One of my favorite verse to summarize the christian walk is 1 Tim 1:5 "Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned"

My understanding is that the very final goal (telos - G5056) of the message, the proclaiming,(the instruction from the bible?) (paraggelia - G3852) is the agape love from the following trinity (another one in Paul messages after love, hope and faith Cor 13, spirit, soul and body 1 Thess 5:23 and perhaps others):

  1. Pure heart: It is quite clear that God looks at the heart - 1 Sam 16:7 and that the heart is made pure by the Holy Spirit, the Words (that are Spirit),by focusing our mind on whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report - Phil 4:8; and by living without hypocrisy
  2. Good conscience: It is quite clear as the full knowledge of Christ's sacrifice makes us at peace with God, sinless (even if we need to repent or change our direction when we sin)
  3. Faith unfeigned or without dissimulation or without hypocrisy (anypokritos - G504) is far more difficult to understand for me. The faith is or is not. We have been given the measure of faith (Rom 12:3), and in fact the quantity is not so important (we need only a mustard seed size faith).

I can understand that faith can be hampered by unbelief or disbelief in some areas but could you explain how a faith can be feigned by a true believer?


4 Answers 4


As in the case of conscience, that is not a givenness but a matter of a constant work and honing on our part, so with faith also, we should always practice it, lest it is shaken and withers. Thus, the notion of 'faith' is not a match to a notion of 'pregnancy', for it is impossible to be half- or quarter-pregnant, for woman is either pregnant or not. Not so with faith! A faithful can slacken the zeal of faith, become less ardent, less devoted in faith.

Thus, even the disciples, who surely had faith, nevertheless ask the Lord to increase the faith in them (Luke 17:5), and a poor man trying to help his hapless lunatic son, surely has faith, but still calls this faith a faithlessness for the feeling of its deficiency (Mark 9:23-25). And that there can be degrees of faith is evident also in the passage of a wise centurion who eclipsed by his faith all Jews including the apostles (Matthew 8:9-10), who of course also had faith (if not all, then certainly some).

Just to give a handy example as to how a professedly faithful person can feign faith and be a hypocrite: say, a boxing star Floyd Mayweather having been training diligently, assures his coach that he will win a coming bout; and when he does so, he has a full, unfeigned faith that it will be so, like in a Samurai proverb 'you should enter a fight already as a winner'. However, imagine Floyd (hypothetically of course, for real Floyd will never do so!) becomes lazy in his preparations, sleeps not enough because of attending night-clubs, sometimes even drinks alcohol etc. Again he may say "I will win a coming bout", but his faith will not be strong, but shaky, alloyed with a fear of defeat. Thus, you may say that he feigns faith, he became a hypocrite because of slackening his efforts in boxing preparation.

The same is in Christian faith as well: you permit yourself to not forgive somebody, succumb once to the passion of vengeance, then you say that you believe the truth of the Bible "avenge not, give vengeance to God", and "pray for your enemies": yes, you believe, you still have faith, but this faith has become shaken by the fact of your inner betrayal. You thus need an act of a sincere repentance for returning to the pristine faith. That is exactly what Paul implies: he addresses to Christians who, of course have faith, but some of them can have a need for repenting and returning from the shaken, diminished faith to a stronger faith, as to not slacken in the life committed to their Lord.

  • Thank you it is crystal clear. As stated by James faith without works (of the faith) is void. If I say « by his stripes you were healed » it will not work if I have only an intellectual knowledge without any experience. But if I have experimented healing for myself i know that I know and it will work and then it will work.
    – Thierry
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 12:03
  • Thanks for your comment. Yes, James' quote is most pertinent here! Commented May 25, 2020 at 6:28

In 1 Tim 1:5, Paul makes a clear distinction between two types of faith - the genuine Christian faith, vs, the false type of faith which he describes in the following two verses:

Some have strayed from these ways and turned aside to empty talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or that which they so confidently assert.

That is, there is a faith that is genuine and "works" (James 2:17-26, Gal 5:6), ie, produces genuine changes in the character and life of the believer which Paul then goes on to describe in his own notorious life (V12-17):

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, that He considered me faithful and appointed me to service. I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent man; yet because I had acted in ignorance and unbelief, I was shown mercy. 14And the grace of our Lord overflowed to me, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His perfect patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Again, there is a huge difference in such a genuine faith like Paul's vs a fake faith like the false teachers of false religion that merely teach empty philosophy.

Paul is very specific elsewhere about the kind of faith he is discussing - it makes Christians like Christ, as NT frequently points out:

  • Love as Jesus loved. John 13:34, 35, 15:12, 1 John 4:8, 11, 19, Eph 5:1, 2.

  • Lay down life for friends. John 15:13, Eph 5:2.

  • Jesus’ suffering leaves us an example. John 16:33, 1 Cor 7:28, 2 Tim 1:4, Heb 13:12, 13, 1 Peter 2:21.

  • Because Jesus was persecuted, so are His followers. John 15:20, 21.

  • Conformed to the likeness of the Son. Rom 8:29.

  • Transforming our will and bodies to conform to God’s will. Rom 12:1, 2.

  • Jesus was baptised (Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21, 22) and so should we be baptised, Matt 28:19, Acts 2:38, 10:48, 16:31, 22:16, Rom 6:1-9, etc. See “Baptism”.

  • Forgive as Jesus forgave. , Matt 6:12, Eph 4:32.

  • Be imitators of God. Eph 5:1.

  • Be holy as Jesus is holy. Lev 11:44, 45, 1 Peter 1:15, 16.

  • Be pure as He is pure. 1 John 3:3.

  • Partakers of the divine nature. 2 Peter 1:4.

  • We are being changed into Christ’s glory (= reputation). 2 Cor 3:18.

  • Pray as Jesus prayed. Luke 11:1.

  • We are to have the mind of Christ. Phil 2:5, 1 Cor 2:16.

  • Be kind because God is kind. Luke 6:34, 35.

  • Be merciful because God is merciful. Luke 6:36.

  • Be servants to others as Jesus was. John 13:15-17, 1 Peter 4:11b, Matt 20:24-28.

  • Be patient as Jesus was patient. 1 Tim 1:16.

  • Talk/speak as Jesus speaks. 1 Peter 4:11a.

  • Be “perfect” (= mature and generous to enemies) as the Father is. Matt 5:48.

  • Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved His people and gave Himself for her. Eph 5:25.

  • Keep the commandments as Jesus kept the commandments. John 15:10.

  • Abide in Christ as Christ abides in us. John 15:4.

  • Jesus is the “beginning and the end” (Rev 22:13) and Jesus is the beginning and end of our faith (Heb 12:2).

  • We are co-heirs with Christ of glory. Rom 8:17.

  • Jesus gave his all and we must give up all things for Him. Rom 8:32.

  • Jesus is called the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19) and so are His followers (John 10:1-18, 21:15-17)

  • Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) and so should we (John 13:14-17)

  • Jesus is the light of the world (John 1:4, 9, 8:12, 9:5) and so are we (Matt 5:14-16)

  • Jesus is the “firstborn” Luke 2:7, Rom 8:29, Col 1:15, 18, Heb 1:6, Rev 1:5, and we are to compose the church/assembly of the firstborn, Heb 12:23; see also Rom 8:23 & Rev 14:4 where we are also called first-fruits to God and the Lamb.

  • Jesus is our sacrifice of atonement and likened to a sacrificial lamb offered for us John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, Eph 5:2, 1 John 2:2, 4:10, Heb 10:10, 12, Rom 3:25, 1 Peter 1:19, etc. Similarly, the life of a Christian is lived sacrificially for Christ Rom 12:1, Phil 2:17, Heb 13:15.

    … and so forth. This list is far from exhaustive.

In summary, we come to Jesus as we are, but we do not stay as we are - we are miraculously transformed into the likeness of Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit.


There are two pragmatic usages of the word "faith": binary and gradational.

1 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy my true son in the faith

This is an example of binary usage. Timothy is either a believer or not. He cannot be a half or one-third believer. Jesus' disciples have faith in that they believe Jesus is the Messiah.

Gradational faith is quantifiable and specific in nature. Sometimes, the disciples do not have enough of it.

Matthew 17:20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

It concerns with particular works of faith.

1 Timothy 1:4 or to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing God’s work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.

A true believer cannot feign faith (in the binary sense) because he either believe or not believe that Jesus is the Christ. A true believer can feign faith (in the gradational sense) because he though he had enough faith to perform a particular work of God.

The distinction in these two usages is sometimes confusing. Paul points to the important sign of works of love regardless of sufficient (gradational) faith.


If you read 1 Timothy 1 in context you will be able to see what is meant by unfeigned faith, from verses 3 & 4,Paul the apostle beseeches Timothy to abide at Ephesus that he may charge some to teach no other doctrine,neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies which minister questions rather than godly edification which is in faith.

The emphasis is clearly upon what is taught [doctrine], from those verses, we see the description of what was being taught and the effect it had on the hearers, it created questions rather than building them up in faith.

From the description of what was being taught, it so appears that it had something to do with blood lineage and folklore, in the verses that follow contextually, the teaching has everything to do with the law,in verses 5 he begins to address the confusion-caused by these teachings- explaining [in summary] the purpose and instruction within what these unlearned teachers were grappling with in vain.

In verses 6-18,we can now see that the confusion was emanating from teachings[doctrines] that based salvation and forgiveness of sin upon how one performed in terms of adherence to the law rather than believing in a savior. Inorder for one's faith to be sincere, undigisguised and without hypocrisy, he or she must acknowledge their inability to save themselves by their works and they must realize and accept their need for a savior. Therefore faith unfeigned is believing in a savior rather than believing in the works of the law for salvation.

Read also; Romans 2:17-29 Romans 3:19-31 Romans 10 Galatians 2 & 3 Galatians 5:1-14 Ephesians 2

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