What is Biblical Faith?

In the same way “believe, is often seen as being contrary to experience, as in “I know it looks bad but we just have to believe.”

Faith according to the dictionary

In fact this is one of the meanings for faith/believe found in most dictionaries. The Free Dictionary lists six definitions for faith. The second is quite close to what most people seem to think:

2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.”

Unfortunately, while commonly understood, this definition is a far cry from the meaning of the New Testament noun pistis (πίστις) which is usually translated as faith/belief; and pisteuo, (πιστεύω) the verb rendered believe/have faith. (For good measure we should also include the Greek adjective pistos (πιστός) normally translated as faithful or trustworthy.) These three Greek words have the same essential meaning and are only differentiated by their grammatical use.

It is interesting to me that the first definition of faith given by the Free Dictionary is quite close to the biblical understanding, but quite different from the popular understanding. It is:

1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.”

It turns out that the Greek words pistis, pisteuo, and pistos, are all based on a third Greek word; peitho (πείθω), a verb meaning “to persuade, or be convinced of what is trustworthy.”

Pages: ← Previous | 2 3 4 5 | Next → | Single Page

6 thoughts on “What is Biblical Faith?

  1. It is interesting to read Hebrews 11 in light of your discussion. Verse 13 seems to nicely coincide with your thoughts.

    These all died in faith (loyalty), not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

    Years ago, the passage from verses 13-16 of this chapter helped clarify for me the importance of leaving behind my loyalty to my earthly country and putting my allegiance with the Kingdom of God.

  2. Thank you John, that is a good point that I missed. One of the signs that a new idea is on the right track is that it gives back more than you put into it. In this case we can clearly see that their confession to be strangers and pilgrims was directly the result of their “pisteuo.” “Died in faith” does not make this near a clear as; “died in loyalty” or “died being loyal…”

    I need to emphasize that this is a journey that we are on, to understand scripture. I do not claim to have arrived at the truth, only to being sincere in its pursuit. This is why I started the post with the definition of intellectual humility.

    Again, thank you for sharing you insight. I hope others will follow you example.

  3. Pingback: October Blog Challenge: Faithfulness | Christian Bloggers

  4. Excellent, Chris! I couldn’t agree more–the new testament understanding of faith is concerned with allegiance/loyalty, not mere mental assent.

    For some time, I’ve been intrigued with John 2:23-24, where many had faith in Jesus’ name, but He did not commit Himself, or have faith in them, because He knew all. Not only is this an interesting addition to your question “Does God Have Faith in Us?” it also serves as a commentary on popular understandings of “faith” today–many will profess “belief” but without allegiance.

    Authentic faith is always . . . faithful. It’s that simple. May He find us faithful!

  5. Thank you Helos, and James. Please pray for me, my loyalty/faith is going to be tested this morning. While I think I am willing, I really don’t want it to cost me a job that I have been praying for. I will update this evening.

Please join the conversation...