Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 6:23
With – You wouldn’t think there was much to make from a preposition, but you might be wrong. You see, Paul is unusually particular about using his Greek prepositions in deliberate ways. The result is quite revealing, as we shall see.
There are two prepositions in Greek that could be translated “with.” They are syn and meta. In most cases, there is hardly any difference between them – except when Paul uses them. Paul never uses meta when he describes our personal union with Christ. For that expression, he always uses syn. But when he describes other close associations and circumstances, he always uses meta. So, we can conclude that for Paul there was a difference between the kind of relationship a believer has with Christ and the kind of relationships that someone has with other people and circumstances. Now that you know this about Paul, which Greek preposition do you suppose he uses here? It would be meta, of course.
Since Paul is not using the preposition of intimate personal union, what does he imply with this unusual phrase “love meta faith?” How can love be with faith? What does Paul mean when he implies that love is in close association with faith? It’s not quite what we usually think. For the answer, we need to look to James.
Both James and Paul have a Hebrew perspective on love and faith. Both of them know that love is a verb. It is benevolent action toward another at cost to myself. And both of them know that faith is also a verb. Faith is not some set of statements that I believe. Faith is doing what is right before God. Faith is the fulfillment of the covenant obligation, the demonstration of my fidelity to my Lord. James tells us that whatever is not of faith is sin. Now we can see why. Whatever is not of the verb “faith,” is disobedience, and, of course, disobedience is sin. Paul has the same perspective. Since both words in Hebrew would be verbs, whatever the relationship between love and faith will be active, not merely cognitive.
Now we can understand what Paul might have in mind. Love in Hebrew (ahav) is the full engagement of a person on behalf of someone else. It is the application of my mental, emotional and volitional abilities to assist, support, encourage – even to sacrifice – for another. It is the fulfillment of the commandment to care for my neighbor as I care for myself. If I do that, I automatically produce faith (‘emunah). How is that possible? Don’t I have to sign some creed or something? No, you don’t. You have to read Habakkuk 2:4 and Deuteronomy 32:4. You will discover that faith is nothing more, or less, than the truthfulness of God’s character and actions. When I get in alignment with those, love erupts from what I am doing – and you can’t tell the difference between the two.
Don’t tell me you have faith unless you have love – and treat both as verbs!