Below is a quote transcribed from a handwritten and unpublished book, The Pauline System of Christian Doctrine, by John A. Broadus (John A. Broadus papers Box 19.28, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary). He helpfully answers the question, “What is faith?”:
What then is faith? Paul nowhere gives us a definition; & therefore we must seek a definition of the term from the connection, the antithesis and adjuncts with which it is brought in connection (Cf. Rom. 3:21-30. 4:1), to the end (10:4-12. Gal. 2:16. 3:1-18, Phil. 3:9). An attentive consideration of these passages will show faith stands in opposition to the works of law or to the law itself, & particularly in three respects 1:
- While from a legal point of view a reward is expected, as a matter of right, for the works of law, faith, on the contrary is a confession of the want of any power or merit of our own, & a trusting (to be persuaded) upon another, viz: God.
- It is something entirely internal, a state of the mind & heart, while the works of law are something external, a performance.
- It is something universal, the condition of justification to both Jews & heathen without distinction, while the law was only for the Jews, who merely on that account hoped to attain salvation.
That the above is a correct deduction of the meaning of the term appears from the fact that Paul instances Abraham as a pattern of faith & shows that he obtained the divine approbation by his faith (Rom. chap. 4, cf. 2:28, 29. 9:6-8. Gal. 3:6-9). The Apostle shows from Genesis 15:6 that Abraham was justified before God not by works of law, but by an internal faith, & that God bestowed this justification upon him, from mere favor, not because of merit; and that Abraham, inasmuch as he had this faith while yet he was uncircumcised, & received circumcision only as a token of the divine approbation, is the father & exemplar of all believers, not only of the Jews who were circumcised, but also of the heathen.
1. The term πίστις