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In 1 Thes. 4:14, why is the word pisteuo translated as “we believe?” Could it be translated as “they believe,” where “they” refers to those who sleep?

1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

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The verb is πιστευομεν TR (undisputed).

ει γαρ πιστευομεν οτι ιησους απεθανεν ... [I Thess 4:14]

If we believe that Jesus died ... [KJV]

Bagster's Analytical Greek Lexicon states that this verb is the

first person, plural, present indicative. [BAGL (1973 ed.) p 326.]

Being the first person plural it has to be translated 'we believe'. It cannot be translated according to your own interpretation of the text.

Correct translation must be accepted first, before any interpretation is attempted.

Another translation which may be helpful to you is Young's Literal :

for if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also God those asleep through Jesus he will bring with him ...

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When I began to edit your question for better formatting, I noticed that there were lemmas hidden from view because they were wrapped in <>. Oddly, these lemmas were not even visible in the edit history. I was only able to see them when I actually clicked edit:1

enter image description here

Whatever Bible version you are using, it is not displaying the actual Greek text as found in a manuscript, but rather, an interlinear featuring the Greek lemmas, or lexical words. (These have relatively limited use for studying biblical Greek.)

For example, the actual Greek text of 1 Thessalonians 4:14 states,

εἰ γὰρ πιστεύομεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀπέθανεν καὶ ἀνέστη οὕτως καὶ ὁ θεὸς τοὺς κοιμηθέντας διὰ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἄξει σὺν αὐτῷ

On the other hand, an interlinear displaying only lemmas would read:

γάρ εἰ πιστεύω ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἀποθνῄσκω καί ἀνίστημι οὕτω(ς) καί κοιμάω διά Ἰησοῦς ἄγω θεός ἄγω σύν αὐτός

In 1 Thessalonians 4:14, the word πιστεύομεν (pisteuomen) is the actual Greek word that is (properly) translated into English as “we believe.” The Greek text does not have πιστεύω (pisteuō), which is the Greek word you originally cited. However, even πιστεύω does not mean “they believe”; it means “I believe.” “They believe” would be translated from πιστεύουσιν.


Footnotes

1 I rolled back to the original post so others could view the original post without the subsequent editing.

  • Thankyou, that is very useful. The program is called Power Bible by a man named Phil Linder – brmicke Sep 21 '19 at 5:51
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brmicke, Power Bible v.5.9 has resources that help with your inquiry. Under the menu "compare" is a link to the textus receptus(TR) greek. This will show what Nige J showed in his answer. From the "commentary" menu is a link to Robertson's NT Word Pictures. Hope this helps.

  • Thanks - exploring it as we speak. Take care. – brmicke Sep 24 '19 at 12:56
  • Hello martyn, welcome to BHSE, glad to have you with us. If you haven't already, please make sure to take our tour, to see how we are a little different from other sites you may know. Thanks! (hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/tour) – sara Oct 6 '19 at 7:10

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