Site Home

Commentators on Faith

Faith Home

Exegesis Home

Overall Site












End Notes


“. . . in your faith supply moral excellence, . . .”  2 Pet 1:5c.


In this section we will review what the various commentators have to say about Faith, the first character quality of the Second Peter sequence.


Faith/pistis/πίστις is briefly surveyed.  This author is particularly interested in the dual aspects of Faith:  Credence and Trust.



Note that my reactions or clarifications to what these commentators have to say are [bracketed] and most are found below each comment, so as to identify them as my reactions and not those of the listed Commentators.



Commentators on Faith


Barbieri, L. A.  (1977, p. 96, l. 34).

"The Christian life begins, of course, with faith.  The initial acceptance of God's love which was demonstrated by the death of Christ is the foundation stone.  To this foundation, Peter says, the believer should 'add' certain things."





Barclay, W.  (2003, p. 347, l. 21).

"It begins with faith (pistis);  everything goes back to that.  For Peter, faith is the conviction that what Jesus Christ says is true and that we can commit ourselves to his (sic) promises and launch ourselves on his (sic) demands.  It is the unquestioning certainty that the way to happiness and peace and strength on earth and in heaven is to accept him (sic) at his (sic) word."


[Notice that Barclay seems to lean clearly toward a Credence-based understanding of Faith.  The term 'conviction' speaks to a cognitive understanding.  The phrase 'unquestioning certainty' also seems to speak to a cognitive understanding.  Finally, note that the believer will 'accept Him at His word', clearly relying upon a cognitive understanding of 'His word' while the 'acceptance' seems directed at the Trust component.  The phrase 'launch ourselves' seems a nod toward the Trust component.]



Bauer, W.  (1979, p. 662).

"faith, trust. 1.  that which causes trust and faith – a. faithfulness, reliability. . . . b. solemn promise, oath, truth . . . c. proof, pledge . . . 2.  trust, confidence, faith in the active sense = 'believing', in relig. Usage . . . a. God πίστις θεοὗ . . . b. Christ – α. of belief and trust in the Lord's help in physical and spiritual distress; . . . β. The faith is clearly designated as faith in Christ by the addition of certain words. . . . d. πίστις is found mostly without an obj., - a. as true piety, genuine religion (Sextus 7a and 7), which for our lit. means being a Christian . . . δ. faith as recognition and acceptance of Christian teaching as such. . . . 3. That which is believed, body of faith or belief, doctrine"


[Bauer presents a strong portrayal of Trust, but seems to indirectly accept an understanding of Credence as well.]



Bigg, C.  (1902, p. 258; PDF p. 272).

"Faith is here conceived of as in Heb. xi. 1, 3, as strong conviction, belief which determines action;  this is the heavenly germ, which, if diligently fostered by obedience, issues in love, the perfection of the spiritual life.  This is the view of 1 Peter and of the sub-apostolic Church."


[As with Barclay above, Bigg seems to lean toward a Credence-based understanding of Faith.  His continuation from Faith to action, then obedience, and to love seems to support the sequencing of the 2 Peter passage nicely, as well as Weiser's description of the Hebrew approach to faith.]



Black, M.  (1998, p. 164).

"The first term is the foundation of Christian life, "faith" . . . It is the trusting relationship grounded in the believer's knowledge of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus."


[While clearly supporting the Trust-based understanding of Faith, Black also appears to acknowledge the role of Credence in his understanding that Faith is grounded on 'knowledge'.]



Bullinger, E. W.  (1901 B, App 69 p. 106;  PDF B p. 718)

"In the Old Testament there are seven Hebrew words translated 'trust', which itself occurs 155 times.  'Trust' is the New Testament word 'believe'.

i.  bāṭaḥ = to confide in, so as to be secure and without fear.  This is the word rendered 'trust' in 107 passages, viz. every passage except those given below.

ii.  ḥāṣāh = to flee for refuge to, take shelter in.  This is the word rendered 'trust' in thirty-seven passages.  viz.  Deut. 32. 37.  Judg. 9. 15.  Ruth 2. 12. 2  Sam. 22. 3, 31.  Pss. 2. 12;  5. 11;  7. 1;  11. 1;  16. 1;  17. 7;  18. 2, 30;  25. 20;  31. 1, 19;  34. 8, 22;  36. 7; 57. 1;  61. 4;  64. 10;  71, 1;  73. 25;  91. 4;  118. 8, 9;  141. 8;  144.2.  Prov. 30. 5.  Isa. 14. 32;  30. 2, 3;  57. 13.  Nah. 1. 7.  Zeph. 3. 12.

iii.  ʼāman = to put faith in;  hence, to stay or rest on.  Rendered 'trust' in six passages, viz.  Judg. 11. 20.  Job 4. 18;  12. 20;  15. 15,31.  Mic. 7. 5.

iv.  ḥūl = to tarry, or wait for, once:  Job 35. 14.

v.  gālal = to roll on, or devolve, once:  Ps. 22.8.

vi.  yaḥal = to wait on, or for, with confidence, twice:  Job 13. 15.  Isa. 51. 5.

vii.  rᵉḥaẓ = to rely on, once.  Dan. 3. 28."


[These usages seem consistent with the understanding of Pistis as 'Trust'.  The first seems related to sharing secrets.  Trusting someone not to pass on the secret.  The second seems clearly related to trust, as one relies on another to take care of them or hide them.  This is very close to the meaning the 2 Peter Theory uses to illustrate Christian faith as Trust in Christ to care for one in heaven.  The third, to rest on or stay with implies Trust as one risks the welfare of their body while resting on something to carry their weight.]



Bullinger, E. W.  (1901 B, App 150 p. 173;  PDF B p. 785-786)

"Verbs.  1.  pisteuo - to have faith (pistis) in;  hence to believe.  Translated 'believe', except in eight instances . . . 2. peitho, which is found 55 times, means to 'persuade', . . . The Passive , 'to be persuaded' or the Middle, 'to persuade oneself', is translated 'believe' . . . 'Obey' . . . piethō has a Middle Perfect pepoitha, with a reflexive sense, 'I have persuaded myself':  i. e. 'I trust'.  This is rendered 'trust', 'have confidence'. . . ."

"Nouns.  1.  pistis1 = faith.  The living, Divinely implanted principle . . . 2.  pepoithesis = confidence.  It is derived from the Middle Perfect of peitho (I. 2, above), which is always to be distinguished from the passive Perfect (pepeismai).  The latter refers to persuasion wrought from without;  the former refers to a persuasion realised from within, and this is what pepoithēsis seems always to mean.  Pistis (No. 1) refers rather to the principle, and pepoithēsis refers more to the feeling. . . ."

"Adjective.  pistos occurs 67 times, and is rendered 'faithful' 54 times. . . ."

Footnote "1 The English word 'faith' is always the translation of pistis, except in Heb. 10. 23, where the Greek word is elpis, everywhere else rendered 'hope'."


[The distinction between Pistis, the principle, and pepoithēsis refers more to the feeling, seems very worthy of attention, especially in the the Theory that speaks heavily of feeling motivating spiritual change.  The Footnote references a single instance of elpis translated as Faith, which everywhere else is rendered 'hope'.  Note that this occurred in the King James Bible of 1611, and has been updated and changed to a consistent translation in more modern translations.]



Cochrane, E. E.  (1965, p. 75-77).

"Faith has two aspects; (1) the belief which is the beginning of right relations with God, better known as saving faith. . . . (2) Daily faith or trust which is the very strength of the Christian life. . . . So, then, we are forced to agree that appropriating faith, saving faith, is such a trust in God that it receives, believes, and relies on His word, subjecting the will so that it no longer chooses self, sin, or pernicious pleasures but it now prefers and chooses obedience to God's will and automatically makes choice of the moral and spiritually quickening. . . . Faith is that act which brings reason, the will, the emotions, conscience, knowledge, goodness all into humble submission to the Infinite and relies upon the provision made by God for man.  Saving faith, the faith that justifies, is faith in Jesus Christ as the One who willingly gave Himself to death on the cross for man's redemption and that by such an act became the channel through which God's forgiveness flows to us. . . . A very important aspect of faith is that of daily trust in God.  Faith is not something active only at conversion but is an active factor throughout life.  It continues to rely upon our knowledge of God as a wise, good and benevolent Father who does not fail when trials come, or sorrows break upon us, or reverses fall.  Faith trusts in God in all circumstances knowing that what appears mysterious and unexplainable to us can never be outside His understanding or purpose."


[Cochrane seems to be breaking his consideration of Faith into the twin concepts of Justification and Sanctification.  Justification would seem to encompass what he describes as a punctiliar act of 'saving faith, the faith that justifies . . . .'  Sanctification would seem to be implied by the latter discussion of faith as 'an active factor throughout life.']



Cranfield, C. E. B.  (1960, p. 177).

"Your faith is not to be the sort of faith which James calls 'dead'. . . . or 'barren. . . , but genuine faith such as cannot exist without producing fruit."


[Cranfield gives us a bit of expansion of the concept, but doesn't provide much by way of definition.  Yes, a 'genuine faith' would not be 'dead' or 'barren', and yes, a 'genuine faith' would 'produce fruit.'  Still, labeling a faith as 'genuine' doesn't tell us much about what that faith is.]



Davids, P. H.  (2011, p. 41-42).

"In a Christian context like this πίστις means 'acceptance of the kerygma about Christ' . . . the term can often be translated 'firm commitment' . . . 'trust' . . . 'faithful or loyal' . . . or even as an 'oath' or 'troth' . . . The problem with 'faith' as a gloss is that it has too many mental religious overtones in English and tends to be associated with doctrines believed versus a person or kingdom committed to.  The kerygma in general, and especially the version assumed by 2 Peter and Jude, presents Jesus as Lord.  The translation 'allegiance,' which brings to mind the parallel notion of allegiance to an earthly ruler, is thus especially fitting, since it contains the appropriate sense of trust and commitment implied in the Greek term."


[For the uninitiated, 'kerygma' can be thought of as the core of the teachings by and about Jesus.  I, personally, rather like this take on 'faith'.  It speaks very closely to the understanding of 'faith' that will be presented in the Second Peter Theory itself.  There the term contains elements of both Credence/content and Trust/reliance.]



Green, M.  (1976, p. 67).

"Peter begins his list with faith.  This initial acceptance of the love of God, this response to His gracious willingness to receive us, is the foundation stone on which the virtues which follow are built."


[Green implies that faith is an acceptance of 'the love of God'.  Yes, this faith is the foundation/beginning of the Second Peter sequence in the text.  Unlike Cochrane (above), Green seems to relate faith principally to justification and to ignore it's role in sanctification.]



Gill, J.  (1746-48A, PDF p. 6408).

"the sense is, that as it is the basis and foundation of all good works, it should not stand alone, there ought to be virtue, or good works along with it, by which it may be perfected, not essentially, but evidentially, or might appear to be true and genuine;"


[This quote fits nicely with the 2 Peter theory's understanding of Arete following Pistis.]



Kelly, J. N. D.  (1969, p. 306).

"The readers are presumed already to have FAITH, here to be understood subjectively of loyal adhesion to Christian teaching rather than, as in 1, of that teaching itself."


[Kelly MAY be allying himself to the Credence-based approach to faith, as he indicates that faith is the 'loyal adhesion to Christian teaching', clearly related to the believer's understanding of doctrine.  On the other hand, when one considers that in the early church persecution was frequently the believer's lot, having a 'loyal' adhesion to the Truth may bespeak a durable, Trust-based faith.]



Manton, T. (1870, Vol. 15;  p. 49-50, l. 34).

"There are several divine qualities that have their office and use in the spiritual life;  but all are regulated and quickened by faith;  and therefore the whole honour is devolved upon this grace:  2 Peter i. 5-7, 'Add to faith, virtue;  to virtue, knowledge;  and to knowledge, temperance;  and to temperance, patience;  and to patience, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly-kindness;  and to brotherly-kindness, charity.'  Saving faith, which taketh hold of Christ for pardon and strength, and daily flieth to him for both, that is the root which must be cherished, increased, and kept in exercise by all that would thrive in any other grace, and be fit for any duty.  That is the first stone in the spiritual building, to which all the rest are added.  Without faith virtue would languish, our command over our passions be weak, and the back of patience quite broken, and our care of the knowledge of divine things very small.  It is faith acting upon Christ and heaven, and the hopes of a better life, that sets all the wheels at work in the soul, temperance, in moderating sensual delights;  patience, in bearing the miseries of the present life:  Heb. xi. 2, 'By faith the elders obtained a good report.'  In every verse it is said, By faith, by faith.  Some of the effects there spoken of do directly and more formally belong to other graces;  but though the private soldiers do worthily in the high places of the field, yet we say the general won the day;  the honour of the victory is put upon him, because it was achieved under his conduct.  So it is here;  all graces have their use in the holy life.  Love worketh, hope waiteth, patience endureth, zeal quickeneth to own God's truth and cause, obedience urgeth to duty;  but faith, remembering us of our obligations to Christ, and presenting the hopes of a better life, hath the greatest stroke in all these things."


[A nice overview.  He gives Faith it's proper place in the sequence, and in the Christian life.]



Moffatt, J.  (1928, p. 181; PDF p. 193).

"Faith here, as in ver. 1, is the personal belief which is fundamental."


[Like Cranfield (above), Moffatt doesn't provide much expansion or clarification of faith in his commentary on this verse.  Describing this belief as 'personal' belief doesn't tell us much.  What's the other option, impersonal belief?]



Oberst, B.  (1962, p. 142).

"FAITH – pistis, here referring to their trust, confidence, and belief in God and His son."


[Both the emotive factor (Trust) and the cognitive factor (belief) seem to be present here.]



Oberst, B.  (1988, PDF p. 267-268).

"This is that fundamental virtue of trust, confidence, and belief in God and His Son."


[Yes, but too brief, skimpy.]



Robertson, A. T.  (1933, p. 151).

"Faith or PISTIS (strong conviction as in Heb. 11:1, 3, the root of the Christian life Eph 2:8)."


[Describing faith as the beginning point of one's Christian life is correct, but that really doesn't describe faith for us.  'Strong conviction' goes some way in doing so, but also doesn't add much.]



Tuck, R.  (1896, p. 175).

"Faith is pre-supposed; both as the belief which is the beginning of right relations with Christ, and as the daily faith or trust, which is very breath of the Christian life.  A Christian only lives so long as he keeps his trust."


[This comment seems to stress both aspects of faith as noted above.  Tuck describes faith as 'belief which is the beginning of right relations with Christ' which may imply what we are describing as a Credence-based approach to faith.  Yet, Tuck also describes it as ' daily faith or trust'.  Clearly this second section would come down cleanly in the Trust-based understanding.]



Wheaton, D. H.  (1994, p. 1389).

"The faith referred to here is the God-given ability to respond to his grace by personal commitment and trust."


[Trust is clearly present, as well as it's active response in 'commitment'.  The cognitive aspect appears lacking, however.]



Williams, W. R.  (1977, p. 35).

“Faith, in its widest sense, is trust or belief; confidence in the word, character, or work of another. . . . The faith of the gospel is something more than these, only as being trust in God.  It is trust as to matters of higher concernment, and upon better warrant, and in a greater and better Being.  It is a reliance on His true testimony.  It is not irrational, for it has overwhelming evidence. . . . And as this faith is trust in the truth of the ever-truthful God, it is highest wisdom, as it is reliance on the Omnipresent, the Almighty, and the everlasting Jehovah, it is the surest, the only safety."


[Williams (quoted in Exell) seems to reflect both the Affective/Trust component, as well as the Cognitive/Credence element.  Trust is clearly  expressed, but it is also linked to ' confidence in the word, character, or work of another', as well as 'trust in the truth of the ever-truthful'.  Both factors are present.]



Wuest, K. S.  (1973a, p. 23-24).

"The believer exercises faith in the Lord Jesus to supply his needs, to guide him along life's way.  He should also exercise faith for the generating of virtue in his inner being by the Holy Spirit."


[Notice that Wuest seems to lean toward a Trust-based understanding of Faith.  He trusts Jesus to 'supply his needs', and 'guide him'.  Both images imply that he is entrusting his care to the ministrations of the Lord.]



Wuest, K. S.  (1973b, p. 38-39).

"When we come to the noun, we have the meaning of 'faith and confidence, fidelity and faithfulness. . . . That means a definite taking of one's self out of one's own keeping and entrusting one's self into the keeping of the Lord Jesus.  That is what is meant by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ."


[Notice that Wuest seems to lean clearly toward a Trust-based understanding of Faith.  This is specifically shown in the description of 'entrusting one's self' to Jesus.]



Wuest, K. S.  (1973c, p. 29).

"When these words refer to the faith which a lost sinner must place in the Lord Jesus in order to be saved, they include the following ideas;  the act of considering the Lord Jesus worthy of trust as to His character and motives, the act of placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do, the act of entrusting the salvation of his soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus, the act of committing the work of saving his soul to the care of the Lord.  This means a definite taking of one's self out of one's own keeping and entrusting one's self into the keeping of the Lord Jesus."


[Notice that Wuest is clearly presenting a Trust-based understanding of Faith.  In addition to the understanding presented immediately above, which is repeated here, Wuest adds three additional Trust-based concepts.  First 'considering' the character of Jesus as demonstrating that He is worthy of one's trust.  Second, 'entrusting' oneself to Jesus to do what He says He will do.  And, third, 'entrusting' one's eternal soul to His care.  The first of these is clearly a cognitively-based understanding of Faith.]


This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

14 December, 2023