THE FAITH of CHRIST
BY: JONATHAN MITCHELL
Is it Christ’s faith, or our faith? This question is raised when folks read Gal. 3:26, where we find the phrase “through faith in Christ Jesus” (NIV). The New World Translation gives this the interpretation “through your faith in Christ Jesus,” by adding the word “your” which is not in the Greek text. And, sadly, this is the normal evangelical interpretation for this phrase in this verse. The NRSV splits up the Greek phrase by putting “in Christ” at the beginning of the verse, ending with “through faith,” adding to the confusion. But a look at the context, and a translation of the definite article “the” before the word “faith” will give us the correct interpretation of what Paul was saying about “the faith resident within (or: within the midst of) Christ Jesus.” If we look at the context, Paul begins the discussion of “the faith” in vs. 23:
23. So before the [time, or, event for] the Faith to come (or: prior to the coming of this trust and assurance), we were being continuously confined and held in custody under the watch of a guard, being folks constantly encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together by and under Law, [with a view to, aimed and moving] into the Faith and Trust being about to be unveiled (or: revealed), “The faith” came in the coming of the Christ; it was unveiled within Him; they were up until that time “encircled, enclosed, shut up and locked together by and under Law,” but this was with a view to moving them into the midst of “the Faith and Trust.” Vs. 24 further describes the situation:
24. so that, consequently, the Law had come to be (had been birthed into existence) and continued being our supervising guardian and attending escort [with a view to, aimed and moving] into Christ, to the end that we could (or: would) be made fair and equitable (right–wised; just, free of guilt, and in right relationship within the Way pointed out) from out of faith, conviction and trust. Moving into the Faith is now here described as moving into the midst of Christ, then the Faith (equivalent to Christ) is that from out of which we are made fair and equitable (right–wised, etc.).
25. again emphasizes the “coming of the Faith,” which replaces the need for the pedagogue (Law), and then vs. 26 gives the result:
26. For you folks are all [i.e., Jew and non-Jew; male and female; slave and freeman] God’s sons, through the faith and trust resident within Christ Jesus!
27. further explains that this is because we were “immersed into Christ” and “clothed [ourselves] with Christ.” So, again, the Faith is equated to the Christ.
The phrase “within Christ Jesus,” or “resident within Christ Jesus” is repeated in vs. 28, saying “for you folks all exist being one (or: are all one person; or: = are all united) within Christ Jesus.” So we are now, being sons, in the same place as the location of the Faith (vs. 26): within Christ Jesus and it was due to being placed within Him that we were placed into His Faith so as to become His sons.
In vs. 29 Paul explains this “God’s sons” using a different metaphor, being “Abraham’s seed” since we “belong to Christ,” or “have [the] Anointing as [our] source and origin.” There is nothing in this entire passage that suggests that the Faith is from us.
Now to expand this study into a look at the phrase “the faith of Christ,” let us look at vs. 22, where Paul is concluding a discussion of the Promise in its relationship to the Law,
22. But to the contrary, the Scripture encircles and encloses [as fish in a net] all things, shuts them up together and locks the whole (the totality of everything) under (or: by) failure (error; deviation; the missing of the target; sin), to the end that the Promise would (or: could) suddenly be given to (or: in; for) the folks habitually trusting (or: progressively believing with conviction) from out of Jesus Christ’s faith ()or: forth from the midst of the faith whose source and origin is Jesus Christ; from the midst of the trust and conviction which is Jesus Christ or: so that the promise [which comes] forth from Jesus Christ’s trust, can at some point be given to the people presently having convinced assurance).
This parenthetical expansion of the genitive phrase “of Jesus Christ” gives other possible renderings, all of which show plainly that it is Christ who has the faith, not the believer – until Christ’s faith is imparted into him.
Here inaccuracies of translation let us down, such as NIV: “faith in Jesus Christ” (there is no Greek “en” in the text here); the NWT: “faith toward Jesus Christ” (there is not Greek “pros” in the text here). The NRSV renders the Greek “ek” (from out of; forth from the midst of) by the word “through” so as to read “through faith in Jesus Christ”! This is twisting the text to fit Arminian theology. But let’s move on to other witnesses in the NT: Phil. 2:
9. and may be found within Him (or: in union with Him) – not continuing having (or: holding) my pointed-out way (my fairness and equity; my relationships; my basis for what is right; my own righteousness) from out of the Law or custom, but to the contrary, the [fairness and equity in relationships which accord with the Way pointed-out] through means of Christ’s faith (or: the trust and faith which is Christ): the fairness and equity in right relationships from being rightwised within the Way pointed out [which is] forth from out of the midst of God as a source [and is placed and thus based] upon that faith, confidence and trust – Note: “through means of Christ’s faith (or, as a genitive of apposition: the trust and faith which is Christ).” Not through means of our faith.
Eph. 3:12. within, and in union with, Whom we continuously have (hold and possess) the freedom of speech (or: boldness, which comes with citizenship, to publicly speak the truth of a matter – without fear of reprisal) and conducted access (escorted admission), in the midst of trust (confident reliance and loyalty), through His faith, trust, confidence and loyalty! Note: “in the midst of trust… THROUGH HIS FAITH!”
In Gal. again, 2:16, having seen and thus knowing that humanity (or: mankind; or: a person) is not normally being put in right relationship (made fair and equitable; made free from guilt and set into the Way pointed out; right–wised and made to be a just one) from out of works of Law (or: forth from a law’s deeds or actions from custom), but instead THROUGH JESUS CHRIST’S FAITH (or: faith that belongs to and originates in Christ Jesus), and we, ourselves, trusted and believed into Christ Jesus, to the end that we would be put in right relationship (made to be just, fair and equitable; be released from guilt; be right–wised and placed into the Way pointed out) from out of the midst of Christ’s faith, as a source and sphere – NOT from out of the midst of works of Law, as a source and sphere, because from out of the midst of works of Law (or: forth from a law’s deeds or actions corresponding to custom) “no flesh (= person or human) at all will be put in right relationship (made to be just, fair and equitable; be freed from guilt; be right–wised and placed into the Way pointed out).”
Then in Gal. 2:20 Paul says, “… [It is] no longer I, but it is Christ continuously living and alive within me! (or: No longer an “I” – now Christ constantly lives in the midst of, and in union with, me). Now that which I, at the present moment, continue living within flesh (= a physical body), I am constantly living within faith – IN AND BY that [faith] which is the Son of God (or: in union with trust and confidence THAT IS FROM God’s Son [with other MSS: in the confidence belonging to God and Christ])…”
Moving on to Gal. 5, we see another aspect in vs. 5 and 6 that “we, in spirit (or, as an instrumental: BY [the] Spirit) – forth from out of faith – continuously receive by taking away as with our hands, from out of the expectation whose source is the fairness of the way pointed out, for… [it is] faith: continuously working effectively (operating; being inwardly active and productive) through Love.” We realize that He has shed His Love (which is Him) abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5), and through this His implanted faith is continuously productive in us. Furthermore, we see in Gal. 5:22 that faith is one aspect of the Spirit’s fruit. It is God producing faith in us – His faith!
Rom. 10:17 is the well-know verse that tells us the source of faith, and how it gets into us: Consequently, the faith (or: the trust; confidence) [comes] from out of the midst of hearing [as its source], yet the hearing [comes] through a saying of Christ (or: through Christ’s utterance; through something spoken concerning Christ; or by means of a declaration which is anointed, or from Christ; through a word uttered which is Christ; [other MSS: God’s speech]).
Now once faith is given to us we are called to use it, to walk in it. But we should remember that this gift is Christ’s faith, which equals His life, His righteousness, etc., which in fact is Christ Himself. As His life increasingly (yes, it is a process of growth) becomes our life, so does His faith become ours. Hence do we have Paul’s numerous imperatives of how we should live. But these imperatives are based upon the fact that the recipients of his letters already had Christ – had been given the gift of His faith. Once we are children, we are called to enter into “the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Rom. 8:21). The rest of creation and humanity longs for this, and we also groan for the “placing of sons.”
There are two other verses that I want to point out, in closing. The first is Heb. 12:2, where we are told that Jesus is “the Inaugurator and the Bringer-to-maturity and fruition of the Faith…”
The second is Mark 11:22, “Then, from considering, Jesus is then saying to them, ‘Be constantly holding God’s faith (or: Be habitually having trust which has its source in God; or, reading as a genitive of apposition: Continue possessing faith, which is God)!”
FAITH of CHRIST, THE [Jonathan Mitchell] 1