Tuesday, April 27, 2010

οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες in Galatians 3?

οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες in Galatians 3? those of faith(fulness) = those who believe in Galatians 3?

Given the two previous entries it comes as no surprise that I would eventually post an entry concerning pistis Christou (πίστις Χριστοῦ). This is such an exegetical note, but it comes at the issue a little more obliquely than readers might anticipate. Instead of directly addressing the genitive constructions in Galatians 2:16 (dia pisteos Iesou Christou; διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and ek pisteos Christou; ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ) and 3:22 (ek pistos Iesou Christou; ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) and their implications for translating expressions that clearly refer to these debated phrases in 2:16 and 3:22, let's ponder whether hoi ek pisteos = hoi pisteuontes (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως = οἱ πιστεύοντες) in Galatians 3.

In both 3:7 and 3:9 Paul uses the expression hoi ek pisteos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) set over against hosoi ex ergon nomou eisin (ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν). At issue is whether the apostle intends hoi ek pistos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) to be equivalent to hoi pisteuontes (οἱ πιστεύοντες), the the substantival participle which means "the ones who believe" or "the believers." Stated in English, the issue is whether Paul intends "those from faith(fulness)" is to be read as equivalent to "those who believe."

The NIV translates the identical expressions in 3:7 and 3:9 respectively "those who believe" and "those who have faith." Similarly the NRSV translates these expressions respectively "those who believe" and "those who believe." The NRSV and NIV respectively translate 3:10 "all who rely on the works of the law" and "all who rely on observing the law." It is clear that both translations translate all three expressions with verbs. Both the NIV and NRSV translate hoi ek pisteos (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως) as if the expression were equivalent to hoi pisteuontes (οἱ πιστεύοντες), the substantival participle. Both translate hosoi ex ergon nomou eisin (ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου εἰσίν) of 3:10 verbally also, as though it were equivalent to hosoi epanapauomenoi nomo (ὅσοι ἐπαναπαυόμενοι νόμῳ) ("as many as rely upon the law"; cf. Romans 2:17). Indeed, the verb eimi [eisin] (εἰμί [εἰσίν]) does occur in the expression in 3:10, but does it warrant the translation regularly given (cf. ESV)?

Are these expressions (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως and ὅσοι ἐξ ἔργων νόμου) equivalent to substantival participles? Or are these expressions idiomatically expressing something different? Should they be translated verbally, as reflected in modern translations, or should they be translated differently? The ESV translates the expression in 3:7 and 3:9 "those of faith" and "those who are of faith" respectively. This is surely right and greatly improves upon the NIV and NRSV. Given the ESV's translation of 2:16, the reader would infer that "those of faith" should be filled out as "those of faith in Christ."

No one doubts that Paul's identical expressions in both Galatians 3:7 and 3:9 may be read as hoi ek pisteos Christou (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ) or even hoi ek pisteos Iesou Christou (οἱ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ). This is so because of Paul's formulation of the expressions in 2:16 from which those of 3:7 and 3:9 derive, namely, dia pisteos Idsou Christou (διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ) and ek pistos Christou (ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ). At issue, however, is whether one should read the expression as "those of faith in Christ" or "those of the faithfulness of Christ."

One could ask the same questions concerning Romans 3. Is the expression ὁ ἐκ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ in 3:26 equivalent to ho pisteon [eis Christon Iesoun] (ὁ πιστεύων [εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν])? If so, why does Paul not use the substantival participle instead as he does in Romans 3:22 where he uses two distinguishable expressions: (1) dia pisteos Iesou Christou (διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ); and (2) eis pantas pisteuontas (εἰς πάντας τοὺς πιστεύοντας)? Are these two distinguishable expressions simply interchangeable?


  1. While I struggle to absorb the Greek,
    I have a question: did Caleb and Joshua
    Suffer the "curse of the Law" referenced
    In Gal 3?

  2. May I defer a response until later, perhaps tomorrow? I just found your question, and I'm about to shut down for the night. Thanks for your patience.

  3. Gal 3:8 The scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, [saying], In thee shall all nations be blessed.

    It's interesting how this translation bolsters the faith/works antithesis version of the Gospel. Yet, if the translation of ὅτι ἐκ πίστεως is rendered out of faithfulness then the thrust of the argument becomes redemptive-historical, grounding justification and the blessing of Abraham on the crucifixion and not on the "instrumentality of faith."

    You would be leaning the same way in Gal 3:2, right? The Spirit is received not by the works of the Law but out of the hearing of faithfulness? ἐξ ἀκοῆς πίστεως

    ...that is, the Spirit is received by hearing about the faithfulness of Jesus in enduring the curses of the Old Covenant and securing the blessings Abraham for Israel and the Nations.

  4. I'm sorry that I was unable to adderss your first query, the one concerning Caleb and Joshua. My days have been full. I shall return to this question, yet.

    Concerning your most recent question on Gal 3:2, yes, you have it right.

  5. While I struggle to absorb the Greek,
    I have a question: did Caleb and Joshua
    Suffer the "curse of the Law" referenced
    In Gal 3?

    Because Joshua and Caleb were individuals bound by covenant to the nation of Israel, they suffered the curse of the law to the extent that devout and godly Israelites would suffer the external curses of the law as long as they wandered about in the wilderness until they entered the promised land.

    However, as individuals who fully obeyed the Lord, Joshua and Caleb were not spiritually under the law's curse in the sense of under the indictment of the Lord. They were righteous men who were bound covenantally to a nation that disobeyed the Lord.

    In other words, Paul's commentary upon the law and the curse of the law in Galatians 2-3 is not a commentary upon the spiritual condition of the devout and godly Israelite who dwelt under the law while the law covenant held jurisdiction. Nevertheless, godly and devout Israelites, such as Daniel (Daniel 9), endured great hardship along with ungodly and unfaithful Israelites because they were covenantally bound to the nation. This is so despite the fact that godly and devout Israelites are described this way: "wholly followed the Lord," "fully obeyed," etc. Throughout the OT these and similar expressions do not speak of perfect obedience but of true obedience, obedience that characterizes individuals.

    Following are some pertinent passages from Joshua concerning Caleb and Joshua.

    Joshua 14:1-15

    Joshua 22:1-6

  6. This discussion raises a question about translation. If we were on a Bible translation committee, how would we translate πίστις Χριστοῦ? Would we keep it vauge "faith of Christ" or would we make our interpretation clear "Christ's faithfulness"? If we opt for being vauge, then the reader has to make this decision on his own. If we opt to interpret, then it opens a new thought that the reader might not be aware of?

    If you were on a Bible committee, how would you want πίστις Χριστοῦ translated? Why?

  7. I made an observation building from Mr. Russell's note above. Gal. 3:22 says, "But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe" (ESV). This translation has the antithesis of faith/works, which suggests the promise given to those who believe is grounded upon the instrument of the believer's faith. If this is correct, how can the instrument of my faith be the basis of God giving his promise to me? That seems rather self-centered.

    If we translate Gal. 3:22 as, “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by Jesus' faithfulness might be given to those who believe”, then the basis of God giving his promise to me is Jesus' faithfulness. This seems rather Christ-centered.

    The law imprisoned everything under sin because it cannot fulfill its promise. The law promises life (Lev. 18:5), but it cannot fulfill what it promises because it cannot secure one's obedience to it. The law demands obedience but it cannot secure that obedience. For example, in Rom. 7:7 Paul writes, “I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, 'You shall not covet.' and in verse 10 Paul writes, “The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.” The law, which is holy and the commandment which is holy did not bring death, but it was sin that produced death through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure (Rom. 7:12-13). How come the law demands obedience that it cannot secure? It is because the law was not designed to give life despite its promise (Gal. 3:21). Thus, the law was never designed to give righteousness.

    What is designed to give righteousness is the gospel. “So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be declared righteous by faithfulness” (Gal. 3:24).

    Am I leaning the same way as Mr. Russell?


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