In John 3:36, should it be “does not obey” or “does not believe”?


I was linking one of my web sites to "How does obedience relate to saving faith?" which has some excellent info.

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36 NASB).

I am wondering about this Scripture though.  "Does not obey" certainly makes the point and it may be the better translation from Greek?  I haven't studied Greek yet.  However, in my Bible, it says "does not believe".

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36 NKJV).


ho (The) pisteuion (believing) eis (on) ton (the) huion (Son) echei (has) zoen (life) aionion (eternal) ho (the) de (and) apeithon (not being subject) to (to the) hoio (Son) ouk (not) apsetai (shall see) zoen (life) ...

apeitheo: An a at the beginning of a word serves the same function as "in-" or "un-" in English. It negates the root word. The verb peitho means "to persuade." When used as an active verb it means "to disobey." When used as a passive verb it means "to be unpersuaded." In this particular verse, the word is in the nominative, singular, masculine, participle, present, active case.

In translation to English, the word is translated as both "unbelieving" and "disobedient." But that is my point. Being disobedient and not believing are seen as synonymous terms. It is only those who deny that faith is joined with works who try to make a distinction. "Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself" (James 2:17). We lose a bit when this particular word is translated into English. Between the NASB and the NKJV, I think the NASB does a better job capturing the meaning in this case.

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