Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 18, 1955

Believe Into Christ

Guthrie D. Dean, Malvern, Arkansas

All my life I have heard it like this: Belief UNTO righteousness; Repentance UNTO life; Confession UNTO salvation; and Baptism INTO Christ. Recently I have heard this argument ridiculed by some of my "more learned" brethren. They argue that "eis," whether connected with belief, repentance, or baptism is always "into"; therefore (according to these brethren) it is proper to translate "believe eis Christ" — believe into Christ. It is quite true that belief is oftentimes used generically, thus embracing further acts of obedience. The same is true with repentance, confession, and baptism. Sometimes the one is made to stand for the whole. And "believe eis Christ" is a case where the part is made to stand for the whole. No disagreement there. But the disagreement comes when some of my brethren try to translate "believe eis Christ" as believe into Christ. The Greek word "eis" just can't be translated that way. And not a recognized translation of the New Testament anywhere renders it "believe into Christ." I'm quite aware that the Concordant Version and the Emphatic Diaglott translate it that way. But who recognizes those translations? No one of any repute as a Bible scholar. The Authorized Version, the American Standard Version, and the Revised Standard Version are the three most popular and most scholarly of all translations of the Bible, and not one time do they render it "believe into Christ." If believe eis Christ has to mean "believe into Christ," then you have people believing into Christ who don't even trust Him enough to confess Him. See John 12:42-43. Strange isn't it ? If believe eis Christ means believe into Christ then you have people believing into Christ who are still of their father the devil. See John 8:31-44. It's too bad that brethren who have all the brains among us have to take such preposterous positions. Any brother who argues that "believe eis Christ" should be translated "believe into Christ" needs to forget about the Greek. And above all, he needs to forget about debating a Baptist on the plan of salvation. His goose would be cooked, and I don't mean John Huss either.

Eis is to be translated "into" only when connected with a verb of motion, or in the accusative case, extension, such as "baptized eis Christ," "baptized eis death," and "baptized eis one body." Mr. Roland Leavell, president of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, has this to say concerning this matter: "The preposition `eis' was developed from the preposition 'en' and its original idea was static, within. Such ideas as 'into' and `unto' and 'to' are not in the preposition itself. These are resultant ideas of the accusative case which means extension and verbs of motion. Properly the preposition `eis' should be translated 'believe on' or 'believe in'." Professor A. T. Robertson, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary says: "`eis' itself means only 'in' ... the idea of 'into,' if present, comes from the accusative case, extension, and the verb of motion and the context." Joseph Henry Thayer, pages 183-187 of his Greek-English Lexicon, says the same thing. So does the Grammarian G. B. Winer. J. Gresham Machen's Grammar says: "The verb `pisteuo' followed by 'eis' and the accusative is to be translated 'I believe in' or `on.' 'Pisteuno eis ton Kurion' means 'I believe in the Lord,' or 'I believe on the Lord.' Clarence T. Craig, one of the members of the Revised Standard Version committee says: "The Greek preposition 'eis' following the verb `to believe' is a peculiarity of the Gospel of John. I do not think it should be translated in any other way than 'in'." Professor Henry Cadbury of the Harvard Divinity School says: "Pisteuno eis, should be translated 'believe in' since the distinction between `eis' and 'en' is not maintained especially when there is no verb of motion. With verbs of motion, all Grammarians agree `eis' means 'into; 'en' means 'into?

So it still remains: believe UNTO, repent UNTO, confess UNTO, and baptized INTO!!! And believe on Christ or in Christ, and not believe INTO Christ.