D. A. writes,
I was a little confused with what you shared regarding receive. It seemed that you were saying that it is a synonym for believe. Yet you said to check a thesaurus to show that they aren’t synonyms. So, it left me wondering are they synonyms, or aren’t they?
I checked Zane’s little partial commentary on John, and he seemed to prefer to translate receive as accept.
Isn’t the context here one of accepting or rejecting? How can we believe something (or someone) we reject? I don’t think we can. If we reject something as false, we’re not believing it. But if we accept something as true, we ARE believing it. Am I correct?
So maybe John is laying out a little hint here as to what it means to believe. To believe is to accept something (or someone) as true—to be persuaded in a sense.
Do you think I’m on the right track here?
Also, I’m sure you’re aware John uses lambanō again in v 16: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.” The same word appearing again can’t be haphazard. I’m just not quite sure how to connect them. One thought I’ve had is that we’ve accepted as true this great big, full bucket of grace.
Great questions. Sorry for the confusion. And for the late reply. D. A. was asking about a March 24, 2021, blog. See here. That is a year ago! Yikes. Inbox backlog.
What I meant to say is that the concept of receiving or accepting Christ, that is, His message of life, is a synonymous concept with believing in Him for that life. It is not that the word receive/accept is synonymous with believe/faith. It is just that the concept in which it occurs in John 1:11-12 is synonymous with the concept of believing in His name at the end of John 1:12.
The word believe occurs 100 times in John’s Gospel. The word receive/accept (lambanō) occurs 53 times. However, the more accurate comparison is between believing in Jesus (including in Him, in Me, in His name, You, in the Son) versus receiving Jesus (including receiving Him, Me, the Son).
By my count, the expression believing in Jesus occurs 61 times in John.i The expression receiving Jesus occurs four times in John in the sense of receiving His teaching/believing in Him (John 1:11, 12; 5:43 [2x]). That expression also occurs four times in reference to people welcoming Him into their city or boat (John 4:45; 6:21; 13:20 [2x]). Jesus also once spoke of those who do not receive My words (John 12:48).
I should mention that before looking up the references to receiving Him, I had thought that there was only one verse in John that spoke of receiving Him in the sense of receiving His teaching, John 1:12 (and one verse speaking of not receiving Him in that sense, John 1:11). And that verse was not giving us the words of Jesus, but the words of the Apostle John. However, I discovered that the Lord Jesus did refer to receiving Him in the sense of believing Him in John 5:43 and 12:48.
It is evident that the Lord Jesus emphasized believing in Him. Twice He used the synonymous concept of receiving Him/His words. Of course, He also used figures of speech that referred to believing in Him, including eating the bread of life and drinking the water of life.
D. A. is correct that to receive Jesus is to be persuaded that He is the Christ, the Son of God, the One who guarantees everlasting life to all who believe in Him (e.g., John 11:25-27). Receiving Jesus is not inviting Him into one’s heart, promising to serve Him, committing one’s life to Him, getting in the wheelbarrow, or anything of the kind. Those are all man-made evangelistic appeals that actually contradict what the Lord (and John in John 1:11-12) taught.
Finally, John 1:16 is not a restatement of John 1:12. In John 1:16, John is not referring to believing in Jesus. Instead, he is referring to the fact that the apostles had received from Jesus the fullness of life that He makes available. Morris comments, “Christ is the source of all our blessings” (John, p. 97).
Hodges is certainly correct, however, when he says concerning John 1:16 that John is thinking not only of believers receiving blessings from Him, but of all mankind receiving His blessings: “John declares, moreover, that all of his audience had benefited from the fullness of this Person’s grace and truth (see v 14). As the Creator of all things (v 3) all human beings had not only received their existence from Him, but also the manifold blessings that His creation afforded to His creatures. This beneficence was unending (see Acts 14:15-17) and therefore his audience had received grace upon grace” (Faith in His Name: Listening to the Gospel of John, p. 22).
Thanks for the great questions.
i Of those references, 51 are explicit references to believing in Him (John 1:12; 2:11; 3:15, 16, 18 [3x], 36 [2x]; 4:21, 39; 5:24, 38, 46; 6:29, 30, 35, 36, 40, 47; 7:5, 31, 38, 39, 48; 8:30, 31, 45, 46; 9:35, 36, 38; 10:37, 38, 42; 11:25, 26, 45, 48; 12:11, 37, 42, 44 [2x], 46; 14:1, 11 [2x], 12; 16:9; 17:20). There are also 10 implicit references (John 1:50; 4:42, 48, 53; 6:64 [2x]; 10:25; 11:27; 12:47; 20:29).