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Verses 22-24

Mark 11:22-24. Jesus answering, saith, Have faith in God The original expression, εχετε πιστιν θεου , is literally, Have a faith of God; that is, say some, Have a strong faith. And it is a known Hebraism, to subjoin the words, of God, to a substantive, to denote great, mighty, excellent; and to an adjective, as the sign of the superlative. In support of this interpretation, Bishop Pearce has produced a number of passages, universally explained in this manner. “I cannot help, however, upon the whole,” says Dr. Campbell, “preferring the common version. My reasons are, 1st, I find that the substantives construed with Θεου , (God,) when it signifies great or mighty, are names either of real substances, or of outward and visible effects. Of the first kind are prince, mountain, wind, cedar, city; of the second are wrestling, trembling, sleep; but nowhere, as far as I can discover, do we find any abstract quality, such as faith, hope, love, justice, truth, mercy, used in this manner. When any of these words are thus construed with God, he is confessedly the subject, or the object of the affection mentioned. 2d, The word πιστις , both in the Acts and in the epistles, is often construed with the genitive of the object, precisely in the same manner as here. Thus, Acts 3:16, πιστις του ονοματος αυτου , is, faith in his [Christ’s] name; Romans 3:22, πιστις Ιησου Χριστου , is, faith in Jesus Christ. See to the same purpose, Romans 3:26; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 2:20; Galatians 3:22; Philippians 3:9; ελπις , hope, is used in the same way, 1 Thessalonians 1:3.” The evident meaning of this precept, as given to the apostles, was, Have a firm faith or confidence in the power and faithfulness of God, to enable you to effect what you believe will be for his glory, and the furtherance of the work in which you are engaged. This has been frequently termed the faith of miracles, concerning which, see note on Matthew 17:20. “It is certain,” says Dr. Doddridge, “that the attempt of performing miracles in public, was a remarkable instance of faith in the divine power and fidelity; for they were generally introduced by some solemn declaration of what was intended, which was, in effect, a prediction of immediate success: (so Peter says, Acts 3:6, In the name of Jesus Christ, Rise up and walk; Mark 9:34, Eneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole; and again, Mark 9:40, Tabitha, arise.) And, in pronouncing this, the person speaking pawned all his credit as a messenger from God, and consequently all the honour and usefulness of his future life, on the immediate miraculous energy to attend his words, and to be visibly excited on his uttering them. And hence it is that such a firm, courageous faith, is so often urged on those to whom such miraculous powers were given. But what kind of intimation of God’s intended miraculous interposition the apostles, in such cases, felt on their minds, it is impossible for any, without having experienced it, to know. It is, therefore, an instance of their wisdom, that they never pretend to describe it, since no words could have conveyed the idea.”

This exhortation, however, is not to be considered as being exclusively given to our Lord’s apostles and first disciples: it is also given to us, and to all his true followers, to the end of the world. We are all here exhorted to have a steadfast faith in the power, love, and faithfulness of God; and to be fully persuaded that he will make good all his declarations, and fulfil all his promises, in their proper meaning, to all true believers in due season; and this, notwithstanding any difficulties or apparent improbabilities which may be in the way. And it is on this foundation that we must approach God in prayer, fully expecting, if we ask such things as we are authorized by his word to ask, and are earnest, importunate, and persevering in asking them, that we shall certainly receive what we ask, as our Lord declares in the next words; even if the granting of our petitions imply God’s doing what is really extraordinary, he having, in all ages, on certain occasions, done what was truly miraculous, in answer to the prayers of his faithful people; innumerable instances of which, especially with respect to recovery from sickness, may easily be produced. For instances, see the Arminian Magazines, vol. 5., pages 251, 312; vol. 8., page 200; vol. 9, pages 35, 36; vol. 14., pages 468, 532; vol. 16., page 146; vol. 19., page 409.

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