Faith of a Mustard Seed

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

Barbara A. Woods Washington, M. Div.

What has The Acts of The Apostles to say about pistis/faith? 14 occurrences.

6th (13:1-8): “Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit they went down to Seleucia; and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) withstood them, seeking to turn away the proconsul from the faith.” Now, firmly spoken of in the nominative, ‘The Faith’— The Church at Antioch was progressively becoming a force to reckon with. It is in Antioch where the disciples are first called Christians.

7th (14:8-10): “Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and walked.” In the tradition of Jesus for whom ‘seeing faith equated with healing’, Paul, in passing saw that this man, even in his infirmity had spiritual attitude— ‘willed ability’; ‘willed capacity’;— ‘powerful feet’! In addition, Paul has the tradition of ‘Acts equated with Pentecost’ and sees that this man had never received ‘power in his feet’— not from birth. Faith ‘receives power’!

8th (14:21-22): “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” Between Synagogue and Church in the Judeo-Christian tradition there lies “The Kingdom of God”. This IS THE FAITH for Jesus as this theme occupies a major portion of His Parable teachings. The ultimate concern that Jesus has for ‘the Kingdom of God’ is in His first words— he emerged from the wilderness experience “preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe the gospel.” Barnabas and Paul, returning to Antioch after their first perilous journey in mission to take the Gospel to unknown parts; now have first knowledge of the ‘tribulations’, the persecutions, the assaults upon life living in the ‘Kingdom of God’. In their most powerful days of evangelism, before ‘church’; before liturgy; before creeds; before denominations— having narrowly escaped ‘death by stoning’; they return in righteousness, the objective of their mission now more clearer than before: “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying…” “… we must enter the kingdom of God.”

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