CHRIST’S FAITHFULNESS AS AN EXAMPLE OF SAVING FAITH

In this post I will provide further evidence that saving faith according to the Holy Bible is defined as faithfulness to the Lord Jesus. I will use Christ’s own faithfulness as an example.

For instance, note how the following versions rendering a key text that is often employed in discussions on justification:

“namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ (pisteos Iesou Christou) for all who believe. For there is no distinction,” Romans 3:22 New English Translation (NET)

“God’s righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction.” Common English Bible (CEB)

Here’s what the NET textual note states concerning this particular Greek construction:

tn Or “faith in Christ.” A decision is difficult here. Though traditionally translated “faith in Jesus Christ,” an increasing number of NT scholars are arguing that πίστις Χριστοῦ (pistis Christou) and similar phrases in Paul (here and in v. 26Gal 2:16203:22Eph 3:12Phil 3:9) involve a subjective genitive and mean “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness” (cf., e.g., G. Howard, “The ‘Faith of Christ’,” ExpTim 85 [1974]: 212-15; R. B. Hays, The Faith of Jesus Christ [SBLDS]; Morna D. Hooker, “Πίστις Χριστοῦ,” NTS 35 [1989]: 321-42). Noteworthy among the arguments for the subjective genitive view is that when πίστις takes a personal genitive it is almost never an objective genitive (cf. Matt 9:22229Mark 2:55:3410:52Luke 5:207:508:254817:1918:4222:32Rom 1:8123:34:512161 Cor 2:515:14172 Cor 10:15Phil 2:17Col 1:42:51 Thess 1:83:25102 Thess 1:3Titus 1:1Phlm 61 Pet 1:9212 Pet 1:5). On the other hand, the objective genitive view has its adherents: A. Hultgren, “The Pistis Christou Formulations in Paul,” NovT 22 (1980): 248-63; J. D. G. Dunn, “Once More, ΠΙΣΤΙΣ ΧΡΙΣΤΟΥ,” SBL Seminar Papers1991, 730-44. Most commentaries on Romans and Galatians usually side with the objective view.sn ExSyn 116, which notes that the grammar is not decisive, nevertheless suggests that “the faith/faithfulness of Christ is not a denial of faith in Christ as a Pauline concept (for the idea is expressed in many of the same contexts, only with the verb πιστεύω rather than the noun), but implies that the object of faith is a worthy object, for he himself is faithful.” Though Paul elsewhere teaches justification by faith, this presupposes that the object of our faith is reliable and worthy of such faith. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/Romans+3)

The assertion that pistis Christou and its related expressions should be taken as a subjective genitive referring to Christ’s own faithfulness to God is striking since this establishes that it is faithfulness which justifies and saves.

With the foregoing in mind, I will list all the verses which refer to Christ’s faithfulness, as well as to the faithfulness of God, being the ground and basis of/for a believer’s salvation and justification:

“yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ (pisteos Christou). And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ (pisteos Christou) and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16 NET

“However, we know that a person isn’t made righteous by the works of the Law but rather through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We ourselves believed in Christ Jesus so that we could be made righteous by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the Law—because no one will be made righteous by the works of the Law.” CEB

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God (pistei … tou Hyiou tou Theou), who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NET

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.” CEB

“But the scripture imprisoned everything under sin so that the promise could be given—because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ (pisteos ‘Iesou Christou)—to those who believe.” Galatians 3:22 NET

“But scripture locked up all things under sin, so that the promise based on the faithfulness of Jesus Christ might be given to those who have faith.” CEB

“This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access to God by way of Christ’s faithfulness (pisteos autou).” Ephesians 3:11-12 NET

“In keeping with the eternal purpose that God carried out through the Messiah Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through his faithfulness.” International Standard Version (ISV)

“and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness (pisteos Christou)—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness (te pistei).” Philippians 3:9 NET

“and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own and that does not come from the Law but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith.” CEB

I now present the verses that are mentioned as examples where pistis is used as an objective genitive, referring to the faithfulness of an individual in bringing about healing and/or salvation. All the references will be from the NET.

“What then? If some were unfaithful, their unfaithfulness will not nullify God’s faithfulness (ten pistin tou Theou), will it?” Romans 3:3

“Just then some people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith (ten pistin auton), he said to the paralytic, ‘Have courage, son! Your sins are forgiven.’… But when Jesus turned and saw her he said, ‘Have courage, daughter! Your faith (he pistis sou) has made you well.’ And the woman was healed from that hour… Then he touched their eyes saying, ‘Let it be done for you according to your faith (ten pistin hymon).” Matthew 9:2, 22, 29

“When Jesus saw their faith (ten pistin auton), he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” Mark 2:5

“He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith (he pistis sou) has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’” Mark 5:34

“Jesus said to him, ‘Go, your faith (he pistis sou) has healed you.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the road.” Mark 10:52

“When Jesus saw their faith (ten pistin auton) he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’” Luke 5:20

“He said to the woman, ‘Your faith (he pistis sou) has saved you; go in peace.’” Luke 7:50

“Then he said to them, ‘Where is your faith (he pistis hymon)?’ But they were afraid and amazed, saying to one another, ‘Who then is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him!’… Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith (he pistis sou) has made you well. Go in peace.’” Luke 8:25, 48

“Then he said to the man, ‘Get up and go your way. Your faith (he pistis sou) has made you well.’” Luke 17:19

“Jesus said to him, ‘Receive your sight; your faith (he pistis sou) has healed you.’” Luke 18:42

“but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith (he pistis sou) may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:32

“First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith (he pistis hymon) is proclaimed throughout the whole world… that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith (tes en allelois pisteos), both yours and mine.” Romans 1:8, 12

“But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith (he pistis autou) is credited as righteousness… And he is also the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham possessed (pisteos tou patros hemon, ‘Abraam) when he was still uncircumcised… For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham (pisteos ‘Abraam), who is the father of us all.” Romans 4:5, 12, 16

“so that your faith (he pistis hymon) would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:5

“And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith (he pistis hymon) is empty… And if Christ has not been raised, your faith (he pistis hymon) is useless; you are still in your sins.” 1 Corinthians 15:14, 17

“Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith (he pisteos hymon) continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits,” 2 Corinthians 10:15

“But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith (tes pisteos hymon), I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.” Philippians 2:17

“since we heard about your faith (pistin hymon) in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.” Colossians 1:4

“For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith (tes pisteos hymon) in Christ.” Colossians 2:5

“For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith (he pistis hymon) in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything.” 1 Thessalonians 1:8

“We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith (tes pisteos hymon)… So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith (ten pistin hymon), for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless… We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith (tes pisteos hymon).” 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 5, 10

“We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith (he pistis hymon) flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3

“I pray that the faith you (tes pisteous sou) share with us may deepen your understanding of every blessing that belongs to you in Christ.” Philemon 1:6

“From Paul, a slave of God and apostle of Jesus Christ, to further the faith of God’s chosen ones (pistin eklekton Theou) and the knowledge of the truth that is in keeping with godliness,” Titus 1:1

“because you are attaining the goal of your faith (tes pisteos hymon)—the salvation of your souls… Through him you now trust in God (pistous eis Theon), who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith (ten pistin hymon) and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:9, 21

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith (te pistei hymon) excellence, to excellence, knowledge;” 2 Peter 1:5

The aforementioned texts help us appreciate why the God-breathed Scriptures describe true faith as an action done in loving service towards others,

“For through the Spirit, by faith (ek pisteos), we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith WORKING through love (pistis di’ agapes energoumene)… But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness (pistis), gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:5-6, 22

And why eternal life is said to be the recompense/reward for those who reap unto the Holy Spirit, e.g., doing good works in union with and by the power of the Spirit:

“Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a personwill reap what he sows, because the person who sows to his own fleshwill reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit.So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:7-9

In other words, saving faith is to be faithful to do all that Christ commands in the power of the Holy Spirit (Cf. James 2:14-26).

FURTHER READING

BIBLICAL VERSES ON FAITHFULNESS/OBEDIENCE

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