A. This is such an important term in the Bible (cf. Heb. 11:1,6). It is the subject of Jesus' early preaching (cf. Mark 1:15). There are at least two new covenant requirements: repentance and faith (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:16,19; 20:21).


B. Its etymology

1. The term "faith" in the OT meant loyalty, fidelity, or trustworthiness and was a description of God's nature, not ours.

2. It came from a Hebrew term (emun, emunah, BDB 53, i.e., Hab. 2:4), which originally meant "to be sure or stable." Saving faith is

a. a person to welcome (i.e., personal trust, faith, cf. E. 1. below)

b. believing truths about that person (i.e., Scripture, cf. E. 5. below)

c. living a life like that person (i.e., Christlikeness)


C. Its OT usage

It must be emphasized that Abraham's faith was not in a future Messiah, but in God's promise that he would have a child and descendants (cf. Genesis 12:2; 15:2-5; 17:4-8; 18:14; Rom. 4:1-5). Abraham responded to this promise by trusting in God (see Special Topic: Believe, Trust, Faith, and Faithfulness in the OT) and His word. He still had doubts and concerns regarding this promise, which took thirteen years to be fulfilled. His imperfect faith, however, was accepted by God. God is willing to work with flawed human beings who respond to Him and His promises in faith, even if it is the size of a mustard seed (cf. Matt. 17:20) or mixed faith (cf. Mark 9:22-24).


D. Its NT usage

The term "believe" is from the Greek verb pisteuō or noun pistis, which is translated into English as "believe," "faith," or "trust." For example, the noun does not occur in the Gospel of John, but the verb is used often. In John 2:23-25 there is uncertainty as to the genuineness of the crowd's commitment to Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Other examples of this superficial use of the term "believe" are in John 8:31-59 and Acts 8:13, 18-24. True biblical faith is more than an initial response. It must be followed by a process of discipleship (cf. Matt. 13:20-23,31-32; 28:19-20).


E. Its use with prepositions

1. eis means "into." This unique construction emphasizes believers putting their trust/faith in Jesus

a. into His name (John 1:12; 2:23; 3:18; 1 John 5:13)

b. into Him (John 2:11; 3:15,18; 4:39; 6:40; 7:5,31,39,48; 8:30; 9:36; 10:42; 11:45,48; 12:37,42; Matt. 18:6; Acts 10:43; Phil. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:8)

c. into Me (John 6:35; 7:38; 11:25,26; 12:44,46; 14:1,12; 16:9; 17:20)

d. into the Son (John 3:36; 9:35; 1 John 5:10)

e. into Jesus (John 12:11; Acts 19:4; Gal. 2:16)

f. into Light (John 12:36)

g. into God (John 14:1)

2. ev means "in" as in John 3:15; Mark 1:15; Acts 5:14

3. epi means "in" or "upon," as in Matt. 27:42; Acts 9:42; 11:17; 16:31; 22:19; Rom. 4:5,24; 9:33; 10:11; 1 Tim. 1:16; 1 Pet. 2:6

4. the dative case with no preposition as in John 4:50; Gal. 3:6; Acts 18:8; 27:25; 1 John 3:23; 5:10

5. hoti, which means "believe that," gives content as to what to believe

a. Jesus is the Holy One of God (John 6:69)

b. Jesus is the I Am (John 8:24)

c. Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Him (John 10:38) 

d. Jesus is the Messiah (John 11:27; 20:31)

e. Jesus is the Son of God (John 11:27; 20:31)

f. Jesus was sent by the Father (John 11:42; 17:8,21)

g. Jesus is one with the Father (John 14:10-11)

h. Jesus came from the Father (John 16:27,30)

i. Jesus identified Himself in the covenant name of the Father, "I Am" (John 8:24; 13:19)

j. We will live with Him (Rom. 6:8)

k. Jesus died and rose again (1 Thess. 4:14)


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