Introduction to Unitas Per Fidem “Unity Through Faith”

The Text

Acts 1:13–14 ESV “And when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.”

The Introduction

The latin phrase unitas per fidem means “unity through faith.” It is what arises out of these two verses—Acts 1:13–14. Unitas means unity or oneness. It is an attribute of God. God is one in an absolute sense, because there is no other God and because the one God is absolute unity incapable of division (Muller et. al.). Per means through or by, like in per se which means by or through itself. Fidem is the accusative case of fides which means faith. It speaks of flying to someone for refuge or a firm persuasion of the truth of God’s revelation or truth itself (rather himself). Specific to saving faith is notitia, assensus, and fiducia. Notitia means knowledge. Assensus means assent or acknowledgment. Fiducia means trust or faithful apprehension or appropriating true knowledge by an act of the will. Thus saving faith is not merely intellectual but also volitional. This is important to understand because it was Roman Catholicism that taught that one must merely know about God and assent to what the church teaches—so one really ends up trusting the church to think for the believer rather than the believer actually trusting the Lord. Some suppose they are Christians merely because they know some facts about Jesus and accept them as true from the church. Faith involves personal appropriation of knowledge acknowledged by the church. Just as we are saved through faith, we are unified through faith, and this is what we see in Acts 1:13–14. Unity comes through faith. Faith unified them in place, position, and prayer; and this for the purpose of a successful spiritual conquest. Wherever (personal, home, church, civil spheres) there is not full unity in life among God’s people, there is not full faith in God’s unity.

Examples

For example if one’s marriage is in discord it is directly related to our view of God. That is, the root of disunity there is caused by a dysfunction of faith. And the solution would be then to tend to one’s relationship with God because as people grow close to God, they become unified with each other. But if one grows close to God and the other does not, the marriage is burdened by disharmony. This same thing can be present in the church as people in the church who are growing may feel burdened by disharmony in the church because of others lacking growth toward God. So, what is the solution? It is to stir up faith in God. This comes by a regular exposure to knowledge of God’s Word, but also a constant challenge to appropriate it in every sphere of life. The only way to increase unity with men is by increasing knowledge and faith in God.

The world says, we are better together, but the truth is that we are better with God, because He is what brings us together. Some say we are stronger with each other, but rather, we are stronger with God who makes us humble to love each other genuinely. The world’s version of unity is simply not the true version.