“Faith in God” or “God’s faith!”

I’m working through Mark 11:1-33 and am seeing such a richness of thought that is deeply imbedded in this chapter that isn’t at first obvious. One of the main themes that comes out of this is that of God’s plans and purposes. There is a contextual framework within Biblical / Jewish literature of the purpose of numbers. And it appears that the number three represents God’s plans and purposes.

And in this chapter  the author seems to use a repetitive structure based around 3’s. Jesus enters Jerusalem 3 times. Jesus speaks prophetically 3 times. Jesus enters into Jerusalem the first time being proclaimed by the people as the promised messiah, and proceeds in his next two entrances to cleanse the temple and rebuke the religious leaders through asking them about whose authority did John the Baptist minister… which I wrote about here which interestingly shows that baptism had to have 3 witnesses.

However I digress. I was looking at the following passage, which follows on from Peter expressing amazement that the fig tree that Jesus cursed was now dead…

Mar 11:22  And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God.
Mar 11:23  Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.
Mar 11:24  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Mar 11:25  And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

I decided to have a look at verse 22 in greek, και αποκριθεις ο ιησους λεγει αυτοις εχετε πιστιν θεου which translated reads.. And answering Jesus says to them; possessing the faith of God.

This then throws up some deep linguistic issues, not to mention other issues in how this verse is often translated. Certainly it seems that “Have faith in God, is the right contextual meaning. However the greek does seem to say that it’s “God’s Faith or Faith of God.” I then looked up an Interlinear Greek Testament which also translated it as the same.

While it does appear to be clumsy, contextually it fits better within a contextual and pastoral basis. Contextually it fits as it shows that all Jesus is doing in this chapter fits into the plans and purposes of God. Jesus is often reported elsewhere saying that he can only do what he see’s his father doing. Which means that the father is giving Jesus the faith to do what he does and that he can’t do anything off his own bat or initiative.

Further more according to Mounce, the greek word ἀμὴν (Amen) which is translated “Truly” in the beginning of verse 23 can also be rendered – So let it be.

Therefore I propose that the verse should read.. Possessing the faith of God, so let it be – I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him

Furthermore this passage then ties into the gift of Faith  listed in Corinthians; which is the gift that God imparts to the believer to do a miraculous deed within a specific circumstance. This means we can relax and stop trying to work up a faith that we don’t have. It’s not telling us that we can ask God for anything and everything and expect it to happen…indeed that is not faith, its actually presumption. Instead, my paraphrase of this passage is,

God will give you the faith that is needed to achieve his plans and purposes. Therefore stop your doubting, do what I tell you to do, ask the father to continue to help you to do what he wants you to do and he will help you. And by the way…the purpose of the father is for the forgiveness of sins…and I want you to live a life of forgiveness also.

Which is in keeping with the whole context of the purposes and plans of God.

About Craig Benno

I'm an average aussie guy who has lived perhaps a not so average life.
This entry was posted in faith, forgiveness, God's plans, Mark 11:1-33 and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to “Faith in God” or “God’s faith!”

  1. tildeb says:

    With the ever-so-sleight caveat that Jesus is lying. One’s certainty of faith does not cause physical effect (beyond placebo in the first person).

    • Craig Benno says:

      Wow..that was interesting…we both cross commented at the same time..:) Of course you need to explain your comment about Jesus lying?

      I can and have told you many stories about stuff that has happened that had no placebo effect…btw did I ever tell you the story of how my badly sunburnt step son was instantly healed one night… He had been out with his mates at the beach all day…was red as a beet.. He asked me to pray for him before he went to sleep. I prayed, said good night, turned away and got to the door and he said, “Craig the sunburn has gone…” I came back and it was.. he was totally healed.

      I often kick myself for getting up and walking away… how cool would that have been to see it go in front of my very eyes…and not in the few seconds my back was turned… then again… it could have been a placebo.. 🙂

    • tildeb says:

      What’s there to explain? Jesus tells us that prayer is efficacious. That’s a lie.

  2. Brian Sleeman says:

    Hi Craig,

    Taking this “Which means that the father is giving Jesus the faith to do what he does and that he can’t do anything off his own bat or initiative.” from your post. does this also apply to us? (I would say yes). If you agree, then how would you see that fitting with something like ‘limited atonement’? In so much as without God giving us the faith to believe, then we can’t (truly) believe – therefore would it not be that God the ‘chooses’ to whom He gives that faith?

    Just a bit further thought for you. Interesting you are working through Mark – I was talking to the Principal of SBMC (David Cook) a couple of weeks ago and he is writing a book on Mark (called ‘having a sanga with Mark’), because he was pointing out how Mark writes in segments of 3 (bit like your saying) where you get like the slice of bread, the filling and then the other slice of bread. I cannot recall a specific example from the discussion, but given your reading through Mark at the moment you may be able to pick up the notion for yourself. So basically Mark sets out an idea, jumps to a ‘meaty’ parallel or example, then drops back to ‘original’ premise.



  3. Craig Benno says:

    Hi Brian. I think we need to be careful in drawing out any support for limited atonement from this passage / chapter.

    Rather it would seem that Jesus is drawing attention to his divinity and the plans and purposes of God. Using the method of 3’s we see God’s word and his authority coming to pass when he enters Jerusalem on the colt. We see Gods word and his authority come to pass when he speaks against the fig tree. And we see God’s word come to pass and his authority when he clears out the temple.

    Within the framework of Mark and perhaps more so Luke we read that the biggest issue the religious leaders had with Jesus was his frequent pronouncing hey you…I forgive your sins. So within the narrative frame work of forgiveness of sins, I believe this was a huge stumbling block of mountainous proportions. And so within this context Jesus is saying… I can forgive sins because I am God…now I want you to do the same….and using the overall frame work of the NT – this is the catch cry of the Gospel..

    • Craig Benno says:

      P.S. Thanks for mentioning David Cook and his reference to three’s. It give’s me a greater sense of confidence in that I’m on the right track and that I can draw on this within a sermon in a few weeks time.

  4. Anonymous says:

    David Stern’s translation (The complete Jewish bible) puts verse 22….”Have the kind of trust that comes from God”. Maybe it’s the difference between our trusting and not seeing an answer and those times when you know, that you know, that you know, and the answer comes.

    In a more mudain sense, have you had a conversation with your wife, started a sentence and she finishes it…harmony. If Christ is in us and we touch that kairos moment of agreement with him we have the answer, because the power for change/heal create comes from him.

  5. coimbra123 says:

    David Sterns translation (The complete Jewish Bible) puts verse 22….”Have the kind of trust that comes from God!
    Sometimes we pray trusting and nothing happens; other times we know, that we know, that we know, and the answer comes.
    We have a conversation with our wife and start a sentence and she finishes it…harmony.
    Perhaps when Christ in us, and ourself reach the same harmony..the answer comes.

    • Craig Benno says:

      Well said Colin. Indeed there are times that we know that we know that we know. …I like your comment about walking in harmony with Christ….he could only do what he saw the father doing.

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