The Meaning of apeitheō

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The Meaning of apeitheō

Post by Paidion » Wed Nov 24, 2021 4:17 pm

The one who entrusts [himself] into the Son has lasting life, but the one who is not persuaded (apeitheō) to the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God [continues to] remain on him.

The above is my translation of John 3:36. I added the words in square brackets for clarification.

I am puzzled concerning the way in which translators render the Greek words “απειθεω” (apeitheō) and “απειθεια” (apeitheia).

For example:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey (apeitheō) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (ESV)

He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not (apeitheō) the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. (king James)

First let me assert that the Greek letter “α” (alpha) is a prefix meaning “not” or “without.” This meaning carries over into English where the first letter of the alphabet is often used in the same way. For example in English, a “theist” is a person who believes in the existence of a god or gods. An “atheist” is a person who does not believe in the existence of any god. A “moral” person is a person concerned about whether behaviour is morally right or wrong. An “amoral” person is a person without concern about whether behavior is morally right or wrong.

Let's consider the meaning of meaning of the positive form of the Greek word in question (without the omitting “alpha.”) The Greek word is “πειθω.” Notice how the word is translated in the following passages in the NAS95. In each and every occurrence of the word in the passages below, the NAS95 translates it as some form of “persuade.”
Nearly all others do the same—except several of them translated it as “convinced” in Acts 28:24 (which means much the same).

Mt 27:20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death.
Lu 16:31 "But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’"
Ac 5:40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them.
Ac 17:4 And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and a number of the leading women.
Ac 18:4 And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.
Ac 18:13 saying, "This man persuades men to worship God contrary to the law."
Ac 19:8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
Ac 19:26 "You see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all.
Ac 21:14 And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, "The will of the Lord be done!"
Ac 23:21 "So do not listen to them, for more than forty of them are lying in wait for him who have bound themselves under a curse not to eat or drink until they slay him; and now they are ready and waiting for the promise from you."
Ac 26:26 "For the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escape his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.
Ac 26:28 Agrippa replied to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."
Ac 27:11 But the centurion was more persuaded by the pilot and the captain of the ship than by what was being said by Paul.
Ac 28:23 When they had set a day for Paul, they came to him at his lodging in large numbers; and he was explaining to them by solemnly testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to persuade them concerning Jesus, from both the Law of Moses and from the Prophets, from morning until evening.
Ac 28:24 Some were being persuaded by the things spoken, but others would not believe.
2Co 5:11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men, but we are made manifest to God; and I hope that we are made manifest also in your consciences.

So we would expect that antonym “απειθεω” to be translated as “is not persuaded.” But no! None of the translations do so. Let's consider the variety of translations of the word in John 3:36

Disobeys, disobeying, does not obey—ESV, ASV, Diaglot, JB2013, LEB, NAS95, NRSV, RSV, Wey
Has not faith—BBE
Rejects—CEVAus, LO, NIV
Not subject to—Darby
Does not believe, refuses to believe, not believing—AV, Douay, EMTV, HCSB, NHEB, Webster, YLT
Refuses to trust—Williams

Yet, John 3:36 makes perfect sense with the proper translation of “απειθεω” as “not persuaded.

Man judges a person by his past deeds, and administers penalties for his wrongdoing. God judges a person by his present character, and disciplines him that he may become righteous.

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