hebrews_title-320-webby Rex Rouis

Hebrews 11:1 is the one verse in the Bible that best defines faith.  It is also one of the more difficult passages in the New Testament to translate.  One of the reasons for this difficulty is the use of the Greek word ‘hupostasis’.  The writer of Hebrews states that, “Faith is the ‘hupostasis’ of things hoped for…”  As you can see, the translation of this word is critical to the understanding of this verse, and to the overall understanding of faith.  Let us look at how various translators have rendered this verse:

Hebrews 11:1

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.  (New Living Translation)

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (New American Standard Bible – NASB)

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  (King James Version – KJV and New King James Version – NKJV)

Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the conviction of things which are not being seen.  (Wuest – The New Testament: An Expanded Translation)

Confidence, Assurance, Substance, and Title-deed – what kind of word is this that can be translated with such diverse meanings?  Look at the following attempts to define ‘hupostasis’ in English, and how they relate to these four meanings.

Hupostasis

Strong’s Concordance #5287 – ὑπόστασις “upostasi” hupostasis; gen. hupostaseos , fem. noun from huphstemi (n.f.), to place or set under. In general, that which underlies the apparent, hence, reality, essence, substance; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance guarantee, confidence (with the ob. sense).

The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon – (1) a setting or placing under, thing put under, substructure, foundation, (2) that which has foundation, is firm , that which has actual existence (a substance, real being), the substantial quality, nature, of a person or thing, the steadfastness of mind, firmness, courage, resolution (confidence, firm trust, assurance)

Vine’s Expository Dictionary – hupostasis lit., “a standing under, support” (hupo, “under,” histemi, “to stand”), hence, an “assurance,” is so rendered in Heb_11:1, RV, for AV, “substance.”  In Hebrews 1:3, of Christ as “the very image” of God’s “substance;” here the word has the meaning of the real nature of that to which reference is made in contrast to the outward manifestation (see the preceding clause); it speaks of the Divine essence of God existent and expressed in the revelation of His Son.  The AV, “person” is an anachronism; the word was not so rendered till the 4th cent.  Most of the earlier Eng. versions have “substance.”  In Hebrews 11:1 it has the meaning of “confidence, assurance” (RV), marg., “the giving substance to,” AV, “substance,” something that could not equally be expressed by elpis, “hope.”  It also may signify a title-deed, as giving a guarantee, or reality.

Word Pictures in the New Testament – A.T. Robertson  states, “Hypostasis is a very common word from Aristotle on and comes from huphistemi, what stands under anything (a building, a contract, a promise).”

Wuest Word Studies – K. S. Wuest – Vincent (Word Studies In The New Testament – M. R. Vincent) says, “It is important that the preliminary definition be clearly understood, since the following examples illustrate it.  The key is furnished by verse 27 , as seeing him who is invisible. Faith apprehends as a real fact what is not revealed to the senses. It rests on that fact, acts upon it, and is upheld by it in the face of all that seems to contradict it. Faith is real seeing.” The word “substance” deserves careful treatment. It is hupostasis, made up of stasis “to stand,” and hupo “under,” thus “that which stands under, a foundation.” Thus, it speaks of the ground on which one builds a hope.

The Vocabulary of the Greek Testament – Moulton & Milligan – reports its use as a legal term. They say that it stands for “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.” They suggest the translation, “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.” The Holy Spirit energized act of faith which a believer exercises in the Lord Jesus is the title-deed which God puts in his hand, guaranteeing to him the possession of the thing for which he trusted Him. In the case of this first-century Jew, his act of faith in Messiah as High Priest would be the title-deed which God would give him, guaranteeing to him the possession of the salvation for which he trusted God. Thus, he would have assurance.

In other words, “that which underlies what is apparent.”  Amplified a bit further, it is that which, though perhaps unseen, exists beneath and supports what is visible.  It then has the sense of a foundation.  Even as the foundation of a building is unseen, and the building above ground is visible, the foundation – the hupostasis – is nonetheless real, supporting the building. Hupostasis can be seen as the unseen support of that which is standing in clear view.

The Greek word ‘hupostasis’ is used five times in the New Testament:

2 Corinthians 9:4 …otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we–not to speak of you–will be put to shame by this confidence.  (New American Standard Bible)

2 Corinthians 11:17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting.  (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 3:14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, (New American Standard Bible)

Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  (New American Standard Bible)

Next, let us review each of the various translated words for hupostasis.

Confidence

The word ‘confidence’ is a poor translation choice.  If the simple concept of confidence was the intended meaning, there were at least four other Greek words more suitable for the writer to use:

Strong’s #3954 ‘parrhsia’ – used 31 times in the N.T., 4 times in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidence, boldness, and boldly.

Strong’s #3982 ‘peiqw’ – used 52 times in the N.T., 4 times in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidence, persuaded, convinced, confident, obey, and trust.

Strong’s #4006 ‘pepoiqhsi’ – used 6 times in the N.T.  It is translated: confidence

Strong’s #2292 ‘qarrew’ – used 6 times in the N.T., one time in Hebrews.  It is translated: confidently, good courage, bold, and boldly.

What about the two uses in 2 Corinthians?  I suggest the following words in place of the word ‘confidence.’

2 Corinthians 9:4 “…otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we–not to speak of you–will be put to shame by this (reality).”  The whole context of the passage is the exhortation to the Corinthians to let down Paul in his boasting of them.  In other words, if the Macedonians come and see them unprepared, ‘the reality’ would put Paul, and them, to shame.  Confidence has nothing to do with it.

2 Corinthians 11:17 What I am saying, I am not saying as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this (example) of boasting.  Paul is talking about the ‘reality or essence’ of his actual boasting, and not his ‘confidence’ of boasting.

Faith exudes confidence but it is not based on mere confidence.  We have confidence because of faith, not faith because of confidence.

Assurance

The word ‘assurance’ is a better translation choice.  Faith is an assurance by God of our hopes.  In this context, the word ‘assurance’ works well.  It conveys a certain something from God that stands beneath, and supports, our hopes, transforming them into a reality.

Word Studies In The New Testament – M. R. Vincent – Substance (upostasiv).  See on Hebrews 1:3 and 3:14.  On the whole, the Rev. assurance gives the true meaning.  The definition has a scholastic and philosophic quality, as might be expected from a pupil of the Alexandrian schools. The meaning substance, real being, given by A.V., Vulg., and many earlier interpreters, suggests the true sense, but is philosophically inaccurate.  Substance, as used by these translators, is substantial nature; the real nature of a thing which underlies and supports its outward form or properties.  In this sense, it is very appropriate in Hebrews 1:3, in describing the nature of the Son as the image or impress of God’s essential being: but in this sense, it is improperly applied to faith, which is an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object; or a condition, which sustains a certain relation to the object.  It cannot be said that faith is substantial being.  It apprehends reality: it is that to which the unseen objects of hope become real and substantial.  Assurance gives the true idea.  It is the firm grasp of faith on unseen fact.

I agree with Vincent in his discussion of ‘substance.’  I disagree however, with faith being defined as ‘an act of the moral intelligence directed at an object.’  Faith is not an act of anything; it is a definite ‘something’ from God.  Only when we first have this ‘something’ can we then ‘act’ accordingly.  Faith may not be a ‘substantial being’ but it is a ‘substantial something,’ having the ability to apprehend the reality of unseen objects of hope.  If the word ‘assurance’ does that for you, good, it does not for me.  Assurance does not convey the full tangibility of the word.

Substance

The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament – Spiros Zodhiates, – Hupostasis, the word translated “substance,” means “that which underlies the apparent; that which is the basis of something, hence, assurance, guarantee and confidence.”  The English “substance” is built from a prefix and a root which together mean “that which stands under.” Webster’s defines it as “the real or essential part or element of anything; essence, reality, or basic matter.”  It is very similar in meaning to hupostasis.

Substance in this sense is a good translation option; it conveys the concreteness, or tangibility, of hupostasis.  By tangibility I do not mean to say that faith is an actual spiritual substance or force that God allows us to wield.  As enjoyable as it may be to imagine, faith is not some spiritual tractor beam drawing our hopes to us.  The trouble with the word ‘substance,’ however, is that we today do not have a common appreciation for its exact meaning.  In all the years of reading my King James Bible, I never fully appreciated the description of faith in Hebrews 11:1, as being the ‘sub’ ‘stance’ of things hoped for.  The one thing it did do, was to make me wonder how the KJV word ‘substance’ was rendered ‘assurance’ in my current NASB Bible.

Title-deed

Kenneth Wuest has the following to say about hupostasis in Hebrews 11:1 in his Wuest Word Studies

The Title-Deed to Answered Prayer – “FAITH is the substance of things hoped for” (Heb. 11:1 ).  The Greek word translated “substance” had a technical meaning in the business world of the first century.  It referred to one’s property or effects.  It was used in such expressions as “Out of this estate I declare that my husband owes me,” or, “more land than I actually possess,” the italicized words being the translation of the word.  It was also used to refer to “the whole body of documents bearing on the ownership of a person’s property, deposited in the archives, and forming the evidence of ownership.”  Moulton and Milligan in their “Vocabulary of the Greek Testament” say of these uses, “These varied uses are at first sight somewhat perplexing, but in all the cases there is the same central idea of something that underlies visible conditions and guarantees a future possession.”  Thus, they translate “Faith is the title-deed of things hoped for.”

To substantiate this usage, there is in “Living Yesterdays,” a delightful brochure by H. R. Minn, the story of a woman named Dionysia. She is described as “a woman of set jaw and grim determination.”  It seems that she had lost a case in a local court over a piece of land to which she laid claim.  Not satisfied with the decision of a lower court, she determined to take her case to a higher court in Alexandria.  She sent her slave to that city, with the legal documents safely encased in a stone box.  On the way, the slave lost his life in a fire, which destroyed the inn where he had put up for the night.  For 2,000 years, the sands of the desert covered the ruins of the inn, the charred bones of the slave, and the stone box.

Archaeologists have recently uncovered these remains.  In the box, they found the legal documents.  They read the note, which this woman had sent to the judge in Alexandria, “In order that my lord the judge may know that my appeal is just, I attach my hupostasis.”  That which was attached to this note, she designated by the Greek word translated “substance” in Heb. 11:1.  The attached document was translated and found to be the title-deed to the piece of land, which she claimed as her own possession, the evidence of her ownership.

What a flood of light is thrown upon this teaching regarding faith.  The act of exercising true faith as one prays, or as one leans on the resources of God, is itself the title-deed or evidence of the sure answer to our prayer or the unfailing source of the divine supply. It is God’s guarantee in advance that we already possess the things asked for.  They may still be in His hands, awaiting the proper time for their delivery, but they are ours.  If the answers to our prayers are not forthcoming at once, let us rest content with the title-deed, which God has given us, namely, a Holy Spirit energized act of faith.  We may be absolutely certain that our God will honor this title-deed at the right moment.

When you own property, you are given a ‘title-deed’ to prove your ownership . . . it is yours, and no-one can take it from you. Your ‘faith,’ is a title-deed that God holds on your behalf, His promised land. No-one can take this from you . . . there is no persuasion or pressure that can change your ‘stance.’. . . because of its ‘substance’ . . . He stands under you.  You can own something that you do not see, and it is no less yours. Faith is the God given ownership of your hopes, received prior to your taking full possession. If you receive this ownership, and then maintain it, you will receive possession of the full manifestation.

Finally, concerning the use of ‘title-deed, let us read verses 1 through 4 of Hebrews 11 in context, with personal revisions:

(1) Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the proof or evidence of things not seen.  (2) For by it the men of old gained witness.  (3) By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.  (4) By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he gained witness that he was righteous, God bearing witness about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.

We see that together these four verses act like a preamble to the list of faith events to follow.  These verses also have language that leads credence to the use of title-deed or some other legal variant.

The word “proof or evidence” is the translation of ‘elegchos’, which means, “a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested.”  Thayer (Thayer’s Greek – English Lexicon of the New Testament – Joseph Thayer) in commenting on its use defines it as follows: “that by which invisible things are proved and we are convinced of their reality.”  His second definition of the word is “conviction.”

The words “bearing or gained witness” are the translation of ‘martureo,’ which means, “to bear witness to.”  It is used three times in these verses, and two more times in the remainder of the chapter.  Here the verb is in the passive voice.  Literally, “for by it the elders were borne witness to.”  God bore witness to them that their faith would gain victory for them over all obstacles.

All of the above words have very precise meanings.  The wordings have a very technical businesslike tone, and seem to point toward some type of heavenly transaction.  One that requires a certain proof or God given validation.  It sounds similar to:

Ephesians 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, (14)  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.

My Own Suggestion

My own non-Greek-scholar word recommendation for hupostasis is ‘reality.’  Everything that is seen in this world comes from the unseen spiritual realm.  To understand anything about faith we must understand that everything begins when God speaks.  Faith is the doorway into the reality of God’s ‘speaking,’ and faith is conveyed to us by Him speaking to us.  Faith is not an extremely convincing thought, but rather, a tangible God given confidence in His speaking. God transfers the power of His speaking to us through faith. That is what is meant by, ‘speaking His word.’ Faith comes to us in the form of God’s promises that have become a reality in our heart.  Faith comes to the heart the moment a promise comes alive, and the promise becomes ‘real’ to the individual.  Again, this ‘reality’ may not be an actual ‘substance,’ but it must be sufficiently real and distinct in the mind of God for Him to consider it as ‘evidence of things not seen.’ Apparently, the Holman Christian Standard Bible agrees with this word choice because they also use it in their recent translation.

Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. Hebrews 11:1 Holman Christian Standard Bible

Something special happens the moment faith is born in the heart.  In a certain momentary flash of God’s grace, an ownership of a hope is placed within the heart.  God places within us the ‘heart reality’ of our promised hope.  An ownership of sorts, conveyed prior to our ever seeing our new possession.  A new possession gained by a divine approval, and bestowed upon a cultivated hope.  The diligent underground cultivation of hope brings a visible harvest of faith, which when combined with prayer and patience, brings forth the manifested reality.  Hupostasis is the word chosen to describe the heart reality of hope’s promise.

Faith is spiritual ownership awaiting the actual possession.

Perhaps faith is not an actual title-deed of our hopes, but it is real enough, and authoritative enough, to stand as proof and evidence that we have gained a personal decree from God Himself.  We can boldly say that this faith is the proof and approval for the divine issuance of our desired hopes.

Hope is a divine possibility, based on a general promise in the word of God – a specific comment or promise within the total (logos) of God.  Faith is the personal reality of this promise made real by a specific (rhema) communication to our heart from God. Doubt sees what currently is and no more. Hope sees what can be but is not yet. Faith sees what is and what will be.

Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 King James Version

The reality of things hoped for, comes from a message that is heard, a message that is heard from the spoken word of Christ.  Romans 10:17, My Version

Additional Translations of Hebrews 11:1

(NKJ) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

(God’s Word) Faith assures us of the things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see.

(TLV – Tree of Life) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of realities not seen.

(TEV) To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

(NIV) Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

(Jerusalem) Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen.

(NEB) And what is faith? Faith gives substance to our hopes, and makes us certain of realities we do not see.

(REB) Faith gives substance to our hopes and convinces us of realities we do not see.

(RSV) Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

(Phillips) Now faith means that we have full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.

(Living) What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.

(Greber) Faith is a confident trust in the things we hope for, and a firm belief in things that cannot be seen with our physical eyes.

(Anderson) Faith is being sure about things we hope for and certain about things we can’t see.

(Book of Books) Now faith is the sure confidence of things hoped for, the certainty of things not seen.

(Basic English) Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the sign that the things not seen are true.

(Worrell) Now faith is an assurance of things hoped for, a sure persuasion of things not seen;

(Amplified) Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title-deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality — faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.

(The Message) The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see.

(New Berkeley) But faith is an assurance of what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.

(Berkeley) But faith forms a solid ground for what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.

(Lattimore) Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the proof of things unseen;

(Holy Bible for Children) Now, faith is being sure we’re going to get the things we hope for. It is being sure of the things we cannot see.

(Holman Christian Standard Bible) Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen.

(NAB) Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.

(Beck) Faith is being sure of the things we hope for, being convinced of the things we can’t see.

(ASV) Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen.

(Knox) What is faith? It is that which gives substance to our hopes, which convinces us of things we cannot see.

(Noli) Now faith gives us confidence in what we hope for, and insight in what we cannot see.

(Wuest) Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the proof of things which are not being seen.

(Barclay) Faith is the confidence that the things which as yet we only hope for really do exist. It is the conviction of the reality of the things which as yet are out of sight.

(Moffatt) Now faith means that we are confident of what we hope for, convinced of what we do not see.

(Douay) Now, faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not.

(Authentic) Now faith is the solid ground of our expectations, the proof of unseen actualities.

(New Life) Now faith is being sure we will get what we hope for. It is being sure of what we cannot see.

(20th Cen., Revised) Faith is the realization of things hoped for — the proof of things not seen.

(20th Cen., Tentative) Faith is confidence in the realization of one’s hopes; it is a conviction regarding things which are not yet visible.

(Syriac) Now faith is the persuasion of the things that are in hope, as if they were in act; and [it is] the manifestness of the things not seen.

(Easy-to-Read) Faith means being sure of the things we hope for. And faith means knowing that something is real even if we don’t see it.

(Weymouth, 3rd) Now faith is a well-grounded assurance of that for which we hope, and a conviction of the reality of things which we do not see.

(Cotton Patch) Now faith is the turning of dreams into deeds; it is betting your life on the unseen realities.

(Wand) Now faith is a conviction of the fulfillment of our hopes, and a continual reliance upon the unseen world.

(Kleist & Lilly) Faith is the foundation of the blessings for which we hope, the proof of the realities which we do not see.

(Swann) Now faith is a foundation of things hoped for; it is the means of proving unseen realities.

(Lovett) What is faith, you ask? Well, it is an inner assurance that the things we hope for actually exist, and the conviction that they are already ours even though we cannot see them.

(Simple English) Faith is the title-deed to the things we hope for. Faith is being sure of things we cannot see.

(Laubach) Faith means being sure of the thing we hope for. It is being convinced of what we cannot see.

(Hayman) What then is faith? — a realization of things hoped for, a conviction of facts unseen.

(Adams) Now faith is a solidly grounded certainty about what we hope for, a conviction about the reality of things we don’t see.

(Klingensmith) Now faith is the real part of things hoped for. It is the proof we do not see.

(Montgomery) Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for, the putting to the proof of things not seen.

(Way) Faith is that attitude of mind which is the foundation-rock on which hope stands, that which satisfies us of the reality of things as yet beyond our ken.

(Williams) Now faith is the assurance of the things we hope for, the proof of the reality of the things we cannot see.

Comments

  1. In Summary

    The word Substance was gotten from the greek word hupostasis which was derived from huphistemi = (hupo, “under,” histemi, “to stand”)
    In other words, “that which underlies what is apparent.” that which is the basis of something, the ESSENCE.

    The word of God is the Essence of all things created or will ever be created, if faith is describe as ”the ESSENCE of things Hope for, the evidence of things not seen”

    Then FAITH is also: The Word of God in the Human Spirit
    The Act of Faith are: The Responds of the Human Spirit to the word of God

    So then if Faith is the word of God in the human spirit, then faith is the reality by which we live, for the Just shall life by faith!!

  2. I would like to add to my last comment.

    Therefore, when we have inward corresponding actions by the above process mentioned, then we can say:
    faith is an assurance, a confirmation, a title deed, a substance, a confident expectation of things hoped for.
    Selah
    Bless you all

  3. Faith is the vehicle by which we obtain our hope in God through Christ. Faith is trusting God that Christ the anointed word can and will manifest our hope. Real faith has inward corresponding actions of what we believe we have received, therefore we naturally act upon our hope as so.

    Isaiah 55:11“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.”
    When we speak forth the anointed word, (our hope based on Gods written covenant) the word is in subjection to God to accomplish that which He pleases, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto He sent it
    So the question is, who is the anointed word? Its Christ Jesus.

    We see that faith is a vehicle of trust in God, that the anointed word Christ that leaves our mouth based on covenant promises shall come back fulfilled because God the Father is active and watching over His word to fulfill it.
    Jeremiah 1:12
    Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am [actively] watching over My word to fulfill it.”

    And we will know when this type of trust in God has been released by having obtained inward corresponding actions that naturally act on what we believe.

    We obtain these inner corresponding actions (a inner knowing) by applying spiritual warfare.
    2 Corinthians 10:5 Inasmuch as we refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One),

    Faith is trust.

      1. Author

        Fascinating. I skimmed through your latest comment and the recent article from the link above. These are issues that I have a real interest in. Obviously, skimming will not work. I want to absorb this and respond intelligently.

        It may be a couple weeks before I can give it the attention it deserves. I am crazy busy this week getting ready for 10 wonderful days in California. I have to go back home and breath the air there ever so often. I look forward to it. Rex

  4. The word studies don’t actually help much here, they engage in a Logical Fallacy known as Begging the Question. If I have to know how hypostasis is used on 1 Corinthians to know how to use it in Hebrews, then how does the person looking at 1 Corinthians know how to use it in Hebrews? By looking at Hebrew? Here we find ourselves trapped in large forms of Circular Logic which end up with us just asserting what we assumed in the beginning. The Appeal to Authority of scholars while helpful, and yes expertise is what we should often look to, begs the question as to WHO is the authority over the words of Scriptures.

    “Hypostasis” was argued about by the Pastristics known as The Cappacodians, their articulation, especially St. Basil distinguished Hypostasis from Reality/Essence/Nature so that we might in accordance with Orthodox Trinitarianism, i.e. Christianity, say God is Three Hypostases (Persons) yet One Ousia (Reality/Being/Nature/Essence.) Here we might find Faith defined as the Person of Christ, a quality or virtue, such that to have that virtue is to rest in the quality of that person, i.e. to be Christ-like.

    We suddenly find our faith IN Christ is a participation in the Faith OF Christ, i.e. without him being Faith-Itself our faith is nought. This would of course require a way to participate in Christ as a Person. We need to participate in his Faith to have our own faith. Verily, Christ called the Apostles the ‘little-faithers.’ If this is done by something intangibly and abstract, say like a relationship, then we don’t need the body of the Son to die on a cross. The Father could have just whispered to us, “Hey! Have a relationship with me, with us, The Trinity!” That would mean for that “Father” to send a Son would mean He was unjust, which is to say no god at all. But that’s not the case, eh? So The Father sent The Son to be TANGIBLE so that we might have faith in the Faith OF Christ. So how do we participate in Christ? We have to become part of him tangibly and intangibly, in body and soul. “[H]e is the head of the body; The Church” (Colossian 1). Then we’ll need outer signs of inner grace, like Baptism being water (tangible) and Spirit (intangible). Or as John 6 says, we must TRULY eat his flesh and drink his blood (which most people find a hard teaching and only the 12 remain because they think, ‘cannibalism, really?’ and he says, sorta, yeah, this truly is my body and blood). So bread and wine (tangible) but the divine nature of Christ (intangible). These tangible forms of intangible connect our souls and bodies to the soul and body of Jesus. Our faith to his Faith. Without a tangible form our “souls” are saved, but not our bodies. This would mean to Resurrection.

    Faith must be fed by tangible forms of grace. This is a Faith that is of the substance or Person (hypostasis) we do not see. St. John says, “No one has seen the Father.” The Spirit brings us to the Son through the waters of Baptism where we ‘die with him and are raised in his resurrection through a Baptism in water and The Holy Spirit’ (Romans 6). And the Son reveals The Father to those whom he reveals Him to (Mt. 11). So our “relationship” with God must be in All Three Persons, not “a” (one) personal relationship. We can thus have Personal relationships with God or an ontological relationship (ontos meaning being, or communion with God) but not “a personal relationship with The Holy Trinity.” So our faith is assured because the three Persons of The Trinity work in tandem as One God to bring us to the goal of our Hope.

    Insofar as God is Faith-itself and we have but faith, we can have a “fullness” of Faith once we come to full communion with God, which can only happen after the general Resurrection and if we enter into The Second Life on the New Heaven & New Earth. But our faith will never compare to Faith-itself which God alone is, for it is the Standard by which our faiths is measured and weighed.

    1. Author

      Fr. Gregory – I hope I am at least in the ballpark in responding to your comment. Thanks, by the way. I enjoyed it.

      How exactly is this virtue of the Person of Christ communicated or transferred to us so as to be the under-girding of one’s hope? Or, do you even agree with that?

      ‘Faith must be fed by tangible forms of grace.’ – I agree. Does this happen when He speaks to us, and thus sanctions His specific will to us in the form of faith? A Faith and a Will now conveyed to man so that he can receive the ‘coming alive of this hope(s)?’ The purpose being so he can actually see this hope fulfilled in the future? God’s evidence (documentation or title-deed) of our coming answer – the basis of our faith. Faith, the Bible says, comes by hearing, and hearing by the (spoken) words of Christ (Romans 10:17).

      Does He not do it by speaking His word to our hearts? His Person, or His Will is then transferred to us through this ‘communication.’ Is this communication the “Hypostasis” of our hope? Making it become visible at the appointed time?

      I guess the question is – How does God transfer ‘tangible’ spirituality to man, in order to bring his (God and man’s) hopes into reality? Man’s desire and God’s promise to satisfy that desire come together in the operation of faith. It works like this:

      Man has a need -> God has a promise for that need -> man reads that promise, receives hope, and then seeks God -> God responds and speaks to man His confirmation -> man receives this verbal knowing as faith and acts upon it -> man then receives the answer -> God is pleased and is glorified.

      Also, I think I agree with you somewhat on the circular argument comment at the beginning. My main point was the terrible inconsistency in translating this Greek word and how pathetic ‘confidence’ is as an English word choice.

      I think I would like to talk to you. I would like to hear your comments on other articles on this site. God bless. Rex

      1. Hey Rex!

        I’ll hold off on your first question about how the virtue of the Person of Christ is transferred. We’d have to get clear on what virtue is first before we can ask how it’s communicated. In the same way before we can discuss how music or epistles or love is communicated, we have to first figure out what kind of things they are. Without those understandings we might think epistles are communicated through notes, or love through thought alone. The medium of communication partly depends on what the content is. Instead I want to focus on

        Indeed, we might say “Faith comes from hearing” and cite the Scriptures to support this. While this is a “necessary cause” is this a “sufficient cause?”

        For instance: if I say, “It sure is dark in here,” followed by me getting up and flipping the light switch there are four causes at work here.
        (1) my thought it’s dark
        (2) my desire to remove the darkness by light
        (3) my finger flipping the switch
        (4) the circuitry, light bulb, electrons, quantum particles, etc.

        Now I say, “Light comes from my desire.” Yes. Is that all of it? Well, let’s consider if I should say “Light ONLY comes from my desire.” Well then we’d have a problem, for my desire is not sufficient to make the light turn on; we also need the circuitry, my finger, electrons, etc.

        “Faith comes from hearing”
        Yes indeed.
        Is this all?
        No, as the Scripture you cited tells us.
        And hearing through the word of Christ.

        But if this is all that is necessary, why did the Father send a Son to die? If all we needed was to hear and find faith then wouldn’t that be tyrannical, if not done right evil, to send him to die? Furthermore, the Son was sent to bring us to The Father. Why do we need a son if it’s just about hearing? Moses heard from the bush, Samuel heard the Lord in the Temple as a boy. If hearing is “sufficient,” then doesn’t this make The Father sending the Son an unnecessary if not downright evil act?

        God forbid! So what are we missing? We’ve nailed some necessary causes but not sufficient if we’re to give an account of the Hope in us, a hope centered around a crucified, resurrected, and ascended Son of God.

        Q: Well the first thing to clear on is, “What is God the Father’s word?”
        A: St. John tells us:
        In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by “him” and without “him” was not anything made that was made. So the Word is not the Scriptures nor a “word” in the sense like you and I speak words, for The Father has not a tongue. The Word is Christ.

        We hear this again in The Epistle to the Hebrews, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from “his” sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Who is this he who is the Word? I thought the word that’s a two-edged sword is the Bible? But here a masculine pronoun is used, and thus is Christ. The next verse tells us, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.”

        Well, aren’t the Scriptures also the word? They are words indeed, but not The Word. The Christ himself said, “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

        So the Word spoken by God (the Father) is Christ.

        Q: Does God (the Father) give us faith by speaking His Word to our hearts?
        A: In a sense yes, in a sense no.

        Jesus said, “I AM The Way, The Truth, and The Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” If The Father speaks his Word to our hearts it must come through Jesus Christ. This means there is not a direct line from God (the Father) to us. We have a mediator, Jesus Christ the High Priest who eternally celebrates The Day of Atonement for the remission of the sins of the world. Well then does the Father speak The Word and then Jesus brings faith to our hearts?

        Here we must answer no. If this were the case then we have no need of an Incarnation. This makes us return to a Tyrannical “Father” who would kill his Son for no reason, for the Son might just as easily remained in Eternity as The Eternal Logos, speaking faith to hearts. But we say the Incarnation and The Passion and The Crucifixion were all necessary for the salvation of Man. Then faith must enter us by hearing, but something else is necessary. We have not given a sufficient account yet of The Hope.

        And here I want to return to one of your initial questions:

        Q: How exactly is this virtue of the Person of Christ communicated or transferred to us so as to be the under-girding of one’s hope?
        A: Virtue must be transferred by the actual Person of Christ. This Person/Hypostasis IS the under-girding (substance) of The Hope. If Hope itself is a virtue, along with Faith & Charity, then it cannot be by hope alone that sustains me, but The Hope of Christ. The Son who is perfect both is the beginning of this Hope, the sustainer of this Hope, and this Hope’s fulfillment is in being united to The Son, to God the Father through The Holy Spirit.

        So Incarnation. We need tangible flesh and blood. For “Person” is a composite of soul and body. In the case of Jesus his composite was the soul of Man, the body of Man, and the Divine Nature all in One Person — Jesus of Nazareth, The Christ. If all we have is God The Father speaking His Word to us, then we still aren’t actually united to The Godhead. If Jesus is the mediator, and the Person of Jesus Christ is where my salvation lies, and by “Person” we mean flesh & blood, soul of a human, & a Divine Nature — then one question is left.

        Q: How do I participate in the Person of Christ’s flesh and blood?
        A: Read St. John’s Gospel, chapter VI.

        Hope that clarifies something? I’m very interested in this topic and between your article and some students’ questions I wrote an article recently on the topic (https://stmarysuga.org/2016/04/19/can-someone-be-faithful-without-being-baptized/) so thank you for the inspiration!

  5. Thanks.

    It seems to me that the only way we can quantify our faith in Jesus – and test our faith’s purity – is only by our obedience to God. Feelings, attainment of goals, joy, peace etc are not good, single measures because they are susceptible to manipulation and evil. Maybe its like being in a plane cockpit and all the instruments are telling us we’re just fine – when our eyes see a mountain coming up fast….So if our faith is making us increasingly obedient to God – then maybe we are on the right track and headed right where we need to: God.

    And if we keep headed on this course – then all the other fruits of faith come along as well i.e. peace, joy etc…

    But what would i know.

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      Steve – “But what would I know.” – I love it. I feel the same way most of the time.

      I agree, but how do you know that you are correctly obeying and in purity? Many people do atrocious and ungodly things in the name of God. I think it all comes down to hearing – correctly. The purity of our heart will determine the purity of our hearing, and that, the purity of our response. Hearing and how we hear is huge. It determines our eternity. Jesus told us to be careful how and what we hear (Luke 8:18).

      Obedience is based on hearing. Faith comes by hearing. This is why the Devil is so against the concept of the Holy Spirit still speaking to us today. The Holy Spirit has not stopped talking. Most have just stopped listening. When we fly the plane of life, we must our eyes and ears on the instruments of the Holy Spirit because (as all good pilots know) it may ‘feel’ like you are going up and when you are really going down. Seeing and feeling in a temporal and evil world can be deceiving. Only God knows the true facts and the future.

      True faith is obedience to the Word of God and the voice of God. They agree, and when we agree with it, blessings come. God bless you. Rex

  6. This Study in Hebrews 11: on Faith and substance has been quenching! I linked in from my search on assurance. It has given depth to my understanding. Thank you.

  7. I like the definition by Cotton Patch- “it’s betting your life on the unseen realities”. I’m actually in that place now. Everyone thinks i’m a fool for believing God for the supernatural…Also let me add, we all have been given “the measure” of faith- Rom12:3(kjv). The same faith that got us born-again is enough to see the dead raised, but it needs to be developed. It’s not everyone that uses a great measure of his/her faith. Faith is like a muscle according to Andrew Wommack. The way to grow our faith is by knowing the Word and standing on it when trials come. As you win that trial, your faith will be strengthened for the next. But faith comes by hearing or knowing the Word of God… Brother Rex, honestly I don’t know how I stumbled on this site, but I know God has used this site to bless my soul. A thousand kisses from me. Remain bless.

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