Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen.
This statement is couched in what is called a 'compound' sentence. Which simply means the subject of the sentence is followed by two statements that could be put with that subject(faith) to make a sentence that stands alone.
For Example: Faith is the substance of things hoped for.
Faith is the evidence of things not seen.
Since faith is made up of two things and not just one, the writer placed them both into one sentence.
It is only by doing this that he could give the complete and correct definition of faith.
Maybe you are wondering why the English lesson? It's very important to our understanding of what faith truly is. It makes the passage on faith and works in the book of James 2:17 a little easier to understand as well.
Look at Peter's famous 'walk on the water' episode in Matthew 14. he was in the middle of a huge storm, they saw someone coming toward them, they weren't sure who it was-fear started to take over,verse 27 says 'straightway' that means 'immediately' when the fear started before they asked, Jesus reassured them that it was him. vs.28 Peter says, "Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water." In Peter's statement is the first part of the definition of faith. 'Things hoped for' What was he hoping to do? Walk across the water to Jesus. Now here is the second part of faith: vs. 29 "And he said, Come" Jesus let Peter know right then that it was possible for him to walk across that water and come to him in that one word-come. The two parts of faith have been met.
Now back to the book of James.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Jms. 2:17
If Peter had never stepped out of that boat his faith would have been dead faith. It doesn't matter that he took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink and Jesus had to come to his rescue. This was a growing faith that had not matured at this point. The point on faith here is that Peter put the works of stepping out to the hope he had that he could do it, and to the evidence Jesus gave him that he had given him the power to do it.
I hope you will study these verses on faith. and on the next post I will continue.