The Expository Files

Faith Of The Same Value

2 Peter 1:1b

Peter's salutation to his second epistle includes these words: "...To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:..." In a footnote to the phrase "like precious faith" the NKJV reads "faith of the same value."

Peter is indicating that his gentile readers have received faith of the same value as their Jewish brethren. The faith delivered to them was of no greater or no less value than the gospel obtained by the Jews ("us"). That this "faith" is objective rather than subjective is made clear by the fact that it is obtainable in the same value by all that would receive it.

Subjective or Objective Faith
Faith in this passage does not refer to belief (subjective), but instead it is synonymous with "the Gospel," (objective). It is therefore not "a faith" - what somebody thinks or feels. It is not faith in the sense of man's reliance on God and His promises. Vines [Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words] defines subjective faith as "a firm conviction based on hearing things concerning God, Christ, and spirituality."

Instead it is "the faith" is an object - a system of belief based on real precepts given to the world by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

As Hendrickson said: "It is more than trust and belief, it is (God's) creed, (His) body of truth as revealed in His is the Christian religion."
Lightfoot calls the faith "the content of the Gospel message,..."
Woods adds, "it is the sum of all which Christians are to believe and obey."
Vines further explains the objective use of the phrase "the faith," "By metonymy, the faith represents what is believed, that is the contents of that belief." Metonymy is the use of the name of one thing for that of another associated with or suggested by it. Example: "the White House" for "the President." [Webster's New World Dictionary]
Bultmann affirms: "The Christian message can be called 'the faith.' The faith is Christianity... (represented) as the Christian message... it can represent orthodox doctrine." [The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament]

True Faith Goes Beyond Assent
"Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition" (Archibald Hodge) Too many religious people have a faith that is indeed mere superstition - a faith that they say is "better felt than told." True faith in Christ must be a kind of faith that can be shared with our fellowman. The following is a partial list of characteristics of "the faith." A thorough study of this list is beyond the scope of this article, but the scriptures have been provided so that you might continue the study on your own.

Characteristics of "The Faith"
It can be preached Gal. 1:23; Acts 24:24
It can be obeyed Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 16:26
It can be continued in Acts 14:22; 1 Cor. 16:13; Col. 1:23
Churches can be strengthened in Acts 16:5
True Christians must be proven by it 2 Cor. 13:5
Christians can be established in it Col. 2:7
It possesses unity Eph. 4:13
Christians must strive together in it Phil. 1:27
Possible to be sound in it Titus 1:13
Love can found among those in it Titus 3:15
It is not to be held with partiality Jas. 2:1
It is to be contended earnestly for Jude 3
It was once for all delivered Jude 3
Some will depart from it 1 Tim. 1:19; 4:1
Some will try to turn others away from it Acts 13:8
It can be denied 1 Tim. 5:8
Love of money and false knowledge can cause one to stray from it 1 Tim. 6:10,21; 2 Tim. 2:18

Only one thing possesses all these characteristics - The Gospel of Christ! This "Good News" concerning Jesus Christ can only be found in God's Word. It is therefore in the Bible, specifically the New Testament, that we can come in direct contact with "the faith."

Our Personal Faith Must Be Grounded In "The Faith"
"Faith is not a sense, nor sight, nor reason, but taking God at His word!" (Arthur Evans) It is no wonder then that the New Testament writers referred to God's word as - THE FAITH! For our personal faith to be worthwhile in the sight of God it must be inextricably linked to THE FAITH. Outside of THE FAITH our faith is worthless!

Is the faith we have access to today of the same value as Peter's and the Christians' of the first century? Certainly! For as Jude says, "(it) has been once delivered for all."

By Carey Dillinger
From Expository Files 8.9; September 2001