Faith (Word Study #4102)

Posted by on April 18, 2014 in Word Studies | 17 comments

4102 pístis

Properly, persuasion (God giving His persuasion about what pleases Him); faith.

The root of 4102/pístis (“faith”) is 3982/peíthō which means “to persuade or be persuaded.”  This points to the core-meaning of faith in the Bible: “the Lord’s inworked (inbirthed) persuasion” (G. Archer).

Ephesians 2:8-9
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

In its biblical sense, faith is always received by believers (never self-generated).1  Faith is always the gift (work) of God, from the moment of conversion, to the end of sanctification2

1. “According to Heb 11:1-3, faith is a [divine] persuasion of invisible things.” 3 Heb 11:1 refers to faith (pístis) as “God’s warranty (title deed)” given to believers desiring what pleases Him, and hence receiving the persuasion He births within (cf. Heb 11:1 with 1 Jn 5:4).  Faith certifies that the revelation of His will always comes to pass . . . His way! 4

Faith therefore is also an experience with God as well as divine revelation about what pleases Him.  It is all about Him, comes from Him, and glorifies Him.  “Faith then is not the same as human belief (which is a common theological error) explicitly refuted in Scripture” (G. Archer).  Faith is always God’s work (imparted by the Lord, cf. Ro 12:3; 2 Thes 1:11, Gk text).  (Confusion about this leads some to mistake faith as their “tool” to wield supernatural power . . . for self-serving ends.)

2. Faith (pístis) is occasionally used collectively, i.e. of all God has revealed (inworked) concerning His will, as in the infallible revelation of Scripture (cf. Jude 3).  Here again faith is received as God’s grace-gift, guaranteeing that all He says will come to pass, as He wills.

One insightful NT scholar well-remarked, “Pístis can only be translated three ways: ‘faith in God’ (objective genitive); ‘faith from God’ (subjective genitive); and ‘faithfulness of God.’  Since Greek already has a term for faithful (4103/pistós), ‘faithfulness’ is not likely.  Moreover ‘faith in God’ still presumes faith comes from Him which prompts faith-believing – hence the best choice (consistent meaning) of translating pístis (‘faith’) when used with the genitive (God/theou) is ‘faith from God.'”

Grant Osborne, “Faith in Scripture is the gift of God which persuades the receptive heart of what pleases Him.” 5

Working it out . . .

Throughout the Christian life (beginning to end) faith (4102/pístis) is an unearned gift of God.

Eph 2:8,9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith (pístis); and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (NASB).

Gal 5:22,23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith (pístis), gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”6

Faith is related to (yet distinct from) believing (4100/pisteúō).  Faith (a Greek noun) refers to “God’s persuasion birthed in a believer.” Believing (a Greek verb) relates to the human choice to have confidence (affirm, trust).

Faith is not exactly the same as believing, and believing is not exactly faith so the common statement, “Put your faith and trust in Christ” is easily misunderstood where both terms become only a human choice.7

Reflection: Many people believe . . . without having faith – and have faith . . . but lack enough belief to carry it through!  The goal of life is to only do works that are God’s work, through us (1 Jn 4:17).

 


  1. Exegetically, the Greek neuter noun (“gift”) includes faith and salvation (cf. Wm Hendriksen and most other commentators, in loc). 

  2. so Wm. Tyndale, M. Luther, J. Calvin, etc., etc., etc. 

  3. F. Büchsel, TDNT II 476, DNTT, 2, 768 

  4. Faith is “title” to what God leads believers to hope for (what pleases Him) – which always brings a “divine-assurance” (invisible confirmation) of His will (Heb 11:1).  

  5. Faith (pístis) is regularly followed by a noun or pronoun referring to the Lord in the Greek genitive case (like “faith from God”).  While this is routinely understood as an “objective genitive” (= “a person’s faith in God”), the “subjective genitive” is “more natural and theologically far more likely (i.e. ‘faith from God,’ ‘faith birthed by God’)” (G.  Archer).

    Randy Clark, “The word ‘faith’ has traditionally been understood as ‘believing the correct doctrinal positions about Jesus’ . . . they are important.  However in the Bible these are not the emphasis of the word ‘faith.’  Instead, faith as Scripture emphasizes it is most often understood as receiving a word of revelation from God, believing the word that calls for some act of obedience . . . ” (Charisma Magazine, March 2012, pp 37,38).

    Faith from God inspires (produces) faith-believing.  For more discussion see 4100/pisteúō (“believe”). 

  6. 4102/pistis (“faith”) should never be translated “faithfulness.” 

  7. “Faith from God” is distinct from human belief and confidence, though they overlap in meaning. 

17 Comments

  1. I loved it. Digging deep into the Word of God is so amazing and with the help of this website, it is overwhelming.

    • Wonderful Sala, we completely agree with you–digging into God’s Word is amazing!

      Blessings,
      Geoff & The Discovery Bible Team

      PS. Your name looks Polynesian, are you from the Pacific Islands? If so, you may be interested to know that we may have one of the team coming to Fiji next year.

  2. Wonderful simply wonderful. I believe this can do
    a lot for my longing for more understanding of Gods holy word. Thank you.

  3. Thank God !
    A lot of cobwebs are cleared reading this exposition.
    Gary and Goeff, please when is the next reading scheduled? Thx

    • Thank you Charles for letting us know you’re reading Scripture with new light. The Saturday sessions are at: 9:00 am Central, 7:00 am Pacific, 3:00 pm UK, 4:00 pm Nigeria, 5:00 pm Rwanda/South Africa. You can get detailed information on how to join the sessions on the blog posts section of our website. Hope you can join in!

  4. I really appreciate the indepth of GOD,S word thank u so much

  5. Congratulations! Great work, to God’s glory!

  6. I cant use this website like biblehub.com to find the original meaning from the text. So pls help me

    • Thanks for contacting us. Please download the software from here if you would like help to better understand the original meaning from the text.

  7. I really enjoyed reading this. The Old King James version Gal 2:20… “the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God…” showed me this truth very early in my conversion, whereas some other conversions read “.. I live by faith in the Son of God…”. Therefore this was a wonderful reminder and confirmation. Our GOD is AWESOME!!

    • Amen! Thanks for your comments.

  8. I learn more on faith and work ,learn what it mean about gift of faith.

    Jesse.
    07/29/15

  9. Would like to know what the discovery bible and how it is different from other translations.what benefit would it be for me in my daily bible study.

    • The Discovery Bible is unique for a number of reasons. For one, both Hebrew and Greek sentence structures place emphasis on words based on how those words appear in the sentence, but English sentence structure does not work that way. In most English translations, the emphasis that is present in the original text gets lost in translation. The Discovery Bible shows the emphasis with different techniques, depending how the emphasis was conveyed in the original text, so that you see the emphasis that readers of the Hebrew and Greek see. This is just one way that The Discovery Bible brings Hebrew and Greek scholarship to the Bible for the average reader to understand. Verb tenses are another place were some meaning gets lost in translation. There are verb tenses in Hebrew and Greek that we do not have in English. The Discovery Bible uses symbols to show the tenses and provides explanations of those tenses to convey more of the full meaning of the original text. Hebrew and Greek words are also challenging sometimes to translate to English. In English, for example, we use one word, love, that in Greek is represented by many words, all conveying different aspects of love. The Discovery Bible incorporates a Lexicon to define the key words and ties them into to Concordance numbers to allow for in depth word studies. The Lexicon goes deep into the origins and meaning of key words. In these ways, The Discovery Bible incorporates many different scholarship tools all incorporated into one Bible to help open up the fullest and most accurate meaning of Scripture for the person who wants to get to know God and His Word better.

  10. Thanks for giving me a clearer understanding between Faith and Trust. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with me and all who use this site.

  11. What an awesome study. My only concern is with the statement ‘from the moment of conversion’ in the phrase:
    ‘Faith is always the gift (work) of God, from the moment of conversion…’
    If faith is only given from the point of conversion onward, then how does one come to that moment of conversion without faith? I would say that God gives to ALL a measure of faith. I would argue that God imparts faith to all from the moment of conception in the womb (or test tube). However, it is those that put forth their measure of faith to receive Jesus as their Savior that become saved.

    I would be interested to hear any comments.

    Also, my sincere appreciation to all those who have made The Discovery Bible and the software a reality. It’s awesome!

    • Thank you Dino for your encouraging comments. We live and breathe to be of service to Christ and His kingdom.

      It is my understanding only a regenerated person can experience faith from God which seems to rule out faith being imparted from the moment of conception. When Paul states, “For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) he is addressing fellow believers. So it is to all believers that God gives faith.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *