Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trusting and Faithful

The Greek word pistos is a word that is translated into English as faithful, trustworthy, or believer. Pistos is similar to the verb pisteuo which means “to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, to believe.” Faith does mean belief and trust. Today someone who is a believer isn't always thought to be faithful or trustworthy. By use of this word (pistos) God defines what we translate as "a believer" one in the same as someone who is faithful or trustworthy.
"He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful." (Revelation 17:14)

The word pistos is an adjective. An adjective is a word that expresses an attribute of something. The words faithful & trustworthy are adjectives while the word believer is a noun.
One definition of pistos is used "of someone proven to be reliable and trustworthy in and by the execution of a given action." So someone who is faithful has not only confessed their faith in Jesus, but their life is also characterized as “faithful” to what God has declared.

I have found that the word faithful can be used to replace the word believer in the contexts of pistos being used but believer cannot replace the word faithful. Those who are faithful do place their faith in Christ but they are more than simply "believers." A believer trusts and has faith in what they believe is true. While a faithful person not only has trust and faith in what they believe is true but is also trustworthy and faithful to live by their beliefs. “Faithfulness” is a near synonym for “obedience.” The faithful accept God's truth and live in accordance with His commands (Want to know what God's will is? His commands are His will). Faithfulness to God is wrapped up in doing what He commands—that which pleases Him.

In 1 Corinthians 1:9 & 2 Corinthians 1:18 this same word (pistos) is used to declare that "God is faithful." As God makes us into His own character we become more and more faithful just as He is faithful.
"Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who calls you, is faithful and He also will bring it to pass." (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

In closing we return to the verb pisteuo which again means "to believe, to trust, to have faith in." We return because this word is sometimes translated as the noun believer(s) also. When translated as believer(s) it should instead say "those who believe" or "those who trust." This may seem small but is worthy of note that scripture does not use a noun that means "believer." We have a verb, pisteuo, which focuses on the action of faith, trust, or belief. We have an adjective, pistos, which is used to describe someone who as trustworthy or faithful.

God does not use the word believer for His children. God says His children believe, trust, & have faith in Him. God calls those same children faithful and trustworthy because of their obedience to Him. Why is this significant? Because in terms of faith God does not give us a name to rest in (believer). Instead God wants us to actively have faith and for our character to be described as faithful. Our faith/belief/trust is not determined by a name we call ourselves but by our character that results from obeying Christ's commands. Truly faith without works is dead.


Detailed Grammatical Description
Greek adjectives can be substantive, meaning they they can function as a noun. The word believer is always a noun but the word faithful can be an adjective or a noun.
I have found that the word faithful can be used to replace the word believer in the contexts of pistos being used but believer cannot replace the word faithful. Yes the faithful are "those who believe", "those who have faith," that meaning is inclusive within faithful. Believer is not a title or name God has given us. Faithful (one who has faith or one who is trustworthy) is the proper meaning of pistos & can be used with clarity as it's translation in all cases.

Greek verbs in the participle mood can also be substantive, meaning they they can function as a noun. An example would be if the Greek verb pisteuo, meaning trust or believe, were in the participle mood it would mean "one who believes/trusts" or "those who believe/trust." This is why some Greek verbs are translated into English nouns. The problem with translating the Greek verbs as English nouns is that the verbs denote action & have a tense and a voice. [The voice indicates whether the subject is the performer of the action of the verb (active voice), the recipient of the action (passive voice), or ther performer and receiver of the action (middle voice)].

Let us take the English word driver, referring to one who drives a vehicle, as an example. As a noun driver is a name or a title. A person who is employed as a truck driver doesn't have to be driving a truck right now to be called a driver. If we use the verb drive as a participle meaning "one who drives" it can refer to a driver but the focus is on the action of driving. The tense indicates when the action of driving occurs. The tense could refer to the "one who drove" (past tense) or the "one who drives" (present tense), etc.

When the word believer is used as a title or name (a pure noun as it would appear to those reading the bible) one doesn't have to be presently believing or trusting to be identified. When the word believe/trust is in the participle mood & present tense it refers to "one who believes/trusts." In this case the one who believes/trusts is identified by present belief/trust and not by the name or title of "believer." The Greek verb pisteuo (believe/trust) is translated as believer(s) 4 times in many translations (Acts 4:32, Acts 5:14, 1 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Thessalonians 2:10) in every case the verb's mood is participle.

See also my two looks at the term faith: One Two


  1. Here are occurrences where the adjective pistos appears translated as believer or similar. I have added the word faithful to show it's usage is understandable.

    Be not faithless but believing/faithful (John 20:27)

    All the circumcised believers/faithful who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. (Acts 10:45)

    A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer (Acts 16:1)
    A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a faithful Jewish woman (Acts 16:1)

    What has a believer in common with an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:15)
    What has in common faithful with faithless (2 Corinthians 6:15)

    Those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer/the faithful (or "faithful Abraham"). (Galatians 3:9)

    with thanks, for the faithful and them knowing the truth. (1 Timothy 4:3)

    ..the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. (1 Timothy 4:10)
    ..the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful. (1 Timothy 4:10)

    Set an example for the believers/the faithful (1 Timothy 4:12)
    Using faithful rather than believers here meshes with 2 Timothy 2:2.
    The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Timothy 2:2)

    If a believing/faithful woman has widows in her family (1 Timothy 5:16)

    They that have believing/faithful masters let them not despise them because they are brethren but rather do them service because they are faithful and beloved.. (1 Timothy 6:2)

    Who through Him are believers in/faithful in God (1 Peter 1:21)

  2. Thanks for this post...I was wondering about this. If I'm not mistaken this same translation of another part of speech into a noun occurs with the word follower. The only word that I can find that Jesus' disciples call themselves, as a noun, is "disciple".