Jan 11, 2016

God's Faith? (part v)

Not only is "the faith of God" associated with "the oracles of God" (both are alike in having a HEAD NOUN + GENITIVE NOUN form), but in verse seven it is identified with "the truth of God." These seem to be three different ways of referring essentially to the same thing, and if so, my thesis is defended relative to this passage.

It would not substantially change the intended meaning of the apostle to have used any one of these three expressions in verse 3 in place of "the faith of God" so as to have said,

1) Shall their unbelief make the oracles of God without effect?
2) Shall their unbelief make the truth of God without effect?
3) Shall their unbelief make the word of God without effect?

Also, as we have seen, we could use these expressions in place of "the faith of God"

4) Shall their unbelief make the doctrine of God without effect?
5) Shall their unbelief make the gospel of God without effect?

Many of the "unbelievers" in the old testament dispensation were not irreligious as I have stated. Some rejected Hebrew monotheism and belief in the truth and became pagans. Their polytheism was a "faith" or "belief system" but it was not Jehovah's. Jeremiah (10: 8) called it "a doctrine of vanities."

The prophets of LORD God would often call such apostate Jews away from their "heathen faith," from the faith system of Baal, of demons, or some false deity, to "the faith of God." In this connection it is good to cite I Timothy 4:1.

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."

Like Jude 1: 3 this verse also speaks of "the faith" and the general view of commentators and interpreters affirms that "the faith" is not subjective belief, but objective, pointing to the object of personal faith. Why is it that the New Testament writers sometimes simply said "the faith" while at other times added a Genitive noun? Is it not because it is often implied and it is often shortened for the sake of brevity

Notice how "the faith" of Christians (which is of course the "faith of God" and "faith of Christ,") is contrasted with "doctrines of devils (demons)." When the unbelieving Jews of the Old Testament times departed from "the faith of God," or from "the oracles of God," or from "the truth of God," they often substituted for it a demonic system of faith which Paul places under the head "doctrines." In other words, "the faith" is all the same as "the doctrine." The "faith of God" is "the doctrine of God," and "the faith of Christ" is "the doctrine of Christ," etc.

Interesting is the fact that when "the doctrine" of God is mentioned, it is singular, but when that of demons is mentioned it is "doctrines" in the plural. Sometimes the apostle does the same thing with the word "doctrine" as with the word "faith." Sometimes, as before observed, Paul will speak simply of "the faith" while at other times will add "of God," "of Christ," etc. The same is true with the word "doctrine." Paul will sometimes simply say "the doctrine" while at other times will add the modifying Genitive noun and thus we have "the doctrine of God our Savior." (Titus 2:10)

The only two times in the Roman epistle where the word "doctrine" is used  it seems to also connote the "the oracles," "the word," "the truth," "the gospel," etc., are in 6: 17 and 16:17.

"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you."

"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them."

What was obeyed from the heart and learned? Specifically in these two passages it is "the doctrine," with the implication that it is "of God," and which is no other than what is meant elsewhere in this epistle as the gospel of God, the oracles of God, the faith of God, the word of God, the truth of God.

In I Timothy Paul speaks of "the words of faith and of good doctrine" (I Ti. 4:6) and  "the word and doctrine" (I Tim. 5: 17) and "the name of God and his doctrine" (I Tim. : 1). Thus, "the doctrine of God" is but another way of saying "the faith of God."

Recall also that Paul introduces the concept of divine "doctrine" when he begins discussing the divine definition of "Jew" in Romans 2:17-29. In that context he says that carnal Jews were known for their "God boasting" and "law boasting" and in regard to "the law" ('law' here meaning the entire old testament revelation) Paul says that they prided themselves in being an "instructor" and "teacher" to the Gentiles. These so called teachers and masters in theology had "the form of knowledge" and "of the truth in the law."

The first thing Paul will do is to challenge the reality or truthfulness of such Jews as to their claims and pretensions.

These Jews "rested (Greek verb "epanapauomai") in the law," meaning they trusted in it, Yet, Paul wants to show to these Jews that "the law" was no place for any sinner to rest. He will also challenge their pretensions and presumptions by exposing their hypocrisy, and show that the law could be no source of comfort or justification, nor source of righteousness, as they thought, and that it actually and ironically condemned them. This echoes the words of Jesus, who attacked the same erroneous thinking by Jews, saying to them - "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." (John 5:39) Remember that oftentimes, in the New Testament, "the law" refers to the entire Old Testament canon or "the scriptures." Then, he will begin to challenge their "doctrine," that is, their interpretations and teachings of the law or scripture of God, which they claimed was one and the same with God's doctrine.

But, if the doctrine of the Jews at the time of Christ and Paul, which was then known as "the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees" (Matt. 16:12), was "the doctrine of God our Savior," then why were these Jews "astonished" at the "doctrine" of Christ? ("the people were astonished at his doctrine" - Matt. 7:28; 22:33; etc.) Why did these "Jews" ask "what new doctrine is this?" (Mark 1: 27) What did Jesus say in his defense? "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself." (John 7: 16-17)

Thus, this is the summation of what I have thus far advanced in this extended essay.

By "the faith of God" is meant essentially the same thing as other terms used by Paul in Romans, both in the immediate context of Romans 3:3, and in other places in the epistle, and by him and the other new testament writers, which are the oracles of God, the word of God, the truth of God, the sayings of God, the doctrine of God, the Gospel of God, the Gospel of Christ, the faith of Christ, the faith of Christians, etc., which in all cases it is in the HEAD NOUN + GENITIVE NOUN construction, and may be interpreted, depending upon context, either as Objective Genitive or Ablative Genitive, but not as a Subjective Genitive.

If the kind of Genitive in the case of "the faith of God" is to be determined by the context, then my case has been proven. and the interpretation that says that "the faith of God" is subjective, meaning the faith that God has towards some object, is totally untenable.

In the next few postings I will be defending my interpretation that "a-pistis" should be translated as "no faith" and "the faith" should not be translated as "the faithfulness." I will explore Paul's use of the negative "alpha" and his use of irony in his talk to the "Jews."

Many "unbelievers" among the depraved Jews of ancient times, though not embracing openly a heathen or pagan "faith," and though still outwardly professing faith in the truth of their Scriptures, yet were hypocrites and not "Jews" in Spirit nor "circumcised" in heart by the word and Spirit of God. These Jesus in his public ministry often exposed and affirmed that their rejection of him and his "doctrine"  (about the oracles and the faith of the Hebrew people) proved them to be such as actually had "no faith," either subjectively or objectively. This "faith" that they had Paul calls a "no faith," and as we shall see, for good reason. This, in summary, I think, is an important element in the apostle's thesis in his epistle.

The lost Jews in the time of Christ professed belief in the divine origin of the Scriptures, of them being the "oracles of God." Jesus, however, during his preaching ministry, did uncloak their pretensions and hypocrisies, both Pharisee and Sadducee, and showed that though they professed adherence and allegiance to "the Scriptures" and to "the oracles," yet they by their works and rejection of Jehovah's Christ showed that they did not possess "the faith" or true religion of God. Said Jesus to such: "Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God." (Matt. 22:29) He referred to these as "hypocrites."

Paul has said of the Gentiles that they had "changed the truth into a lie," and by "lie" he alludes to false systems of divinity, to religious falsehood. He says that in this condition of "no faith" that they continued to "worship," or practice religion and have a religious creed, consisting in "worship of the creature."  (Rom: 1:25)

The terms "Unbeliever" and "unbelief," in the sense intended by the New Testament writers, do not denote an irreligious person or one who has no faith, as I have previously observed. When Paul refers to the carnal and apostate "Jews" as having "no faith," he likewise does not mean that they, like the Gentiles, have "no faith" at allA man who has a Muslim "faith," for instance, is one who actually has "no faith," or one who is "without faith" (a-pistis), in the mind of Paul and Christians. I will expand greatly upon this as we proceed.

Paul's reason, as we shall see, for saying that the Christ rejecting "Jew," with his perverted religion, had "no faith," like the Gentiles were judged to have by the "Jew," was to "provoke" them by the use of irony. Irony is defined as:

"...the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect." .

Gentiles had changed God's "truth" into a "lie," meaning that they had exchanged it. This "truth" may be seen in two respects.  First, assuming that all the nations, after the flood, had been given "the truth" by Noah and his immediate descendants (and which had been handed down to Noah from Adam, Seth, Enoch, etc.), then "the truth" that had been "changed" by the nations was all the revelation that he had given by these ancient prophets (who have been since the world began - Luke 11:50) What Nimrod did was to change the truth into a lie, and the Gentiles since have all derived their faith system from him.

Second, aspects of this "truth" are not only that which was witnessed to "in the law" and "in the prophets," but witnessed to by creation itself as Paul said. (Rom. 1: 20)

But, the "Jew" in contrast to the "Gentile" had also "changed the truth into a lie" though not always in the same way. It is not that they forsook the primitive and original truth and accepted in its place a false system with its own oracles and holy writings, as did the Gentiles. But, the hypocritical Jew, though retaining outwardly an allegiance to the Hebrew scriptures, at least in the time of Christ and the apostle, had "changed" the truth of God by their art of twisting and distorting of language, especially that of the Scriptures, as we have seen.

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