In view is the results of a key word search for “faith” in the Bible. This means that the Bible may reference the concept elsewhere but not by employing this particular term.
For example, Genesis 15 states that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” wherein “believed in the LORD” (or simply believed the LORD as many translations have it) could be viewed as an act of “faith” and Galatians 3 refers to this event within the context of “faith” stating:
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?…He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham…But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them…That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
There are various pop-level definitions of “faith” from that invented by Atheists to those invented by “easy believism” Christianity.
For example, Richard Dawkins invented the following definition, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence” (make sure you read this footnote1).
“Easy believism” Christianity vaguely defines “faith” as just, like, believing Bible things and stuff such as claiming that if you believe something then, by golly, that is good enough. This is often known as “blind faith.”
As an example, the term “faith” occurs 247 times in 231 verses in the KJV.
It appears as the Hebrew ’emuwnah (Strong’s H530) thusly: faithfulness (18x), truth (13x), faithfully (5x), office (5x), faithful (3x), faith (1x), stability (1x), steady (1x), truly (1x), verily (1x).
It appears as the Greek pistis (Strong’s G4102) thusly: faith (239x), assurance (1x), believe (with G1537) (1x), belief (1x), them that believe (1x), fidelity (1x).
But what does “faith” mean? Well, as with any term 1) meaning is derived from the context in which it is used (and not, for example, from etymology) and 2) any term generally has multiple meanings.
Thus, let us survey the various usages to see what we can learn therefrom. Keep in mind that in many texts the term is simply used without much being offered in the way of definition.
For example, the first usage is Deuteronomy 32:20 which refers to “a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.”
Now, the preceding verses refer note the people:
…provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger. They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not. Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee. And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters. And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
Thus, in this case lack of faith related to worshipping strange gods, with abominations, sacrifice to devils, not to God. This is in contradistinction to that which they ought to have done which is to have been mindful the Rock that begat them, having forgotten God that formed them. Thus, it appears that faith references being mindful of and not forgetting God who contextually is the one who freed them from slavery in Egypt, etc. and thus the one upon whom they should have known to rely and trust.
Habbakkuk 2:4 is the only other Old Testament usage of the particular term translated as “faith” in stating the following with some context included:
I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people:
To “live by his faith” is referred to as a result of the prophet keeping watch, hearing from God, receiving “the vision,” writing it down (“make it plain upon tables”), reading it, discerning the prophecy (“the vision is yet for an appointed time”), etc. and the rest of us trusting it when we learn as much from the prophet.
This text is referenced in Romans 1 which states:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Thus, the gospel is a demonstration of the power of God whereby salvation is allotted to everyone that believes. Now, the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith and this hearkens back to the reference of Abraham believing God or believing in God and having that belief allotted to him as righteousness.
Now that we are getting the hang of the general usage consider the next text which is Matthew 6:30 and states, “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?” The point of the text within context is clear since just as God clothes the grass of the field we can trustfully rely on Him to do the same for us in providing that which we need.
Note that these references to “faith” are within the context of having prior knowledge. That is to say that, for example, knowing that God is the creator and applying that to the context of God providing for His creation the logical and theological conclusion is that we can thus have “faith” in Him.
Matthew 8:10, “When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.” This was in reference to a centurion who demonstrated his belief in Jesus by trustingly relied in Him in stating, “speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Again, prior knowledge of Jesus’ doings lead the centurion to have “faith” in Him.
Matthew 8:26 relates an event wherein the Apostles were afraid of the storm they were experiencing whilst aboard a boat, “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.” Based on prior knowledge, they should have had “faith” in Him or even on their own ability to do as He had done prior.
Matthew 9:2 refers to those who, again, demonstrated belief in Jesus by trustingly relying on Him, “And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.” Just as with the centurion, the friends and/or family of the man sick of the palsy demonstrated belief in Jesus by trustingly relied in Him based on their prior knowledge of Jesus’ doings.
Thus, we see a constant interaction of having knowledge and concluding that “faith” is the logical outcome.
Matthew 9:20-22, “a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment” and demonstrated her knowledge based “faith” in that “she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole. But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.”
Matthew 9:28-29, “the blind men came to him: and Jesus” asks him about his belief, “Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.” Now, the blind man would not have even thought to approach Jesus regarding this without prior knowledge or else he would have approached just anybody and asked them for a healing that would not have occurred. The result is, “Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.”
Note that some of these Matthew texts are reiterated in other gospels thus, the above reference to 247 usages of “faith” include some repetition. Of course, we could survey all 247 usages or the over a hundred that are not reiterated but the pattern seems clear enough.
Let us consider a text that seems to lay out “faith” in the manner of a logical syllogism:
By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure (Hebrews 11:17-19).
The syllogism runs thusly,
1) Abraham offered up Isaac.
2) Of whom it had already been said that “In Isaac your seed shall be called” (aka through whom his lineage would continue).
3) Concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead.
Regardless of what you may think of this logic, it is logical nonetheless: Abraham knew that, somehow, his son would live.
But what is this about “in a figurative sense”? Immediately, it means that Isaac did not actually die. There is quite a bit to be stated in this regard as this text is saturated with symbolism.
Thus, we again see that based on prior knowledge that he could reply on God, Abraham took the logical action based on knowing that God would accomplish His own will—in one way or another.
Lastly, let us consider one of the most referenced texts with regards to “faith” as Hebrews 11:1 states:
Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.
In this case, the text seems as close to actually defining the term “faith” as we will ever find in the Bible as far as a traditional means of defining goes. Thus, faith is the hypostasis (Strong’s G5287) which in all of its usages, the KJV translates as confidence (2x), confident (1x), person (1x), substance (1x). The “Biblical Usage” include, a setting or placing under, that which has foundation, is firm, that which has actual existence, the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution, etc.
Thus, faith is having a mindful confident foundation (ironically, con and fide means with faith) and having it in the things hoped for apparently because contextually you can expect to have certain things to come about.
But also “the evidence of things not seen” much like the testimony of a reliable eyewitness can be taken as evidence of things that you have personally not seen.
For example, no human was there to witness it but it is “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God” which is something that was can discern after the fact by recognizing design. Such things “were not made of things which do appear,” are visible, can be seen, etc.
And recall that “by it the elders obtained a good report” such as Abel, Abraham, etc.
Of course, the artificially divided chapters and verses had Hebrews 11:1 beginning with “Now faith is…” which references that which preceded part of which was, beginning at Hebrews 10:34 which has the writer noting that his fellows “had compassion of me…knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance” which would be based on “faith” based conclusion.
We are also told that “confidence…hath great recompence of reward…after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise…Now the just shall live by faith…”
And so even in such a brief consideration of “faith” we have seen that both the Atheist and easy believism definitions of faith do not reflect the biblical definition.
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- 1. Yet, even when he thus defines “faith,” see this video as to how he admits having faith of his own when it comes to evolution:
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