Salvation Requires A Work

What work do we have to do? It’s to believe. So it would appear that this is what we need to do. But some translations would interpret is as something God does for us.

John 6:28-29 NRSV
Then they said to him, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”

Wouldn’t “the work of God” be what God does for us? Or “the work of God that He requires”? The former looks to me to be a more ‘literal’ translation and is how most by far render it.

The Good News Translation, which is one of my favorites, explicitly says that it’s something God does for us to cause us to believe.

John 6:29 GWT
Jesus replied to them, “God wants to do something for you so that you believe in the one whom he has sent.”

The NET goes the other way, along with the REB, my favorite:

John 6:29 NET
Jesus replied, “This is the deed God requires–to believe in the one whom he sent.”

What do you think?

5 Responses to “Salvation Requires A Work”

  1. 1 Tom

    This is an interesting question!

    The only reason I think it is more like the REB or NET is the context of the previous verse:

    Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” John 6:28 NASB)

    They asked Jesus what the work of God is..

    …so His reply as shown in the NASB or REB seems the more likely answer. But even then it is all through God anyway. Even our faith has been granted to us by God.

    And I really like the REB translation a lot!

  2. 2 Dave

    Repentance is an important part of the belief that Jesus instructs in John 6. And repentance is given to us by God. (2 Timothy 2:25)

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    Great comments. For Tom, at first I was going to say yes, but sometimes God or Jesus will do a real switcheroo, like, ‘What work do you have to do? It’s to believe, but even that is granted by me.’ But you qualified it. Nice to see a fellow REB liker.

    Dave thanks for 2 Tim 2:25. I never would have gotten that.

  4. 4 Matteo

    The Message:

    To that they said, “Well, what do we do then to get in on God’s work?”
    Jesus said, “Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of commitment gets you in on God’s work.”

    I like the tone Jesus takes in this translation. Almost sarcastic, but not really. Not quixotic, but down to earth and straightforward with common sense advise. Inviting, challenging, and personal.

  5. 5 Scripture Zealot

    That’s very bold, quoting The Message and I think it’s a very interesting rendering. Obviously Eugene Peterson put a lot of thought into this and I kind of like what came out of it. I wish the word believe was in there, but it really causes you to think.

    I like “getting in on God’s work”. That’s the whole reason we pray and evangelize. I don’t want to be in heaven having sat on the sidelines my whole life and not participated by obeying God. I want to be in there cheering with all the saints, knowing I did a few things that God wanted me to do. I should look up some passages that relate to that like what John the Baptist first said, working out out our salvation, being sure of our salvation etc.

    Thanks for the comment.

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