Obedient Steps of Faith – BT2
Faith/faithful defined in the Hebrew and Greek
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The apostle Paul builds his gospel message in Romans 1:17 from the prophetic Habakkuk 2:4, “The just/righteous ones shall live by faith.” The Hebrew for “faith” is the feminine emunah which means “firmness, steadiness, steadfastness” but also “fidelity, faithfulness, and trust” not just by humans (a) but especially of God (b), which is closely associated to divine mercy (c), righteousness (d), and thus salvation (e). The shorter masculine noun emun means “trusting or faithfulness” (f), which comes from the verb aman meaning “to confirm, nourish, foster, support, especially of God as in Exodus 17:12” or “to be firm, sure, stable, faithful, lasting, or trusty/trustworthy toward God” or “to trust in God” (g). The Net Bible notes: The Hebrew word emunah has traditionally been translated “faith,” but the term nowhere else refers to “belief” as such. When used of human character and conduct it carries the notion of “honesty, integrity, reliability, faithfulness.” The antecedent of the suffix has been understood in different ways. It could refer to God’s faithfulness, but in this case one would expect a first person suffix (the original form of the LXX has “my faithfulness” here). Others understand the “vision” to be the antecedent. In this case the faithfulness of the prophecy is in view. For a statement of this view, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 111-12. The present translation assumes that the preceding word “[the person of] integrity” is the antecedent. In this case the Lord is assuring Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the coming oppression and judgment by their godly lifestyle of faithfulness, for God ultimately rewards this type of conduct. In contrast to these innocent people, those with impure desires (epitomized by the greedy Babylonians; see v. 5) will not be able to withstand God’s judgment (v. 4a). <Notes> a) Psalms 37:3; Proverbs 12:22; Jeremiah 5:3, 7:28, 9:2; 2 Kings 12:16, 22:7; 2 Chronicles 19:9, 31:12, 34:12; Proverbs 28:20, b) Psalms 33:4; 36:6, 88:12, 89:2-3, 6, 9, 34, 50, 100:5, 119:75, 86, 90; Isaiah 25:1; Hosea 2:22; Lamentations 3:21; Deuteronomy 32:4, c) Psalms 89:25, 92:3, 98:3; Hosea 2:22, d) Psalms 96:13, 143:1; Isaiah 11:5, e) Psalms 40:11, f) Deuteronomy 32:20; Proverbs 13:17, 20:6; Isaiah 26:2; Psalms 31:24, g) Deuteronomy 9:23; Isaiah 43:10; Genesis 15:6; Exodus 14:31; Numbers 14:11, 20:12; 2 Kings 17:14; 2 Chronicles 20:20; Psalm 78:22; Jonah 3:5.
The corresponding Greek word is the noun pistis in both the OT and NT, from the verb pisteuo and thus means: “a moral conviction, persuasion, or assurance from a relational trust and dependence in God’s faithfulness or trustworthiness.” The standard scholarly Lexicon BDAG notes that faith is “on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted.” The Greek god Pistis was “The Trustworthy One.” Certainly the NT writers were using their audience’s knowledge of this to their advantage! In a later BLOG, we will see that “The Trustworthy One” of the bible is God as revealed by His Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah! Obedient Steps of Faith – BT14 will explore this aspect of God’s faithfulness more fully.
That’s why the same Greek word pistis for “faith” can be used for pistos “faithfulness,” so only the context can help you figure which is being emphasized, if both aren’t in mind (see below)! As we will see, faithfulness really is just the “long-suffering, patient-endurance of trusting-relying-faith while under trial, even before expressing retributive-force from anger.” In Revelation 2:19 Jesus’ speaking of “unconditional-love and/coupled trusting-relying-faith” (a) are by literary parallelism of metonymy equated to “ministry/service and/coupled hupomone ‘patient-endurance under trials’ ” so that it rightly is read “ministry/service of unconditional-love and/coupled hupomone ‘patient-endurance under trials’ of trusting-relying-faith.” It’s about holding onto your trusting-relying-faith under trials – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT16 for the endurance of saving faith. <Notes> a) “Faith and Love” are a coupled 6 places in that order: 1 Thessalonians 3:6, 5:8; 1 Timothy 1:14, 2:15; 2 Timothy 1:13, and in reverse in 5 places: Ephesians 6:23; 1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:15; Philemon 1:5; Revelations 2:19, and otherwise associated in 19 other places: 1 Corinthians 13:2, 13; 2 Corinthians 8:7; Galatians 2:20, 5:6, 22; Ephesians 1:15, 3:17; Colossians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:5, 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22, 3:10; Titus 2:2; James 2:5; 1 John 3:23; Revelation 1:5.
Paul also makes the faith, endurance of faithfulness, and unconditional-love connections! In 2 Timothy 3:10, Paul says to Timothy: “You, however, have followed the teaching of mine, the conduct [of mine], the setting-forth-predetermined-purpose [of mine]: the trusting-relying-faith [of mine], the makrothumia ‘long-suffering-patience before expressing retributive-force from anger’ [of mine], the unconditional-love [of mine], the hupomone ‘patient-endurance under trials’ [of mine] – the persecutions [of mine], the sufferings [of mine] that happened to me in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra – what manner of persecutions I hupophero carried-under-safely-to-endure.” Here, by parallelism, trusting-relying-faith and unconditional-love as a unit (a), is parallel to ‘long-suffering-patience before expressing retributive force from anger’ and ‘patient-endurance under trials’ as a unit. Likely Barnabas (b) in Hebrews 6:12 also does this coupling: “trusting-relying-faith kai and/coupled makrothumia ‘long-suffering-patience before expressing retributive-force from anger’ of what we see in those people of the past we are to NOW be “imitators of who are the ones routinely inheriting the promises.” In context, his requires action: you have to bite your tongue and sit on your hands while holding onto your trusting-relying-faith in order to inherit the promises. <Notes> a) see note ‘a’ above, b) Paul’s preaching companion wrote in much better classical Greek than Paul’s cruder koine Greek.
Just as pistis can have dual meaning of faith/faithfulness, the NT also uses the Greek adjective pistos not just for “faithful, trustworthy, reliable” but also for “those being persuaded, confiding, or trusting” just as the verb pisteuo conveys: as Abraham did of God’s promises to him (a), Jesus being raised from the dead (b), of Jesus as the Messiah and author of salvation (c), thus as Christians or believers (d) who have shown this by being water-baptized (e). However, normally as mentioned, the Greek word pistos describes “those who have fullness of pistis trusting-relying-faith or loyalty to pistis trusting-relying-faith, thus having faithfulness or trustworthiness.” This is often used of people being faithful even unto death to receive the crown of zoe genuine-life, conquering unto the end to rule over nations (f), but especially of Father-God keeping His promises (g) and of Christ (h).
<Notes> a) Galatians 3:9, b) John 2:27; 1 Peter 1:21; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:14 our pistis faith is void without Christ’s raising, and Colossians 2:12 our pistis faith in the Holy Spirit’s enabling-power raising Christ raises us with Christ as we rise up after water-baptism, c) Acts 16:1; 2 Corinthians 6:15; 1 Timothy 5:16, d) Acts 10:45; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:2; 1 Timothy 4:3, 10, 12, 6:2; Titus 1:6; Revelation 17:14; 3 John 1:56, e) Acts 6:15, f) Matthew 24:45, 25:21, 23; Luke 12:42; 1 Corinthians 4:2, 7:25; Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 1:7, 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:2; Hebrews 3:2; Revelation 2:10, 13, 26, g) 1 Corinthians 1:9, 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Hebrews 10:23, 11:11; 2 Timothy 2:13; 1 John 1:9; 1 Peter 4:19, h) Revelation 1:5, 3:14, 19:11; Hebrews 2:17.
The NT itself explicitly defines pistis faith in Hebrews 11:1, “Now pistis ongoing IS-defined-as/exists-as [the singular] hupostasis confident-trusting-assurance of [plural things] routinely being elpizo hoped for (a), [the singular] elegchos conviction-confession (b) of things absolutely-in-fact-NOT routinely being seen.” Notice the ‘doing/work’ of confession is closely associated to trusting-relying-faith, so that the “good confession of The-Trusting-Relying-Faith in the presence of many witnesses” (c) that is likely at their water-baptism is thus a “work of trusting-relying-faith” (d), which is explored in Obedient Steps of Faith – BT15. In the context of the verses before and after Hebrews 11:1, again this is a patient-enduring faith that does not “shrink back to be destroyed,” which THEN “preserves their souls” – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT16. <Notes> a) elpizo is the verb of elpis hope, thus “faith in future” things, a confident expectation of future events, b) elegchos: an inner conviction that proves or confirms God’s in-birthing of faith, thus an internal persuasion or ‘reproof’ from God per 2 Timothy 3:16 regarding Jewish prophetic ‘portions of’ scripture about the Messiah. These are what are useful in the NT Church – see Logos Word of God – BT6 and – BT7. In court, it is a charge that is shown to be true, often confessed by the accused. In this case it is a confession of The Truth about Jesus “in the presence of witnesses,” that is the confession of “Jesus as Lord” because of the confession/reproof of sin during water-baptism: Matthew 3:6; Mark 1:5; 1 Peter 3:21 – see Surrender Control, c) 1 Timothy 6:12, d) 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.
One of the worst things bibles have done is translate pistis as “faith” and pisteuo as “believe,” as if they meant 2 different things, but in Greek they are just different grammatical forms of 1 thing! English dictionaries define “faith” as “the assent of the mind to the truth of a proposition or statement for which there is NOT complete evidence, thus belief in general.” This is NOT the definition of the Greek pistis nor Hebrew emunah, as we have seen! English dictionaries also define “believe” as “to accept as true or real.” This is NOT the definition of the Greek pisteuo or Hebrew aman, as we have seen! It is simply the verb form of the noun – it is to have “a moral conviction, persuasion, or assurance from a relational trust and dependence in God’s faithfulness or trustworthiness,” not a mere “to accept as true or real” or to have “mental assent!” Can you see how English bibles can be totally misleading – see Bible Info for many other ways! Therefore, to be consistent and accurate, I always translate pistis as the noun “trusting-relying-faith” and pisteuo as the verb “have trusting-relying-faith.”
Helps Word-Studies correctly notes: “Pistis/pisteuo does involve belief, but it goes beyond human believing because it involves the personal ‘in-working’ of revelation from God, ‘a divine persuasion’ with the weight of a guarantee or warranty, not just having human confidence as a work of man but always a work of God,” thus NOT simply the result of man’s rational, intellectual, reasoning “might and power” efforts but “by My Spirit” says the Lord as Zechariah 4:6 predicted for the completely-different-in-kind New Covenant! It certainly takes pistis faith to surrender control of your “might and power” in exchange for “by My Spirit” control of your life! Many Christians simply have not grasped the complete difference between the old covenant “way” of obedience FOR God that puts your trusting-relying-faith in your own “might and power” and the completely-different-in-kind chadash/kainos New Covenant “Living Way” that puts your trusting-relying-faith in “by the means of My Spirit, says Yahweh of hosts” – see New Covenant Ways.
Pistis faith is NOT a “mental assent or agreement” about some THING, like “accepting as true or real” that the chair behind you will hold your weight even though you may have never seen the chair before so you have “no complete evidence” of it being able to do so, nor is pistis faith believing in 2000-3500 bible verses that talk about biblical events and people, who you have never seen “as true or real . . . with NO complete evidence” and have never personally known. Pistis faith goes way beyond agreeing with gnosis informational-knowledge you read or studied in a book, even the bible – more on this in Obedient Steps of Faith – BT6. The Jews have a mantra that “God is One” (a), for “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh our God, the Lord is One” (b). Saying this and ‘mentally agreeing’ with it doesn’t mean much: “You presently/ongoingly pisteuo believe that ‘God is One’ – Well you are doing well, but even the demons presently/ongoingly pisteuo believe [in that] and shudder” (c). No, pistis faith goes far deeper than reciting doctrinal creeds, but so many Christian religions are quite stuck in this – see Creeds of the Faith! <Notes> a) Romans 3:30; Galatians 3:20, b) Mark 12:29 citing Deuteronomy 6:4, c) James 2:19.
Pistis faith is a deep, lasting conviction put into your understanding mind and caring heart by the Triune-God that then puts our trust and dependence or reliance in THE PERSON of a faithful, trustworthy Father-God NOW within a completely-different-in-kind New Covenant, but especially that puts it in THE PERSON of The Father’s representative Son – of Jesus being “in the Father and the Father in Him” (a) so that “I and the Father are One” (b), which implies Jesus was “the [only] good God” (c), and finally THE PERSON of the Father and Son’s Holy Spirit as “the Spirit of trusting-relying-faith” (d) who are ALL in the Triune-God by nature simply as Unconditional-Love. THIER unconditional-love for us desires to save us and bring us into a genuine, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge of THEM that far surpasses gnosis informational-knowledge about THEM from any book – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT6! <Notes> a) John 14:10-11, 20, 38, 17:21, cf. John 8:29, b) John 10:30, 17:11, 22, 14:9, c) Mark 10:17-18; Luke 18:18-19, d) Acts 6:5, 11:24; 1 Corinthians 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:13; Galatians 5:22.