JAC Online

Gospel Piggybacking
by Major Stephen Court

What is this?  The latest teenaged trend?  The next insidious heresy?  Neither!  It is, though, accidentally ‘current’, in that on the evening the second draft of this short piece was completed, we watched the latest episode of The Chosen (Season 3, Episode 5) and were pleasantly surprised to see (spoiler alert!) the topic of our article depicted on screen by Jesus and ‘the dozen’!  So, with that unique cultural cachet, read on…


This is a standard definition of the Greek word ‘pistis’:

Definition: faith, faithfulness

Use: faith, belief, trust, confidence; fidelity, faithfulness.

It is conventionally translated ‘believe’. [1]


In today’s parlance, to believe something can mean much less than ‘fidelity’, ‘faithfulness’, or ‘trust’.  In fact, here is the weakest standard definition of ‘believe’ today (Bing): “hold (something) as an opinion; think or suppose.”


And too often, we read ‘think’ or ‘suppose’ in the Bible when the word is ‘believe’.  Flimsy.  And, yet, ‘believe’ denotes trust, fidelity, and faithfulness.  The Biblical word is much more robust, more conviction[2] than the mere ’opinion’ of today’s definition.


We’re wondering if there might be a better rendering of the word for today’s readers.  This might turn out, in some verses, to be a paraphrase.[3]   But in others, it may be a more accurate ‘dynamic translation’.[4] 


We thought we’d give it a run, and have replaced ‘believe’ with ‘piggyback’[5]  in the four Gospels.


Why ‘piggyback’?  Well, when a kid piggybacks on you, s/he is completely relying on you, for both personal well-being and ultimate destination.  That is, if you slip and fall, s/he tumbles and crashes.  And, regardless of where s/he might intend to go, s/he ends up where you end up. 


Having a mere opinion about Jesus, or supposing certain things about Jesus?  Flimsy.  But piggybacking on Jesus?  Well, you are putting your well-being on His shoulders.  And you will end up at His destination, heaven!  It seems like a 21st century dynamic equivalent of the Biblical word ‘pistis’. 


On top of that, we want a distinction between intellectual assent that even demons possess (James 2:19[6]) and life-giving trust.


Now, up front, we admit that they don’t all work perfectly.  The best applications are when the object of the sentence is Jesus.  We italicized these instances for your convenience.  And we’re underlining occurrences that otherwise read clean. 



Matthew 8:16
‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who piggyback on Me – to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung round their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Matthew 21:22

If you piggyback, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.’

Matthew 21:25

John’s baptism – where did it come from? Was it from heaven, or of human origin?’ They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven”, he will ask, “Then why didn’t you piggyback on Him?”

Matthew 21:32

For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not piggyback on him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and piggyback on him.

Matthew 24:23

At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “There he is!” do not piggyback it.


Matthew 24:26

‘So if anyone tells you, “There he is, out in the desert,” do not go out; or, “Here he is, in the inner rooms,” do not piggyback it.


Matthew 27:42

‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but He can’t save Himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will piggyback on Him.’

Mark 1:15 
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and piggyback on the gospel.”

Mark 5:36 
But Jesus, overhearing what was being spoken, said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid any longer, only piggyback.”

Mark 9:23 
‘“If you can”?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who piggybacks.’

Mark 9: 24 
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, ‘I do piggyback; help me overcome my unbelief!’

Mark 9:42

‘If anyone causes one of these little ones – those who piggyback on Me – to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung round their neck and they were thrown into the sea.


Mark 11:23
‘Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in their heart but piggybacks, it will be done for them.

Mark 11:31
They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” He will ask, “Then why didn’t you piggyback on him?”

Mark 13:21

At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Messiah!” or, “Look, there He is!” do not piggyback on it.

Mark 15:32

Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and piggyback.’ Those crucified with Him also heaped insults on Him.

Mark 16:13

These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not piggyback on them either.

Mark 16:16
Whoever piggybacks and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not piggyback will be condemned.

Mark 16:17

And these signs will accompany those who piggyback: in My name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues;

Luke 1:20

And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not piggyback on my words, which will come true at their appointed time.’


Luke 1:45

Blessed is she who has piggybacked that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’


Luke 8:12

Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not piggyback and be saved.


Luke 8:13

Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They piggyback for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.


Luke 8:50

Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just piggyback, and she will be healed.’


Luke 20:5

They discussed it among themselves and said, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” he will ask, “Why didn’t you piggyback on him?”


Luke 22:67

‘If you are the Messiah,’ they said, ‘tell us.’ Jesus answered, ‘If I tell you, you will not piggyback on Me,


Luke 24:11

But they did not piggyback on the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.


Luke 24:25

He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow to piggyback on all that the prophets have spoken!


Luke 24:41

And while they still did not piggyback on it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, ‘Do you have anything here to eat?’


John 1:7

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might piggyback.


John 1:12

Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who piggybacked on His name, He gave the right to become children of God –


John 1:50

Jesus said, ‘You piggyback because I told you I saw you under the fig-tree. You will see greater things than that.’


John 2:11

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which He revealed His glory; and His disciples piggybacked on Him.


John 2:22

After He was raised from the dead, His disciples recalled what He had said. Then they piggybacked on the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.


John 2:23

Now while He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs He was performing and piggybacked on His name.


John 3:12

I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not piggyback; how then will you piggyback if I speak of heavenly things?


John 3:15

Everyone who piggybacks may have eternal life.


John 3:18

Whoever piggybacks on Him is not condemned, but whoever does not piggyback stands condemned already because they have not piggybacked on the name of God’s one and only Son.


John 3:36

Whoever piggybacks on the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.


John 4:21

‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘piggyback on Me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.


John 4:39

Many of the Samaritans from that town piggybacked on Him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’


John 4:41

And because of His words many more became piggybackers.


John 4:42

They said to the woman, ‘We no longer piggyback just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’


John 4:48

‘Unless you people see signs and wonders,’ Jesus told him, ‘you will never piggyback.’


John 4:53

Then the father realised that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, ‘Your son will live.’ So he and his whole household piggybacked.


John 5:24

‘Very truly I tell you, whoever hears My word and piggybacks Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.


John 5:38

…Nor does His word dwell in you, for you do not piggyback on the One He sent.


John 5:44

How can you piggyback since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?


John 5:46

If you piggybacked on Moses, you would piggyback on Me, for he wrote about Me.


John 5:47

But since you do not piggyback on what he wrote, how are you going to piggyback on what I say?’


John 6:29

Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to piggyback on the One He has sent.’


John 6:30

So they asked Him, ‘What sign then will You give that we may see it and piggyback on You? What will You do?


John 6:35

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever piggybacks on Me will never be thirsty.’


John 6:36

But as I told you, you have seen Me and still you do not piggyback.


John 6:40

For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and piggybacks on Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’


John 6:47

Very truly I tell you, the one who piggybacks has eternal life.


John 6:64

‘Yet there are some of you who do not piggyback.’ For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not piggyback and who would betray Him.


John 6:69

We have come to piggyback and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’


John 7:5

For even his own brothers did not piggyback on Him.


John 7:31

Still, many in the crowd piggybacked on Him. They said, ‘When the Messiah comes, will He perform more signs than this man?’


John 7:38

Whoever piggybacks on Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’


John 7:39

By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who piggybacked on Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


John 7:48

‘Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees piggybacked on Him?’


John 8:24

I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not piggyback that I am He, you will indeed die in your sins.’


John 8:30

Even as He spoke, many piggybacked on Him.


John 8:31

To the Jews who had piggybacked on Him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples.


John 8:45

Yet because I tell the truth, you do not piggyback on Me!


John 8:46

Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you piggyback on Me?


John 9:18

They still did not piggyback that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents.

John 9:35

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when He found him, He said, ‘Do you piggyback in the Son of Man?’


John 9:36

‘Who is He, sir?’ the man asked. ‘Tell me so that I may piggyback on Him.’


John 9:38

Then the man said, ‘Lord, I piggyback,’ and he worshipped Him.


John 10:25

Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not piggyback. The works I do in My Father’s name testify about Me,


John 10:37

Do not piggyback on Me unless I do the works of My Father.


John 10:38

But if I do them, even though you do not piggyback on Me, piggyback on the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father.’


John 10:42

And in that place many piggybacked on Jesus.


John 11:15

‘And for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may piggyback. But let us go to him.’


John 11:25

Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who piggybacks on Me will live.


John 11:26

Whoever lives by piggybacking on Me will never die. Do you piggyback this?’


John 11:27

‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I piggyback that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’


John 11:40

Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you piggyback, you will see the glory of God?’


John 11:42

I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may piggyback that you sent Me.’


John 11:45

Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, piggybacked on Him.


John 11:48

If we let Him go on like this, everyone will piggyback on Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.


John 12:36

‘Piggyback in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.’ When He had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid Himself from them.


John 12:37

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not piggyback on Him.


John 12:38

This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has piggybacked our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’


John 12:39

For this reason they could not piggyback, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere…


John 12:42

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders piggybacked on Him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;


John 12:44

Then Jesus cried out, ‘Whoever piggybacks on Me does not piggyback on Me only, but in the One who sent Me.

John 12:46

I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who piggybacks on Me should stay in darkness.


John 13:19

‘I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will piggyback that I am who I am.


John 14:1

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You piggyback on God ; piggyback also on Me.


John 14:10

Don’t you piggyback that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on My own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work.


John 14:11

Piggyback on Me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; or at least piggyback on the evidence of the works themselves.


John 14:12

Very truly I tell you, whoever piggybacks on Me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.


John 14:29

I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will piggyback.


John 16:9

… About sin, because people do not piggyback on Me.


John 16:27

No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have piggybacked that I came from God.


John 16:30

Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us piggyback that you came from God.’


John 16:31

‘Do you now piggyback?’ Jesus replied.

John 17:8

For I gave them the words You gave Me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from You, and they piggybacked that You sent Me.


John 17:20

My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will piggyback on Me through their message,


John 17:21

That all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may piggyback that You have sent Me.


John 19:35

The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may piggyback.


John 20:8

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and piggybacked.


John 20:25

So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into His side, I will not piggyback.’


John 20:27

Then He said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and piggyback.’


John 20:29

Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen Me, you have piggybacked; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have piggybacked.’


John 20:31

But these are written that you may piggyback that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.


John 21:23

Because of this, the rumour spread among the piggybackers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; He only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’





Probably a book’s worth.  But for now?


Might it be time to retire ‘believe’ from evangelistic vocabularies?


Let’s not line up beside demons in merely believing facts about Jesus.  Let’s not settle with persuading others to suppose similarly to us about divine truths or align on doctrinal opinions.[7]   Besides, ‘Believe’ can be dusty and boring.  ‘Piggybacking’?  Risky!  Often breath-taking!  Let’s experience the supernatural invigoration of piggybacking on Jesus and inviting everyone else to piggyback on Jesus.  God help us.






[1] This link has ALL the New Testament occurrences of the word - http://biblehub.com/greek/4100.htm   


This is a fuller definition:

1.         to think to be true, to be persuaded of, to credit, place confidence in

a.         of the thing believed

1.         to credit, have confidence

b.         in a moral or religious reference

1.         used in the NT of the conviction and trust to which a man is impelled by a certain inner and higher prerogative and law of soul

2.         to trust in Jesus or God as able to aid either in obtaining or in doing something


[2] See previous footnote to observe that ‘conviction’ is included in the definition.


[3] Bing definition: “A rewording of something written or spoken by someone else.


[4] Bing definition: “Modern English translations of the Bible follow one of two philosophies of translation: "essentially literal" or "dynamic equivalence." Briefly stated, the theory of dynamic equivalence in Bible translation emphasizes the reaction of the reader to the translated text, rather than the translation of the words and phrases themselves.”


[5] Bing definition: (noun) “a ride on someone's back and shoulders”; (verb) “mount on or attach to”.


[6] You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder. James 2:19 (NIV)


[7] Suppose’ and ‘opinion’ from the definition back on the first page.


















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