The Fourth Gospel ('of 'John') mostly works by having fairly extended sections in which an important point is made by multiple uses of paired words/ concepts (indeed, Gospel as a whole, excluding the last Chapter - works this way). An example is the discussion following 'the feeding of the five thousand'. (I cite the relevant Bible passage at the end.)
What I wish to draw-out here, is that Jesus says, in different ways, that two things are required of those who are to attain everlasting life: I have termed these believing-in and believing-on Jesus; by which I mean approximately that we first need to recognise Jesus as who-he-is (the Son of God, sent by the Father, doing the Father's will) and secondly that we need to trust and have faith in him to lead us to everlasting life.
What this means is expressed in the various pairings of this passage; and in relation to bread/ food/ flesh/ blood and hunger; as contrasted with drink/ blood and thirst. It really is quite hard to explain more clearly or accurately than in the actual Gospel! - but you can see that there is a pattern of some-thing, and Also some other thing.
Then, there is the other matter (mentioned elsewhere in the Gospel several other times) that "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" and again "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father".
My understanding of this, is that Men are divided into those who are for creation, and those against it; those who regard God as Good, and those who do not; God's party and the devil's party; those who acknowledge God as their Father, and those who have chosen Satan.
Unless a man already be of Jesus's Father's party, and regard God as Good, and wishes to be of-creation - then Jesus is irrelevant: that is the necessary background assumption to Jesus's gift.
So three things: 1. Believe in the goodness and desirability of the Father and of Creation; 2. Believe that Jesus the Son sent by The Father; 3. Belief/ Faith/ Trust in Jesus to lead us to everlasting life (Heaven).
John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.
28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.
42 And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?
43 Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves.
44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.
46 Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
47 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
Very interesting post. Doesn't KJV use "believe in" and "beleive on" in different places? I have wondered what the difference between believe on and believe in as translated in different parts of KJV meant. I don't know the original well enough to confirm what you're saying but it sounds correct to me. Christians are always trying to explain what faith means and it seems both are part of saving faith.
@BB - Thanks. I'm not sure whether the KJB usage of believe 'in' versus 'on' is exactly consistent with mine - but the distinction is worth making, one way or another.
One of my parents' friends wrote a book called Believing Christ that makes a similar distinction, between "believing" and "believing in."
In ordinary English usage, we use "believe" as a direct transitive verb to describe basing the mental activity of accepting a proposition as a premise for serious planning of our actions. When the proposition serving as the object is not specified, it is implied to be too obvious to need to be mentioned.
To "believe in" something means to trust an entity as a source of true propositions. One can "believe in" entities to varying degrees and have different ideas about how true propositions may be extracted from it. The most common usage is that truths can be inferred by the actions of the entity, or more plainly, that the entity will "do the right thing" even if it does not put the propositions which make that thing "right" into words. While saying that you believe in an entity suggests that you believe at least some propositions obtained from that entity, it is not required due to the variation of degree, extraction method, and history. You can "believe in" an entity prior to having extracted any propositions from it in any way. You can continue to "believe in" an entity in the sense of believing that it will eventually prove a source of true propositions even if it has thus far produced only false ones. You can also "believe in" an entity by asserting that there are true propositions which could be extracted by unspecified methods.
To "believe on" means to believe some proposition based on the specified source, whether or not that source is generally trusted. The usage is mostly archaic and has divergent forms, but the proposition believed would normally be specified between "believe" and "on". When it is omitted, the implication is that the proposition itself is too obvious to be specified, the important thing is mentioning the authority on which it is believed.
I personally am not mentally inclined to any of these actions. I make no fixed mental distinction between "serious" planning and unserious speculation, thus the activity which "believe" is used to describe simply is not possible for me. I can "disbelieve" propositions, by establishing that they are logically self-contradictory in their implications and thus it would be impossible to consider them "seriously", but the mere cognition that a proposition is not inherently self-contradictory does not mean I take it seriously, only that I recognize that it would not be expressly contrary to reason to take it seriously.
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