Obedient Steps of Faith – BT2: Faith or Faithful defined in the Hebrew & Greek
Obedient Steps of Faith – BT2: Faith and Faithful defined in the Hebrew & Greek
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The apostle Paul builds his gospel message in Romans 1:17 from the prophetic Habakkuk 2:4, “[Singular] just/righteous [one] out-from faith shall-actually zao genuinely-live” 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’s word as in 1 Kings 8:26, or “to be firm, sure, stable, faithful, lasting, or trusty/trustworthy toward God” or “to trust in God” (g).
<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 Net Bible notes for Habakkuk 2:4: 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 (referent) of the Hebrew suffix (emunah) has been understood in different ways. It could refer to God’s faithfulness, but in this case one would expect a first person suffix (but the original form of the LXX has “my faithfulness” here). Others understand Habakkuk’s “vision” to be the antecedent (referent). In this case the faithfulness of the prophecy in Habakkuk is in view. For a statement of this view, see J. J. M. Roberts, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah (OTL), 111-12.
However, the NET translation of “the person of integrity shall live because of his faithfulness” assumes that the preceding word in the Hebrew “[the person of] integrity” is the antecedent (referent). In this case the Lord is assuring Habakkuk that those who are truly innocent will be preserved through the vision of 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).
However, Paul makes it clear that what is in view is NOT a person’s faithfulness that warrants God’s favor, which is certainly a Jewish idea, especially if faithfulness is defined as obedience to the Law. Paul’s emphasis in Romans 1:16 is that “the gospel is presently/ongoingly [the singular] dunamis dynamite-like enabling-power of/belonging-to God eis ‘toward and reaching the goal of’ salvation to every-single-one, the [one] routinely/habitually pisteuo having-trusting-relying-faith.”
We see from Bible Info that the New Testament speakers and writers have radically redefined many Old Testament terms and verses to reach Jews for Jesus, because the OT is but “a shadow/outline of things to come, but the substance/reality belongs to Christ,” only “servings as a copy and/coupled shadow of the heavenly things,” especially “the Law has but a shadow of the good things that were to come instead of the true from of these realities” that “have now been revealed to Christ’s holy apostles and/coupled prophets by the Spirit” per Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 8:5, 10:1, and Ephesians 3:5.
The corresponding Greek word for “faith” is the noun pistis in both the OT and NT, from the verb pisteuo and thus means: “a moral conviction, persuasion, or assurance/confidence from a relational trust and dependence or reliance IN God’s faithfulness or trustworthiness.” Can you see how both meanings of the Hebrew are still present? 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 OT LXX Septuagint translators and New Testament writers were using their audience’s knowledge of this to their advantage, as stated above! 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 in place of pistos “faithfulness,” so only the context can help you figure whether faith or faithfulness is being emphasized, or if both aren’t in mind (see below)! As we will see from other words used in conjunction with pistis/pisteuo, faithfulness really is just the “long-suffering, patient-endurance of trusting-relying-faith while under trial/persecution, even before expressing retributive-force from anger.” In other words, you can be full of faith to keep from having a knee-jerk reaction of retaliation to trials or persecution that could make you so angry!
In Revelation 2:19 Jesus’ speaking of “ministry/service and/coupled hupomone ‘patient-endurance under trials/persecution’” is by literary parallelism of metonymy equated to “unconditional-love and/coupled trusting-relying-faith” so that it rightly is read “ministry/service of unconditional-love and/coupled hupomone ‘patient-endurance under trials/persecution’ of trusting-relying-faith.” It’s about holding onto your trusting-relying-faith under trials/persecutions – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT16 for the endurance of saving faith. We see the only 2 NT commandments of having trusting-relying-faith in Christ and unconditionally-loving everybody just-as Jesus unconditionally-loves us integrally related in at least 30 verses (a) – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT20.
<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 connections between trusting-relying-faith, the endurance/steadfastness of faithfulness, and unconditional-love! 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/persecutions’ [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 Greek parallelism, trusting-relying-faith and unconditional-love viewed as a unit (a), is parallel to ‘long-suffering-patience before expressing retributive force from anger’ and ‘patient-endurance under trials/persecutions’ as a unit. <Notes> a) see note ‘a’ above.
Likely Barnabas (a) in Hebrews 6:12 written to Jewish-Christians 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 Jewish people of the past we are to NOW be “imitators of these who are the ones routinely inheriting the promises.” In context, his prescribed action: You have to bite your tongue to your persecutors and sit on your hands while holding onto your trusting-relying-faith in order to inherit the promises. Don’t be persuaded by the Jewish Law-teachers! <Notes> a) Paul’s preaching companion wrote in much better classical Greek than Paul’s cruder koine Greek.
Just as pistis can have a dual meaning of faith and/or faithfulness, the NT also uses the Greek adjective pistos not just ordinarily for “faithful, trustworthy, reliable” but also for “those being persuaded, confiding, or trusting” just as the verb pisteuo “to have trusting-relying-faith” conveys: Just 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 as believers (d) who have shown this by being water-baptized (e). However, ordinarily 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 for Jewish-Christians tempted to go back to Moses: “Now pistis ongoing IS-defined-as/exists-as [the singular] hupostasis confident-trusting-assurance of [plural things] routinely/habitually being elpizo hoped for (a), [the singular] elegchos ‘inward-conviction expressed in outward-confession’ (b) of things absolutely-in-fact-NOT routinely/habitually being seen.” Notice the ‘doing/work’ of confession is closely associated to ‘doing/work’ or trusting-relying-faith, so that the “good confession of The-Trusting-Relying-Faith (The Christian 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. However, in our 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 noun pistis as “faith” and the verb 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/agreement 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 in Part 1 above!
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 in Part 1 above! It is simply the verb form of the noun – it means to have “a moral conviction, persuasion, or assurance from a relational trust and dependence or reliance in God’s faithfulness or trustworthiness,” NOT merely “to accept as true or real” or to have “mental assent/agreement!”
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.” Simple and consistent!
Helps Word-Studies correctly notes: “Pistis/pisteuo does involve belief as agreement, but it goes far 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 as a work of God inside of us,” thus NOT simply the product of man’s rational, intellectual, reasoning “might and power” fleshly efforts but instead comes from “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” FOR God and the completely-different-in-kind chadash/kainos New Covenant “Living Way” WITH God that puts your trusting-relying-faith in “by the means of My Spirit, says Yahweh of hosts” who is the Faithful and Trustworthy One – 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. I’ve heard pastors actually erroneously define faith as this!
Nor is pistis faith believing in the “THING” of 2000-3500 year-old bible verses loosely collected over very long periods of time but mere men, many very politically motivated, that talk ABOUT biblical events and people, who you have never seen, but consider “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. For example, 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, as James points out: “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, genuine, saving 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 because it 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 truly] 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/essence simply as Unconditional-Love. <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.
THIER unconditional-love for us desires to save us and bring us into a genuine, full, experiential, relational epignosis knowledge of THEM that hyperbolically-surpasses gnosis informational-knowledge ABOUT THEM from any book – see Obedient Steps of Faith – BT6!
Spiritual Education, Faith defined from Greek and Hebrew is NOT our English definition, Faith is trust dependence reliance in the Faithfulness Trustworthiness of God NOT a thing, Faith can often imply our Faithfulness through trails or persecution, Faith and Believe are poor translations, Faith is not in a thing but a person because it is trust in their trustworthiness, Endurance of Faith and serving of Love are integrally connected, Enduring faith needed to inherit the promises, Enduring faith needed for salvation, work of faith is linked to confession and water-baptism, Faith is NOT in our own might & power abilities but the Spirit’s power, Faith is NOT in information even if religious, God’s love desire our faith to bring us into relationship-knowledge with them NOT a book like the scribes & Pharisees had