By Joe McIntyre

One controversial aspect of the modern Faith movement is the idea that we can exercise the “God-kind of faith.” This phrase is taken from Mark 11:22 in which Jesus says, “have faith in God.” Many scholars tell us that it literally means, “have the faith of God.” Many Faith Teachers have said that we are to have, therefore, the “God-kind of faith.” This would be the kind of faith that Jesus exercised when He commanded the fig tree to wither up from the roots and it did. (See Mark 11:12-14; 20-23).

In the parallel passage in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’ it will be done”(Matthew 21:21). In the context, Jesus is discussing the cursing of the fig tree and the disciple’s ability to duplicate Jesus’ behavior. He assures them that they can even command a mountain to be removed and cast into the sea. He describes this ability as “faith in God” or “the faith of God’ depending on which reading of the original Greek we deem correct.

In a respected commentary on Mark’s gospel, Joseph Addison Alexander mentions that in Jesus’ teaching the disciples about faith, He found it necessary to address their failures. “For such deficiency of faith, i.e., of confidence in the divine power to effect such changes, or at least in the divine grant to themselves of a derivative authority to do the same. Have (more emphatic than in English, and denoting rather to retain or hold fast) faith in God, literally, of God, a Greek idiom, in which the genitive denotes the object, and which has sometimes been retained in the translation as it is here in the margin of the English Bible.” (The Gospel According to Mark, Thornapple Commentaries, Joseph Addison Alexander, p. 310).

Many who have been critical of this idea of ‘having the faith of God’ rightly point out that God is the object of our faith and the primary meaning of the Greek word for faith is trust in something or someone. “So,” they reason, “faith isn’t something God has, it’s something we have in God.”

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon gives as its first meaning for pistis (the Greek word for faith) “conviction of the truth of anything, belief; In the N. T. of a conviction or belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust… when it relates to God, pistis is the conviction that God exists and is the creator and ruler of all things, the provider and bestower of eternal salvation through Christ.”

Thayer’s definition expresses what most people mean when they say that faith is something that we have toward God, not something that God has or exercises. Most Christians would be in agreement that this is the primary meaning of the concept of faith and the Greek word pistis.

But is this the only valid usage of the word in the New Testament? Does pistis ever have another meaning in the Scripture which is related but not identical? Let’s investigate a little further.

In the exercise of faith that Jesus was teaching about in Mark 11, it was not only faith toward God that He was advocating. Based on a living faith in God, Jesus was saying to his disciples that they needed to also exercise faith in the word of command. They were to speak to an obstacle (a fig tree or a mountain) and command something to happen to that obstacle. Jesus said “if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘be removed and be cast into the sea’, it will be done.”(Matthew 21:21).

In the parallel passage in Mark it says, “whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes [pisteuo- verb form of pistis] that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.”

The exercise of faith in this passage is not only faith toward God, but the word faith is used in a secondary sense, faith in the words that are commanded. “if you believe those things you say, you will have whatever you say.”

Jesus again expresses this same idea in Luke’s gospel. “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea’ and it would obey you”(Luke 17:6). Jesus is talking about releasing faith, not in God as the object of our faith, but in the words that we speak. Certainly this presupposes that we have faith in God and are moving in obedience to the Holy Spirit. It is our faith in God that emboldens us to exercise this faith in our words.

My point is that the word faith, though primarily used in Scripture to describe our trust toward God, is also used to describe the confidence we have in the words we speak in what is known as the “command” of faith. This is the primary way, although not the only way, that Jesus ministered to the sick and oppressed. “Arise and walk,” “Daughter, I say unto you, ‘arise,’ “etc.

Scholars refer to this usage of the word pistis or faith as the “word of power.” For example, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Vol. 1, p.600) in its article on pistis says, “The picture of faith moving mountains (Mark 11:23) and uprooting the fig tree (Luke 17:6) confirm the word of power that is able to transform the created order. The instructions to the disciples in Mark 11:24. show the connection in the teaching between the promise that rests upon the word of power and supplication. The supplication is the prerequisite of the word of power.”

In other words, faith toward God in prayer (supplication) precedes the release of the command of faith (the word of power). But both of these concepts (supplication and the word of power) are described by the one word: faith. (pistis in Greek).

So, does God have faith? Well, we might ask does God speak words which He expects to change things? Did God create the universe by speaking words that He expected to “transform the created order”? Is it a valid usage of the word “faith” to describe the power released in words, whether human or divine, sent for to change or transform the created order? I believe it is. Is it appropriate to call this having “the God-kind of faith”? I think so.

In fact, on of the most respected Greek scholars coined this phrase to describe what Jesus was talking about in Mark 11:22. Hank Hanegraaff refers to this man, A.T. Robertson, as “almost universally accepted as the final word on Greek grammar.” (Christianity In Crisis, p. 90).

So what does A.T. Robertson say about the phrase ‘have faith in God’ in Mark 11:22? Robertson says, “in Mark 11:22… we rightly translate ‘have faith in God, though the genitive [the Greek case] does not mean ‘in’, but only the God kind of faith.” (A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research, p. 500). This most universally accepted Greek scholar tells us that the “God kind of faith” is the true meaning of Mark 11:22!

God speaks things into existence. When He declares something, He believes it will come to pass.

For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. Psalms 33:9

We are created in His image and likeness. As we submit to Him and seek to do His will, He authorizes us to speak on His behalf and with His authority.

We can have the God kind of faith


  1. To have something that you cannot lose means that you cannot ever not have that thing. And this suggests, not a possession, but an attribute of character. Without God can there be faith? Is faith only possible when God is present? God is love. Faith works through love. Does this mean that all of God’s works were done in love? When God tells us: “Let all that you do be done in love”, is this equivalent to ‘let everthing be done in God’? Does it mean that to do something in faith requires that you have God or His Spirit filling your spirit? If God is in you of a truth, must you have faith and the rest of faith?

  2. John 2:24-25 gives an interesting application of the root pisteuo showing that whilst the Son may have faith in the Father, His knowledge of man does not require Him to have faith in them.

    Whilst we might use it in our contemporary human understanding (e.g. “God has faith in humanity” or “God trusts you”), the idea that God has faith (trust) in anything other than Himself (His essence) seems to be extra-biblical at best.

    The defining of faith in Hebrews 11:1 also shows that even if we could have faith in our words, which I doubt, God’s omniscience means He cannot have faith in His words. Using God as a model for us to replicate, which I often heard growing up, is problematic given this context.

  3. Brethren. Don’t complicate things here. The truth is that God has faith in Himself and in the word he speaks. But to you and me God is the object of our faith. That’s why we pray in the name of Jesus and get things done. Do we believe or have faith in the word we speak? Yes we do in the name of Jesus. Simple truth

    1. I think this is an important discussion. I have no theological credentials apart from being a child of God but having grown in the Word of Faith movement and stepped away from the outside I think it’s important to distinguish as some have noted that we have faith in God who gives us the words to speak. The heart of man is desperately wicked and even the sons of Sceva could convince themselves, have faith, in their words, but without the appropriate faith toward God and authorisation (through relationship with the persons of the Godhead) they were disgraced.

      Nonetheless, I affirm your call for simplicity and ensuring we do not elevate ourselves, our wills or our words to God’s level.

  4. Does it really matter if God has faith? It seems to me that would depend on your definition of faith. If you believe as I do that faith is activated by your words, then God has faith as He said what He believed, and it was. But, if you believe that He is the object of all faith, then He would have no object in which to put His faith, as He is the Most High, and there is no other. What if we take this discussion about Mark 11:22 and put it in context? Jesus, being God, had just cursed the fig tree the day before, and it withered from the roots. When His disciples marveled at this He instructed them to have the same kind of faith as He did, which included believing without doubt and speaking words with their mouths in order to get results as seen in verse 23-24. This is, also, known as the law of sowing and reaping. You can exercise it in fear, or you can exercise it in faith. However, without faith it is impossible to please Him. Let’s not forget verse 25. If you are not in right standing with God you are living in fear and not faith as fear satisfies self and faith satisfies God.

  5. It is surprising to discover you quoted and made reference to A. T. Robertson on this matter, given that he arrives at a complete opposite of what you conclude in this article. Robertson as implied by you or Hank, may be, the most universally accepted Greek scholar, tells us that the “God kind of faith” is the true meaning of Mark 11:22″. You also mention that this theologian is respected.
    It baffles my mind how you could get his point so wrong. In page 361 of the book titled ‘Word Pictures In The New Testament’ , A. T. Robinson says, “Echete pistin theou” – is translated “have faith in God”, he explains this is the correct translation because theou is what he calls an “objective genitive”. In his book, “A New Short Grammar Of The Greek Testament”, in page 227 he explains what he means by objective and subjective genitive, using Mark 11:22 as a case study to illustrate his point.
    Stating his point briefly, he says an objective genitive means that the noun, theou is the object of the action. So, in Mark 11:22, God is the object of faith, which means this require that the passage be translated “Have faith in God” – contrary to what you have indicated, Robertson punched forward the facts that, “it is not the faith that God has, but the faith of which God is the object”.
    This is the same conclusion by all reputable Greek grammarian.

    Outside of any knowledge of Greek, one only needs to look at the way all modern English translation has translated the words, “Echete pistin theou”. My short enquire into the following translations, NKJV, ESV, CEV, NIV, GNT, GW, KJ 1611, DB, ASV 1901, Bishops’ Bible 1568 just to mention a few, all translates as “HAVE FAITH IN GOD”.
    At the moment I could only find the translation, ‘A Modern King James Version’, that translate this as, “Have Faith Of God”.
    None the less the commentary in the Geneva Study Bible from this translation states the following; “The faith of God is that assured faith and trust which we have in him”.
    The central teaching of the bible is to trust in God, to have faith in God and his son, Jesus. Israel failed to enter the promise land because of unbelief – they failed to trust in God in their hour of need – this is clearly explained in Hebrews chapter 3 and 4. Also they failed to remain in the land because again they failed to trust in God. In Isaiah 30:15 Gods said, “for thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.
    I have to agree with the point made earlier; – when you take the whole council of God and allow scripture to interpre scripture, it is near impossible to arrive at your conclusion without the false premises and structure of the faith movement theology. But I most quickly add it is encouraging to see one within the movement making efforts to legitimise “Word Faith Movement “, although the false premises or perhaps poor research in this article does very little to legitimise your efforts.

    1. Robertson also said that in and of itself “theou” is neither objective nor subjective. The meaning is determined by the context. If one believes that God has faith they could opt for the subjective, which several translators did. If one doesn’t believe that then they naturally would opt for the objective. Although the majority chose the objective, they did so on the basis of their theological perspective, and not on the Greek.

      1. Author

        Rod – Well said. Thank you for your two comments. I did not have the time or desire to respond to these at the time. Rex

    1. Francoise du toit has absolutely missed the whole council and the mirror word translation should not be considered as valid translation at all.

  6. So for GOD, it is necessary that He “believes and have faith” in what He speaks, otherwise, what He speaks will never come to pass? With all HIS PERFECTION, He needs FAITH to believe in what He speaks for them to come to pass.

    1. Author

      God does not necessarily ‘need’ faith. He naturally exudes faith. It is the way He thinks. He simply knows that what He says will happen – that is essentially the essence of faith.

      Does God need love? No, He IS love so He naturally has it and is it. It is similar with faith.

      Remember, God is the one who came up with this concept and requirement of faith, not us.So it must be important to Him and the way He is. He thinks love and He thinks faith, and He wants us to be and act the same way.

      1. FaithMechanic, your point is Spiritually correct. I have read all the commentary, notes, etc., and have concluded that much of what has been written and said is semantics to try and explain what is so clear and simple. God is FAITH, even as God is LOVE, even as “God IS” or “I AM”. Faith towards God sounds like one did not quite make it, faith of God sounds like Satan, (wanted to be above or equal to God)but faith in God means that we are operating with in the parameters that God has created for us to totally believe and trust in Him for all thing to come to pass through FAITH IN HIM.

  7. Joe, great job! Love the way you broke this down. Totally makes sense. God is calling us to take up the mantel of speaking, with His authority, to the mountains and seeing them cast into the sea! He will not violate His own covenants. According to Psalm 8.6, He has given us dominion over the works of His hands (visible and invisible). The question is, “will we take up our swords (words of life) and yield them with authority and power?” It is His power being wielded through our words of faith. We are His ambassadors and He is making His appeal to the world around us. All creation is waiting to see if we will manifest our glory (Rom. 8:19). So far, I love this site, just found it… I’ll have to read more.

    1. What translation might you be reading, that would have “if” or the contextual inference of even close to such a word. Maybe you had mixed up with something on your mind???!!

  8. Mark this, I hear Jesus saying Christianity is about asking and receiving that your joy may be full. It is not about you in action. It is about Me in action in and through you, and yes, My actions within you cause you to act also, but in this case you are putting on Christ. You are doing that which you see Me doing in and through you. This is Christianity. This is what I intended. This is what I intend for My children. Teach them to hear and see Me in action in and through them and the world will be a better place.

  9. Faith gets the job done. No faith, no result. A faithless christian is a nominal head-knowledge believer who may not make it to Heaven because he/she does not please God, but self and world. Yes, I believe in myself that I exist, I live, I am a spirit-human. That makes it easier to place my faith/confidence in Christ that all that pertain to HIM is yes and amen. Does God has faith in HIMSELF? Yes. He would say “I am the Lord, I change not,” “There is no God beside me” and so forth. God is a personality, not a power-phantom! He believes in Himself because He knows and likes Himself. If He does not love HIMSELF, where and how does he express love that HE is (LOVE)? I love this site and this blog. Jesus Christ is Lord!

  10. In what does God have faith? This is an absurd concept if you accept the whole of scripture that describes God in terms of perfection: all loving, all knowing, always existing, etc. To have faith would by definition make God incomplete, given that faith requires an incomplete knowledge. This entire article is nonsense. God is the OBJECT of human faith. (I would recommend that you read the article by Hank Hanegraaff on this subject before you include him as a source reference)
    I would just suggest that Scriptures should be read listening for the illumination of the Holy Spirit, and not twisted with pseudo-scholarship to prove a point of dubious theology. By ignoring most of Scripture, you can prove anything.
    Jesus said in Acts, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit is come upon you.” The power is the Holy Spirit, and only when I speak at His prompting is there power in the words. A follow-up question is how does God speak? Could the word “speak” actually be a representation of a form of communication that far exceeds the mind of humans to understand?

    1. Author

      When God speaks (however He may actually speak), He knows and is fully assured that what He has spoken will come to pass. That is the essence of faith. Faith is a knowing, and choosing to act in agreement with that knowing is the act of believing. This is natural to God and must be learned my man.

      One can have faith in oneself because one can have a knowing of what one can do in oneself. Because God has absolute power and knowledge, He has absolute faith. We are finite and cannot be fully assured of anything, so we of ourselves cannot have faith. Our faith is His faith that has been transferred (personally spoken) to us by God, through the Word of God.

      Jesus spoke to the fig tree, and then told His disciples to ‘Have the (same) God kind of faith’, about the mountain they were standing upon. Faith knows the outcome before it happens, and the God kind of faith (in God) releases the power and authority of God as it speaks what it knows. Believing in that knowledge is the continued action of faith, and it receives the spoken result – ‘That is the Word of Faith that we preach.’

      God knows that His word is sure, and like Him, we are also expected to know that His word is sure. That is the essence of faith in God. It is of Him, and to Him, and ultimately, it is for Him. Trusting in Him and His word glorifies Him and pleases Him.

    2. God has faith IN His words in that when He says something, He has No Doubt that it will come to pass – there is no “incomplete knowledge,” there at all. When we have faith IN God, we are to have faith IN our words; therefore, we have “The God Kind OF Faith.”
      You are 100% incorrect to say that “faith requires an incomplete knowledge.” If you ask God for something and then turn around and say that you don’t know if He will give it to you, then your knowledge indeed is incomplete, and neither are you in faith.
      And as far as your questions re: “how does God speak?” are concerned, I would refer you to the instances in the Old Testament, when God spoke at Creation and to Adam, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, The Prophets, et al.

  11. So, when God gambled on Job’s faithfulness, to the point of allowing Satan to destroy Job’s “property”, which included his children and probably some wives, and all his animals, He really wasn’t “hoping” that Job would pass the test? He knew in advance, His challenge to Satan, being a proclamation, called into existence Job’s faith??

  12. Thank you for this good exegesis on a difficult subject. I agree! Jesus has called us as witnesses to represent Him, and as such we need to speak with authority for Him. If there is a word of caution, it is simply that we do so within the scope of His will. Speaking the word of authority calls for faith and boldness. Thank you.

  13. When Jesus said All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me, and then said for us to go that is responsibility and faith in us at the same time.

  14. I certainly appreciate this information, it has cleared up some questions in my mind.

  15. I understand that we can have a faith like God but here is a question that was posed to me. Does God have faith in us?

    1. Author

      Evan – Thank you for commenting. Here are some thoughts:

      1. The obvious first point is – can God have faith? Most theologians say no. They say that God does not have to believe, because He just does what He chooses, through His ever-present power. And, they say, it is impossible for God to have faith, because there is no one (other than Himself) in whom He can have faith. I disagree. You don’t have to believe in someone separate from yourself to have belief. Did God believe that light would appear when He said, “Light be?” Of course; He knew and believed that His words had power and would bring about the desire result. New Testament belief and faith are essentially the same thing. Faith is the noun version and believe is the verb form. They both come from the same Greek word. God believes and has faith.

      As a side point, Mark 11:22 can be rendered as either, “Have the God kind of faith,” or, “Have faith in God.” The Greek will allow both; the decision is one of context, so the latter is chosen because of the above theological opinion. I believe the ‘God kind of faith’ is more consistent with the intent of His discourse. He had just cursed a plant; and they commented upon on it. He then explains that they – through a similar operation of releasing faith words – could receive the same result, except only on a much bigger scale – with a mountain.

      2. A staunch Calvinist might say no because God already knows what the individual does, and has actually determined the individual’s actions, so faith is not an issue. In addition (and this affects item number one above), God lives in a place without time so all this may be irrelevant.

      3. God dying on the Cross, through Jesus Christ, would have been a wasted effort if nobody received and believed in it. For this reason, God had to believe that His price would be received and believed. He had (or ‘has,’ the tenses are difficult in referring to God) to trust that His actions would rebound to His Glory – through many coming back to Him in salvation.

      4. The whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is God having faith in His work in man, and man having faith in God’s work in man. Both, believing and acting in unity toward the same long-term goal.

      5. What about I Corinthians Chapter 13? Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
      Love simply believes the best in each situation and of each individual. Galatians says that, ‘faith works by love.’ God is love and does believe.

      6. Finally, how can we believe in each other if God doesn’t first believe in us? We are to follow Him because we are to be like Him. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. Some translations read the ‘Beginning and End’ (or Goal, Perfection) of our faith. He has faith, has acted in faith, and is the very exemplification of faith. He loves mankind and He believes in mankind, and, by the way, He is God.

      Yes, God believes in you, and so does every good believing Christian.

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