Friday, January 30, 2009

What I Learned Today

Today I was studying in the New Testament and noticed a change Joseph Smith had made in John 3:16 that puzzled me. In the King James Bible the verse reads, “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” In the Inspired Version, Joseph changed the preposition in to on. I always hear the phrase “believe in” and wasn’t sure why “believe on” was better or why it would have been important enough to make the change. So I went to my trusty dictionary.

The word in has four definitions. In is used as a function word to indicate (1) inclusion, location, or position, (2) means, medium, or instrumentality, (3) limitation, qualification, or circumstance, and (4) purpose. I suppose the first definition is the one the King James translators meant in that all those whose belief is located in Jesus Christ will not perish. That makes sense and is instructive, but it seemed a little awkward.

When I read the first definition of on it explained that the word meant “supported by the surface of.” That didn’t fit at all, and I was really baffled. But the second definition lit a fire in me. On means “a source of attachment or support.”

That sent all kinds of thoughts swimming through my head. Belief is the “conviction of the truth of something.” When we use the preposition in to refer to that something, in this case Jesus Christ, belief is simply a mental thought—our thoughts about truth include or are located in Christ. That is true and instructive, but when the preposition is changed to on, we are taught that our belief is more than thought; belief is a conviction that causes us to attach ourselves to Jesus Christ, to put ourselves in a position where we are supported by Him.

Changing the preposition seemed a tiny, inconsequential change at first. How wrong I was.


Wendi said...

I wish my brain worked the way yours does. You are amazing to learn from! :) Thanks for sharing your insights. :)

Sherrie Mills Johnson said...

Wendi, It isn't my brain; it's my curiosity. I've been blessed (or cursed!) with an intense curiosity. I probably ask myself why something is the way it is about a hundred times a day. Why did Joseph change in to on just happened to begin my day today.

JCCB said...

Oooh...I love those kind of insights. Thanks for the teaching and sharing!