What is the difference between trust and faith?

Last updated on May 17, 2021

In modern use there is a difference between Faith and Trust. Faith is usually looked upon as a spiritual concept. It is considered as an allegiance or belief in a being. Trust would actually mean that a person places complete confidence and reliance in another person.

The original language and meaning

To understand what faith and trust mean in the Bible, we need to go back to the original language of the New Testament – Greek. There are three primary translations of the word ‘faith’ in Greek. The noun form is ‘pistis’, the adjective form is ‘pistos’, and the verb form is ‘pisteuo’. Each form’s meaning is a variation of the word ‘trust’. Hence ‘pistis’ (noun) is a trust in someone or something; ‘pistos’ (adjective) is trusting as in a trusting person and ‘pisteuo’ (verb) literally means ‘I trust’. So, when we encounter ‘faith’ in Scripture we read it as ‘trust’. Therefore, biblically, trust and faith have the same meaning.

Story of the Great Blondin

Bible teachers often quote the story of the Great Blondin to illustrate what it means to have faith. Blondin was a tightrope walker whose greatest stunt was walking on a tightrope across the raging Niagara Falls pushing a wheelbarrow. Before he began his wheelbarrow stunt, when he asked the watching crowd if they believed he could do it, they all roared ‘Yes’. After the stunt when he asked them if anyone would sit in the wheelbarrow as he pushed it along the tightrope, nobody said a word.

Not only believing with our head

Faith is more than believing with our head. It also means believing with our heart and with our will. Faith in God means that we believe that God will do what He has said and that we believe it so thoroughly that we are willing to fully act upon it. This is exactly how Abraham acted in the Old Testament. In Genesis 12 God promised to give Abraham an offspring that would ultimately become a great nation (see Genesis 12:2,7; also 13:6). But by Genesis 15, Abraham still hadn’t had a child (Genesis 15:2-3). God said to Abraham,

““Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:5-6).

So God again promised Abraham that he would have many, many descendants (Genesis 15:5). And what was Abraham’s response? He believed the word of God, that is, he trusted what God had said – he trusted that he would indeed have a multitude of descendants (even though he was at least 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) and his wife was at least 65 years old too (see Genesis 17:17))! This is the nature of biblical faith/trust: we trust what God has said absolutely and we act on it, living it out, even though it might appear nonsense to non-Christians around us; just as it was for Abraham to believe God would give him a child, or for Noah to build the ark because God had said He would send a flood (Gen 6:13-14). The author of Hebrews agrees with this, he says faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrew 11:1).

True faith

True faith in God includes the English concept of trust. We have full confidence that God in Christ has given us eternal life and neither death nor life, angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, neither anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

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