We will start our study of faith by first noting which words are used in the New Testament especially to denote faith and belief. The word faith or belief in our daily lives may be used in a lot of senses. We may say that we believe that someone is speaking the truth and mean that we have confidence. We may say, "I believe that I've read that book" when we actually mean that we "think we read that book." We use it when we have confidence or trust in something without evidence. In secular eyes, faith is always connected with believing something without or contrary to evidence. But is this the nature of biblical faith? Before we answer that, we must take a survey of the Greek words and expressions used to denote faith, particularly in the New Testament.
The primary word in the New Testament for faith is the Greek noun πίστις (pistis, G4102). According to Joseph Henry Thayer, pistis primarily means the "conviction of the truth of anything, belief; in the NT of a conviction or belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervour born of faith and joined with it". According to my Bible software (TheWord), it is used 227x in the NA28. William D. Mounce says that 'pistis means "belief, trust, confidence," though it can also mean "faithfulness."' If we may at the outset observe, the basic meaning of the word has to do with conviction, trust, reliance, and confidence. It has nothing to do with "faith without evidence." Louis Berkhof observes:
In classical Greek. The word pistis has two meanings in classical Greek. It denotes: (a) a conviction based on confidence in a person and in his testimony, which as such is distinguished from knowledge resting on personal investigation; and (b) the confidence itself on which such a conviction rests. This is more than a mere intellectual conviction that a person is reliable; it presupposes a personal relation to the object of confidence, a going out of one's self, to rest in another. The Greeks did not ordinarily use the word in this sense, to express their relation to the gods, since they regarded these as hostile to men, and therefore as objects of fear rather than of trust.
Now let us observe the different uses of the noun pistis in the New Testament. First of all, there are a few instances in which it is used in a passive sense of faithfulness. This is the case in Romans 3:3 when Paul says, "Does [the Jews'] faithlessness [ἀπιστία, apistia] nullify the faithfulness [πίστιν, pistin] of God?" Or in Galatians 5:22 of the fruit of "faithfulness [πίστις, ...