces fruit, it is produced in season, in the present moment - the length and quality of that production being indeterminate except that it produces good fruit as opposed to bad fruit every time - but not without ceasing.

{HISTORICAL PRESENT

For the sake of vividness or dramatic effect a writer sometimes imagines that he and/or his readers are present and are witnessing a past event. He narrates the past event as though it were actually taking place. The present tense is used for this purpose. The historical present is frequently found in Mark and John. It is ordinarily translated into English by the simple past tense.}

[Mt 3:1]:

"In those days John the Baptist appeared. [lit. arrives, appears]"

"appeared" = "paraginetai" = lit., "appears", present, indicative

{FUTURISTIC PRESENT

The present tense is sometimes used for confident assertions about what is going to take place in the future. The event, although it has not yet occurred, is looked upon as so certain that it is thought of as already occurring. The futuristic present is often used in prophecies. A test for this use is the ability to translate the Greek present with an English future, though the future, will not always be used in the translation.}

[Jn 14:1-3]:

(v. 1) "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.

(v. 2) In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

(v. 3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

"I will come" = "erchomai" = lit., "am coming", present, indicative.

Notice that the context indicates not a present continuous action but a future action.

{AORISTIC PRESENT

What is here called the aoristic present and what some grammarians call the specific or effective present involves a simple expression of undefined action in the present time without any of the more developed implications of the gnomic, historical, or futuristic presents. The aoristic present presents the action as a simple event or as a present fact without any reference to its progress. By the nature of the case the verb "eimi" is often an aoristic present.}

[Mk 2:3-5]:

(v. 3) "Some men came, bringing to Him [Jesus] a paralytic, carried by four of them.

(v. 4) Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.

(v. 5) When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, 'Son, your sins are forgiven.' "

"are forgiven" = "aphientai" = lit. "are forgiven", present, indicative

Notice that there is an action in the present tense established by the context as not continuous but simply a moment in the present.

3. New Testament Greek (James Hewitt, B.A., B.D., M.A., Ph.D.; Hendrickson Publishers; 1986, page 13)

4. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament by Gerhard Kittel, a renowned Protestant theological dictionary of ten volumes. Eerdmans, 1968

5. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vines (TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1984)

Steve Ray, http://www.catholic-convert.com