This short linguistic study focuses on the New Testament teaching about confession, and is in the Q&A format. (This has been excerpted from actual correspondence, with permission.)

I have searched quite a bit online without success, so could you help me with the Greek word? It's the word for confess/confession in Rom 10:9 and 1 Tim 6:12-16, and its relationship to "calling on the name" in Acts 22:16. We want to explain the real meaning of 'confession' as we share the gospel. It Japanese, the word implies quite strictly "admitting sin" (although the literal meaning of the Chinese characters is "say" + "white/clear.' We also want to make the connection between the good confession and baptism more clear. We currently say, "Scholars believe the good confession Timothy made in the presence of many witnesses was the confession on Romans 10:0." Is that true? Your help might be appreciated. I thought this might be an easy one for you. -- Peter Billings, Tokyo

I do not know if this is easy. It has always been the most difficult of the steps to explain in hear-believe-repent-confess-be baptized -- for me, anyway. Homolegeo (confess) is not the same word as kalein (call), and yet the word onoma (name) is the common middle term in Acts 22:16 and Rom 10:9, and we do call on the name in baptism (Acts 22:16, Rom 10:13). The question: is Rom 10:13 referring to the same thing as Rom 10:9? I believe so.

A full study of the passage must take stock of Paul's discussion of justification by faith as opposed to justification by words. (See my thoughts in the 2006 edition of Shining Like Stars.) Baptism has already been highlighted, in chapter 6. The context is faith, the faithfulness of remnant Jews, and God's insistence on the heart being right (as in chapter 2).

Back to confession: this logically takes place between repentance and baptism. But what is the confession, a verbal statement or a lifestyle? Jesus is Lord = the words I ask people to mouth, though I suspect the Lord would be just as pleased without these words provided the heart is right. 1 Tim 6 seems to refer to Timothy's conversion, not some other event. Jesus did not hide his identity from Pilate. Thus in the confession we acknowledge Jesus' Lordship and divine nature. Certainly without this recognition, no one is ready to be baptized!

It seems the ancient Christians used words; perhaps formulae of faith were used even as early as the 1st century.

Homologeo means more than "admit sin." Homologia means more than an intellectual position, though this also is implied. It refers to a stand taken, a conviction, a lifestyle which will follow the fundamental conviction. There is also a public aspect. We are not secret Christians. Yes, discretion may require us at times to be prudent, but we are very different from other members of society, and this cannot be hidden. It insists on its being made known!

In the Greek NT, homologeo means to acknowledge/confess, while exomologeo means to confess as in confess sin. Two different words, the 2nd with prefix ex-.

I hope these thoughts illuminate more than obfuscate. I would keep confession in the study. We must not only see, but admit, and take our stand, upon the true identity of Christ. We cannot hide it.