Costa, Tony. "The Use of πιστεύω in the Gospel of John: Some Considerations on Meaning and Issues of Consistency and Ambiguity." Conspectus 2021.2.5, 93-109.
Costa observes that the meaning of πιστεύω, to believe, in John may not be as straightforward as we might initially think. He analyzes a number of passages to seek clarification (Costa 2021, 93). At the outset, as Costa evaluates the term, he notes that John's Gospel uses the verb only, and uses it much more frequently than the Synoptic Gospels. He then, citing BDAG, explains the implications. "The word πιστεύω means 'to entrust oneself to an entity in complete confidence, belief (in), trust, [with] implication of total commitment to the one who is trusted'" (Costa 2021, 94). It does cast some suspicion on Costa's argument and scholarly method that the material he chooses to quote from the dictionary is a segment of a secondary definition which he has selected from an entry which runs into a third page. Costa goes on to say that πιστεύω as a verb indicates action, "not mere belief" (Costa 2021, 94).
The identification of a "believer" in John is problematic. Costa would like to identify a "true" believer in John, in terms commonly used among broadly evangelical Western Chrsitians in the 20th-21st centuries. However, those identified as "believers" in John often deny Jesus or oppose him (Costa 2021, 94). Costa will therefore attempt to identify by means of context whether the belief is sincere or not (Costa 2021, 95).
Costa notes that the Prologue to John identifies those who "believed in his name" as people who are given "the right" to "become children of God" (Costa 2021, 95). Costa sees this as the mark of a true believer. These people are born of God, by his will.
Costa asserts, "To believe the Scripture is to believe Jesus. A marker of true believing involves following Jesus and believing his words and the Scripture(s) which point to him" (Costa 2021, 96). While people are said to believe Jesus, Costa notes that in John 2 Jesus does not entrust himself to the people. The relationship is not reciprocal (Costa 2021, 97). Costa makes application of this lack of reciprocity by asserting that John's reader is to probe for nuances. Yet this is never stated by John and Costa doesn't make a case for a specific demand to develop such a wholeharted trust that Costa would call "true belief." From this point, Costa continues associating the promises of Jesus with "true" belief.
Belief in Jesus is further seen in John as doing the work of God (Costa 2021, 98). Costa again observes that it is said of the crowds that they don't believe (6:36). Yet, at least on some level, they want to do God's works.
Costa moves on to consider who is treated as a true child of Abraham, the one who hears God's word (Costa 2021, 99). While there are suggestions in the test that those not believing are not children of Abraham, it is not clear whether some believe, act upon it less than completely, and face condemnation (Costa 2021, 100).
Costa seeks literary indicators which would serve to separate insiders (true believers) and outsiders (not true believers) (Costa 2021, 100). He identifies language of being given to the Son by the Father. They are safe as children of Christ. A second semantic descriptor sees people drawn y the Father and Son (Costa 2021, 101). Costa is quick to reject predestinarian claims and to pursue the responsibility of the believer to pursue God. Third, Costa finds that believers are chosen by the Father and the Son (Costa 2021, 101). Costa acknowledges that many disciples, including Judas, who was clearly chosen by Jesus, turned away from Jesus. His conclusion is that they were never true believers (Costa 2021, 102).
Costa sees true believers as producing fruit, but he is not clear about what this fruit may have been (Costa 2021, 102).
Fifth, Costa sees true believers as receiving the Holy Spirit (Costa 2021, 102). It is only those who truly believe who will be able to receive the Holy Spirit and bear fruit. They are further compared to sheep which obey the Good Shepherd, Jesus (Costa 2021, 103).
Those who truly believe Jesus pursue worship of him (Costa 2021, 103). Jesus is presented as the Son of Man, the pre-existent one, the one who receives worship. Costa asserts, "True belief results in the worship of Jesus" (Costa 2021, 104). Costa seems to think this is because it is true belief which recognizes the true God. Yet his logical process is unclear.
Costa observes that the passages in John where those who did not believe at alla re very clear. These passages often contain indications that God hasblinded eyes and hardened hearts (Costa 2021, 105). John's reference to the passages in Isaiah chapters 53 and 6 are used to explain why the people would not believe. In some way, this moves toward judgment (Costa 2021, 106).
John 20:31 describes the purpose of the written Gospel to be so the reader may believe (Costa 2021, 106). Costa udnerstands this as a bookend for the statement of 1:12, where those who believe are children of God. These are examples of what Costa would consider to be true belief (Costa 2021, 107).