Based upon John 14:21, love for Jesus is not merely a belief in Him:

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21, KJV)

Paul in Romans 10:9 uses the aorist tense to signify salvation is by one time events:

if ever (ean) you confess (aorist active subjunctive) by your mouth that Jesus is Lord and [if] you [ever] believe (aorist active subjunctive) that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved." (This is my literal word-for-word translation.)

Thus, Paul is using the Greek aorist verb tense. He means you are saved if you ever once confess and believe. No continuity is implied in verse nine.


3 Answers 3


On this very point (Romans 10:9 aorists) Mounce (regarding one-time confessions) says :

If we cease to confess and if we cease to believe, then we can no longer legitimately be called Christians, believers, followers of Christ.

As far as the Greek is concerned the aorists ὁμολογήσῃς and πιστεύσῃς don’t really help us. The aorist is not necessarily punctiliar; it does not necessarily point to a single point in time. Thankfully we are far beyond that view of the aorist. In fact, if these are constative aorists, they could nicely cover the entire range of our lives. And πιστεύεται and ὁμολογεῖται (next verse Romans 10:10) are present tense.

Bill Mounce .com

In Romans 5:14 ἐβασίλευσεν 'reigned' is the aorist indicative active (3rd person singular) see Biblehub. And death reigned from Adam to Moses - a period of (arguably) several thousand years.

In Galatians 5:6 Paul makes a point of how faith actually works. It is clearly, in this place, not a single act in the past. And it is clear that he expresses the same as does Jesus in John 14:21 :

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. Galatians 5:6, KJV.

If faith works by love , then as long as love burns, faith is active.

  • 3
    Jesus surely is Christ. This belief is a good foundation to build on. Jan 9, 2020 at 11:49
  • 2
    +1 very Good answer Jan 9, 2020 at 15:48
  • Off topic, are they other places where Paul seem to be clear on Faith not a single act in the past. Jan 9, 2020 at 15:50
  • @FaithMendel I would say multiple places. All over his epistles :)
    – Nigel J
    Jan 9, 2020 at 16:49
  • Your last sentence reminds me of a framed poetic saying on my desk: "Love and Faith are like twin sisters. They go hand in hand, and it is difficult to tell them apart." How truly that applies to the question here!
    – Anne
    Jan 11, 2020 at 20:54

The text says: “because if thou shalt confess with thy mouth Jesus as Lord, and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”: (Ro 10:9, ASV)

It's not merely aorist, but a subjunctive aorist in a third class conditional. Aorist subjunctive in this construction indicates a probability for something future.

When you say this means “you are saved” you imply a present state, but the apodosis is in the future tense. It's not a present condition.

Wallace's Exegetical Syntax says that in general aorist is a summary from the outside.[1] It does not show the “internal makeup.” This does not mean it is not continuous. It just does not say.

Also, if you intend to make a broad statement of what Paul teaches based on one text, that is not a proper hermeneutic.

What do you do with verses like 1 Co 1:18 where the salvation is a present participle?

“For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are [being, present active participle] [2] saved it is the power of God.” (1 Co 1:18, ASV)

[1] The aorist tense “presents an occurrence in summary, viewed as a whole from the outside, without regard for the internal make-up of the occurrence.” (ExSyn 554–57). Note: quoted as a hostile witness.

[2] “The present participle is used for contemporaneous time.” (ExSyn 265)

  • Why quote from Wallace's Exegetical Syntax when you fundamentally disagree with him on Sharp's Rule ? ?
    – Nigel J
    Jan 10, 2020 at 4:33
  • @NigelJ I say I quote him as a hostile witness. So it is more important that those I quote him to value the grammar. That being said, it is an exegetical grammar and there are places where his theology overtakes the grammar. But all in all, I do think he explains grammar well. And finally I am very familiar with the contents and have an e-version on my phone so that I can readily access it.
    – user33125
    Jan 10, 2020 at 4:47
  • . . . . 'hostile witness'. That's worth remembering.
    – Nigel J
    Jan 10, 2020 at 4:50

@Nigel J has well responded on solid grammatical bases. However, even without grammatical meticulousities it is 100% clear from overall Pauline theology of salvation that salvation is a continuous process and if we slacken, we shall fall from the branch of the bush sown by God through unbelief, no less than Jews have fallen from it due to the same unbelief.

Just read Romans 11:22: "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off". The phrase "provided that you continue in his kindness" makes the salvation contingent upon our steadfastness in the faith that we have once confessed and received, thus it is continuous, life-long attitude and effort.

That is why Paul admonishes to work for salvation "with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12), and that's why Jesus and Paul in whom Jesus lived (Gal. 2:20) give the very same teaching about salvation as the matter of continuous life-long attitude and effort on our behalf in abiding with the faith once received and confessed.

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