In the Old Testament, God's faithfulness and covenant love are closely related ( Deut 7:9 ; Psalm 25:10 ; 85:10 ). The most profound example of his faithfulness is the bond between God and the people of the northern kingdom of Israel. In spite of their unfaithfulness, God reminds them that he is betrothed to them in faithfulness ( Hosea 2:20 ).
The Israelites were expected to respond in faithfulness to God because he had acted faithfully to them through the covenant. David and other godly people chose to walk the faithful way the way of truth ( Psalm 119:30 ). Just as God is both faithful and loving, those who believe in God need to exhibit faithfulness and steadfast love in their lives ( Prov 3:3 ).
In the New Testament, God also Acts in faithfulness: He provides for both good and evil people ( Matt 5:45 ); he rewards those who do his good will ( Matthew 6:4 Matthew 6:6 Matthew 6:18 ); he provides a way out for believers in the midst of temptation ( 1 Cor 10:13 ); he remains faithful as he fulfills his promises ( 2 Cor 1:18-19 ). Paul reminds us that even when we are faithless God remains faithful because he cannot disown himself ( 2 Tim 2:13 ). John declares that Jesus is the faithful and true witness ( Rev 3:14 ), the Faithful and True ( Rev 19:11 ). God remains faithful to New Testament believers, both fulfilling and promising to fulfill the promises of the Old Testament.
Christians, like the Israelites, are to respond to God in faithfulness. Trustworthy servants must prove themselves to be faithful ( 1 Cor 4:2 ). Epaphrus and Tychicus are identified as faithful ministers of Christ ( Col 1:7 ; 4:7 ). Paul remains faithful to God in spite of tremendous pressures ( 1 Tim 1:12 ). Timothy is to select teachers who will exhibit faithfulness, one of the outstanding characteristics of Christians. The Spirit of God enables Christians to remain faithful to both God and other believers ( Gal 5:22 ).
Bibliography. G. M. Burge, EDT, pp. 402-4; M. J. Erickson, Christian Theology; R. E. Nixon, ZPEB, 2:479-91; J. B. Payne, The Theology of the Older Testament; J. B. Scott, TWOT, 1:51-53.
Copyright © 1996 by Walter A. Elwell. Published by Baker Books, a division of
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[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[T] indicates this entry was also found in Torrey's Topical Textbook
Bibliography InformationElwell, Walter A. "Entry for 'Faithfulness'". "Evangelical Dictionary of Theology".