What Does it Mean to Believe?

The word “believe” according to the Strong’s Concordance, is from the Greek word ‘Pisteuo’ (pist-yoo-o) “to have faith (in upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust”. It is from the word “pistis”, meaning “persuasion, that is, credence; moral conviction…” In the KJV, “pistis” is translated as “assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity”. It comes from the word “peitho” (pi’-tho), a “primary verb; to convince (by argument true or false); by analogy to pacify or conciliate (by other fair means); reflexively or passively to assent (to evidence or authority), to rely (by inward certainty)”. It is translated, “agree, assure, believe, have confidence, be (wax) content, make friend, obey, trust, yield.”

Personally, I feel that tracking the word ‘believe’ back to it’s root helps to demystify it. I have often perceived discrepancies between what I profess to believe and what I actually feel and experience. This idea that “belief” is connected with persuasion fits with the reality that it often takes time for what is professed at the head level to really sink in at the heart level. The words of the mouth are easy to steer, but the ways of the heart must be persuaded more deeply.

I am revisiting this subject because of a conversation I had with a kid recently. Somewhere in the conversation, a comment arose to the effect of “I bet you could do it if you really believed.” It was something really crazy, I don’t remember exactly, but in that moment I re-thought the word “believe” all over again. It occurred to me that, if “believing” has to do with my mind, will, and emotions being convinced or persuaded, then I would be effectively recruiting, or able to recruit, more of my faculties in the pursuit of a cause or a truth. If my mind, will, and emotions were more convinced of the truth that I profess to believe, then I would have more of the capacity of those faculties at my disposal: I would be, or at least feel, more whole. On that note, it is strangely fitting that I once heard the word “sozo” (pronounced ‘sode-zo’, Greek for “saved”) described as: “nothing missing, nothing broken.”

‘Sozo’ has been translated into English usage as “heal, preserve, save (self), do well, be (make) whole,” and there may be other variations depending on the Bible translation. There’s the idea that, by believing, we are saved. Maybe the idea functions at a deeper level than just words of repentance.

If believing has to do with more of your faculties being recruited or activated in pursuit of a truth, then what does that say about faith, and healing, and miracles? Maybe these are not so far out of reach. Maybe the supernatural can come more naturally. Maybe much of the blessing that you can be has to do with how whole, healed, ‘sozo’ you are yourself.

See Also:

I Believe

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