Christ's faithfulness

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    Faithful Faith

    The Greek word transliterated “pistis” is usually translated faith, but some translations in some verses translate the same word as “faithfulness.” And in these cases, the context seems decisive to the translators, the attribute in view seems to be continuous adherence to a set of requirements.

    When translators seek to transfer the meanings of a word into a word in another language, a problem arises if the original language being translated has words that sometimes convey an idea that can best be translated as a phrase.

    I think “pistis” is such a word, with the meaning in Greek being faithful faith, or a faith from which flows faithfulness.

    A second problem is that it is not always clear whose faith is in view, so when we see “faith Christ” in the Greek, we can translate it, faith of Christ or Christ’s faith on the one hand, and faith in Christ on the other. Now there are lots of verses that read “faith in (en) Christ, with the idea that it is our faith in Christ which is in view, but I think sometimes where the connector is implied, translations misconstrue the idea of the original text.

    If God did not keep His promises, or if Christ was unreliable, it would make no sense to put our trust in God and His Christ. On the other hand, if God keeps His promises, and Christ is faithful, then we can wholeheartedly trust in the gospel. So the message of some verses or parts of verses might be Christ’s faithfulness, rather than our faith in Christ, where the connector is implied.

    This in no way negates or diminishes Paul’s message that we are saved by grace through our faith in Christ, but it does shift the focus of some verses from “our faith” to “Christ’s faithfulness,” such that He is glorified to a greater degree in the text. And in the same vein, because of Christ’s faithfulness, He is sometimes referred to metaphorically as “faith” as in “when faith appeared.”

    The noun “pistis” appears more than 240 times in the New Testament, with the vast majority of them conveying the idea of “faithful faith” a one time commitment from which flows, with God’s help, faithfulness. However, a number of times, it appears that the resulting attribute (faithfulness) is in view in light of the context. Lets look at some of these examples:

    Matthew 23:23 (ESV) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Here we see the on going attribute of tithing contrasted with the on going attributes of justice, mercy, and “faithful faith” or faithfulness.

    Romans 3:3 (NASB), “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” Here we see the attribute of some men, unbelief, contrasted with the on going attribute of God’s “faithful faith” or faithfulness.

    Galatians 5:22 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness….” Here we see the on going attribute of “faithful faith” or faithfulness as the fruit of our indwelt Holy Spirit. Hence the on going attribute of faithfulness is sustained, at least in part, by our indwelt Holy Spirit.

    Now lets turn to more controversial verses, where translations differ significantly from what might be closer to Paul’s intended message. Again, neither the Greek grammar, nor the contexts of these texts are decisive, but both the grammar and the context seems to suggest these alternate renderings of the text.

    Romans 3:22 (NASB) “[the righteousness of God has been manifested] even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;” If we look at the phrase “faith in Jesus Christ” we see in the Greek no connector, no “en” but simply that faith and Jesus and Christ are all in the genitive case. Thus, other translations (YLT and the KJV) render the same construction, “faith of Jesus Christ.” What I suggest is the actual idea Paul had in mind is “Christ’s faithful faith or faithfulness.” Hence, I offer the possible translation, “even the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faithfulness for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”

    This rendering places more glory upon Jesus Christ, is consistent with the grammar, and does not detract from the idea that our belief in Christ gains us access to God’s righteousness which was made available through Christ’s faithfulness, His sinless obedience to God’s will, even unto death on the cross.

    Galatians 2:16 (NASB), “nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Here we see the phrase “in Christ” three times with two of them missing Paul’s idea in my opinion. Here is my alternate rendering: “nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through Christ’s faithfulness, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by Christ’s faithfulness, and not by works of the Law, since by the works of the Law, shall no flesh be justified.” I think this was Paul’s actual message.

    Here are the other verses where I think many translations miss Paul's actual message: Romans 3:26, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:33, and Philippians 3:9.

    So the problem is this, I am no scholar and yet groups of very well studied men, according to me, have missed Paul's message. And that seems unlikely to me.
     
  2. Martin Marprelate

    Martin Marprelate
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    Hello Van,
    I came across this view that you are promoting about 10 years ago in connection with an English writer called John Metcalfe. I don't think he is known in America because he never puts anything on the Internet.

    His view is that we are not saved by anything in connection with the Law, and therefore the obedience of Christ to the Law is not imputed to us, but His faith is. I had a lot of trouble with two of his followers who came to my church, and took a lot of time to study this question of the 'faith of Christ.' The trouble is that I've forgotten most of what I learned, but here goes with what I can remember.

    'Faith of Christ' can be an Objective Genitive or a Subjective Genitive. It can be our faith in respect of Christ or our Lord's own personal faith. When we read, for example, 'The fear of God,' it is obviously not God who is afraid, it is our fear in respect of God. With this in mind, let's look at Gal 2:16 in the KJV and NKJV:-

    Knowing that a man is not justified by [the] works of [the] law, but by [the] faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by [the] faith of Christ, and not by [the] works of the law: for by [the] works of [the] law shall no flesh be justified.Gal 2:16 (KJV)

    Knowing that a man is not justified by [the] works of [the] law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by [the] works of [the] law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
    Gal 2:16 (NKJV)

    I have bracketted the Definite Article in both translations because the word 'The' does not appear in the Greek.

    You will see that the NKJV has come down on the side of an objective genitive ('faith in Christ') while the KJV leaves the matter open ('faith of Christ')

    It is obvious that Paul is comparing something with 'works of law.' Now, is it the law that is working in some way? Of course not, it is an objective genitive- Our works in respect of the law. is it reasonable to suppose that Paul would be comparing a subjective genitive with an objective without making it clear? Surely not! It must be that he is comparing our faith in respect of Jesus Christ with our works in respect of the law. Therefore the NKJV and other modern translations have it right when they write, 'Faith in Christ.'

    Also, there is one other place where Pistis Iesou appears. It is in Rev 14:12. Here it has to be an objective genitive because it is impossible to keep someone else's faith.

    I hope that makes sense and that it helps. There was some more stuff that I found out concerning this question and if I remeber it, I'll post it.

    Steve
     
  3. Van

    Van
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    Reply to Martin Marprelate

    Thanks for your thoughtful response to my view.

    I had no idea why modern translators would deviate from the KJV, but now I think I understand. If you assume that "the works of the Law" refers to our (human) actions attempting to follow the Law, then accepting that Paul is contrasting human action with human action, i.e. our faith in Christ, then you have a basis of going with "faith in Christ."

    An alternate possibility, it seems to me, is that the "works of the Law" is referring to what the Law accomplishes in our lives, such as knowledge of sin.
    Do you recall the basis for assuming Paul is referring to our actions of compliance, rather than the Law's accomplishments? If not, I am still in your debt.

    Turning to Revelation 14:12, clearly this should be rendered as faith in Christ or faithful to Christ and not Christ's faithfulness because the context requires that Christ is receiving our faithful faith. The verse simply reinforces the idea that the construction must be interpreted by context, which is hopefully what I tried to do.

    Van
     
    #3 Van, Mar 8, 2011
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  4. Van

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    Revised view of Christ's faithfulness

    Based on Martin's comments, I went back over my post and found problems.

    First the verses that have "faith Christ (or Jesus) without a connector where both "faith" and "Christ" are in the genitive and therefore should be translated the same are: Romans 3:22, Romans 3:26, Galatians 2:16, and Philippians 3:9.

    In Revelation 14:12, "faith" is not genitive, and so does not belong in the group.
    In Galatians 2:20, the construction is different and includes the connector "en."
    Galatians 3:33 must be some sort of typo because the verse does not exist.

    So we have only four verses that I believe are mistranslated and we have looked at Romans 3:22 and and Galatians 2:16.

    So lets look at the other two verses.

    Romans 3:26 (NASB) "for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. The alternate rendering could be, ... justifier of him out of Jesus' faithfulness.

    Philippians 3:9 (NASB) "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
    The alternate rendering could be ...which is through Christ's faithfulness, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.
     
    #4 Van, Mar 8, 2011
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  5. Van

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    Sorry for the seeming duplication, but this is a rewrite based on Martin's post and followup research.

    Faithful Faith

    The Greek word transliterated “pistis” is usually translated faith, but some translations in some verses translate the same word as “faithfulness.” And in these cases, the context seems decisive to the translators, the attribute in view seems to be continuous adherence to a set of requirements.

    When translators seek to transfer the meanings of a word into a word in another language, a problem arises if the original language being translated has words that sometimes convey an idea that can best be translated as a phrase.

    I think “pistis” is such a word, with the meaning in Greek being faithful faith, or a faith from which flows faithfulness.

    A second problem is that it is not always clear whose faith is in view, so when we see “faith Christ” in the Greek, we can translate it, faith of Christ or Christ’s faith on the one hand, and faith in Christ on the other. Now there are lots of verses that read “faith in (en) Christ, with the idea that it is our faith in Christ which is in view, but I think sometimes where the connector is implied, translations misconstrue the idea of the original text.

    If both "pistis" and Christ or God or Jesus are in the genitive form, and no connector such as "in" (en) is present, then based on context the construction can be rendered as objective genitive (faith in Christ) or subjective genitive (faith of Christ or Christ's faithfulness).

    If God did not keep His promises, or if Christ was unreliable, it would make no sense to put our trust in God and His Christ. On the other hand, if God keeps His promises, and Christ is faithful, then we can wholeheartedly trust in the gospel. So the message of some verses or parts of verses might be Christ’s faithfulness, rather than our faith in Christ, where the connector is implied.

    This in no way negates or diminishes Paul’s message that we are saved by grace through our faith in Christ, but it does shift the focus of some verses from “our faith” to “Christ’s faithfulness,” such that He is glorified to a greater degree in the text. And in the same vein, because of Christ’s faithfulness, He is sometimes referred to metaphorically as “faith” as in “when faith appeared.”

    The noun “pistis” appears more than 240 times in the New Testament, with the vast majority of them conveying the idea of “faithful faith” a one time commitment from which flows, with God’s help, faithfulness. However, a number of times, it appears that the resulting attribute (faithfulness) is in view in light of the context. Lets look at some of these examples:

    Matthew 23:23 (ESV) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Here we see the on going attribute of tithing contrasted with the on going attributes of justice, mercy, and “faithful faith” or faithfulness.

    Romans 3:3 (NASB), “What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?” Here we see the attribute of some men, unbelief, contrasted with the on going attribute of God’s “faithful faith” or faithfulness.

    Galatians 5:22 (NIV), “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness….” Here we see the on going attribute of “faithful faith” or faithfulness as the fruit of our indwelt Holy Spirit. Hence the on going attribute of faithfulness is sustained, at least in part, by our indwelt Holy Spirit.

    Now lets turn to more controversial verses, where translations differ significantly from what might be closer to Paul’s intended message. Again, neither the Greek grammar, nor the contexts of these texts are decisive, but both the grammar and the context seems to suggest these alternate renderings of the text.

    Romans 3:22 (NASB) “[the righteousness of God has been manifested] even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction;” If we look at the phrase “faith in Jesus Christ” we see in the Greek no connector, no “en” but simply that faith and Jesus and Christ are all in the genitive case. Thus, other translations (YLT and the KJV) render the same construction, “faith of Jesus Christ.” What I suggest is the actual idea Paul had in mind is “Christ’s faithful faith or faithfulness.” Hence, I offer the possible translation, “even the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ’s faithfulness for all those who believe; for there is no distinction.”

    This rendering places more glory upon Jesus Christ, is consistent with the grammar, and does not detract from the idea that our belief in Christ gains us access to God’s righteousness which was made available through Christ’s faithfulness, His sinless obedience to God’s will, even unto death on the cross.

    Galatians 2:16 (NASB), “nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified.” Here we see the phrase “in Christ” three times with two of them missing Paul’s idea in my opinion. Here is my alternate rendering: “nevertheless, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but through Christ’s faithfulness, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified out of Christ’s faithfulness, and not by works of the Law, since by the works of the Law, shall no flesh be justified.” I think this was Paul’s actual message.

    Romans 3:26 (NASB) "for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. The alternate rendering could be, ... justifier of him out of Jesus' faithfulness. The alternative makes it more clear that our justification does not rest on our faith but upon Christ's faithfulness unto death.

    Philippians 3:9 (NASB) "and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith." The alternate rendering could be ...which is through Christ's faithfulness, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.

    So the problem is this, I am no scholar and yet groups of very well studied men, according to me, have missed Paul's message. And that seems unlikely to me.
     
    #5 Van, Mar 8, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 8, 2011
  6. percho

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    For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    From the above I assume we are being saved from death. Because it was appointed unto men once, to die. This appointment was given before he sinned. But God loved what he created therefore;

    Eph. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:

    Now in Eph. it says we do not do this ourselves Eph. 2:8 could read: For by grace are ye given eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Through faith is what God the Son did and received from God the Father. How shall we be saved? By our faith in or by the faith/faithfulness of God?

    Romans 5:10 puts it this way: For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

    Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved (done in the pass for us) through faith (how done)
    Titus 3:5 according to his mercy he saved us, (done in the pass for us) by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; (How done)

    The (by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;) of Titus has to be the (through faith) of Eph. Romans 5:10 says the exact same thing.

    Therefore I contend that it the faith of Christ that saves us.
    Not our faith in Christ.
     
  7. Tom Butler

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    I'm not going to get involved at length in this discussion, since the ones already here are doing just fine.

    But I do have a question I hope you'll address. That is, the concept of the Lord Jesus having faith.

    If Jesus is not only the Son of God, but is God in the flesh, and present at the creation, by which all things were made by him, why does he need faith? He is omnipotent. In whom would he have such faith, if he had it?

    If we describe God the Father, or God the Son, as faithful, it seems to me that it must mean something else besides "full of faith."

    I look forward to the comments.
     
  8. Martin Marprelate

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    Tom, you are absolutely correct. The faith of our Lord Jesus would certainly be of a different kind to ours for the reason that you give.

    Also, 1Cor 1:9 states, 'God is faithful' (pistos ho theos). Whom does God believe in? Pistos here means reliable or trustworthy; a worthy repository of faith.

    Steve
     
  9. Van

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    Hi Martin

    Did you retrieve the basis for concluding the works of the Law refers to our actions rather than the Law's accomplishments such as knowledge of sin?
     
  10. percho

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    Tom I think the answer in part is in a question. How is it possible for the creator God being eternal able to be paid the penalty for our sins? Death? How did God die?
    We were created by this eternal being mortal living souls appointed to die upon disobedience. Yet he was/is eternal. However what if before Adam was created one who was God and was with God agreed to this. Prior to incarnation: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: Post incarnation: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: What is inclusive in, but made himself of no reputation? Death? Would one who had been eternal God and had been with the eternal God have to depend on one he called God the Father to give him life again?
    I say this was done to the one called the Son by the one called the Father: the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit; Which required faith by the Son and faithfulness of the Father and by which we are saved.

    I ask again. Did God die for us?

    Look at Hebrews 12:2-4 where Jesus is called the author and finisher of the faith. It is relative to agony prior to and his death on the cross. That resisting unto blood striving against sin took place in the garden of Gethsemane. And Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

    Do you think that he being God in the flesh still did not fear? This says he did.

    We were made to die. He gave up being an immortal eternal being to die for us.

    That is why I believe we are saved by the faith of the Christ.
    He saved us.
    If it were by our faith in something he did ultimately we would be saving ourselves by doing something. Would we not?
     
  11. Tom Butler

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    Interesting take, perchco. Thanks.

    There a couple of scriptures which make me ask questions.
    One, where Jesus said I lay down my life, and I take it up again.
    Two, where the scripture speaks of God raising the Son from the dead.

    Also, the Roman soldiers killed the body of God the Son, but not the Spirit. It would seem to me that it would be no problem at all for the Son's spirit to re-inhabit his body. His body died only because he allowed it. He is the one who gave up his life; nobody really took it from him. Could he not take it back anytime he wanted?

    If it was the Father who raised the Son by the Father's power, is there any possibility that God would not have? This plan from eternity was certain to occur. Why would Jesus need faith?

    The Word-Faith folks have staked their (false) doctrine on the idea that Jesus had faith and spoke faith-filled words--and, if he can, they hold, we can speak faith-filled words to to anything Jesus could do.

    Just askin'.
     
  12. psalms109:31

    psalms109:31
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    It is actually faith in His word not faith that has come from us, this faith that we are saved from comes from God through the words of Jesus. So it is Him saving us, because we have faith (noun) in His word. We have to do a verb action believe, but I do not think that is even good enough.

    This what I believe it all starts with His word and He ask us to trust in Him listen and learn and He makes our path straight. Christ teaches us what to believe, how to believe. The first step that we are to be taught is to repent turn from sin unto Jesus our righteousness.

    We come to Jesus just as we are dead in our sin, Jesus word which is Spirit and life gives us two paths to trust(believe) in Him and be saved or continue down the path that leads to destruction. Trust in Jesus is not work to God.

    Romans 4:
    4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

    7 “Blessed are those
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    8 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord will never count against them.”[Psalm 32:1,2]
     
    #12 psalms109:31, Mar 10, 2011
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  13. percho

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    Tom, let's look at a couple of things and you tell me what you believe them to say.
    First John 10:18 lambano (AV — receive 133, take 106) could be translated receive
    could it not?
    The Word was made flesh.
    Jesus being God, just what does this scripture mean? John 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
    Why would the Son have to have this inherent life given to him unless it is something that was inclusive in what he gave up. God is spirit yet Jesus said if he did not go away the Spirit would not come to them. Does the bible not teach that the Son would have to receive the Spirit from the Father then it would be sent in his name. My post on Titus 3:5 Acts 2:33 and also I believe to be included in the promise to Abraham and his one seed Christ. He who once was Holy Spirit had to be renewed with it for it to be sent in his name. All of this is pictured in the baptism of Jesus.
    Question. Would like your thought on this. Where it is said in 1 Cor. 15:45 the last Adam a quickening spirit. Is this pre or post resurrection? Be sure to read verse 46 also for I believe it to be relevant to the answer.

    Will cut it here to not have so many questions and thoughts.

    Do want to ask one other thing. In what manner did God die for us? Was he seperated from himself?
     
    #13 percho, Mar 10, 2011
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  14. Tom Butler

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    Whew! perchco, I'm going to have to mull over your questions for a while.
     
  15. Martin Marprelate

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    You need to be very careful with this. The Scriptures never say that God died for us. Christ gave up His human life for us and returned briefly to the Father. God was reigning in heaven throughout.

    John 3:13 KJV or NKJV is very challenging here.

    Steve
     
  16. percho

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    Thanks, look forward to your response.
     
  17. percho

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    The very reason I asked in what manner. Help me out. Was Jesus God? Was he the Word who was God and was with God that was made flesh. Is this speaking of Jesus? And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh. Was it not for death that he was made a little lower than the angels? Is this the same death spoken of in lets say Gen. 2:17 and Romans 6:23?
     
  18. Martin Marprelate

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    Jesus is certainly God; fully God as though He were not man. But He is also Man as though He were not God, and He was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death. It was Christ's human nature that died upon the cross; His divine nature could not die.

    steve
     
  19. Martin Marprelate

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    If I may reyurn to the OP, I want to warn against the translation of pistis Christou by 'faithfulness of Christ.' The Greek genitive has up to a dozen different meanings, which have to be decided upon by the context. One of the most popular is the 'Ablative genitive.' When the KJV speaks of 'Brethren beloved of the Lord,' the use is obviously ablative: 'brethren loved by God,' and so it is correctly rendered in most modern translations. So when we speak of the 'fear of God,' we do not mean that God is afraid of something, we mean man's fear towards God.

    It is delightful to be ble to agree with my dear brother, Skandalon, for once when he says on another thread that faith is absolutely necessary for salvation. If we start translating pistis Christou by 'faithfulness of Christ' instead of 'Faith in Christ,' we are in danger of ending up in a ghastly, sterile hyper-Calvinism. Or, if we translate Eph 2:8 as 'By grace you are saved through faithfulness' (and why not? The word is pistis), we shall end up with works salvation.

    Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:6). The faith that pleases God is faith towards or in respect of Christ. Pistis Christou.

    Steve
     
  20. Earth Wind and Fire

    Earth Wind and Fire
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    Steve,

    You confound me & so therefore you must be a churchman.....always quoting Greek & affiliating themselves with Arminians who are a muddled lot. This takes you out of the relm of the common man struggling to interpret Scripture. But I digress. Please explain to me your understanding of Christ's dying for you. Yes I know Christ needed to be obedient to the Father....so are you saying He died in obedience to the Father? Also, please explain (in simple direct words) both your interpretation of His Divinity & His being human & feel free to you use Scripture. I await your explanation.

    Thanks

    Steve D.

    PS:

    Also is your chosen name a derivation from a Welsh Puritan if memory serves? Perhaps your of our Welsh Clans? Ach chan 'r Cymraeg boblogi ai jyst arall Sais?
     

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