Faith (1)


’āman
Previously, we mentioned the Hebrew seḏeq (H6664), which primarily speaks of conforming to a moral, ethical standard or norm, and is often connected to the term justice. As noted there, God is not only righteous in Himself—He lives up to the perfect moral and ethical standard of Himself—but He also produces righteousness in those whom He saves through Christ.
The question arises, however, how exactly does God produce this righteousness? Coupled with God’s grace is faith. In the NT, in fact, these two words appear together in twelve verses (most notably, Rom_5:2 and Eph_2:8-9). In contrast, the OT contains a unique word for faith, the Hebrew ’emûnāh (H530, ), often also translated truth. This word comes from the root ’āman (H539), a verb whose core concept is “certainty,” which is graphically underscored in Heb_11:1, which, of course, was written to Christian Jews. That verse declares that the foundation, the very essence of faith is an absolute confidence that while we can’t see something, we still know that it is real and that it is ours. Pictures in the OT include the certainty of a building’s “pillars” (2Ki_18:16), building a “sure” house (1Sa_2:35), and driving “a nail in a sure place” (Isa_22:23).
Spiritually, then, ’āman is the believing and receiving of something as being true and sure, as Abram “believed in the LORD; and [God] counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen_15:6; cf. Rom_4:3-5; Rom_4:9; Gal_3:6-14). A key OT text is Hab_2:4—“The just shall live by his faith [’emûnāh]”—the background of which is the conceit and arrogance of the Babylonians. “Lifted up” is ‘āpal (H6075), appearing only here in the OT and literally meaning “to swell”; the Babylonians were, indeed, swollen, puffed up in their pride and self-sufficiency. In stark contrast, God declares that the righteous person will live by faith. So pivotal is this principle that it is quoted three times in the NT. By quoting this text in Rom_1:17, Paul says salvation is by faith, in Gal_3:11 he emphasizes that that salvation is not by works, and in Heb_10:38 he adds that we now live by faith in all things. We will continue these thoughts tomorrow.
Scriptures for Study: What picture of certainty do we see in 2Sa_4:4 (“nurse” is derived from ’āman). What is the object of certainty in Psa_19:7 (“sure” is derived from ’āman)?

 

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