Q. What does the phrase “from faith to faith” mean in Romans 1:17?
A. Romans 1:17 is the last verse in Paul’s introductory material of his letter to the Roman believers. In previous verses he reminded them of their salvation through faith in the Lord Jesus. This faith, he said, was being spoken of throughout the whole world of that time (v. 8). Then in verse 17 Paul quoted the prophet Habakkuk, who wrote, “The just shall live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). So believers have been saved by faith, simply trusting in the Savior, the Lord Jesus, for salvation. But then the just—those of us who were saved by faith—must live by faith as we continue in our day-to-day Christian experience. Children of God must live as children of God. So Paul’s first use of the word “faith” in “faith to faith” refers to the salvation of believers. The second use of “faith” refers to the subsequent walk of the person who has believed—this walk has to be by faith too. The Bible often pictures the Christian life as a walk. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Think of steps, such as those of a staircase. From the moment of salvation, the Christian life is a series of steps. Each one is a step of faith, whether we are always conscious of it or not.