How the Translation of ‘Faith’ in the Bible Falls Short (Matt Bates)

Many of us have learned definitions of faith, belief, and trust that merely concern internal mental states. We say we believe something when we mentally affirm its truth, and we say we trust God when we believe what the Bible says. But these introspective forms of faith aren’t really what the biblical authors have in mind when they talk about faith in the Bible. For them, faith is more of a full-bodied allegiance to Jesus, a commitment to serve and work alongside Him as our King.

In this episode, Dr. Matthew Bates talks to Dru Johnson about allegiance and faith in the Bible. They consider how, in the context of the Roman empire, the idea of loyalty in patron–client relationships shaped the way the biblical authors understood trust, authority, and honor. Along the way, they also discuss some of the biblical metaphors for salvation that are drawn from the social dynamics of the ancient world, and how the Hebrew Bible influenced the New Testament’s view of power and authority. They conclude by outlining about how modern people can understand the language of kingdom and lordship in Scripture, and how the church can inculcate rituals of allegiance in the body of Christ.

Show notes:

  • 0:00 Trusting with our bodies, not just with our minds
  • 3:55 The word pistis in the Roman world
  • 6:50 Metaphorical language to describe our salvation
  • 9:48 What allegiance looks like
  • 14:15 How to think about Jesus’ lordship
  • 17:46 Continuity between the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible
  • 20:00 Allegiance rituals in the church

Learn more about Matt Bates.

Matthew Bates’s most recent book: Gospel Allegiance: What Faith in Jesus Misses for Salvation in Christ

Show notes by Micah Long.

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