The Difference Between “Believing In” and “Believing Into” Jesus in John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that every one who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.”

Have you ever wondered why John 3:16 in the New Testament Recovery Version says “believes into Him” instead of “believes in Him?”

The New Testament was written in Greek, the common language in the land at the time. In the original Greek, in and into are different words. Into is used not only in John 3:16, but also in other verses in the New Testament. The New Testament Recovery Version accurately translates this Greek word into English as “into.”

We might ask, “Does it really matter whether it’s translated as into or in? Don’t we get the general gist either way?” With regard to Bible translation, accuracy is of utmost importance, and the faithful translation of even a seemingly small word is actually quite significant. In this verse, the word “into” tells us something crucial about our relationship with Jesus Christ.

So, what is this crucial difference between believing in and believing into, and why does it matter?

Two ways of believing

To believe in Christ is to believe that He exists, to believe that He is true and real. You don’t have to be born again, or regenerated, to acknowledge that Christ is real. We can see from Matthew 8:29 and Acts 19:15 that even the demons know that Jesus exists and believe He is the Son of God. So, while believing in Jesus is important, the New Testament uses the Greek word for “into” for a reason.

To believe into Christ is to receive Him and be joined to Him or united with Him. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the authority to become children of God, to those who believe into His name.” This verse equates believing into His name with receiving Him. So believing into involves something more than a mental knowing or acknowledging; it involves a spiritual receiving. Let’s look a little further at what this means.

To believe into is to receive

When presented with a freshly baked apple pie, you could react in two ways. One way is that you look at it and believe it’s an apple pie. You believe that apples and sugar and flour went into the making of it and that it went through a process of baking to be ready for you to eat. You even believe that it tastes good. This is to objectively believe that the pie exists and that it’s a good, tasty apple pie.

But another way to react is that you take a bite. As you eat the pie, you receive it. You know that the pie exists, but you have more than objective knowledge because you’re taking it in. You subjectively experience the pie as more than an object existing on the table; you enjoy its pleasant taste and texture, and your hunger is satisfied. The pie is no longer outside of you; you’ve received it, and as you digest it, it becomes one with you!

When we believe into Christ, we can taste Him and take Him into us. This is much more meaningful, and even crucial, than merely thinking about Him and believing that He is real.

Being joined to and united with Him

To believe into Christ is not only to receive Him into us, but also to be joined to Him, the One into whom we have believed. Our believing into Him is our entering into Him.

To illustrate this, think of a swimming pool. You can walk around the edge, looking at the water. You can see it’s a real pool, with real water. This is believing in the pool.

But when you dive into the pool, you get into the water and are covered and surrounded by it. You’re no longer just looking at the pool, thinking about how pleasant the water seems. You’re in the water, enjoying its coolness and freshness by swimming in it!

Objective facts are important, but the Bible reveals something deeper concerning the kind of relationship God wants to have with us. He doesn’t want us merely to believe in Him objectively, acknowledging His existence. Instead, His Word reveals that by our believing into Christ, we enter into Christ. As a result, we’re joined to Him, and we can enjoy His Person as the rich supply for our Christian life!

No longer outside of us

Why is it important to understand that when we receive Christ, He enters into us and we enter into Him? This understanding helps us to know that God’s salvation in Christ is for us to experience not just at the time of our initial salvation, but even after that, day by day. Before we were saved, God was outside of us and we had nothing to do with Him, personally speaking. But by believing into Him, we got into Him and He got into us! We became one with Him in a real way. Now we can experience this oneness with Him every day.

Believing into Christ allows us to experience Him and know Him, personally and subjectively. This is the foundation of our Christian life!

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