An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 10 - Practical Truth - Page 114 of 277
'saving faith' and other descriptions of faith, but I do not seem to have a
clear and simple conception as to what faith really is.
B.  In the first place I think you will find that Scripture stresses the
thought of what we are to believe, rather than discusses how we believe,
although it does speak of that too.
Without attempting to justify or explain the following statement, I
have come to the conclusion that the language of revelation and of doctrine
is not primarily New Testament Greek, but Old Testament Hebrew, and that it
is dangerous to build up a theory upon the etymology of Greek words without
continually checking it by the Hebrew equivalent.  We may look into this
matter on some future occasion.
A.  I do not pretend to understand your meaning; do you propose answering my
question from the Old Testament?
B.  While it would be manifestly absurd to ignore the teaching of the New
Testament upon such a subject as faith, yet the primary significance of the
term may be discovered in the Hebrew word that is employed in the Old
Testament.  Will you tell me where the word 'believe' first occurs in the Old
(Using a concordance) I find that first occurrence to be Genesis 15:6:
'And he believed in the Lord; and He counted it to him for
What is the Hebrew word there translated 'believe'?
It is aman.
B.  As you do not know a letter of Hebrew, will you say for the encouragement
of others how you can so readily reply?
A.  Most gladly.  I am using Young's Analytical Concordance, which not only
gives the English word, but places it under its corresponding Hebrew or Greek
word, enabling one to keep differing words distinct.
B.  Will you now turn to the word 'faith' and tell me how it is used in the
Old Testament and what Hebrew words are used?
The word occurs but twice, viz. Deuteronomy 32:20 and Habakkuk 2:4:
'Children in whom is no faith' (Heb. emun).
'The just shall live by his faith' (Heb. emunah).
I notice moreover that 'faithful' is the rendering of emun, emunah,
aman or emeth, and that with the exception of Psalm 5:9 every occurrence of
'faith' and 'believe' in the Old Testament is a translation of aman or its
B.  The Hebrew word 'amen' has passed over into the English language, and it
is used to endorse a prayer, or to express one's complete agreement with
whatever has been affirmed.  The words of John 3:33 may be taken as a
practical comment on the Hebrew word for faith: