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End Notes


Bultmann, R. & Weiser, A.  (1968).  πιστεύω, πίστις, πιστός. πιστόω.  In:  Kittel, G. & Friedrich, G. (Eds.).  Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol. VI).  (G. W. Bromiley, Trans.)  Grand Rapids, MI:  Wm. B. Eerdmans.


πιστεύω, πίστις, πιστός. πιστόω


Greek Usage - by Rudolf Bultmann


In an early section captioned 'Classical Usage' Bultmann summarizes the core meanings for the πίστις group from early Greek usage as 'trust' or 'confidence'.  Depending on the usage of the word, it can be translated as: 'trusting', 'trustworthy', 'faithful', 'faithfulness', 'reliability', 'fidelity', 'confidence', 'conviction', 'to trust', or 'to believe'.  It can be used of persons, relations or things.  It can mean 'conviction' and 'certainty.'  With the appropriate modifiers, it can speak of the trust one has in another, or the trust that the other has in oneself.  Speaking concretely, it can reflect the 'guarantee' or 'assurance' that one may provide which, in turn, makes 'trust' possible.  When πίστις is used of a person, it can be translated as 'faithfulness'.   (Kittle, Vol. VI, Page 176-178, Line 19)  He notes that πίστις was not a word used in Classical Greek to describe the relationship one had with a deity.  (page 179, line 6)


Bultmann notes that πίστις became widely used in what he describes as 'religious propaganda'.  Although Christianity was striving to make converts, apparently there were several other, different religions also seeking to find followers.  Simply, any attempt to proselytize assumes faith in the deity being advocated.  (181, 7)


He notes that, among the Stoics, the term πίστις could be used to describe ones 'faithfulness' to himself.  The idea is that, if one was 'faithful' to himself, he could then be 'faithful' with others.  (182, 23)


The Old Testament Concept - by Artur Weiser


As Bultmann has presented the basic use of πίστις as 'trust' in Greek.  Weiser now enters with a completely different, Hebrew, understanding of 'faith'.  Weiser points out that, for the Hebrew, the basic understanding of faith always presupposes that, when speaking of God, one recognizes that it is God that takes the initiative, and man is only able to respond to what God has begun.  (182, 39)  Man wouldn't have any understanding of God, except that God has initiated contact, and we may learn of Him thereby.  It is God that is seen as the 'Powerful One' in the relationship.  Because man truly experiences God as Powerful, beyond all comprehension, one's reaction to Him takes two, seemingly, contradictory forms.  Limited man, standing before the Unlimited God, is fearful for what He might do.  On the other hand, as one experiences God as a Protector, one can come to trust and rely on Him.  (183, 7)


Weiser's description of Hebrew usage leads one to see it as quite different from the Greek.  At 184, 27, Weiser described this understanding as demanding a 'concreteness' of the described relation.  When an idea is presented, the Hebrew 'requires' a description of the experience of what is being described, as well as the concept it is describing.  This description needs to include one's subjective reactions, so that the idea is understood in that concrete, lived context.  What this seems to entail is a description of the inner consequences of what is being described by a given word.  When one speaks of God, for example, a wide range of reactions should be understood as being present or implied.  (185, 16)  To me, the idea seems to be that, God really being God, as one faces the prospect of coming into His presence, one can readily understand several different human responses to Him.  One person may be, realistically, fearful for what could happen.  One may be overwhelmed by His sheer majesty.  One may respond with gratitude for all that He as done.  One may hope for what He may yet do.  All of these subjective responses, and more, would seem 'reasonable', if one should appear in the presence of The Great and Holy God.  As the Hebrew 'expects' an idea to include one's 'experience' of the Other, then our understanding of God (such as it is) should include and assume such reactions to having a relationship with Him.


Weiser describes a particularly helpful example at 186, 13.  Benaiah is ordered by King David to have Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet go with Benaiah to anoint Solomon as King in David's place.  To this command Benaiah replies:  'Amen'.  Weiser understands this reply as including four aspects.  1) an acknowledgment of Benaiah's understanding of what the King is saying, 2) an acceptance of it, 3) a desire that the King's word be fulfilled, and 4) Benaiah's total commitment to help fulfill the King's word.  The combination of these factors seems to encapsulate the message of what is being communicated by the single word 'Amen'.


Weiser (186, 22) extends his description of Hebrew usage by specifying different components of this style of Hebrew understanding.  [As this can get confusing, I've developed a handout to help clarify things.]  He notes the 'Objective' relationship between what is being described in words and it's reality in the world.  He then goes on to describe the 'Subjective' response to this 'Objective' reality.  The first group of these 'Subjective' aspects he calls the 'Theoretical' cluster and it includes:  Recognition and Acknowledgment.  (1) Recognition entails becoming aware of what is being said or done.  (2) Acknowledgment denotes one's confirmation that what was said was true or real.  Weiser then describes a second cluster of 'Subjective' aspects he labels the 'Practical' involvement of the total person, in relationship with what was being described.  (3) Total Involvement includes the elements of one's 'knowledge, will, and conduct'.  I understand this 'involvement' to be symbolic of a broad, ill-defined, combination of elements comprising the entire person.  Thus, the final sentence would be seen as identifying a broad relationship between the complete person and whatever was being described.  For the Hebrew, then, when Faith is discussed, ALL of these elements, both Objective and Subjective, both Theoretical and Practical, are assumed to be lived realities within one's relationship with the God of one's Faith.


Just as an aside;  it seems to me that the Objective cluster is essentially duplicated by the Subjective Theoretical cluster.  The major difference seems to be that the Objective happens in the world, and the Subjective happens in one's head.  Once you get past the Objective and the Theoretical and arrive at the Practical, one really begins to see how the Hebrew is different.


Weiser (186, 31) describes האמין ('to believe'), frequently translated in the Septuagint as 'πιστεύειν', as saying: "It expresses both recognition of the objective relation of object to reality and also recognition of the subjective relation of the believing subj. to the obj."  He then notes:  "'to believe' a word, account, or report is first to take cognizance of the matter and to accept that it is true.  It also implies, however, a corresponding relation to the matter."  Thus, to 'believe' something implies that one becomes aware of it (1), accepts that it is real (2), and then stands in relationship with it (3).


As a Psychologist, this author understands 'cognizance' to reflect a cognitive component of Faith.  Weiser then specifies the second component, in which one 'accepts that it is true'.  This would seem to describe a decision-making process in which one decides to give Credence to what is being said, etc.  This second element would also be seen as a cognitive component of Faith.  The third element, the 'relationship' component, could easily be seen within either the cognitive or the affective, most likely involving both.  Generally, one understands Faith as including Trust, as Weiser noted above at 183, 7.  This author understands Trust as, essentially, the affective aspect of Faith, as distinct from Credence, the cognitive.  Both of these aspects should, as a result, be discernible within Faith.  Thus, this analysis of Faith may be summarized as:  a relationship with God which is characterized by both Credence and Trust.


When one 'believes' something, the consequences of that relationship can be life-changing.  At 188, 5 Weiser says:  "the religious use of האמין in the OT inclines in the direction of 'taking God as God with unremitting seriousness,' and it herewith contains as an essential element the exclusiveness of the relation to God."  God is, after all, one.  There is no other.  OT faith thus denotes (188, 32):  "a relation to God which embraces the whole man in the totality of his external conduct and inner life."


Lastly, Weiser turns to a discussion of hope.  He notes that the future orientation of faith expressly includes the concept of hope.  He describes (193, 40) "the basic meaning of these words is the concrete state of tenseness."  He extends this by saying (194, 2):  "the basic meaning is a 'state of painful expectation.'"  He describes (195, 10) the faith of Isaiah as consisting "in a tension, a supreme tautness of the energy of faith, behind which one may discern the tension between fear and hope.  This waiting or hope is faith which does not yet see, but still believes."


Summary and Discussion of Weiser


The multiple components Weiser describes for the OT understanding of Faith seem to enlarge and extend our understanding of what Faith actually is and how it is lived out.  His distinction between what he labels as the 'Theoretical' and 'Practical' clusters leads this student to a tentative understanding.   It seems that the OT concept of Faith is a very complex, organic construct.  In Faith one's interaction with external reality impacts one's internal understanding of that reality, and one's subjective perceptions and decisions impact one's external relationships and behavior.  In other words, it sounds alive, and very real.


At the same time, as I read Weiser, Bultmann and the other authors, I'm struck by what I'm coming to see as a difference in the Hebrew and the Greek understandings of Faith.  I see the Hebrew understanding of Faith as totally infused with the concept of relationship.  Man stands before God in what Buber (1950) would describe as an 'I-Thou' relationship.  For the Hebrew, Faith can only be understood within the context of that relationship.  I believe that the NT authors wrote within the context of that OT understanding of Faith in relationship.  "In common Christian usage, then, the OT and Jewish heritage may be discerned in what is signified by πίστις."  (205, 28)


On the other hand, I suspect the Greek understanding of Pistis to be quite different.  I don't see in the Greek that same emphasis on Faith in relationship.  Bultmann noted:  "πιστεύω.  From a purely formal standpoint there is nothing very distinctive in the usage of the NT and early Chr. writings as compared with Gk. usage.  As in Gk. (→ 177, 22 ff.) πιστεύειν means 'to rely on,'  'to trust,'  'to believe.'"  (203, 5)   Further, Bultmann notes (197, 4):  "The האמין of the OT (→ 186, 29 ff.), which is almost always rendered πιστεύειν in the LXX, does in fact correspond to the Gk. πιστεύειν to the degree that both can mean 'to trust'".  However, immediately after noting the similarities of the Hebrew and the Greek words for Faith, Bultmann then draws an important distinction between them by adding:  "The phenomenon denoted by האמין, and herewith the OT concept of faith, is richer, however, than the phenomenon denoted by πιστεύειν, and the Greek concept of faith."  (197, 9)  Interestingly, Bultmann notes that the Greek COULD become more like the Hebrew term IF it included the concept of Obedience.  "If the Gk. πιστεύειν can have the nuance 'to obey' (→ n. 6, 32, 46), this element is very much stronger in the 'belief' of the OT, and is often predominant." (197, 11)  Thus, Bultmann sees a situation in which the Greek pistis PLUS something else COULD, apparently, take the place of the OT understanding of Faith.  Such additions would tend to remediate the Greek 'deficiency' of an absence of the 'relationship component' so crucial to the Hebrew.


As I understand the situation, the Greek is characterized by what Weiser described as the 'Theoretical' (Subjective) component.  Remember that this component is comprised of:  Recognition, and then Acknowledgment.  These were seen as internal, cognitive elements.  The second group of components:  the Practical or 'total Involvement of the whole person', would then fall under the 'Relationship' components that the Greek does not emphasize.  Thus, the Greek understanding of Faith would be left with the 'Theoretical' subjective understanding, without the aspect of the Practical relationship response.  So, Faith for the Greek could be seen as the internal state of Credence and Trust, without considering the person's relationship response to God.  Again, this is only my (untutored) understanding.


IF my understanding is (vaguely) correct, then it provides us with implications for our exegesis of Faith.  First, it seems quite likely that untutored readers of the Scriptures, particularly Greek converts, could easily become confused about the definition of Faith the Apostles desired.  The NT was written in Greek by Apostles of Hebrew extraction.  While one cannot say with certainty, it seems reasonable to assume that the Apostles approached Faith from their Hebrew backgrounds and with their Hebrew understandings (see:  205, 28 & 206, 11).  Thus, this author suspects that the Apostles tried to translate their Hebrew understanding of Faith into Greek that would be understandable by the large number of Greek-speaking converts.  While I cannot say with certainty, it SEEMS that the Apostles used the Greek term pistis with it's conventional Greek definition and then added various components to craft an approximation of the Hebrew understanding of Faith from the combined whole.  This approach to the problem of translating Hebrew concepts into Greek would seem to parallel Bultmann's (197, 11) understanding of 'pistis PLUS' (above)Such an amalgam would seem to communicate the Hebrew understanding, IF the readers also combined the terms in their understanding.  However, if the readers did not 'combine the terms,' as I suspect the Apostles desired, it would leave the Greek understanding of Faith separated from the additional 'Relationship' components of the Hebrew faith that I suspect the Apostles wanted to include.


In support of this viewpoint, consider Bultmann's description of the work of Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher (Wikipedia, 2022).  Apparently he set out to harmonize the Torah with Greek philosophy.  Bultmann (202, 8) noted:  "Philo thus understood man's relation to God along the lines of the Gk.-Platonic tradition.  In so doing he held fast to 'trust' as the basic meaning of πίστις."  And again (202, 24):  "At root, then, πίστις is man's firmness, or impregnability, on the basis of committal to the only solid thing, to the one thing that is.  In so far as πίστις means turning from the corruptible and turning to the eternal Philo follows the Platonic tradition.  But in so far as it is described as this disposition of soul he follows the later Stoa."  And finally (202, 37):  "In πίστις man does not stand before God to be accepted by Him.  Faith is the goal of the piety which man develops in his own strength.  In truth it is not his relation to God;  as in the Stoa, it is a relation to himself."


Philo was clearly an educated man, comfortable with the Greek philosophical traditions of his day.  If he understood pistis in this way, wouldn't it be likely that other Greek-speakers would also be comfortable with a similar meaning for the Greek word pistis?  This would seem likely to lead to quite a bit of confusion as to what the Apostles intended when they used πίστις as their word for Faith.


A second implication for this author's view is also present.  As one surveys the broad scope of the NT, one is confronted by an important, recurring, theme.  Early on the Church was confronted by the influence of what some have called the 'Judaisers'.  One can easily see what likely happened.  The early gentile converts came to Faith in Jesus.  These converts saw this 'Faith' as being a subjective state of Credence and Trust in Jesus to save them.  This is related to Philo's understanding of pistis.  Yet, at the same time, those of Hebrew extraction saw Faith in Jesus as an all-encompassing change in the person as a whole, both internally AND externally, consistent with the Hebrew understanding of Faith.


How would this situation play out?  Well, there might be a group of converts that believed that Faith in Jesus was sufficient to save, and one's behavior after was of little importance.  Lets call them the Gnostics.  There might also be a group of converts from Judaism that saw Faith in Jesus as demanding a changed life, as well as behavior.  Let's call them Judaisers.  The Judaisers, knowing that Faith implies a relationship with God and that this relationship entails a behavioral response from the believer, would expect the new converts to, at least, respect the basics of the Mosaic Law.  They would also, likely, expect converts to accept the initiation rite into the Jewish covenant, circumcision.  They would have seen this as a foundational response to entering into a 'Faith relationship' with God.  The Gnostics, on the other hand, using a Greek understanding of the nature of Faith, saw the internal, subjective state of Credence in Jesus and Trust in Him to save as sufficient for salvation.  They weren't all that attracted to the 'legal requirements' that the Judaisers proclaimed.


[Yes, I know that Gnosticism was a more formalized/institutionalized grouping than this simplistic illustration implies.  It does suggest, however, an underlying linguistic conflict that may have predisposed some to being attracted to it.]


As a result, the early Church, and much of the life of the latter Church, has been plagued by an on-going conflict between the roles of Grace and Law.  Clearly, the Apostles spoke to just this conflict repeatedly.  Paul was forthright in emphasizing the role of Grace, but he didn't ignore good behavior, either.  James stressed the importance of Works, but also acknowledged Grace.  Just out of curiosity, how did Peter come down on this?


Leaving aside his ruling on the gentiles, following his vision of the sheet being lowered from heaven, Peter does give us a response. The very passage we're considering (2 Peter 1) commands Christians that:  'to your faith add virtue.'  We'll be covering this is in great detail in the next sections, but as a preview of coming attractions, let's summarize by saying that:  to your faith you must add behavior that demonstrates that your faith has actually changed you, that it makes a difference in your life.  Now we see the balance.  The Greek 'Faith' is subjective, to which is then added a response describing the impact of that faith, both of which, when combined, approximate the Hebrew understanding of the 'Faith relationship'.  2 Peter, written in Greek to a largely gentile audience, uses the Greek understanding for Faith and links it with Arete, a concept signifying bold action, and a changed life, for those who believe.  He speaks Greek, but communicates the gist of the Hebraic understanding of Faith as relationship and response.  And in so doing, he authoritatively closes the gap between the Greek and the Hebrew understandings of Faith.


Now that's a big concept! 



Rudolf Bultmann


As we noted above while discussing the Apostle's use of the Greek terminology for Faith, we postulated that the Apostles added various components to the Greek term πίστις in order to more closely approach the Hebrew understanding of the word Faith.  Bultmann has taken this approach and run with it.


Bultmann builds upon Weiser's observations.  He developed a major conception of Faith/Pistis/πίστις as having multiple concepts/virtues within it or associated with it.  These virtues include:


    • πιστεύειν [acknowledgment] of God as God
    • πιστεύω [credence/believe] in God
    • πίστις [trust] in God
    • ὁμολογία [assent/confession/profession]
    • γνῶσις [knowledge]
    • φόβος [fear/reverence] of God
    • ὑπακοή [obedience]
    • μακροθυμία [slow to anger/forbearance]
    • πομονή [endurance]
    • ἐλπίς [hope/expectation] in God
    • ἀγάπη [Christian love]
    • δικαιοσύνη [justice]
    • διακονία [service]

Wikipedia (2021) describes Rudolf Bultmann as: "one of the major figures of early-20th-century biblical studies."  While Bultmann's extreme theology has been largely rejected, in his work with Kittle he has demonstrated a fine grasp of Biblical Lexicography.  He was trained well and he seems fully acquainted with the linguistic backgrounds within which the Scriptures were produced.


Bultmann has fully described his understanding of some of the relationships that πίστις has with the associated terms above.  Others terms in relationship with πίστις have only been briefly mentioned.  All of these relationships seem important if one is to portray what a mature Christian Faith would look like.


In the midst of defining and describing the use of the terms above related to 'faith', while closely reading Bultmann's essays in Kittle on πίστις, I have come to an interesting observation.  I believe Bultmann was also trying to 'paint a picture' of the Christian Faith.  Thus, in addition to describing 'faith,' I believe Bultmann was also trying to describe 'The Faith'.  I believe that he was trying to portray what a mature Christian Faith would look like.


Bultmann's associated terms follow.



πιστεύειν [acknowledgment] of God as God

Weiser sets the stage:  "In this sphere of usage האמין [to believe] is first found as a formal concept in the sense of recognising (sic) and acknowledging the relation into which God enters with man, i.e., setting oneself in this relation," Kittle, Vol VI, page 187, line 13.

Bultmann picks up the thread when he says:  "In relation to God האמין can often mean 'to acknowledge''"  Kittle, p. 197, l. 9.

"In the OT to believe in God is to acknowledge Him as such"  198, 1.

"Hb. 11:6 explicitly uses πιστεύειν [acknowledgment] in the first sense: πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ τὸν προσερχόμενον θεῷ, ὅτι ἔστιν κτλ. [for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists]"  p. 208-209, 37.


[πιστεύειν:  Acknowledgment of God as God would seem to be a pretty good place to start in a consideration of Faith.  Notice that Bultmann cites Heb 11:6 as an example of πιστεύειν being used to signify 'acknowledgment' of God as God.]



πιστεύω [credence]

"Faith is both trust (→ 191, 10 ff.) and giving credence."  199, 10.

See also:  205, 32-41;  205, 3;  and 222, 35.


[Bultmann begins by setting up dual identifications.  'Faith IS' both trust and credence.  Credence implies that one accepts the veracity or truthfulness of what the Scriptures have to say about Jesus.  Clearly Bultmann would argue that Faith would include Credence as a major component, and as a primary focus for πιστεύω.]



πίστις [trust] in God

"In Paul, of course, it is only seldom that πίστις [trust] has the direct sense of trust (→ 206, 10 ff.), since πίστις [trust] is primarily ὁμολογία [assent] and ὑπακοή [obedience].  But trust, like hope (→ 207, 6 ff.), is part of faith."  218, 12.

See also:  186, 29;  198, 8;  199, 10;  196, 18;  and 206, 11.


[And again, we are left with Bultmann's dual identification of both trust and hope as a part of faith.  Note again, these are not 'allied' constructs, both trust (πίστις) and hope (ἐλπίς) IS a constituent part of Faith.]



ὁμολογία [assent/confession/profession]

"In ὁμολογία [assent] the believer turns away from himself and confesses Jesus Christ as his Lord, which also means confession that all he is and has he is and had through what God has done in Christ. . . . Faith is ὑπακοή [obedience] (→ 205, 36 ff.) as well as ὁμολογία [assent].  That is to say, it is acknowledgment of the day of grace and salvation which God has ordained."  217, 26 & 38.

See also:  218, 12.


[ὁμολογία:  Assent that Jesus is one's Lord is clearly a positive and is a natural aspect of one's faith.  Note that Bultmann defines Faith, and later Trust, as the joint product of both ὁμολογία [assent] and ὑπακοή [obedience].  He then identifies trust as being a 'part of faith.']



γνῶσις [knowledge]

"in the Christian πιστεύειν [to trust] works itself out in knowledge of what he has to do in a given situation."  218-219, 42.

See also:  227, 4.


[γνῶσις:  Bultmann seems to be describing parallel elements of reasonably equal importance.  Note that he summarizes this as:  'all knowledge begins with faith' and 'Knowledge is an element in . . . faith.'  (Again with the identities.)  2 Peter would be quite content with this, as it identifies 'gnosis' as one of the qualities that are to be 'added to' faith.  I suspect that one of the reasons Bultmann places the emphasis that he does on γνῶσις is in response to the history of Gnosticism in the early church.  He seems concerned that one hold a proper view of knowledge and it's role in 'The Faith'.]



φόβος [fear/reverence] of God

"φόβος [fear/reverence] means that the believer realizes that he is κατέναντι Θεοῦ [opposite God] (2:17) or ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ [in the presence of God] (4:2)."  221, 44.

See also:  188, 20;  198, 1;  and 221, 26.


[φόβος:  Clearly fear is one of the basic responses to being in the presence of God, ἐνώπιον τοῦ Θεοῦ.  Yet, this may mature into reverence.  As such, Bultmann describes this reverence/fear, along with hope as being 'constitutively' a part of faith/πίστις.  Once again he notes that 'fear' IS a part of faith.]



ὑπακοή [obedience] 

"Faith is ὑπακοή (→ 205, 36 ff.) as well as ὁμολογία.  That is to say, it is acknowledgment of the day of grace and salvation which God has ordained."  217, 38.

See also:  188, 18;  197, 9;  198, 1;  199, 10;  205-206, 44;  216, 24;  218, 12;  219, 37;  220, 35;  and 225, 32.


[ὑπακοή:  In this extensive section Bultmann clearly identifies faith/πίστις with obedience/ὑπακοή.  On page 217 above, he explicitly says that: "Faith is ὑπακοή."  It seems that he is continually using this identity of 'faith is . . .' with almost everything he discusses.



μακροθυμία [Slow to anger/forbearance]

"As Faithfulness. . . . ἐλπίς [hope] and πομονή [endurance] are closely related, → II, 531, 1 ff.  So also are πίστις [trust] and πομονή [endurance], 2 Th. 1:4.  So are πίστις [trust] and μακροθυμία [patience], Hb. 6:12.  So are ἀγάπη [love], πίστις [trust], διακονία [service] and πομονή [endurance], Rev. 2:19."  208, 8.


[μακροθυμία:  This is one of Bultmann's shorties.  Once again he develops a list of diverse words and links them to Faith.  In this one he simply associates them without specifying an identity between them.  He does throw several different terms into the pot, however.  μακροθυμία can be defined by the word 'patience', but it seems related to 'fortitude' under stress from evil.  Think of 'long-suffering'.  Abbott-Smith (1922, p. 276) lists this as a synonym of πομένω.]

[After reading the entry for μακροθυμία in Kittle (Vol. IV, p. 374), it seems that it's main use in Scripture is as a description of God and His 'longsuffering' response to mankind's continuing failures.  To the degree that people become 'longsuffering' of the evil about them, they come to resemble God in this way.  For that reason, though uncomfortable, it has become a virtue to be acquired in order to increasingly resemble God.  "The divine attitude, God's dealings with men, have become the content indissolubly linked with μακροθυμία, so that even the human attitude of μακροθυμεῖν is set in a new light".  Kittle Vol. IV, p. 376, 12.]



ὑπομονή [endurance]

"As Faithfulness. . . . ἐλπίς [hope] and ὑπομονή [endurance] are closely related, → II, 531, 1 ff.  So also are πίστις [trust] and ὑπομονή [endurance], 2 Th. 1:4.  So are πίστις [trust] and μακροθυμία [forbearance], Hb. 6:12.  So are ἀγάπη [love], πίστις [trust], διακονία [serving] and ὑπομονή [endurance], Rev. 2:19. . . . Hb. 11:17 tells us that πίστις [trust] proves itself as faithfulness in temptation, and Jm. 1:2 f. says that it becomes ὑπομονή [endurance]."  208, 8 & 15.


[ὑπομονή:  The quote above is the same as for μακροθυμία as they were both used by Bultmann.  ὑπομονή plays a larger role here, however.  It was mentioned four times.  Note that Bultmann acknowledges that in James 1:3 πίστις becomes ὑπομονή.  That would seem to give us a sequentiality of development, even if it is not direct cause and effect.]

[With regard to the relationship of μακροθυμία and ὑπομονή, Thayer (1976, p. 387) has an interesting comment.  "Syn. μακροθυμία, ὑπομονή (occur together or in the same context in Col. i. 11;  2 Cor. vi. 4, 6;  2 Tim. iii. 10;  Jas. v. 10, 11;  cf. Clem. Rom. 1 Cor. 64;  Ignat. ad Eph. 3, 1): Bp. Lghtft. remarks (on Col. 1. c.), "The difference of meaning is best seen in their opposites.  While ὑπο. is the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering, μακ. is the self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate a wrong.  The one is opposed to cowardice or despondency, the other to wrath or revenge (Prov. xv. 18; xvi. 32).  This distinction, though it applies generally, is not true without exception" . . .; cf. also his note on Col. iii. 12, and see (more at length) Trench, N. T. Syn. @ liii."  From this comment it seems to me that μακροθυμία may have a closer affiliation to ἐγκράτεια (self-control) than to ὑπομονή (endurance)].



ἐλπίς [hope/expectation] in God

"Isaiah's faith goes on, though now - this is the new element in his knowledge of faith, wherein the original sense of קוה [tense waiting] and חאה [to hesitate] is still reflected - it consists in a tension, a supreme tautness of the energy of faith, behind which one may discern the tension between fear and hope.  This waiting or hope is faith which does not yet see, but still believes."  195, 5.

See also:  194, 15;  195, 22;  195, 47;  198, 1;  199, 10;  207-208, 7 & 16 & 31;  208, 8;  216, 2;  218, 12;  221, 16;  and 221, 29.


[ἐλπίς: Bultmann really became verbose on this one!  His statement that:  "trust is taken radically" (Kittle, p. 198, 1) should be paid attention to.  It seems like he's conflated almost everything into ἐλπίς, almost as radically as he's done with πίστις.  While I would agree that several of these terms can be collapsed into ἐλπίς, he seems to have gone too far with this process.  If I were to merge these terms into ἐλπίς I'd limit the process to:  ὑπακοή [obedience], μακροθυμία [Slow to anger/forbearance] and πομονή [endurance].  I'll explain this at greater length at CYA later on this website.]

[Just as a preview of coming attractions, Bultmann's collapse of everything into πίστις is supported by 2 Peter 1:5-7.  There we are told to 'add' to or in our faith, seven additional spiritual qualities.  After we have done so, it would, thus, be reasonable to say that all these qualities are included 'within' our faith.  So, if my description of Bultmann's effort is correct, that he is trying to 'paint a picture' of a mature Christian spirituality, then one should expect to find just such a 'conflation' of terms as postulated by Bultmann.]



εὐσέβεια [Godliness]

[While discussing Hellenistic religion]  "This makes it evident that πίστις is not just theoretical conviction but piety (εὐσέβεια) as well.  Faith in God is also faith in the divine providence, and the piety of such faith is emphasised [sic] by Plut.  How this faith determines conduct is described by Porphyr.  Part of faith in the invisible is faith in the immortality of the soul, in one's own membership in the divine world, and in judgment after death."  180-181, 9.


[εὐσέβεια: My brief comment prior to the quote above should be attended to.  This quote appeared in the section discussing the use of πίστις (trust) in the Hellenistic religions before the advent of Christ.  The use of εὐσέβεια (Godliness) in such a context would be completely appropriate.  When Christianity later used εὐσέβεια (Godliness) within it's context, a somewhat different understanding of the term emerges.  See this website's discussion of the term εὐσέβεια on the Godliness page.]

[My inclusion of this term in this review was done in order to be exhaustively complete.  I do not believe that Bultmann was seriously intending to try to merge εὐσέβεια into πίστις in his discussion here.]



φιλαδελφία [brotherly love]

"Similarly, I Jn. develops in various ways the principle that reception of the love of God which is given us in the sending of His Son engages us to brotherly love.  [Footnote 375: 1 Jn. 2:5, 9-11; 3:10 f., 13-17, 23 f., esp. 4:7-21; 5:1-3.]  This ἀγάπην, however, has the character of a demonstration, for:  ἐν τούτῳ γνώσονται πάντες ὅτι ἐμοὶ μαθηταί ἐστε, ἐὰν ἀγάπην ἔχητε ἐν ἀλλήλοις [By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another] (13:35)."  228, 7.


[φιλαδελφία: In this very brief mention, I suspect that Bultmann wasn't speaking of the Greek word for 'brotherly love'.  He likely used ἀγάπην because that is the same word used in John 13:35, as well as all the verses the footnote refers us to.  I suspect that he was, likely, discussing John's use of ἀγάπη and simply used the English term 'brotherly love' to translate the Greek word for 'Christian love' John was using.  I see this as a modest problem, as he did not use or refer to φιλαδελφία which is a perfectly good Greek word for 'brotherly love'.  It will be discussed at length later on this website.  Bultmann's reference to the English phrase 'brotherly love' was only a single, passing reference and I do not believe he was trying to identify φιλαδελφία [brotherly love] with πίστις [trust].]



ἀγάπη [Christian love]

"The content of the commandments corresponds to the unity of faith and love in so far as the action demanded therein is simply that of love, 13:34;  15:12;  1 Jn. 2:7.;  4:21, → I, 53, 12 ff.  Faith sees in Jesus the Revealer of the divine love (3:16).  Hence it is itself the reception of this love, and from the reception of this love there springs forth love in believers."  227-228, 43.

See also:  208, 8 & 15.


[ἀγάπη:  Bultmann posits that the items above (208, 8 & 15) are 'closely related'.  Yet, what is the nature of this 'relationship'?  In all of the scripture passages referred to by Bultmann above only James 1:3 notes any kind of sequential or causative relationship between the two elements.  The remaining passages could easily be described, as other commentators have, as a 'grab bag' of items with no obvious relationship between them.  Except for the fact that they occur together in the passages cited, Bultmann provides no enlightenment on the nature of the 'relationship' between the elements.]

[Given my comments on ἐλπίς above, one can see how 'faith and love' can be 'related', given an understanding of the 2 Peter sequence.]



δικαιοσύνη [righteousness/justice]

"Paul connects the blessing of salvation strictly, consistently and exclusively to πίστις [trust].  Like Judaism, he describes this blessing as δικαιοσύνη [righteousness].  But this leads Paul to make a statement which is paradoxical for Judaism, namely, that δικαιοσύνη [righteousness] is given to πίστις [trust], that it is not, therefore, ascribed to man on the basis of his works (→ II, 206 f.)."  219, 23.


[Bultmann has, again, given us a very brief comment that involves a relationship between πίστις [trust] and another characteristic, in this case:  δικαιοσύνη [righteousness or justice].  This related term, unlike some of the others, is of crucial importance to German Lutheran theology, the social context within which Bultmann was trained.  This linkage speaks directly to important teachings regarding Grace and God's  decision-making concerning our salvation.  Specifically, we are saved by the Grace of God, and not because of anything we have done to earn our salvation (cf. Eph. 2:8-9).]

[As crucially important to our understanding of salvation it is strongly related to πίστις [trust] and the human-divine encounter.  So, δικαιοσύνη [righteousness or justice] is a necessary aspect of our salvation.  If our hunch is correct, that Bultmann is trying to draw a picture of a complete Christian life, then δικαιοσύνη should be included.  It is part of the 'faith' necessary for salvation which 2 Peter assumes and then goes on to sketch the continuing growth processes of sanctification.]

[The above comments would seem reasonable for the use of δικαιοσύνη [righteousness/justice] when discussing Christ's Righteousness that is imputed to us.  However, the same term can also be used for something we should be expected to do for/to other people.  We are to act 'Justly' toward them.  If this human-human encounter is to be the application of this term, then one can easily see that such behavior could easily be understood as arising from the more mature levels (Adult) of the 2 Peter sequence.  I am reminded of my favorite quote from the study on agape where Maclaren (1905, Vol. 60, p. 67-68;  PDF p. 534-535, l. 63) clearly links 'Justice' to Christian Love.  This is not Bultmann's linkage, he clearly interprets Righteousness in the context of Lutheran theology, the human-divine encounter, and justification.  On the other hand, inter-personal Justice, as Maclaren understands it, has the authentic 'feel' of Spirit-driven insight.  This human-oriented interpretation is where Justice will be found in our lives here on earth and is part of the true outcome of Christian Spiritual Sanctification.]



διακονία [service]

"As Faithfulness. . . . ἐλπίς [hope] and ὑπομονή [endurance] are closely related, → II, 531, 1 ff.  So also are πίστις [trust] and ὑπομονή [endurance], 2 Th. 1:4.  So are πίστις [trust] and μακροθυμία [patience], Hb. 6:12.  So are ἀγάπη [love], πίστις [trust], διακονία [service] and ὑπομονή [endurance], Rev. 2:19."  208, 8.


[Once again, Bultmann seems to be 'reaching' for relationships with this very brief mention of διακονία [service].  While one can understand the existence of a relationship between διακονία [service] and the other characteristics mentioned in the text he cites, Rev. 2:19 is a simple listing of qualities present in one of the churches noted.  Given Christ's Parable of the Good Samaritan and His admonition that we are to 'love our neighbors', 'service' would be expected.  Yet, 'service' would seem more a result of the other qualities, as opposed to a causal agent itself.  At least, that would be my understanding of the situation.  Such an understanding would posit διακονία [service] as correlated with, but secondary to, these other characteristics, as opposed to being co-equal and causative with them.  Why might this be?]

[Before διακονία [service] can be present in the Christian life, several different qualities should (must?) be in place.  Assuming we are discussing 'service' done in the name of and to the glory of Christ, and not 'service' done for some other reason, then one must first believe (pistis) that God is and that Christ is His son and our Lord.  When belief is present, one's belief must make a difference in one's life (arete), it must not be 'dead'.  Once one's faith is energetically active, one must know what our Lord wishes us to do with it and how to do it (gnosis).  Once one resolves to act, one must have the self-control (egkrateia) to do what is desired, without doing things that are not desired.  Once one begins disciplining oneself, one must learn to persevere (hupomonē), as nothing happens immediately and very little actually changes without some opposition.  Once one begins facing opposition and trials and thereby encounters suffering, one is confronted by the question of why one should do the act contemplated.  When one acknowledges the Lord at depth (eusebeia), then one is drawn closer to the Brethren (philadelphia) and those outside the church (agape).  It is these final qualities that motivate truly Christian service, first among the Brethren and later to All.]

[I realize that this brief 'sketch' of the Second Peter sequence is intriguing and not fully explanatory.  You are bound to have questions.  The answers you seek are to be found on the following, theoretical, pages of this website.]

[Thus, assuming the chain of causality above, one can understand that there is a correlation between one's faith and one's Christian service.  While this relationship exists, it identifies διακονία [service] as of secondary importance to those qualities that have a hand in enabling and motivating that service.  Service is understood as an epiphenomenon/consequence of the latter stages (Adult) of the Second Peter sequence.]


Summary of Bultmann


Earlier I speculated that Bultmann seemed to be trying to 'paint a picture' of the mature Christian life.  What if I was right about that?  If I am right, I'd expect to find parallels between Bultmann's sketch and the levels of Christian spiritual development outlined in 2 Peter 1.  Let's see how well they match up.


Peter                                                                   Bultmann

Faith  πίστις                                            |        Acknowledgment  πιστεύειν

                                                                    |        Credence  πιστεύω

                                                                    |        Trust  πίστις

Virtue  ἀρετή                                                    Assent  ὁμολογία

Knowledge  γνῶσις                                        Knowledge  γνῶσις

Self-Control  ἐγκράτεια                      |        Obedience  ὑπακοή

                                                                    |        Forbearance  μακροθυμία

Endurance  ὑπομονή                           |        Endurance  ὑπομονή

                                                                    |        Hope  ἐλπίς

Godliness  εὐσέβεια                                     Reverence  φόβος

Brotherly Love  φιλαδελφία 

Christian Love  ἀγάπη                         |        Christian Love  ἀγάπη

                                                                    |        Service  διακονία

                                                                    |        Justice  δικαιοσύνη


The first level, assumed by 2 Peter, is Faith (πίστις).  At this level Bultmann has 3 terms:  Acknowledgment (πιστεύειν), Credence (πιστεύω), and Trust (πίστις).  Notice that all three of these terms are variations on the root word πίστις.  While emphasizing three aspects of Faith, they can readily be subsumed by the broad use of πίστις in 2 Peter.

The second level of 2 Peter, Virtue (ἀρετή), MAY be reflected in Bultmann's use of  Assent (ὁμολογία).  As we will see later, Bultmann SEEMS to have a predilection to focus on the human-divine encounter in understanding these terms.  Given this point of view, using Assent (ὁμολογία) to parallel Virtue (ἀρετή) would seem to be problematic.  However, if the context was changed from the  human-divine encounter to a human-human encounter, then the parallel definitely appears more reasonable.  Clearly, Michel's discussion of ὁμολογία (Kittle Vol. V, p. 215-216) indicates that ὁμολογία played a central role in the life of the early church.  Also, in many times and places throughout history, confessing allegiance to Christ would trigger opposition or even lead to one's death.  This bold confession in the face of one's enemies would clearly fall within the purview of Virtue (ἀρετή).

At the third level 2 Peter uses Knowledge (γνῶσις).  Bultmann directly parallels this usage by also using Knowledge (γνῶσις).  Clearly this is a direct parallel of 2 Peter usage, even though Bultmann would, likely, apply them differently.  As noted above, Bultmann seems to focus on the terms within the human-divine encounter, while the 2 Peter Theory is more likely to focus on the human-human encounter.

On the fourth level 2 Peter focuses on Self-Control (ἐγκράτεια), while Bultmann focuses on:  Obedience (ὑπακοή) and Forbearance (μακροθυμία).  At first blush these seem quite different concepts.  However, if we consider them for a minute, they may, in fact, be linked.  This linkage becomes apparent when one becomes aware that the transition from Knowledge to Self-Control in the Second Peter Theory is held to be the result of the conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin in the subject's life, which then leads to repentance and changed behavior.  Given such repentance leading to change, the term Obedience (ὑπακοή) would seem wholly appropriate.  In the same way, the term Forbearance (μακροθυμία), as described in Kittle (Vol. IV, p. 374), speaks of restraining oneself from vengeful action against sinful others.  It is used as a prime description of God.  It also seems completely at home referring to self-control.  So, Forbearance (μακροθυμία) can be thought of as a sub-type of a broader Self-Control (ἐγκράτεια).

At the fifth level 2 Peter uses Endurance (ὑπομονή), where Bultmann uses both Endurance (ὑπομονή) as well as Hope (ἐλπίς).  This extra term, which Bultmann emphasizes in a rather large section of his comments, would seem to be distinct from a consideration of the Endurance of suffering.  I would argue that is is not.  Later in the presentation of the 2 Peter Theory, I will show how Hope (ἐλπίς) is a natural outgrowth of Endurance (ὑπομονή) and assists with the development of Godliness (εὐσέβεια).

At the sixth level 2 Peter uses Godliness (εὐσέβεια) and Bultmann briefly mentions both Godliness (εὐσέβεια) and Reverence (φόβος).  Bultmann adds Reverence (φόβος), or the Fear of God, to the picture in 2 Peter.  It seems to this writer that Reverence would seem to be almost a synonym of Godliness, though expressed more internally than the more outward behavior often associated with Godliness (εὐσέβεια).

At the seventh level 2 Peter speaks of Brotherly Love/φιλαδελφία.  While Bultmann speaks of 'brotherly love', he is clearly referring to Christian Love (ἀγάπη) expressed among brethren within the Church.  Bultmann does not use the Greek word φιλαδελφία in this context.  He jumps right to a consideration of ἀγάπη.  How this absence is to be understood is not certain.  Remember, Bultmann seems to have a preference to relating these terms to Faith (πίστις) within the human-divine encounter, which is reasonable.  Faith is readily understandable within that context.  Several (most?) of the other terms, however, may be better understood within the human-human encounter which the 2 Peter Theory tends to focus on.  φιλαδελφία is based on shared similarity and such a relationship of perceived similarity between God and Man would seem inappropriate.  The Reverence that Bultmann adds to Godliness would imply a perceived difference between God and Man, not a similarity that φιλαδελφία alludes to.  Therefore, using φιλαδελφία within the  human-divine encounter would not seem reasonable for Bultmann and so he leaves it out of his 'picture' of the mature Christian life.  Thus we are left with a 'hole' in Bultmann's picture at the seventh level of the 2 Peter sequence, even though one can readily see how φιλαδελφία would be a reasonable term to use for the human-human encounter within the church of Christ.

Lastly, 2 Peter adds Christian Love (ἀγάπη) at the eighth level.  Bultmann parallels this by repeating Christian Love (ἀγάπη), while also adding two more qualities:  Service (διακονία) and Justice (δικαιοσύνη).  The brief summaries (above) concluded that διακονία/service was an outgrowth of the latter stages of Christian Spiritual development, and not a causal agent in that sequence.  δικαιοσύνη/Righteousness was seen as related to justification within the human-divine encounter, while δικαιοσύνη/Justice was seen as a result of sanctification in the human-human encounter.  This same term, used in different contexts, would seem to be related to both the beginning and the ending of the process of sanctification.


Final Thoughts:


This author is struck by the observation that Bultmann SEEMS to have taken the concepts used by the 2 Peter sequence and produced a 'flattened' listing of virtues, without the sequencing present in 2 Peter.  This would seem to make sense of Bultmann's repeated stressing that 'Faith is . . .' something.  He sees these character qualities as part of Faith.  Peter, on the other hand, sees these qualities as arranged in a sequence, along with the imperative command that we 'add' them to faith in a given order.  If one were to simply list these qualities without any sequencing, one might well come to a description similar to the one Bultmann produced.

What, then, is to be our overall view of this?  Bultmann, a major influence in Biblical Theology in the past century, responded to Kittle's assignment to produce a lexical analysis of πιστεύω.  In doing so, he responded within his Lutheran Tradition and appears to have attempted to produce a comprehensive picture of what Christian Faith would look like.  As he did this, he identified several terms that he judged to be important/relevant to the task as he saw it.  Looking at his scholarly product from the distance of 100 years, and from the context of 2 Peter 1, he seems to have produced a picture of Faith with remarkable parallels to the sequence of Christian Spiritual Development outlined in 2 Peter.  The striking parallels between the two clusters of qualities compiled by two different authors, completely independently of each other, demonstrate a convergence that leads this author to see  the Spirit of God at work.  WOW!


This page revised and Copyrighted: Theon Doxazo

04 May, 2024