Studies in Romans: The Faithfulness Of Jesus

Heading back into Romans to start us out when the church launches, thought I would place some of the exegetical work here. Full paper is attached as Word document below.

In the modern arena of New Testament Scholarship, there are no few debaters on the linguistic/semantic issue of the phrase, pistis Christou, in the Pauline corpus. The phrase appears seven times[1] in obvious forms and then debatable more in more esoteric forms. The debate rests around whether or not the phrase should be understood from an objective point or a subjective one.  As an objective form, it would be translated, “faith in Christ.”  In the subjective perspective, it would be understood as, “faith(fullness)[2] of Christ.” The thrust of the meaning change is obvious, but the nuanced facets of the actual argument take more of a straw-man quality. Those who oppose the subjective view say that it injures the New Testament’s teaching on the belief exercised by followers of Christ at salvation.  This could not be father from the truth, as will be explained below.

The outright thesis of this paper is that in certain constructions, the subjective translation is to be preferred, whereas in others it is not.  The main passages previously listed out of Romans, Galatians and Philippians are those preferred to bear a subjective meaning. This thesis will be presented first from a linguistic/syntactical approach, followed by a theological theme and concluded with a blending of the two. It is to be noted that the linguistic approach is far less apparent, as the translational cues in the text do not point either way.[3]


[1] Galatians 2:16, 20: 3:22: Romans 3:22. 26: Philippians 3:9: from heretofore called “The Main Passages.”

[2] Within this debate, the phrases “faith of Christ” and “faithfulness of Christ” are presented for the subjective view.  He current author only accepts the “faithfulness” as a proper translation of pistis within the semantic understanding within the phrases.  The former form is rejected and will not be address in this paper.

[3] Almost all agree on this point at the outset, but see also James Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 380.

The Faithfulness of Jesus