The Most Important Verb in the Gospel of John

“that all might believe” (Jn. 1:7)

Frederick Dale Bruner writes,

This is the first appearance of the most important verb in the Gospel of John–“believe.” (Interestingly, the noun “belief” and its synonym “faith” never occur in this Gospel.) It is also significant that in the Gospel of John the verb “believe” (pisteuein) is never supplied with an adjective or adverb to intensify believing (like “deeply” or “entirely” or even “sincerely” believe), because adverbs and adjectives have unavoidable tendency to turn beleving into a good work that persons must perform. But, quite the contrary, believing is first the receiving, not the performing of a good work, and then it is a receiving that someone else constantly gives, and does.

Jesus did it all. Believing receives it all.

…Surely the Evangelist was tempted to add adjectives or adverbs to “believing” or even to add other verbs besides “believing,” but he resisted the temptation in his every use of the word. Believing says it all, does it all, receives all that is given, motivates all that issues from it, and is as simple and as concrete as the person of Jesus of Nazareth, who, like believing, needs no supplementation. Jesus did it all. Believing receives it all. This is the Gospel according to John. (Solus Christus, sola fide.)¬†[The Gospel of John: A Commentary (Eerdmans, 2012), 21, 22.]

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