Friday, August 15, 2008


2 Corinthians 10 The Conflict.


If you feel like you’ve had a bad day, listen to this. I think it will cheer you up. It is reputedly an actual statement, written by a bricklayer, and turned in to his company requesting sick leave.

“When I got to the building site I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks from around the top of the building. So I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building and hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks. “When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. So, I placed the extra bricks in a barrel. “I then went to the bottom and began releasing the line. Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was much heavier than I was and before I knew what was happening, the barrel started coming down, jerking me up. I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump, and halfway up I met the barrel of bricks coming down fast. I received a hard blow to my shoulder. “I then continued to the top of the building, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers pinched and jammed in the pulley. When the barrel hit the ground hard it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out. “I was now heavier than the barrel. So, I started down again at high speed. Halfway down I met the barrel coming up fast and received several injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises. “At this point I must have lost my presence of mind. I let go of the line. The barrel came down fast, giving me another blow on my head and putting me in the hospital. Therefore, I respectfully request sick leave.”

Now, that’s what I call a bad day! We all have bad days like that, regardless of who we are. And being a Christian doesn’t alter that fact. Christians have bad days just like everyone else. There are some today who are preaching a health and- wealth theology. One of the messages that comes through from them is that if you are really a Christian, if you are truly dedicated, hard times won’t come to you. Your life will be one long emotional high. You will enjoy endless health, boundless wealth and perpetual enthusiasm all your days.

Fiery Zorba the Greek was more nearly correct when he said, “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive means to buckle your belt and look for trouble.”

Here in Corinthians 10 we see the heart of the apostle.

And it was troubled. He had experienced trouble from some at Corinth, whose whole ambition was to make trouble. Some troubled people see their whole purpose in life as being to bring trouble. Of course, they rarely perceive that the troubles that unsettle their souls are projected onto others.

Here like no other place do we see the heart of the Apostle.

Alexander Maclaren wrote of this passage, “These slanderers seem to have thought of Paul as if he ‘ warred according to flesh,’ and it is this charge, that he was actuated in his opposition to the evils in Corinth by selfish considerations and worldly interests, which seems to have set the Apostle on fire. In answer he pours out quick, indignant questionings, sharp irony, vehement self-vindication, passionate remonstrances, flashes of wrath, sudden jets of tenderness. What a position for him to have to say, ‘I am not a low schemer; I am not working for myself.’ Yet it is the common lot of all such men to be misread by little, crawling creatures who cannot believe in heroic self-forgetfulness.”

1. The Charges Used Against God’s People

a. They charged the Apostle Paul With Abusing His Pastoral Authority.

Inconsistent - timid/bold, when close/far. cf. 1 Cor 2:3

He lives by standards of this world. 10:2“He walked after the flesh” his motives were impure.

His threats are empty. They Charged Paul With Weakness He was weak when with them.

His ties to Jesus aren't that strong. 10:7

They challenged his authority over the church. 10:8

They said he was an unimpressive and lousy speaker. 10:10

He was bold and abusive

Actually he used his moral authority. He taught God’s Word. He acted in his own life with integrity.

He didn’t allow others to exercise supposed authority over others, rather he exposed those trying to do so. “by the meekness and gentleness of Christ.” Chrysostom : “It is from being meek, not from want of power, that he does not proceed against them: for Christ also did in like manner.”

Look at the strength of the opposition. We saw that the apostle shows us the reason why we have so many "strongholds," these heavy problems in life, these tough, difficult, knotty problems. It is because they are buttressed, or supported, first of all, by arguments, rationalizations, and reasonings which appear to be logical and thus give strength and solidity to evil. We saw that behind all this is the heart of the matter: human pride, pride which in its essence is independence against God; "that high thing," says Paul, "that exalts itself against the knowledge of God," {cf, 2 Cor 10:5}.

2. The Conflict In Which God’s People Are Engaged.

The Middle East. South Africa. All are battlegrounds where flesh-and-blood enemies clash daily with each other. We see the gunfire on the nightly news. We read of the casualties in the morning paper. We hear about the escalation of conflicts on the radio. And yet they are only metaphors of a far more literal battle. Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armour of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. (Eph. 6:10-1 I)

The Greek word for "schemes" is methwdeia, from which we get our word method. It means "cunning arts, deceit, treachery." That's the devil's strategy. Consequently, our struggle is not in the physical realm hut in the spiritual.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, hut against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (v. 12)

This verse describes the hierarchy of the satanic army that is bent on our destruction. Demonic activity is both real and relentless. No "R and R" for Satan's army. These soldiers work around the clock, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, year after year. All the more reason to put on the armour of Ephesians 6: 10 -17. All the more reason to be alert (l Pet. 5:8).

Another word-methodeia-is even more vivid.

In order that no advantage he taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes. (2 Cor. 2: 11)

Here, the Greek word for "schemes" is not methwdeia but noeua.

It means "mind" and is so translated in 2 Corinthians ): 14,4:4, amI II :). Basically Paul is saying, "We're not ignorant to Satan's mind games or unaware of his mental attacks." The bloodless battle nobody notices is the mental battle.

Perhaps no book illustrates the schemes of Satan better than The Screwtape Letters. In imaginary correspondence between an older devil, Screwtape, and his ambitious young nephew, Wormwood, C. S. Lewis lifts the veil on the inner workings of Satan's dark hierarchy.

“Doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to make too report spectacular wickedness. But do re­member, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cuds can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without mile­stones, without signposts. Your affectionate uncle Screwtape"

In biblical days cities were built with defences to protect them from enemy invasion. The primary structure, consequently, was the wall that surrounded the city. That's why, when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city, he started with the wall. That's why, when Jericho was invaded by the Israelites, the strategy centred around bringing down the walls.

To protect against attack, a wall with towers were constructed within the wall. During a siege, military intelligence would give commands from these observation towers to those on the wall itself.

That image is in Paul’s mind : he compares the spiritual battle.

The fortress is our mind. Speculations represent the wall built around that fortress. This is our overall mindset, our pattern of reasoning, our mental attitude. Not until the Lord penetrates that thick wall of defence can we attain victory over our thoughts. The lofty things of verse 5 constitute mental blocks that we have developed over the years. These keep us from true faith in Christ. These need to be brought down.

a. The Weapons That God’s People Use.

The first: "We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God." We pull down (literally), we destroy these two things: arguments and pride.

Second, we capture every thought to obey Jesus Christ. 10:5 Take every thought captive to Christ.

And thirdly we demolish arguments against God. 10:5

Well, what are these weapons? That is the major issue I want to face with you now.

What are these weapons? If they are not normal human plans, what are they?

If they do not include these approaches that are so common today, then what are they?

The first thing it does, the apostle says, is to destroy or pull down arguments and pride. But it does this, not by an overwhelming counterattack against these arguments, we have already established that, but, rather, by a process of undermining them. In other words, the gospel does not attack the reasonings of men directly. It is not simply a debate, or a dialogue even. The gospel is not an attempt to answer argument with counter-argument, or merely to expose the error in reasoning of those who offer false views of life. The gospel does not do that. Instead, it assaults the man behind the argument. That is the way it works. Instead of destroying the philosophy directly, the gospel captures the philosopher, and thus destroys the philosophy. It is very important that we see this plainly. The gospel undermines arguments by capturing the arguer; it reaches behind the argument to change the man. When that happens, you not only have ended the argument, but you have gained the man as a proponent for an entirely different view of life, changed him drastically and dramatically.

There are several ways in which this takes place. You can see it confirmed in life around you, and also illustrated very plainly and clearly in the Scriptures.

First, the gospel addresses itself to the vacuums created in the heart of man by the very arguments with which he supports his false ideas. In other words, it declares truth which lies beyond the reach of these reasonings, these arguments of men.

I was interested this week to read a review of C. S. Lewis' writings by a man who, though he was a Christian, was taking the position of an atheistic reviewer. In reviewing Lewis' book, Mere Christianity, which is his basic explanation of the Christian message, this reviewer said, from an atheistic point of view:

It is most disconcerting to have one's case against Christianity well in hand, only to find that Lewis doesn't give the answers we expect to refute.

Yes, it is disconcerting. It throws them, it puzzles them. They do not understand what you are doing. But this is the heart of the gospel. It reveals things men do not know, and yet which they sense are true. Thus it addresses itself to the vacuums in men's life which are not covered by their specious, reasoned arguments. when man lives without Christ, and, therefore without the knowledge of God, life for him has no depth at all. Life is shallow, lived in the surface. It may be broad, but it is shallow; it has no depth. This lack of depth is seen in human beings in several ways. It is revealed in restlessness, for instance, in not being captivated very long by anything, in becoming easily bored. Also a discontent, and an indifference to things of the spirit, is indicative of a lack of depth. Fear of solitude, or, paradoxically, a fear of crowds, is an indication of lack of depth.

It is to these hidden hungers that the gospel speaks. It makes marvelous appeal and reaches behind the arguments. T. S. Eliot's poem, The Rock, that expresses them very powerfully. He says,

All our knowledge brings us nearer to our ignorance, And all our ignorance brings us nearer to death,

But nearness to death no nearer to God. Where is the life we have lost in living?

First, the Christian presentation was rational. It was founded on fact. It did not set aside reason, nor did it overleap the need for intellectual understanding and grasp of the basis of these things, that they were founded in history.

Also, the resurrection of Jesus could never be explained except on terms of God at work doing unusual things, supernatural things.

The Gospel appeals to the basic need of man, his need of Forgiveness, his need of finding freedom from guilt and fear. This is where the gospel has power. It comes at man in an unexpected way, gets behind his carefully erected defenses, very much like the attack of the Nazis upon France in World War II. They simply ignored the Maginot Line that had been erected and went around it on an end sweep and came through the low countries into France. And so the gospel does, when properly presented. This is why it is impossible for men to erect adequate defenses against the gospel. We need to understand this. Do not try to assault the castle at its strongest point; there are also weak spots which can be broached and which make a man, even an intellectual, wide open to the assault of the gospel.

God has made everything beautiful in its time," {cf, Eccl 3:11a RSV}. Man always agrees with that. But then it goes on to say, "also he has put eternity into man's mind," {Eccl 3:11b RSV}. Man can never forget that. He is an eternal being, and he knows it. Despite the superficiality of his life there are cries from the depths of his heart to which the gospel speaks. This is the great proclamation we make. Here is One who entered the stream of humanity and who can do something about these desperate things that grip and hold our spirits in implacable bondage.

He breaks the power of cancelled sin He sets the prisoner free.

His blood can make the foulest clean His blood availed for me.

The gospel destroys arguments and humbles pride by presenting the indisputable record of changed lives. It produces righteousness in people, undeniably. Here is where the weapons of righteousness come in, "on the right hand and on the left," {2 Cor 6:7b KJV}. The gospel has demonstrated that it works, that it changes people. That record has power to break down arguments and to humble pride.

Dr. H. A. Ironside. Many of you know that for years he was a captain of the Salvation Army in San Francisco. "Look. You say that our message is not the truth, and that we're teaching people a lie, hoodwinking them, and bringing them into a religious delusion. Now I'd like to propose something to you: Next week let's meet here again on this spot. You bring with you an individual who has been, perhaps, a drunkard or a prostitute or has known evil in some open, flagrant form, but who has been changed by your message of atheism. Bring him with you, and let him bring testimony to the change that has come by believing the teachings of atheism. For everyone you bring, I'll bring a hundred with me who have been set free by the gospel of Jesus Christ." The man said. "I'm sorry, I can't meet you on those terms."

The Gospel destroys arguments and humbles pride because it is always accompanied by acts of true love. Here again is a secret of the power of the gospel. I mean to distinguish now between acts of true love and those acts of official help which are often offered through relief and welfare agencies, interracial programs, etc., in our day. "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends," {John 15:13 RSV}.

The Gospel destroys arguments with the greatest weapon, prayer.

Lord Tennyson quite accurately observed, "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."

The Lord Jesus said, "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father might be glorified in

the Son," {John 14:13 RSV}."If you ask anything in my name, I will do it, in order that the Father might be glorified in the Son," {cf, John 14:14, 14:13 RSV}. He said, too, "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed (not very much; just a tiny grain of faith) you shall ask what you will and it shall he done unto you," {cf, Matt 17:20, John 15:7}. Those are great words, great promises. "If you have faith..." It must be faith in response to what God has said, not merely a blind leap in the dark. The Apostle John says, "This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us ... we know that we have the petitions that we ask of him," {cf, 1 Jn 5:14-15}.

The Apostle Paul has many passages that deal with this matter of prayer. In Ephesians, he says, specifically, about warfare against the spiritual powers of darkness, "Pray at all times in the Spirit with all prayer and supplication," {Eph 6:18a RSV}. "The end of all things is at hand: therefore keep sane and sober unto prayer," {1 Pet 4:7 RSV}.

First of all then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.{1 Tim 2:1-2 RSV} I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. {1 Tim 2:8 RSV}Why the men? Well, because men ought to be more concerned about what is going on in their community, and more informed about it: therefore they are the ones that ought to be praying about these matters. They are the ones who need to see prayer is their first resort, and not their last resort. They are the ones who need to know that apart from the Lord they can do nothing. How often have I seen men’s schemes come to nothing. All because God resists the proud and lifts up the humble. Do you believe in the power of prayer? Do you believe that God will and does act directly in the affairs of men in response to the petitions of his people? Our problem is that we profess this, but in our deeds we deny it. We really believe, I think, that God is going to work it all out, no matter what, so there's no use praying. It is every thing which the pride of human reason exalts against the knowledge of God; i.e. that revelation of himself which God has made in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20. The conflict to which the apostle here refers is that between truth and error, between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world. When the gospel was first proclaimed it found itself in conflict with all the forms of religion and philosophy then prevailing among men. To the wise of this world the gospel appeared as foolishness. It was, however, the wisdom and power of God. The conflict then begun has continued ever since, and is now as deadly as at any former period. Men of science and philosophers are as confident in their conclusions, and as much disposed to exalt themselves, or their opinions against the knowledge of God as ever. There is no doubt as to the issue of this contest. It is a contest between God and man, in which, of course, God must prevail. The instructive lesson which the apostle designs here to inculcate is, that this warfare must not be conducted on the part of the advocates of the gospel, with carnal weapons. They must not rely upon their own resources and attempt to overcome their enemies by argument. They must not become philosophers and turn the gospel into a philosophy. This would be to make it a human conflict on both sides. It would be human reason against human reason, the intellect of one man against the intellect of another man. Paul told the Corinthians in his former epistle, that he did not appear among them as a philosopher, but as a witness; he came not with the words of man’s wisdom; he did not rely for success on his powers of argument or of persuasion, but on the demonstration of the Spirit. The faith, which he labored to secure, was not to be founded on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God; not on arguments addressed to the understanding, but on the testimony of God. That testimony has the same effect which intuition has. It reveals the truth to the mind and conscience as self-evident; and therefore it cannot be resisted. A rationalistic Christian, a philosophizing theologian, therefore, lays aside the divine for the human, the wisdom of God for the wisdom of men, the infinite and infallible for the finite and fallible. The success of the gospel depends on its being presented, not as the word of man, but as the word of God; not as something to be proved, but as something to be believed. It was on this principle Paul acted, and hence he was in no degree intimidated by the number, the authority, the ability, or the learning of his opponents. He was confident that he could cast down all their proud imaginations, because he relied not on himself but on God whose messenger he was.

Alexander Maclaren wrote “Paul believed that the weapons of his warfare were mighty enough to cast down the strongest of all strongholds in which men shut themselves up against the humbling Gospel of salvation by the mercy of God. The weapons to which he thus trusted were the same to which Jesus pointed His disciples when, about to leave them, He said,’ When the Comforter is come He will convict the world of sin because they Believe not in Me.’

Paul’s way of kindling penitence in impenitent spirits was not to brandish over them the whips of law or to seek to shake souls with terror of any hell, still less was it to discourse with philosophic calm on the obligations of duty and the wisdom of virtuous living; his appeal to conscience was primarily the pressing on the heart of the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. When the heart is melted, the conscience will not long continue indurated. We cannot look lovingly and believingly at Jesus and then turn to look complacently on ourselves.”

Chrysostom: “And mark the absence of pride in him; for he said not, ‘we are mighty,’ but, “our weapons are mighty before God.” ‘We did not make them such, but God Himself.’ For because they were scourged, were persecuted, and suffered wrongs incurable without number, which things were proofs of weakness: to show the strength of God he says, “but they are mighty before God.” For this especially shows His strength, that by these things He gains the victory.”

b. The Wisdom That God’s People Understand

I did not come to argue with you, or to discuss philosophy. I did not come to bandy about the wisdom of the world, or to argue with you on the basis of one viewpoint versus another, or one human authority against another. I came to introduce a new element.

Each of us is capable of introducing into any situation in which we find ourselves, a totally new element, a radical difference. This is what I labor to get across to Christians who are immersed in a pessimistic fog of despair. There is a radical difference about the gospel; a unique element is introduced into life. Paul puts it in one phrase, it is the truth about the cross of Jesus Christ. The word of the cross, he says, "is the power of God unto salvation," {Rom 1:16 KJV}.

Its an issue of where you put your trust.

1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; 24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Corinthians 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

Friends, you have all the weaponry you need to overcome the false ideas treasured in people’s minds and hearts. You can overcome these problems.

You have the weapon of prayer.

You have the weapon of the gospel.

You have the weapon of trust in a God who is able to break down the barriers.

You have the weapon of your own testimony to the fulfilment that you have found in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the power of God to overcome your sins.

This is what people want. There is an aching void in each human heart that cries out for this. The Lord wants to break down the foretresses in those who do not know the Saviour and bring them to the Lord. The Lord wants to break down the barriers in those who are false apostles or false disciples and bring them to know the Lord. Will you trust Him?

The issue of how people come to faith in Christ is brought here to our attention.

John’s gospel says lots about it.

Reasonable belief.

Belief built upon empiric observations.

Joh 10:38 εἰ δὲ ποιῶ, κἂν ἐμοὶ μὴ πιστεύητε, τοῖς ἔργοις πιστεύετε, ἵνα γνῶτε καὶ γινώσκητε ὅτι ἐν ἐμοὶ ὁ πατὴρ κἀγὼ ἐν τῷ πατρί.

But if I am doing them and you don’t believe Me, believe the works. This way you will know and understand that the Father is in Me and I in the Father.” HCSB

(AMP) But if I do them, even though you do not believe Me or have faith in Me, [at least] believe the works and have faith in what I do, in order that you may know and understand [clearly] that the Father is in Me, and I am in the Father [One with Him].

(ESV) but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."

(GNT-V) ει δε ποιω καν εμοι μη πιστευητε τοις εργοις Aπιστευετε TSBπιστευσατε ινα γνωτε και Aγινωσκητε TSBπιστευσητε οτι εν εμοι ο πατηρ καγω εν Aτω Aπατρι TSBαυτω

Joh 10:38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

The difference in ancient manuscripts here indicates a preference of the textual critics for taking the more difficult reading as the more likely to be authentic reading. The more understandable reading.. “know and believe” is testified to by the T S and B Manuscripts where t represents Tischendorf, S represents stephanos, and B represents the Byzantine text.

A represents aleph or Siniaticus.

In layman’s’ terms, the text represented in the KJV translation reads “know and believe”.

However, the text represented in the AMP RSV, ESV, NASB, NIV HCSB translation reads “know and know”.

Robertsons’ Word pictures: (hina gnōte kai ginōskēte). Purpose clause with hina and the same verb ginōskō repeated in different tenses (first gnōte, the second ingressive aorist active subjunctive, that ye may come to know; then the present active subjunctive, “that ye may keep on knowing”).

Belief built upon testimonies.

John 5

31 “If I testify about Myself, My testimony is not valid. 32 There is Another who testifies about Me, and I know that the testimony He gives about Me is valid. 33 You have sent [messengers]to John, and he has testified to the truth. 34  I don’t receive man’s testimony, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 John was a burning and shining lamp, and for a time you were willing to enjoy his light. 36 “But I have a greater testimony than John’s because of the works that the Father has given Me to accomplish. These very works I am doing testify about Me that the Father has sent Me. 37 The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form. 38 You don’t have His word living in you, because you don’t believe the One He sent. 39 You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. 40 And you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

John 10: 40 So He departed again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and He remained there. 41 Many came to Him and said, “John never did a sign, but everything John said about this man was true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

Belief built upon previous beliefs -foundationalism.

John 5:45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. 47 But if you don’t believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Wuest Studies in the Vocabulary of The Greek New Testament

The verb is pisteuo, the noun pistis, the adjective pistos. In classical Greek pisteuo meant to believe, trust, trust in, put faith in, rely upon a person or thing. In the passive voice it meant I am entrusted with a thing, have it committed to me. Pistis meant trust in others, faith. Pistos meant faithful, trusty, true, used of persons one believes or trusts.

"The N.T. conception of faith includes three main elements, mutually connected and requisite, though according to circumstances sometimes one and sometimes another may be more prominent, viz., (1) a fully convinced acknowledgement of the revelation of grace; (2) a self-surrendering fellowship (adhesion); and (3) a fully assured and unswerving trust (and with this at the same time hope) in the God of salvation or in Christ. None of these elements is wholly ignored by any of the N.T. writers." Thus, the word sometimes refers to an acknowledgment that a certain statement is true (Mt. 21:25), and sometimes to a definite commitment of one's soul into the keeping of another (John 5:24).

Theological Dictionary of the New testament

pisteúo to believe, trust,

pístis faith, trust,

pistós faithful, trusting,

pistóō to make someone trust,

ápistos faithless, unbelieving,

apistéō to disbelieve, be unfaithful,

apistía unfaithfulness, unbelief,

oligópistos of little faith,

oligopistía littleness of faith

A. Greek Usage.

I. Classical.

1. pistós, which is attested first, means a. “trusting” (also with the nuance of “obedient”) and b. “trustworthy,” i.e., faithful, reliable.

2. ápistos means a. “distrustful” and b. “untrustworthy,” “unreliable.”

3. pístis has the sense of a. “confidence,” “certainty,” “trust,” then b. “trustworthiness,” and c. “guarantee” or “assurance” in the sense of a pledge or oath with the two nuances of “trustworthiness” and “proof.”

4. pisteúō means “to trust” (also “to obey”), “to believe” (words), and in the passive “to enjoy confidence” (cf. the later sense “to confide in”).

III. Philo’s Concept of Faith.

For Philo faith is primarily belief in the one God and trust in his providence. Its real point is a turning from the transient world to the eternal God. This is a disposition of the soul rather than a response to the word. The influence of Platonism and Stoicism may be seen at these points. The relation to the people and its history is snapped, faith is oriented to pure being, which is finally accessible only to ecstasy, and in the last resort faith seems to be more a relation to the self than it is to God.

The pístis Group in the NT.

I. Formal Considerations.

1. pisteúō. Formally in the NT, as in Greek usage, pisteúō denotes reliance, trust, and belief. We find similar constructions to those in the Greek world. Semitic usage produces some new ones, e.g., with epí plus the dative or accusative, or with en. Distinctive is the use of pisteúein with eis, which has the new and strong sense of “believing in” and arises in the context of the church’s mission. Another fairly common sense of pisteúein is “to entrust or commit oneself” (cf. Luke 16:11; Jn. 2:24; also in the passive).

2. pístis. As in Greek, this word means “faithfulness” and more commonly (religious) “trust” or “faith,” usually in the absolute, but with eis, prós, epí, en, and also with an objective genitive.

3. pistós. This word may mean either “faithful” or “trusting.”

a. pisteúō as “to believe.” In the NT the group becomes a leading one to denote the relationship with God, partly on the OT basis and partly in connection with the Christian mission and its call for faith as a turning to God. The verb is often used for believing God’s word, e.g., Scripture (Jn. 2:22), the prophets (Acts 26:27), Moses (Jn. 5:46-47), or what God says through an angel (Luke 1:20) or the Baptist (Mark 11:31). Along these lines the NT says that the people should believe Jesus and his words (Jn. 3:34; 5:38).

b. pisteúō as “to obey.” Heb. 11 stresses that to believe is to obey, as in the OT Paul in Rom. 1:8; 1 Th. 1:8 (cf. Rom. 15:18; 16:19)shows, too, that believing means obeying. He speaks about the obedience of faith in Rom. 1:5, and cf. 10:3; 2 Cor. 9:13.

c. pisteúō as “to trust.” This sense is prominent where OT influence is strong, as in Heb. 11, and cf. Mark 5:36; Acts 3:16; 14:9. A connection with prayer emerges in Mark 11:22 Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God.

Jms. 1:6. Paul describes Abraham’s faith as trust in God’s miracle-working power (Rom. 4:17ff.; cf. also 9:33; 10:11).

d. pisteúō as “to hope.” The relation between faith and hope is clear in Rom. 4:18 and Heb. 11:13. When hope is directed to what is invisible, it entails trust. Only faith, not sense, can perceive the heavenly reality and grasp the promised future (Heb. 11:1). When pístis is specifically faith in Christ, hope is mentioned separately, but such hope contains an element of believing confidence (1 Th. 1:3; 1 Cor. 13:13; 1 Pet. 1:21).

e. Faithfulness. The OT sense of “faithfulness” finds echoes in Heb. 12:1; 13:7; 2 Tim. 4:7; Rev. 2:13; Heb. 11:17; Jms. 1:2-3. This is the point for Paul, too, when he refers negatively to the apistía (“unfaithfulness”) of Israel in Rom. 3:3. In 1 Cor. 16:13, however, pístis is the faith to which one should be faithful.

. Specifically Christian Usage.

a. pístis as Acceptance of the Message. Especially when used with eis, pístis is saving acceptance of Christ’s work as proclaimed in the gospel. This includes believing, obeying, trusting, hoping, and being faithful, but it is primarily faith in Christ. For Gentiles, it means conversion to the one God who has brought salvation in and through his Son.

b. The Content of Faith. Paul states the content of faith in Rom. 10:9. It involves acknowledgment of the risen Christ. Faith in Christ means faith in his resurrection, and his resurrection implies his prior death for sin (1 Cor. 15:11; cf. Rom. 4:24; 1 Th. 4:14; Phil. 2:6ff.). Kerygma and faith always go together (cf. Acts 2:22ff.), and the reference is always to Christ and what he has done (cf. Jn. 20:31; 16:27; 14:10; 8:24; Rom. 6:8).

c. Faith as Personal Relation to Christ. Believing eis Christ involves a personal relation similar to the relation to God in the OT, although the NT tends to use different constructions for believing in God and in Christ. Acceptance of the gospel is acceptance of Christ as Lord, for Christ and salvation history cannot be severed. Faith accepts the existence of Christ and its significance for the believer. It rests on the message, but as faith in the message it is faith in the person whom the message mediates. The personal aspect comes out in Rom. 10:9, 14; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:29; 1 Pet. 1:8.

d. Believing. Faith may be acceptance of the message, as in Acts 20:21, or it may be continuation in believing, as in 1 Cor. 2:5. Since believing is dynamic, it may be weak or strong (Rom. 12:3; 14:1), it may grow (2 Cor. 10:15), it may endure (Col. 1:23), and there may also be references to its fullness (Acts 6:5), practice (1 Th. 1:3), and unity (Eph. 4:13).


Note the importance of belief and how belief changes in these verses.

John 11:15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

John 11;25, 26 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

The Lord gives Martha a hint about what he was going to do by saying He is the resurrection.

Here believing is a moral imperative.

27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. John 14:11  Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

John 12: 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.
10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death;
11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?
39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again,
40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Joh 20:8 τότε οὖν εἰσῆλθεν καὶ ὁ ἄλλος μαθητὴς ὁ ἐλθὼν πρῶτος εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον, καὶ εἶδεν καὶ ἐπίστευσεν·

Joh 20:9 οὐδέπω γὰρ ᾔδεισαν τὴν γραφὴν ὅτι δεῖ αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῆναι.

Joh 20:25 ἔλεγον οὖν αὐτῷ οἱ ἄλλοι μαθηταί, Ἑωράκαμεν τὸν κύριον. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἐὰν μὴ ἴδω ἐν ταῖς χερσὶν αὐτοῦ τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω τὸν δάκτυλόν μου εἰς τὸν τύπον τῶν ἥλων καὶ βάλω μου τὴν χεῖρα εἰς τὴν πλευρὰν αὐτοῦ, οὐ μὴ πιστεύσω. Joh 20:27 εἶτα λέγει τῷ Θωμᾷ, Φέρε τὸν δάκτυλόν σου ὧδε καὶ ἴδε τὰς χεῖράς μου, καὶ φέρε τὴν χεῖρά σου καὶ βάλε εἰς τὴν πλευράν μου, καὶ μὴ γίνου ἄπιστος ἀλλὰ πιστός. Joh 20:28 ἀπεκρίθη Θωμᾶς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ὁ κύριός μου καὶ ὁ θεός μου. Joh 20:29 λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ὅτι ἑώρακάς με πεπίστευκασ; μακάριοι οἱ μὴ ἰδόντες καὶ πιστεύσαντες. Joh 20:30 Πολλὰ μὲν οὖν καὶ ἄλλα σημεῖα ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐνώπιον τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ, ἃ οὐκ ἔστιν γεγραμμένα ἐν τῷ βιβλίῳ τούτῳ·

Joh 20:31 ταῦτα δὲ γέγραπται ἵνα πιστεύσητε ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, καὶ ἵνα πιστεύοντες ζωὴν ἔχητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ.

The Foundations for belief are many and varied:

There is observation.

There is personal knowledge of the character of Jesus.

There is the importance of miracles.

Miracles run counter to our epistemology of a universe that is a closed system, in which impersonal unchanging laws govern the environment. A miracle casts doubt upon the rigidity of these laws. Or they cast doubt about the person who does these miracles, as to His ability to work outside of these universal unchanging laws.

They are a statement of His authority.

In Mark’s gospel, (a) MARK 1: 21–28. JESUS’ AUTHORITY AS A TEACHER

The people were surprised at the method of Jesus’ teaching. He did not quote the thoughts of other Rabbis or teachers. His characteristic way of teaching was, ‘I say to you…’


At just a word this man was instantly healed. The Bible contains over 30 such incidents — the sick, blind, lame, lepers were healed. Mark’s Gospel contains many such examples of Jesus’ extraordinary authority:

• In a violent storm, he stood up in a boat and commanded the wind and waves to die down, and they obeyed.

• He healed demon-possessed people with a word.

• On three recorded occasions he raised up dead people — even Lazarus who had been dead four days .


Jesus said to the man: ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The religious leaders rightly saw this as a claim to be equal with God. The rest of the New Testament tells us that Jesus is indeed equal with God as God’s Son — more than that, he is both God and man in the one person. So this is the picture we are building up. Jesus has come into God’s creation, God’s world, with the full authority of God. There is no part of the creation — animate, inanimate, human or spiritual — over which Jesus does not rule. As God in human form, he also forgives sins. However, there is one more area of Jesus’ authority we need to consider.


Jesus went to almost complete strangers and commanded them to leave their jobs and families and to follow him. As the Son of God, Jesus makes the same claim over your life and mine. He calls ordinary people like us to follow him. These four men did. Some whom Jesus called later refused to follow him. In the whole of creation Jesus’ authority is never resisted, except by the wills of human beings! God, however, commands us to submit to the authority of His Son.









The Lord Jesus seems to have held a correspondence theory of belief.

The miracles were not sufficient of themselves to validate His authenticity as Messiah.

Matthew 7: 15 “Beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves. 16 You’ll recognize them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 In the same way, every good tree produces good fruit, but a bad tree produces bad fruit. 18 A good tree can’t produce bad fruit; neither can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So you’ll recognize them by their fruit. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but [only]the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ 23 Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’

The Lord Jesus said the works I do testify of me John 14:10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words I speak to you I do not speak on My own. The Father who lives in Me does His works. 11 Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me. Otherwise, believe because of the works themselves.

Other elements also have validity in the formation of epistemic primitives concerning the validity and authenticity of Jesus’ Messiahship:

Personal manifestation

John 14: 23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words. The word that you hear is not Mine but is from the Father who sent Me.

Personal deep inner conviction and instruction:
25 “I have spoken these things to you while I remain with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you.

Correspondence of all these elements with the Old testament Prophecies concerning the Messiah.

Correspondence with the nature and being of God known by creation, known by inner revelation, and known by revelation, both indirect inspiration (scripture) and direct inspiration (convictional work of the Holy Spirit.)

This would indicate two aspects to knowing:

A web of epistemic primitives validating one another and becoming foundations upon which other authenticated and validated beliefs are built. The area of involvement is the intellectual life of the person, where the categories for belief are built up within the intellect.

And a supernatural revelation made directly by the Holy Spirit to the individual person.

This is understood under the terms regeneration (John 3), repentance (2 Tim 2:25), conviction (John 16) and drawing (John 6:37,44,45) This corresponds to the spiritual life, where new spiritual categories are introduced and developed within the spiritual faculties of the soul.

Paul likewise follows these same reasons to develop his own authenticity for being an apostle.

1. The intellectual categories are introduced.

Signs and Miracles: 2 Corinthians 12: 11 I have become a fool; you forced it on me. I ought to have been recommended by you, since I am in no way inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 The signs of an apostle were performed among you in all endurance—not only signs but also wonders and miracles.

Authentic testimonies of others.

2 Corinthians 10:13 We, however, will not boast beyond measure, but according to the measure of the area [of ministry]that God has assigned to us, [which]reaches even to you.
14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we had not reached you, since we have come to you with the gospel of Christ.

2. Spiritual Revelations

2 Corinthians 12:1 It is necessary to boast; it is not helpful, but I will move on to visions and revelations of the Lord. 2 I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don’t know; God knows.3 I know that this man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— 4 was caught up into paradise. He heard inexpressible words, which a man is not allowed to speak. 5 I will boast about this person, but not about myself, except of my weaknesses. 6 For if I want to boast, I will not be a fool, because I will be telling the truth. But I will spare you, so that no one can credit me with something beyond what he sees in me or hears from me, 7 especially because of the extraordinary revelations. Therefore, so that I would not exalt myself, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to torment me so I would not exalt myself.

The Corinthians were to understand that this web of epistemic primitives was to provide a foundation for validating and authenticating and so accepting the apostleship of Paul.

Faith, believing consists of the assent of the mind (the intellectual elements validating the truthfulness of the assertion to be believed) and the consent of the heart (where the heart is convicted of those things not readily appreciated or understood by the mind .. the heart has reasons the mind cannot comprehend… these are the spiritual aspects to belief and conversion worked immediately by the Holy Spirit of God.).

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