Faithful Faith

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by Van, Aug 18, 2016.

  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 five 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 helps to gain access to God’s righteousness which was made available through Christ’s faithfulness, His sinless obedience to God’s will, including laying down His life on the cross.

    In Romans 3:26, the ending of the verse usually reads “…who has faith in Jesus.” Actually the Greek reads “…the one of the faith of Jesus.” So the idea here is to up the ante, and indicate our faith must be “of” the same kind of faithful faith as Jesus displayed.

    When Paul uses the word “faith” he is referring to faithful faith, the live faith of James and not the dead faith of James.

    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.

    In Galatians 3:22, we find “promise through faith in Jesus Christ” but would better rendered “promise through Jesus Christ’s faithfulness.”

    In Philippians 3:9 we again find “through faith in Christ” but would be better rendered as “through Christ’s faithfulness.”

    -continued on post #2-
     
  2. Van

    Van
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    -continued from post # 1-
    And now with all that as preamble, let me turn to the heart of the matter.

    1 Corinthians 13:2 (NASB), “And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” As we all know, the message of this chapter is that having the attribute of love is greater than anything else we might possess, even the ability to wield God’s power through “faith.” But my purpose here is to explore an ancillary concept, having “all faith” such that we can wield God’s power.

    Many of us have sat through sermons where it was asserted that if we believe enough, if the strength of our faith is strong enough, then whatever we ask will be granted to us. And so, when faced with a dying loved one, we pray, even to tears, and yet our loved one dies. What are we to think? That we did not believe God could heal our loved one? Or that we did not believe strongly enough? That our faith was too little? I believe all of that misses the mark!
    In Matthew 17:20, Jesus says in answer to a question about the seeming lack of power of his disciples to cast out a demon, Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” Jesus repeats this message again in Matthew 21:21-22, “Truly I say to you, if you have faith, and do not doubt, you shall not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, be taken up and cast into the sea, it shall happen. And all the things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive. Mark 11:23-24 words the same message this way, “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, and believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.” Luke presents yet another version of a similar message in Luke 17:6, “if you have faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and be planted in the sea”; and it would obey you.

    The first question to ask is what attribute does a mustered seed have? It is the smallest in size of the seeds common to the area. But, like all the larger seeds, it follows its programming, its DNA, and replicates its kind. So locked up in a small seed is the power to become like its originator. So rather than thinking of having “all faith” as having a great deal of “wishing power” I think the idea is having the power to become like its originator. So when we are told to have faith as or like a mustard seed, we are told to become as faithful as Christ, in whom we were born again. What is God’s will for the dying person? To call him or her home, or to give more time? When you prayed, did you know God’s will in that specific circumstance? So did you ask for what was in your will, and what you hoped was in God’s will? How did the sinless Christ pray? Your will be done! So we are to ask God for what we want, as long as it seems to us to be in accord with God’s will, but if we claim we know God’s specific plan for the future, without a doubt, we are ignoring that we are not a prophet. Jesus did not impose His will upon the future unless it was in accord with His Father, and if we have faith like a mustard seed, we will follow His example.

    Which is greater, to perform sign and wonder miracles or to present Christ to others - To cast a tree into the sea or to help pull a lost soul from the realm of darkness? To have it your way or become Christ-like?

    Bottom line, If you have the faithful faith of a mustard seed, you will become like Christ, and like Christ, when you ask in the will of the Father, it will be granted unto you. God bless.
     

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