By faith, Christians usually mean trust in the saving power of Christ’s death or belief in God’s master plan for the world. But this level of trust is difficult to achieve. The English words trust and belief imply that faith is something that originates in the will of the individual. As if to say, if you simply try hard, you will believe. The Greek word used by the authors of the New Testament forfaith is πίστις (pistis), a noun which is derived from the verb πείθομαι (peithomai), which means “to be persuaded”.
Speakers of Greek in antiquity would have appreciated that to achieve faith, human beings need God’s help to be persuaded. It is too difficult to do this alone. Faith is not a humanly produced skill, but a divine gift which humans must decide to accept. This fresh Greek perspective on the meaning of faith is nicely illustrated in Letter to the Hebrews, which famously defines faith as, “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11.1).
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