The Faith of the Centurion

The word for faith comes from the root word peitho, which means to be persuaded. In all references, it is a divine persuasion and is therefore distinguished from belief. Where belief is something we do, faith is something we receive. We have faith because God has proved himself to be true, righteous, and just. A prime example is that demons can believe but they do not have faith: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe–and shudder!” (James 2:19 ESV). There is an abundance of scriptures that show our faith is received from God. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus as the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Faith is vital to our spiritual wellbeing. In Luke 7, a centurion’s servant fell ill. The centurion sent Jewish elders to Jesus to plead with him to heal the servant. The centurion was friendly to Jews and even built a synagogue. Jesus went with the elders and when he got close to the house, “the centurion sent friends, saying to him, ‘Lord do not trouble yourself, for I am not worthy to have you come under my roof'” (vs. 6). “When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, ‘I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith'” (vs. 9).

When the friends returned to the house, they found the servant well. We can either accept the faith or reject it. The centurion chose to accept God’s faith in abundance and Jesus was quite pleased. We often forget that faith comes from God and so we think we can “work on our faith.” A much better approach is to be like the centurion and fully accept the faith. Like the apostles, we should pray, “Lord increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).