Recap of the "Faith" Words in the NTVolume 3, Number 10
Created Date: December 16, 2008
Posted Date: December 16, 2008
Faith lived and taught by Jesus:
Before we proceed with our study of the faith of Jesus we must identify the various Greek words relating to faith in the New Testament and examine their use in the 4 Gospels recording His ministry. There are 7 different Greek words translated in the King James Bible with various English words having to do with faith or the lack thereof. Smith's Greek-English Concordance was consulted to determine how each Greek word was translated and where they are found in the four Gospels. These seven words are found 191 times in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John where they are translated with the noun “faith,” the verb “believe,” the adjective “faithful,” and various others such as “of little faith,” “faithless or unbelieving,” “believe not” and “unbelief.” I studied every passage in which they are found and recommend this study to you. The seven words are listed below with a brief explanation of how they are used in the four Gospels:
Faith: The Greek word “pistis” is usually translated with our word faith. It is one of the few words in the Bible for which a definition is so plainly stated: “Now faith is the substance (or foundation) of things hoped for, the evidence (or proof) of things not seen.”. It is a noun, the name of a person, place or thing, therefore this word is the name of the substance or foundation of things hoped for, the evidence or proof of things not seen. “Pistis” is found 244 times throughout the original New Testament (NT) and the King James translators rendered it with our word “faith” in all but five occurrences. Our studies have primarily had to do with the idea and meaning this specific word was used to convey. For our study of the faith of Jesus we find it 24 times in the books that record His earthly ministry: 8 in Matthew; 5 in Mark and 11 in Luke. It is not found in the Gospel of John.
It is significant that in all but one instance when the Greek “pistis” was used in Matthew, Mark and Luke it was when Jesus Himself either uttered it (e.g.,) or made an observation about someone (e.g., .) The one time when someone other than Jesus said this word is: “And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.” . We note in Jesus teaches the mustard is the smallest of any seed, so here in we learn that the very apostles of Jesus had little or no faith in and of themselves at this time in His ministry.
Faithful: The Greek word “pistos” is usually translated with our adjective “faithful” and is found 66 times throughout the NT. For our study on how it is used during Jesus' ministry on earth we find the word faithful 12 times in the Gospels, always uttered by Jesus Himself: 5 in Matthew; 6 in Luke and once in John. In Matthew and Luke Jesus uses it to addresses/explain qualifications for entering God's Earthly Kingdom. The one instance it is found in John it is translated “believing:” “Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.”.
Here, Thomas was used to provide an object lesson to be faithful in the fact that Jesus Christ was/is indeed risen from the dead.
Of little faith: The Greek word “oligopistos” is only found five times in the NT, four in Matthew and once in Luke. It is always translated with the phrase “of little faith” and was always uttered by Jesus when He pointed out the little faith of one or all of His disciples.
Faithless or unbeliever: The Greek word “apistos” is found 23 times in the NT and is translated with various English words. It is translated either “faithless” or “unbeliever” 5 times in the gospels: 1 in Matthew; 1 in Mark; 2 in Luke and once in John. Again we find Jesus Himself used this word on all these occasions. In, and He used it to describe His own disciples and the generation living at that time when they were unable to cast a demon out of a boy; in He used it to describe unbelievers and in John 20:27, after being resurrected, He told Thomas not to be faithless but to believe in Him.
Believe not: Greek “apisteo” found 7 times in the NT. In the Gospels it is found twice in Mark and twice in Luke: three times describing the fact the 11 apostles did not believe when told that Jesus had risen from the dead; once inwhen Jesus said that those who believe not the gospel preached by the apostles will be dammed.
Unbelief: Greek “apistia” found 12 times in the NT. In the Gospels it is found twice in Matthew and three times in Mark. It is used twice when Jesus noted the unbelief of His own disciples and twice when He noted the unbelief of the people in His own home country. It was uttered once by the father of a son who had an evil spirit when He cried out to Jesus to help his unbelief.
Believe: The Greek “Pisteuo” is generally translated with our English verb “believe” and is found 248 times throughout the NT. In the Gospels it is used 11 times in Matthew, 15 in Mark, 9 in Luke and 100 in the Gospel of John (more often than in any other NT book.) In the Gospels the word “Believe” is generally uttered by Jesus Himself however both believers and unbelievers are also recorded as using it. Because it is found 135 times in the four Gospels it would take too much space for this study to make a list breaking down who used it and establish categories describing its use. However it can be observed generally that it is used to convey the truth that a person had to believe Jesus was/is God as well as Man and He was/is the one and only way to approach God and enter His Kingdom.
As a sidelight we note the current English dictionary definition of the word believe: “verb, -lieved, - liev