The peitho word group[i] supplies further light on the nature of Christian faith.[ii] The verb means “to come to believe the certainty of something on the basis of being convinced—‘to be certain, to be sure, to be convinced,’” or “to believe in something or someone to the extent of placing reliance or trust in or on—‘to rely on, to trust in, to depend on, to have (complete) confidence in, confidence, trust.’”[iii] Coming to saving faith, to believing, is to be persuaded[iv] of the truth about Christ and the gospel, and consequently, turning from all false confidences,[v] to trust or place one’s confidence[vi] in Him alone. Related words signify persuasive, convincing,[vii] persuasion,[viii] and confidence or trust.[ix] Paul, as a pattern true for every Christian, testified: “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”[x] The saving faith of the Old Testament saints, set forth as a paradigm for those in the dispensation of grace, possessed, in addition to knowledge, persuasion of the truth concerning Christ and the promises about Him as a constituent element, which resulted in an embrace of the promises and He who was offered in them.[xi] Persuasion, confidence, trust, and assurance that Christ will indeed save those who come to Him are elements of saving faith.[xii] Since “[t]o be convinced and to believe is finally to obey,”[xiii] peitho consequently passes over from confidence and trust to obedience.[xiv] The idea obey is clearly present in the word group.[xv] The people of God are those who believingly trust and consequently obey[xvi]—thus, the verb disbelieve or disobey[xvii] is never used of them, nor are its related noun[xviii] or adjective.[xix] Saving faith is an entrusting of oneself to Christ which results in obedience.
[i] pei÷qw, Matthew 27:20, 43; 28:14; Mark 10:24; Luke 11:22; 16:31; 18:9; 20:6; Acts 5:36–37, 40; 12:20; 13:43; 14:19; 17:4; 18:4; 19:8, 26; 21:14; 23:21; 26:26, 28; 27:11; 28:23–24; Romans 2:8, 19; 8:38; 14:14; 15:14; 2 Corinthians 1:9; 2:3; 5:11; 10:7; Galatians 1:10; 3:1; 5:7, 10; Philippians 1:6, 14, 25; 2:24; 3:3–4; 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 1:5, 12; Philemon 1:21; Hebrews 2:13; 6:9; 11:13; 13:17–18; James 3:3; 1 John 3:19 (the only use in the Johannine corpus; John 3:36 is the only other use in the entire word group); pepoi÷qhsiß, 2 Corinthians 1:15; 3:4; 8:22; 10:2; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:4; peiqo/ß, 1 Corinthians 2:4; peismonh/, Galatians 5:8; peiqarce÷w, Acts 5:29, 32; 27:21; Titus 3:1; aÓpeiqh/ß, Luke 1:17; Acts 26:19; Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:16; 3:3; aÓpeiqe÷w, John 3:36; Acts 14:2; 17:5; 19:9; Romans 2:8; 10:21; 11:30–31; 15:31; Hebrews 3:18; 11:31; 1 Peter 2:7–8; 3:1, 20; 4:17; aÓpei÷qeia, Romans 11:30, 32; Ephesians 2:2; 5:6; Colossians 3:6; Hebrews 4:6, 11.
[ii] “pei÷qw . . . [is] allied with pistis, fides, foedus, etc.” (Thayer, Greek Lexicon, on pei÷qw). “Constructs in pist- derive from the dep. pei÷qomai” (pg. 175, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 6, Kittel). Note the parallelism between pei÷qw and pisteu/w in John 3:36 (oJ pisteu/wn . . . oJ de« aÓpeiqw◊n).
[iii] Louw-Nida 31.46, 31.82. The breakdown in BDAG is very helpful.
[iv] Acts 17:4 (aorist passive); 28:24 (imperfect passive); cf. Luke 16:31; Acts 18:4; 19:8, 26; 26:28; 28:23; 2 Corinthians 5:11; Galatians 1:10. Paul persuaded men to turn from their sins and entrust themselves to Christ, and then continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43).
[v] E. g., riches, Mark 10:24, themselves, 2 Corinthians 1:9, their own righteousness, Luke 18:9, or the flesh and religious ceremonies Philippians 3:3-4.
[vi] 2 Corinthians 1:9; Philippians 2:24; 3:3-4; Hebrews 2:13 (Christ as the Son of Man, identified and in union with his human brethren, perfectly trusted in God, as do they, Psalm 18:2, albeit imperfectly; also Matthew 27:43 & Psalm 22:8); 13:8. See also Luke 11:22.
[vii] peiqo/ß, “pertaining to being able to persuade or convince—‘persuasive, convincing.’” (Louw-Nida).
[viii] peismonh/, “the means by which someone is caused to believe—‘that which persuades, the means of convincing’ . . . [or] the actual process of persuasion” (Louw-Nida), that is, “peismonh/ . . . like the English ‘persuasion,’ may be either active or passive; ‘the act of persuading’ . . . or ‘the state of one persuaded’” (St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, J. B. Lightfoot on Galatians 5:8).
[ix] pepoi÷qhsiß, “1. a state of certainty about something to the extent of placing reliance on, trust, confidence.” (BDAG).
[x] 2 Timothy 1:12, oi•da ga»r wˆ— pepi÷steuka, kai« pe÷peismai o¢ti dunato/ß e˙sti th\n paraqh/khn mou fula¿xai ei˙ß e˙kei÷nhn th\n hJme÷ran. Paul had entrusted himself to the Lord Jesus, at which moment he came to be persuaded that Christ was able to keep him from spiritual destruction, and his entrusting and persuasion continued to the time of his statement.
[xi] Hebrews 11:13, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.” Kata» pi÷stin aÓpe÷qanon ou∞toi pa¿nteß, mh\ labo/nteß ta»ß e˙paggeli÷aß, aÓlla» po/rrwqen aujta»ß i˙do/nteß, kai« peisqe÷nteß, kai« aÓspasa¿menoi, kai« oJmologh/santeß o¢ti xe÷noi kai« parepi÷dhmoi÷ ei˙sin e˙pi« thvß ghvß. Their faith included knowledge of the promises (“having seem them afar off,”), persuasion, and a trusting embrace of the promises, which resulted in confession.
[xii] The ideas of persuasion and confident assurance are found in the New Testament in many texts where the specific act of justifying faith is not under consideration. For persuasion, consider Matthew 27:20; 28:14; Luke 20:6; Acts 5:40 (aorist passive is rendered “agreed”); 12:20 (the chamberlain persuaded, convinced, won over, cf. 2 Maccabees 4:45, h¡dh de« leleimme÷noß oJ Mene÷laoß e˙phggei÷lato crh/mata i˚kana» tw◊ˆ Ptolemai÷wˆ Dorume÷nouß pro\ß to\ pei√sai to\n basile÷a, “But Menelaus, being now convicted, promised Ptolemee the son of Dorymenes to give him much money, if he would pacify the king toward him.”); 14:19; 21:14; 23:21 (being persuaded results in yielding); 26:26; 27:11 (“believed”); Romans 8:38; 14:14; 15:14; 2 Timothy 1:5; Hebrews 6:9; 1 John 3:19. For confident assurance and trust, consider Romans 2:19; 8:38; 15:14; 2 Corinthians 2:3; 10:7; Galatians 5:10; Philippians 1:6, 14, 25, 2 Thessalonians 3:4; 2 Timothy 1:5; Philemon 21; 1 John 3:19.
It is one thing—and a truth—to say that saving faith is inherently assured of the sufficiency of Christ and the truth of the Divine promises in the Gospel. It is another—and a falsehood—to say that saving faith involves within it the assurance that one is personally converted. Assurance in this latter sense belongs to the well-being, not the essence, of Christian faith.
[xiii] πείθω, πείθομαι, πειθός, πεισμονή, πεποίθησις, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, vol. 3, Spicq & Earnest, pg. 67.
[xiv] Acts 5:36-37; Romans 2:8 (note the pei÷qw/aÓpeiqe÷w contrast in the me÷n/de÷ clause); Galatians 3:1; 5:7; Hebrews 13:16; James 3:3.
[xv] As evidenced, e. g., in the uses of peiqarce÷w, Acts 5:29, 32; 27:21; Titus 3:1. The “verb is ordinarily translated ‘obey,’ . . . [with] the peculiar nuance of . . . voluntary consent” (Theological Lexicon, Spicq).
[xvi] In none of its 55 uses in the New Testament are the people of God ever said to be people devoid of pei÷qw. Galatians 3:1 & 5:7 would be the only texts that might appear to indicate otherwise. However, in these verses false teachers were seeking to lead the Galatians to apostatize from the gospel, but in both verses “that ye should not obey the truth” (thØv aÓlhqei÷aˆ mh\ pei÷qesqai) is a purpose clause, specifying, respectively, the purpose the false teachers had in their bewitching (3:1) and the purpose of the false teachers in their hindering the Galatians’ running well (5:7). While many of the regenerate members of the church at Galatia had been influenced by these false teachers, so that, no doubt, their understanding and obedience were being shaken, neither in Galatians 3:1 nor 5:7 does Paul make the affirmation that they had actually become people who were rejectors of the truth or people who had now apostatized and become people of unbelief and disobedience. He simply states the purpose of the false teachers with the infinitive pei÷qesqai.
[xvii] aÓpeiqe÷w is used for those who disbelieve in or disobey the Son instead of believing (pisteu/w) in Him and not being condemned (John 3:36), for unbelieving and disobedient Jews (Acts 14:2; 17:5), for hardened people who do not believe or obey the gospel (Acts 19:9), for the unregenerate who disobey and disbelieve the truth (Romans 2:8), as unconverted Israel disbelieves and disobeys (Romans 10:21; 15:31) and the Gentiles disbelieved and disobeyed before their conversion, but did not do so after their salvation (Romans 11:30-31), and for those who disbelieve and disobey so that they do not enter into spiritual rest but eternally perish (Hebrews 3:18; 11:31). Christ is precious to those who believe (pisteu/w), but to the disbelieving and disobedient He is a stone of stumbling (1 Peter 2:7-8; cf. John 3:36). A non-Christian husband is disobedient and disbelieving in the Word (1 Peter 3:1), as the ungodly in Noah’s day who died in the flood were disbelieving and disobedient (1 Peter 3:20). A terrible end will come upon the disbelieving and disobedient (1 Peter 4:17)—the lake of fire.
[xviii] aÓpei÷qeia; The lost are in unbelief or disobedience (Romans 11:30, 32), for they are the sons of disobedience and unbelief (Ephesians 2:2; 5:6; Colossians 3:6), and they will fall because of their unbelief and disobedience (Hebrews 4:6, 11).
[xix] aÓpeiqh/ß; The unsaved are the disobedient (Luke 1:17), disobeying both God (Titus 1:16; 3:3) and their parents (Romans 1:30; 2 Timothy 3:2). Paul, in contrast, was not disobedient (Acts 26:19).