Celebrating our Founders’ Love and Faithfulness
Faithfulness. Maintaining faith or allegiance; showing a strong sense of duty or conscientiousness. In biblical Hebrew, “faith” and “faithfulness” are grammatically related. Although both concepts are important in the OT, there is no English word exactly equivalent to V 1, p 765 p 765 the Hebrew terms. The most relevant Hebrew verbal root (related to our word “amen”) carries such meanings as “strengthen,” “support,” or “hold up.” In a physical sense it is used of pillars that provide support for doors (2 Kgs 18:16). Moses used the word when he disclaimed any role as supporter of the Israelites (Nm 11:12). God, however, is an eternally firm support for his people (Dt 7:9; Is 49:7).
With that notion of firm support as the bedrock for faith, words such as “firmness,” “constancy,” or “trustworthiness” best convey the related concept of faithfulness. Trustworthiness, or steadfastness of character, is ascribed to the object of one’s trust. To be unfaithful is to be unworthy of confidence or belief. In the OT a synonym for “faithfulness” is “truth.” Since God is consistently true he is the logical object of human trust (Ps 71:22; Is 61:8). When used of God in the OT, the word “faithfulness” frequently refers to his unwavering commitment to his promises.
Human Faithfulness. Faith and faithfulness are logically and linguistically one in the OT and NT. That is, the major words for faith in both Testaments also connote the concept of “faithfulness.” This indicates that faith is more than momentary assent to the truth of God. It is commitment to that truth, and it manifests itself in continued obedience. Abraham’s life in this regard is instructive. He assented to, relied upon, and acted in conformity to the revealed Word of God. He received God’s revelation as true (i.e., demonstrating faith), and his subsequent actions proved his faithfulness. He left home and country, settled in a strange land, and offered up his son Isaac as God commanded. His willingness to sacrifice his only son is an unparalleled expression of faithfulness in the OT. It is no surprise, therefore, that Abraham is commended for his steadfastness and is set forth in the NT as one whose behavior should be imitated by Christians (Gal 3:6–9; Heb 11:8–10). Faithfulness, then, must not be viewed as an isolated act. Rather it is an attitude that should characterize the entire life of those who say they have faith in God. Although by definition all unbelievers are characterized by unfaithfulness, God’s children are called to manifest faithfulness as a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Gal 5:22; cf. Eph 2:8).
God’s Faithfulness. In spite of Israel’s faithlessness (Dt 32:20; cf. Rom 3:3), God showed himself to be absolutely reliable. His faithfulness is great (Lam 3:23). He is loyal to his covenant and will always manifest his steadfast love to his people (Ps 136).
The pinnacle of faithfulness in the Bible is seen in the work of Jesus Christ, who showed himself faithful to his Father (Heb 3:2) and in his witness (Rv 1:5). God calls men and women to be faithful by following Christ, relying on him for all things (Hab 2:4; cf. Rom 1:17).
STUART D. SACKS