The Apostle Paul named one of the Fruit of the Spirit the using Greek word pistis that is most often translated into English as “faith,” but must be interpreted in context as the occasion requires. The reason is that this not only refers to one’s belief, or one’s trust in God, or a synonym for Christianity but also as the faithfulness of God or an individual who can be relied on.
Thayer in his Lexicon places pistis in this category of trust and reliability. We see this illustrated when Jesus warned the Pharisee and teachers of the Law about being hypocrites. He told them that while they give all sorts of gifts to the Temple, they kept these essential things from others: “Justice, mercy, and faithfulness.”1
Of his epistles, the Apostle Paul wrote one to Philemon, telling him that he had heard about his love for all of God’s people, and his faithfulness to the Lord Jesus.2 When writing to Bishop Titus, Paul instructed him to teach those among his congregants that employees should not steal from their employers so that they can be fully trusted with their duties.3 And in his letter to Timothy, he talks about the young widows not staying faithful to their vows. Then in writing to the Romans, Paul compared the unfaithfulness of the Jews in keeping God’s Word with God’s faithfulness in keeping His promises. In each of these cases, the Greek words pistis is used.
If we apply this act of faithfulness to the dual definition given in Hebrews 11:1, we can better see how to interpret what kind of faith Jesus was talking about. In Hebrews, the writer says that first of all, faith is the foundation upon which we build our hopes. In other words, we wholeheartedly accept the fact that those things we’ve heard about are not imaginary, that they are for real, whether we can see, touch, taste, feel, hear or smell them. We might call it the power of our spiritual mind.
Like a coin, the second side of faith the writer of Hebrews shows us is that faith gives us the power to accept that the things we are really convinced of are not only real, but they actually exist. In other words, they are a real deal. We might call this the power of our spiritual intellect. Since faithfulness is love that is consistent, we must always be known as a person of their word, someone you can lean on and trust in every situation. So while others may leave you because you’re down and out, a faithful friend will stick to you closer than a brother. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Matthew 23:23
2 Philemon 5:5
3 Titus 2:10