Easton's Bible Dictionary
Faith is in general the persuasion of the mind that a
certain statement is true (Philippians
1:27 ; 2
Thessalonians 2:13 ). Its primary idea is trust. A thing is true, and therefore
worthy of trust. It admits of many degrees up to full assurance of faith, in accordance
with the evidence on which it rests.
Faith is the result of teaching ( Romans
10:14 - 17
). Knowledge is an essential element in all faith, and is sometimes spoken of
as an equivalent to faith ( John
10:38 ; 1
John 2:3 ). Yet the two are distinguished in this respect, that faith includes
in it assent, which is an act of the will in addition to the act of the understanding.
Assent to the truth is of the essence of faith, and the ultimate ground on which
our assent to any revealed truth rests is the veracity of God.
Historical faith is the apprehension of and assent to certain statements which
are regarded as mere facts of history.
Temporary faith is that state of mind which is awakened in men (e.g., Felix) by
the exhibition of the truth and by the influence of religious sympathy, or by
what is sometimes styled the common operation of the Holy Spirit.
Saving faith is so called because it has eternal life inseparably connected with
it. It cannot be better defined than in the words of the Assembly's Shorter Catechism:
"Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him
alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel."
The object of saving faith is the whole revealed Word of God. Faith accepts and
believes it as the very truth most sure. But the special act of faith which unites
to Christ has as its object the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ (
7:38 ; Acts
16:31 ). This is the specific act of faith by which a sinner is justified
before God ( Romans
3:22 , 3:25
2:16 ; Philippians
3:9 ; John
3:16 - 36
10:43 ; 16:31
). In this act of faith the believer appropriates and rests on Christ alone as
Mediator in all his offices.
This assent to or belief in the truth received upon the divine testimony has always
associated with it a deep sense of sin, a distinct view of Christ, a consenting
will, and a loving heart, together with a reliance on, a trusting in, or resting
in Christ. It is that state of mind in which a poor sinner, conscious of his sin,
flees from his guilty self to Christ his Saviour, and rolls over the burden of
all his sins on him. It consists chiefly, not in the assent given to the testimony
of God in his Word, but in embracing with fiducial reliance and trust the one
and only Saviour whom God reveals. This trust and reliance is of the essence of
faith. By faith the believer directly and immediately appropriates Christ as his
own. Faith in its direct act makes Christ ours. It is not a work which God graciously
accepts instead of perfect obedience, but is only the hand by which we take hold
of the person and work of our Redeemer as the only ground of our salvation.
Saving faith is a moral act, as it proceeds from a renewed will, and a renewed
will is necessary to believing assent to the truth of God ( 1
Corinthians 2:14 ; 2
Corinthians 4:4 ). Faith, therefore, has its seat in the moral part of our
nature fully as much as in the intellectual. The mind must first be enlightened
by divine teaching ( John
6:44 ; Acts
13:48 ; 2
Corinthians 4:6 ; Ephesians
1:17 , 1:18
) before it can discern the things of the Spirit.
Faith is necessary to our salvation ( Mark
16:16 ), not because there is any merit in it, but simply because it is the
sinner's taking the place assigned him by God, his falling in with what God is
The warrant or ground of faith is the divine testimony, not the reasonableness
of what God says, but the simple fact that he says it. Faith rests immediately
on, "Thus saith the Lord." But in order to this faith the veracity, sincerity,
and truth of God must be owned and appreciated, together with his unchangeableness.
God's word encourages and emboldens the sinner personally to transact with Christ
as God's gift, to close with him, embrace him, give himself to Christ, and take
Christ as his. That word comes with power, for it is the word of God who has revealed
himself in his works, and especially in the cross. God is to be believed for his
word's sake, but also for his name's sake.
Faith in Christ secures for the believer freedom from condemnation, or justification
before God; a participation in the life that is in Christ, the divine life ( John
14:19 ; Romans
6:4 - 10
4:15 , 4:16
, etc.); "peace with God" ( Romans
5:1 ); and sanctification ( Acts
26:18 ; Galatians
5:6 ; Acts
All who thus believe in Christ will certainly be saved ( John
6:37 , 6:40
The faith=the gospel ( Acts
6:7 ; Romans
1:5 ; Galatians
1:23 ; 1
Timothy 3:9 ; Jude
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
In the Old Testament (the King James Version) the word occurs only twice:
32:20 ('emun); Habakkuk
2:4 ('emunah). In the latter the Revised Version (British and American) places
in the margin the alternative rendering, "faithfulness." In the New Testament
it is of very frequent occurrence, always representing pistis, with one exception
in the King James Version (not the Revised Version (British and American)), Hebrews
10:23, where it represents elpis, "hope."
The history of the English word is rather interesting than important; use and
contexts, alike for it and its Hebrew and Greek parallels, are the surest guides
to meaning. But we may note that it occurs in the form "feyth," in Havelok the
Dane (13th century); that it is akin to fides and this again to the Sanskrit root
bhidh, "to unite," "to bind." It is worth while to recall this primeval suggestion
of the spiritual work of faith, as that which, on man's side, unites him to God
a Divergency: Studying the word "faith" in the light of use and contexts, we find
a bifurcation of significance in the Bible. We may word distinguish the two senses
as the passive and the active; on the one side, "fidelity," "trustworthiness";
and "faith," "trust," on the other. In Galatians
5:22, for example, context makes it clear that "fidelity" is in view, as a
quality congruous with the associated graces. (the Revised Version (British and
American) accordingly renders pistis there by "faithfulness.") Again, Romans
3:3 the King James Version, "the faith of God," by the nature of the case,
means His fidelity to promise. But in the overwhelming majority of cases, "faith,"
as rendering pistis, means "reliance," "trust." To illustrate would be to quote
many scores of passages. It may be enough here to call attention to the recorded
use of the by our Lord. Of about twenty passages in the Gospels where pistis occurs
as coming from His lips, only one (Matthew
23:23) presents it in the apparent sense of "fidelity." All the others conspicuously
demand the sense of "reliance," "trust." The same is true of the apostolic writings.
In them, with rarest exceptions, the words "reliance," "trust," precisely fit
the context as alternatives to "faith."
3. Faith in the Sense of Creed:
Another line of meaning is traceable in a very few passages, where pistis, "faith,"
appears in the sense of "creed," the truth, or body of truth, which is trusted,
or which justifies trust. The most important of such places is the paragraph James
2:14 - 26,
where an apparent contradiction to some great Pauline dicta perplexes many readers.
The riddle is solved by observing that the writer uses "faith" in the sense of
creed, orthodox "belief." This is clear from James
2:19, where the "faith." in question is illustrated: "Thou believest that
God is one." This is the credal confession of the orthodox Jew (the shema'; see
6:4), taken as a passport to salvation. Briefly, James presses the futility
of creed without life, Paul the necessity of reliance in order to receive "life
4. A Leading Passage Explained:
It is important to notice that Hebrews
11:1 is no exception to the rule that "faith" normally means "reliance," "trust."
There "Faith is the substance (or possibly, in the light of recent inquiries into
the type of Greek used by New Testament writers, "the guaranty") of things hoped
for, the evidence (or "convincing proof") of things not seen." This is sometimes
interpreted as if faith, in the writer's view, were, so to speak, a faculty of
second sight, a mysterious intuition into the spiritual world. But the chapter
amply shows that the faith illustrated, e. g. by Abraham, Moses, Rahab, was simply
reliance upon a God known to be trustworthy. Such reliance enabled the believer
to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen. In short, the phrase
here, "faith is the evidence," etc., is parallel in form to our familiar saying,
"Knowledge is power."
A few detached remarks may be added: The history of the use of the Greek pistis
is instructive. In the Septuagint it normally, if not always, bears the "passive"
sense "fidelity," "good faith," while in classical Greek it not rarely bears the
active sense, "trust." In the koine, the type of Greek universally common at the
Christian era, it seems to have adopted the active meaning as the ruling one only
just in time, so to speak, to provide it for the utterance of Him whose supreme
message was "reliance," and who passed that message on to His apostles. Through
their lips and pens "faith," in that sense, became the supreme watchword of Christianity.
In conclusion, without trespassing on the ground of other articles, we call the
reader's attention, for his Scriptural studies, to the central place of faith
in Christianity, and its significance. As being, in its true idea, a reliance
as simple as possible upon the word, power, love, of Another, it is precisely
that which, on man's side, adjusts him to the living and merciful presence and
action of a trusted God. In its nature, not by any mere arbitrary arrangement,
it is his one possible receptive attitude, that in which he brings nothing, so
that he may receive all. Thus "faith" is our side of union with Christ. And thus
it is our means of possessing all His benefits, pardon, justification, purification,
life, peace, glory.
As a comment on our exposition of the ruling meaning of "faith" in Scripture,
we may note that this precisely corresponds to its meaning in common life, where,
for once that the word means anything else, it means "reliance" a hundred times.
Such correspondence between religious terms (in Scripture) and the meaning of
the same words in common life, will be found to be invariable.
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