Logo Copyright © 2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved
Return to Main Page

RESOURCES

Disclaimer

Introduction

Symphony of Truth

In a Nutshell

Topical Guide

5-144000

5 Commissions

10 Commandments

333 NCCG Number

144,000, The

A

Action Stations

Agency, Free

Alcohol

Angels

Anointing

Apostles

Apostolic Interviews

Apostolic Epistles

Archive, Complete

Articles & Sermons

Atheism

Atonement

B

Banners

Baptism, Water

Baptism, Fire

Becoming a Christian

Bible Codes

Bible Courses

Bible & Creed

C

Calendar of Festivals

Celibacy

Charismata & Tongues

Chavurat Bekorot

Christian Paganism

Chrism, Confirmation

Christmas

Church, Fellowship

Contact us

Constitution

Copyright

Covenants & Vows

Critics

Culture

Cults

D

Deliverance

Demons

Desperation

Diaries

Discipleship

Dreams

E

Ephraimite Page, The

Essene Christianity

Existentialism

F

Faith

Family, The

Feminism

FAQ

Festivals of Yahweh

Festivals Calendar

Freedom

G

Gay Christians

Gnosticism

Godhead, The

H

Heaven

Heresy

Healing

Health

Hebrew Roots

Hell

Hinduism

History

Holiness

Holy Echad Marriage

Holy Order, The

Home Education

Homosexuality

Human Nature

Humour

Hymnody

I

Intro to NCCG.ORG

Islam

J

Jewish Page, The

Judaism, Messianic

Judaism, Talmudic

K

KJV-Only Cult

L

Links

Love

M

Marriage & Romance

Membership

Miracles

Messianic Judaism

Mormonism

Music

Mysticism

N

NCCG Life

NCCG Origins

NCCG Organisation

NCCG, Spirit of

NCCG Theology

NDE's

Nefilim

New Age & Occult

NCMHL

NCMM

New Covenant Torah

Norwegian Website

O

Occult Book, The

Occult Page, The

Olive Branch

Orphanages

P

Paganism, Christian

Pentecost

Poetry

Politics

Prayer

Pre-existence

Priesthood

Prophecy

Q

Questions

R

Rapture

Reincarnation

Resurrection

Revelation

RDP Page

S

Sabbath

Salvation

Satanic Ritual Abuse

Satanism

Science

Sermons & Articles

Sermons Misc

Sermonettes

Sex

Smoking

Sonship

Stewardship

Suffering

Swedish Website

T

Talmudic Judaism

Testimonies

Tithing

Tongues & Charismata

Torah

Trinity

True Church, The

TV

U

UFO's

United Order, The

V

Visions

W

Wicca & the Occult

Women

World News

Y

Yah'shua (Jesus)

Yahweh

Z

Zion


Faith (emunah in Hebrew, pistis in Greek) is one of the three cardinal principles of Besorah (Gospel) life, the other two being tiqveh (hope) and ahavah (love) (1 Cor.13:3; Col.1:5; 1 Thes.1:3).

A. THE TANAKH (OLD TESTAMENT)

The English word 'faith', as used in Scripture, translates the Hebrew emunah and means essentially 'faithfulness' or 'fidelity' which itself arises out of a right attitude toward Elohim (God), though it is also expressed through a wide variety of verbs that include aman ('constancy'), bata ('trust', 'be confident', 'be secure'), qawa ('hope') yahal and haka (both meaning 'wait in hope'). It is something that is lasting (Is.33:16) or denotes the one who possesses it as reliable (Is.8:2)

Faith and faithfulness are therefore inseparable. Emunah is not, therefore, mere 'belief' - it is pro-active belief or belief that leads to action. And that action is always Torah-obedience - obedience to the mitzvot (commandments). Faithfulness to the Torah (Law, Teaching), which is also the Davar Elohim (Word of God), is always the result of true emunah (faith), and so in a real sense the two are intimately connected but are not the same thing. Where there is lawlessness in a believer's life, it follows, therefore, that there is also a deficiency of faith.

The Hebrew hiphel (causitive meaning) he'emin, to 'become steadfast' and 'acquire stability', used of both true believers and of Yahweh, is key to a proper understanding of biblical faith. To he'emin through trusting in Yahweh and obeying the Torah identifies solid faith. Indeed, emunah originally meant 'stability' (e.g. Is.38:8) or 'security' (NRSV). To have proper emunah (faith), which as we will see is necessarily pro-active through Torah-obedience, is to be stable or secure in Yahweh.

This concept is, however, often misunderstood and it is wrongly suggested by some that the Tanakh (Old Testament) looks for men and women to be saved on the basis of their deeds or works, but the Psalmist puts this matter into its right perspective:

    "Vindicate (judge) me, O Yahweh,
    For I have walked in my integrity.
    I have also trusted in Yahweh"
    (Ps.26:1, NKJV).

The Psalmist's appeal to his integrity does not mean that he trusts in himself or his deeds. His trust is in Yahweh. His integrity is the evidence of his trust in Elohim (God). In the Tanakh (Old Testament) as in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament), the basic demand is for a right attitude to Yahweh, i.e. for emunah (faith).

    "Trust in Yahweh, and do good;
    Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
    Delight yourself also in Yahweh,
    And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
    Commit your way to Yahweh,
    Trust also in Him,
    And He shall bring it to pass.
    He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    And your justice as the noonday.
    Rest in Yahweh, and wait patiently for Him"
    (Ps.37:3-7, NKJV).

Whilst the Psalmist is certainly seeking for an upright Torah-obedient life, it is very clear that basically he is advancing an attitude. He calls on men to put their trust in Yahweh, which is only another way of telling them to live by emunah (faith). Sometimes men and women are urged to trust the Davar Elohim (Word of God) (Ps.119:42) but more usually it is trust in Elohim (God) Himself that is sought:

    "Trust in Yahweh with all your heart,
    And lean not on your own understanding"
    (Prov.3:5, NKJV).

Clearly we are to frown on our own powers, a thought which is frequent in the Tanakh (Old Testament):

    "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool" (Prov.28:26, NKJV).

A man may not trust to his own righteousness (Ezek.33:13) and Ephraim was anciently castigated for doing so:

    "You have ploughed wickedness;
    You have reaped iniquity.
    You have eaten the fruit of lies,
    Because you trusted in your own way,
    In the multitude of your mighty men"
    (Hos.10:13, NKJV).

Trust in idols is often denounced (Is.42:17; Hab.2:18). Indeed, Jeremiah warns against trusting in anything that is human:

    "Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    And makes flesh his strength,
    Whose heart departs from Yahweh"
    (Jer.17:5, NKJV).

We could thus multiply the number of things in the Tanakh (Old Testament) which tell man not to trust in men but more impressive than this is surely the list of passages urging him to trust in Yahweh. They didn't put their trust in anything they did, or that other men did, or that the 'gods' did. Their trust was in Yahweh alone. This is expressed in some very particular ways:

    "Yahweh is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my Elohim (God) is my rock, in whom I take refuge.
    He is my shield and the horn of my salvation,
    my stronghold"
    (Ps.18:2, NIV).

Best summarising the attitude of emunah (faith) in the Tanakh (Old Testament) must surely be Abraham, for which additionally he is so praised in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament):

    "Abram believed Yahweh, and He credited it to him as righteousness" (Gen.15:6, NIV).

New Testament emunah (faith) is totally and thoroughly rooted in the Tanakh (Old Testament). You cannot, as some have sought to do, distinguish two types of faith:

  • 1. Tanakh/Old Testament Judaic 'faith' or the Hebrew emunah (which was tribal, national and communal trust and fidelity based on the Sinai Covenant; and
  • 2. Christian New Testament 'faith' or the Greek pistis as a purely individualistic persuasion or faith or belief in 'something'.

Such ideas have been the disasterous catalyst and justification for antinomianism (lawlessness) in Christianity. As we have seen, emunah (faith) denotes 'stability' and 'security', that a person who has 'faith' must necessarily be 'faithful', 'truthful' (aletheia in Greek) and 'trustworthy' (Ex.18:21, NRSV) in the same way that Elohim (God) (Ps.31:5) and the Davar Elohim (God's Word) are (Ps.119:43,142,160).

Likewise, Yahweh's works are faithful (Ps.111:7) and the promises express faithfulness (Zech.8:8). On this those who worship Elohim (God) absolutely rely (Ps.40:11). It it this reliability which makes it possible for mortals to trust in Yahweh.

The noun emunah also suggests conduct that grows out of relationship and faithfulness, especially in inner attitude and conduct on the part of the individual (Prov.14:5; 20:6; 1 Sam.26:23) or of Yahweh Himself (Ps.89:2,5,8,49; Dt.32:4; Is.33:6).

B. MESSIANIC SCRIPTURES (NEW TESTAMENT)
i. General Usage

In the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) emunah (faith) is exceedingly prominent. The noun pistis and the verb pisteuˇ both occur more that 240 times while the adjective pistos is found more than 67 times in the Greek translation of the original Hebraic (Hebrew and Aramaic).

This stress on emunah (faith) is to be seen against the backdrop of the saving work of Elohim (God) in Messiah (Christ). Central to the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) is the thought that Elohim (God) sent His Son to be the Saviour (Deliverer) of the world. Messiah accomplished man's salvation by dying an atoning death on Calvary's cross.

This messianic emunah (faith) is the attitude whereby a man abandons all efforts of reliance in his own efforts to obtain salvation, be they deeds of piety, of ethical goodness, or anything else. It is the attitude of complete trust in Yah'shua (Jesus), of reliance on Him alone for all that salvation means. When the Philippian jailer asked, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?", Paul and Silas answered without hestiation, "Believe on the Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), and you will be saved, you and your household" (Acts 16:31, NKJV). It is "whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal chayim (life)" (John 3:16, NIV). Emunah (faith) is the one and only way by which men receive salvation.

The Greek verb pisteuˇ is often followed by 'that', indicating that emunah (faith) is concerned with facts. This is important, as Yah'shua (Jesus) made clear to the Judeans:

    "For if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24, NKJV).

But it is not all-important. James tells us that the devils or demons believe "that there is one Elohim (God)" (James 2:19, NKJV) but this kind of 'faith' is of no benefit to them. Pisteuˇ may be followed by the simple dative, when the meaning is that of giving credence to, or accepting as true, what someone says. Thus Yah'sua (Jesus) reminds the Judeans:

    "John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him" (Matt.21:32, NKJV).

There is no question here of 'faith' in the sense of trust. The Judeans simply did not believe what John said. This may be so also with respect to Yah'shua (Jesus), as where He says "you do not believe Me" (John 8:45, NKJV) or in the next verse, "if I tell you the emet (truth), why do you not believe Me?" (John 8:46, NKJV).

We must not forget that there is an intellectual content to emunah (faith). Consequently we find this construction used sometimes where saving emunah (faith) is in mind:

    "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Davar (Word) and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting chayim (life), and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into chayim (life)" (John 5:24, NKJV).

The man who really believes in Elohim (God) will, of course, and as we have seen, act on that belief, because emunah (faith) is proactive. In other words, a genuine belief that what Yahweh has revealed is true will issue in a true emunah (faith) and into faithfulness.

The characteristic construction for saving emunah (faith) is that wherein the verb pisteˇ is followed by the preposition eis. This is important because literally this means to believe into. It denotes an emunah (faith) which is more than simply 'in' something. To have emunah (faith) into takes a man out of himself and puts Him into Messiah. You will find this stressed over and over again in the artictles that follow. This is what the biblical expression "being in Messiah (Christ)" means. This experience can also be referred to with the term 'emunah (faith) union with Messiah'. It denotes not simply a belief that carries with it an intellectial assent, but one where the believer cleaves to his Saviour with all his heart. The man who believes in this sense abides in Messiah, and Messiah in him (John 15:4). Emunah (faith) is not merely accepting certain things as true, but trusting a Person, and that Person is Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ).

Sometimes pisteuˇ is followed by epi, 'upon'. Emunah (faith) has a firm basis. We see this construction in the account of the raising of Tabitha:

    "And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed on (upon) the Master" (Acts 9:42, NKJV).

The people had seen what Messiah could do and they rested their emunah (faith) [up]on Him. Sometimes emunah (faith) rests on the Father (Yahweh), as when Paul speaks of believing "on Him (Yahweh) that raised up Yah'shua (Jesus) our Master from the dead" (Rom.4:24, KJV).

Something that is very characteristic of the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) is the absolute use of the verb. When Yah'shua (Jesus) stayed with the Samaritans many of them "believed because of His own Davar (Word)" (John 4:41, NKJV). There is no need to add what they believed , or in whom they believed. Emunah (faith) is so central to the Besorah (Gospel) that one may speak of 'believing' without the necessity for further clarification. Christians/Messianics are simply 'believers'. This use extends throughout the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) and is not confined to any particular writer. Emunah (faith) is therefore fundamental.

The tenses of the verb pisteuˇ are also instructive. The aorist (indefinite) tense points to a single act in past time and indicates the determinative character of emunah (faith). When a man comes to believe he commits himself decisively to Messiah. The present tense has the idea of continuity. Emunah (faith) is not a passing phase - it is a continuing attitude. The perfect tense combines both ideas. It speaks of a present emunah (faith) which is continuous with a past act of belief - past, initiating emunah (faith) with continuing, maintaining emunah (faith). The man who believes enters into a permanent state and must remain there through the daily exercising of that emunah (faith) (see Once Saved, Always Saved). And it should here be added and emphasised that the noun emunah (faith) sometimes has the definite article, 'the emunah (faith)', that is to say, the whole body of Christian/Messianic teaching and law or Torah, as when Paul speaks to the Colossians as being "established in the emunah (faith)", adding, "as you have been taught" (Col.2:7, NKJV).

We must become aware of six particular usages of the word emunah (faith) that give an even sharper definition and focus as to what it is, and consists of.

ii. Particular Usage
Usage in the Synoptic Gospels

1. In the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) emunah (faith) is commonly linked to healing as when Yah'shua (Jesus) said to the woman who touched the tzitzit (tassels) of His garment in the crowd:

    "Be of good cheer, daughter; your emunah (faith) has made you well" (Matt.9:22, NKJV).

But these Gospels are also concerned with emunah (faith) in a wider sense. Mark, for example, records for us the devarim (words) of Yah'shua (Jesus):

    "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mark 9:23, NIV).

Similarly, the Master speaks of the great results of having "emunah (faith) as small as a mustard seed" (Matt.17:20, NIV; cp. Lk.17:6). It is clear that Yah'shua (Jesus) called for emunah (faith) in Himself personally. The characteristic Christian/Messianic demand for emunah (faith) in Messiah result ultimately on His own requirement.

Usage in John's Gospel

2. In the Fourth Gospel (John) emunah (faith) occupies a very prominent place, the verb pisteuˇ being found 98 times. Curiously, the noun pistis, 'faith', is never used. This is possibly because of its use in Gnostic circles where salvation was regarded in the occultic sense of accumulated knowledge. There are indications that John had such opponents in mind, and it may be that he wanted to avoid using a term of which they were very fond. Or he may have preferred the more dynamic, proactive meaning conveyed by the verb. Whatever his reason, he uses the verb pisteuˇ more than any other writer in the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) - three times as often, in fact, as the Synoptic Gospels put together.

John's characteristic construction is that with the proposition eis, 'to believe into', 'to believe on'. The important thing is connection between the believer and Messiah. Accordingly, John speaks again and again of believing in Him or of believing 'in the name of' Messiah (e.g. Jn.3:18). The shem or 'name', for men of antiquity, was a way of summing up the whole personality. It stood for all that a man was. Believing on the name of Yah'shua (Jesus), then, means believing in all that He is essentially in Himself - see A Shem Tov (Good Name).

John 3:18 also says:

    "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of Elohim (God)" (John 3:18, NKJV).

It is characteristic of Johannine teachings that eternal issues are decided here and now. Emunah (faith) does not simply give men and women assurance of everlasting chayim (life) at some unspecified time in the future. It gives them everlasting chayim (life) here and now:

    "He who believes in the Son has everlasting chayim (life); and he who does not believe the Son shall not see chayim (life), but the wrath of Elohim (God) abides on him" (John 3:36, NKJV).

    "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My Davar (Word) and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting chayim (life), and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into chayim (life)" (John 5:24, NKJV).

So whereas miracles produce emunah (faith) in the Fourth Gospel (Jn.2:11; 4:52-54; 20:30-31), in the Synoptics 'supplicating emunah (faith)' leads to miracles (Mk.9:24-27; 2:5,12; 6:5-6). Together the Four Gospels complete the circle.

Usage in the Book of Acts

3. In Acts, with its story of vigorous missionary advance, it is not surprising that the characteristic expression is the use of the aorist tense, to indicate an act of decision. Luke records many occasions wherein people came to put their trust in Messiah. Other constructions are found, and both the continuing state of the permanent results of maintained belief find mention. But decision is the characteristic thing. Thus pistis becomes a technical term for reaction to Besorah (Gospel) preaching, an act of emunah (faith) with regard to the story of Yah'shua (Jesus) coupled with the promise of future salvation (Ac.4:4; 3:19-26; 13:48,33-39,46-47; cp. Rom.10:9-14). This future tiqveh (hope) was part of the kerygma (the apostolic proclamation about the crucified and risen Messiah) (1 Thess.1:9-10). Christians/Messianics are "believers" (Ac.2:44; Rom.1:16; 3:22), "members of the household of emunah (faith)" (Gal.6:10, NRSV).

Usage by Paul

4. Paul inherits and exhibits much of this early Christian/Messianic understanding. For him, emunah (faith) is the typical Christian/Messianic attitude. He does not share John's antipathy to the noun, but uses it twice as often as he uses the verb. It occurs in connection with some of his leading ideas. Thus in Romans 1:16 he speaks of the Besorah (Gospel) as "the power of Elohim (God) to salvation for everyone who believes" (Rom.1:16, NKJV).

It means a great deal to Paul that Christianity is more than a system of good advice. It not only tells men what they ought to do, but gives them the power to do it. Again and again Paul contrasts mere words with power, always with a view to emphasising that the power of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) of Elohim (God) is seen in the lives of believers. This power becomes available to a man only when he believes. There is no substitute for emunah (faith).

Much of Paul's controversial writing centres around the dispute with what scholars have dubbed the 'Judaisers', though a more accurate description of them would be the 'Talmudic' or 'Rabbinical Judaisers'. These men insisted that it was not enough for believers to be baptised. They must also be circumcised and, thus being admitted to Talmudic Judaism, endeavour to keep not just the Torah but the man-made rabbinical traditions too. Their error was not on insisting that believers obey the Torah (such as had not been fulfilled by Messiah on the cross like the Levitical system of animal sacrifices and circumcision) but that they do so legalistically as a pre-condition to salvation.

Paul insists that men and women can do nothing at all to bring about their salvation. All has been done by Messiah, and no man may add anything to the perfection of Messiah's finished work. So it is that Paul insists that men and women are justified (made right with Yahweh) "by emunah (faith)" (Rom.5:1, NKJV). The doctrine of justification by emunah (faith) lies at the very heart of Paul's message and whether with this terminology or not, he is constantly putting the idea forward. He vigorously combats any salvational efficacy of good deeds or works:

    "...knowing that a man is not justified by the works (deeds) of the Torah (Law) but by emunah (faith) in Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ), even we have believed in Messiah Yah'shua (Jesus), that we might be justified by emunah (faith) in Messiah and not by the works (deeds) of the Torah (Law); for by the works (deeds) of the Torah (Law) no flesh shall be justified" (Gal.2:16, NKJV).

Clearly, for Paul, emunah (faith) means the abandonment of all reliance on one's ability to merit salvation. It is a trustful acceptance of Elohim's (God's) gift in Messiah, a reliance on Messiah - Messiah alone - for all that salvation means. Torah then becomes the lifestyle of the saved (through Messiah alone), not the means of salvation as the Talmudic Judaisers falsely insisted.

Thus for Paul, the personal emunah (faith) that comes from hearing the Davar (Word) and confessing Yah'shua's (Jesus') lordship includes "the obedience of emunah (faith)" or commitment (Rom.1:5, NRSV; cp. 16:26). Hence emunah (faith) relates to ethics, in close relationship to its expression toward the future as "tiqveh (hope)" and toward others as ahavah (love) (I Thess.1:3; Rom.12:1-2,9-10; 13:8-10).

Another outstanding feature of Pauline theology is the very large place the apostle gives to the work of the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit). He thinks of all believers as indwelt by the Ruach (Spirit) (Rom.8:9), and he connects this too with emunah (faith). Thus he writes to he Ephesians concerning Messiah:

    "In Him (Messiah) you also trusted, after you heard the Davar Emet (Word of Truth), the Besorah (Gospel) of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory" (Eph.1:13-14, NKJV).

Sealing represented the mark of ownership, a metaphor readily understood in an age when many could not read. The Ruach (Spirit) within believers is Yahweh's mark of ownership, and this mark is placed in men and women only as they believe and subsequently respond with obedience. When Paul speaks of the Ruach (Spirit) as "the guarantee (earnest, KJV) of our inheritance" he is employing a word which in the first century meant a downpayment or deposit, that is to say, a payment which at one and the same time was part of the agreed price and the guarantee that the remainder (balance) would be forthcoming. Thus when a man believes, he receives the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) as part of the life in the age to come, and as an assurance that the remainder will infallibly follow.

Usage in Hebrews

5. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (which may, or may not, be Paul) sees that emunah (faith) has always been a characteristic of the people of Elohim (God). In his great portrait gallery in Hebrews 11 he reviews the worthies of the past, showing how one by one they illustrate the great theme that "without emunah (faith) it is impossible to please Him (Yahweh), for he who comes to Elohim (God) must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Heb.11:6, NKJV). He is particularly interested in the opposition of emunah (faith) to sight:

    "Emunah (faith) is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb.11:1, NKJV).

He emphasises the point that men who had nothing in the way of outward evidence to support them nevertheless retained a firm hold on the promise of Elohim (God). In other words, they walked by emunah (faith), not by sight.

Usage by James

6. Of the other writers of the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament) we must notice James, for he has often been held to be opposite to Paul in this matter. Where Paul insists that a man is justified by emunah (faith) and not by works, James maintains that "a man is justified by works (deeds), and not by emunah (faith) only (alone)" (James 2:24, NKJV). There is no more than a verbal contradiction, however. The kind of 'faith' that James is opposing is not that warm personal trust in a living Saviour of which Paul speaks. It is a faith which James himself describes:

    "You believe that there is one Elohim (God). You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!" (James 2:19, NKJV).

He has in mind an intellectual assent to certain truths, an assent which is not backed up by a life lived in accordance with those truths:

    "If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in shalom (peace), be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also emunah (faith) by itself, if it does not have works (deeds), is dead" (James 2:15-17, NKJV).

So far is James from opposing emunah (faith) in the full sense that he everywhere presupposes it. Right at the beginning of his epistle he speaks naturally of "the testing (trying) of your emunah (faith)" (James 1:3, NKJV), and he exhorts his readers to "not hold your emunah (faith) in our glorious Master Yah'shua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) with an attitude of personal favouritism (partiality, respect of persons)" (James 2:1, NASU). He criticises a wrong emunah (faith) but assumes that everyone will recognise the need for a right emunah (faith).

Moreover, by "works/deeds" James does not mean what Paul means by that term. Paul opposes legalistic obedience to the mitzvot (commandments) of the Torah (Law, Teaching) as a means by which salvation may be obtained whilst accepting that Torah-obedience flows out of salvation by emunah (faith) alone. James is looking at an entirely different torah or law in his discussion, namely, the "torah (law) of liberty" (James 2:12, NASU). The "works/deeds" consist of obedience to the mitzvot (commandments) - the "works/deeds" James speaks of look uncommonly like the "fruit of the Ruach (Spirit)" of which Paul speaks (Gal.5:22, NKJV). They are warm deeds of ahavah (love) springing from a right attitude to Elohim (God). They are the fruits of emunah (faith). What James objects to is the claim that saving emunah (faith) is there when there is no fruit to attest to it.

C. Conclusion

So much false doctrine in the Body of Messiah arises out of shoddy theology of which the apparent discrepancy between Paul and James is a perfect illustration. There is no discrepancy. The great Reformer, Martin Luther, missed it so badly that he denounced the Epistle of James as a 'straw gospel' and wished it removed from the canon as it did not fit in with his extreme antinomian (ant-Torah) teachings. Those of the Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) traditions tend to occupy this extreme. At the other extreme are those of the cults (Mormons, a number of Messianics and others) who believe that works somehow factor into salvation:

    "For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi LDS 25:23/RLDS 11:45).

The "after all we can do" addition by Joseph Smith is probably the greatest heresy of the Mormon system, being a perversion of Ephesians 2:8. Many Messianics fall for the same trap through a series of half-truths though by a different route to Protestants as illustrated by this commentator:

    "...mainstream Christianity teaches that a person is 'justified' solely on the merits of belief in Y'shua, and that observing Torah is impossible. Even in Ya'akov's (James') day, some individuals wanted cerebral belief to 'justify' themselves, which is impossible. Y'shua's person (example) and Spirit is meant to literally be imparted to us; this must be evidenced by actions, otherwise we do not belong to him. Theological, or cerebral 'belief' without works, is dead religion; but active literal Faith comes to life in Messiah. Torah Observance/ obedience is clear evidence that we have passed from death to life" (Andrew Roth, Aramaic English New Testament, footnote #12 on James 2:24 [Netsari Press, USA: 2012], p.430).

Whilst Torah-obedience should, and must, flow out of salvation, as Roth correctly says, salvation is not contingent upon it as he seems to be reading into James. Further, as we have seen, the "works" James speaks of are purely ethical and do not bespeak the whole of New Covenant Torah-obedience as Paul does. Blending salvation with works is fatal, spiritually-speaking, as in the Mormon system, but equally a semi-lawless Protestant response (which repudiates large parts of Torah) is also a serious issue.

Only really in our day (since New Testament times) has a thorough and accurate exegesis and theology (thanks in large part to our clearer understanding of the r˘le of the Torah in the New Covenant in Messiah) showing the true relationship between emunah (faith) and works, been forthcoming.

Emunah (faith), then, is clearly one of the most important concepts in the whole of the Messianic Scriptures (New Testament), the reason we have devoted such a long introduction to it. Everywhere it is required and its importance insisted upon. Emunah (faith) means abandoning all trust in one's own resources. Emunah (faith) means casting oneself unreservedly on the mercy of Elohim (God). Emunah (faith) means laying hold of the promises of Elohim (God) in Messiah, relying entirely on the finished work work of Messiah for salvation, and on the power of the indwelling Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) for daily strength and the living of the New Covenant Torah lifestyle in Messiah. Emunah (faith) implies complete reliance on Yahweh and subsequent full Torah-obedience.

    "The righteous (just[ified]) live by their emunah (faith)" (Hab.2:4, NRSV).

(29 July 2017)


As the subject of 'faith' occupies hundreds of articles on this website, the directory below contains only a selection of the more important ones. If you feel other articles could or should be added from the website, please get in contact by email and let us know the title of the article and its URL or file name, e.g. Signs of True Faith (292Art-TrueFaith.html).

Faith: The Power that Saves
1. Signs of True Faith (Art)
2. A Certain Belief (Art)
3. The Faith that Saves (Art)
4. To Live by Faith (Art)
5. Faith Without Works is Dead (Art)
6. Faith, Acceptance and Work (Art)
7. An Evil Heart of Unbelief (Art)
8. According to Your Faith: Discerning True & False Religious Experience (Art)
9. Can Science Exist Without Faith? Exposing Some Myths (Sc)
10. The Spirit of Elijah: Part 3: Flight of Faith (Art)
11. Difficulties Concerning Faith (Art)
12. Revelation on Faith (OB)
13. Having a Child's Faith: Applying it to Yah'shua's Talmidim (Art)
14. Confess Your Faith With Boldness (Art)
15. Stand Firm in Faith: Hurricane Sandy & a Grand Climax (Art)
16. The Nine Character Tests (Art)
17. Building Faith through Confession and Fixing Life's Landmarks (Art)
18. Were the KJV Translators Biased Toward the "Faith-Only" Doctrine? (Art)
19. Salvation-Present & Energetic Faith (Art)
20. Strike the Dragons: Humility, Spirituality & Faith (Art)
21. Will the True Believer Stand Up? Sorting Out the Christian Pot Pourri (Art)
22. The Essential Foundation: The Ground of Messianic Evangelical Faith (Art)
23. To Talk or Walk: Confession and Profession of Faith (Art)
24. Doubting Yahweh: When We Stop Trusting in Elohim (Art)
25. Be Ye Perfect: Thirteen Believer Personality Types (Art)
26. Identity Crisis? Seven Things You Can Be Certain Of (Art)
27. Putting Your Faith in Yahweh-Elohim When Wolves are Loose (Art)
28. Pilate's Question: What is Truth? Answering the Atheist (Art)
29. Once Saved, Always Saved? (Site)
30. Fear: Overcoming the Spirit of Slavery (Art)

Key: Art=Article | FAQ=Frequently Asked Question | Sc=Science | St=Sermonette | Occ=Occult | OB=Olive Branch | PCM=Patriarchal Christian Marriage | NCCM=New Covenant Christian Ministries | Sab=Sabbath | Sal=Salvation | 5Com=Five Commissions | AI=Apostolic Interviews | HO=Holy Order

Purchase the WHOLE Website by clicking here

Return to Main NCCG.ORG Index Page

This page was created on 11 March 2001
Last updated on 5 August 2017

Copyright © 1999-2017 NCAY - All Rights Reserved