Feb 21, 2016

God's Faith? (x)

In this post I will add some additional argumentation regarding Philippians 1:27. I should have added this to the previous posting, but not having done so, I will add it here in this supplemental posting.

To understand the meaning of "the faith" of verse Philippians 1:27, we should discern the meaning of "faith" (or "the faith") of verse 25. I did demonstrate that the context of verses 1-26 did not show that subjective faith was the topic of discussion so as to give credence for making the definite article "the" before "faith" to be a demonstrative pronoun. So, our analysis of verse 25 is very important.

Further, I failed to include facts that help to show that "of the faith" of Philippians 1:27, being plenary, no doubt includes the idea of it being what is called a genitive of apposition. I did suggest this as a meaning, but did not extend analysis of this possibility as I did the other probable genitive types. I will also include this information now before we proceed on to the other scripture passages mentioned above.

I also think it appropriate to now include a discussion of Galatians 1:23 ("the faith which he once destroyed...") in conjunction with viewing Philippians 1:27 as being a genitive of apposition.

After presenting this additional material we will then, as promised, proceed to look at the other verses previously mentioned, namely, Romans 10:8 and 14:1, and then II Corinthians 4: 13. Next we will take up the expression "before the faith came" of Galatians 3:23. Following that we will then look at passages in Romans chapters one and two.

The Progress and Joy of the Faith
τὴν ὑμῶν προκοπὴν καὶ χαρὰν τῆς πίστεως

"And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your furtherance and joy of faith..." (Phi. 1:25)

This verse is another case where the KJV omits the definite article before "faith." It is not literally however "joy of faith" but "joy of the faith." Actually, both "joy" and "faith" have the definite article before them. The article before pisteos is apparent, being immediately before it - τῆς πίστεως. But, the definite article before "joy" is not immediately before it but is implied by the conjunction "kai" (καὶ).

The definite article "ten" (τὴν) is before "progress" or "furtherance" (προκοπὴν) but is to be supplied in thought not only with "progress" but with "joy" so that we literally have (adding the Greek pronoun "humon") "the progress of you" and "the joy of you." Both are genitives. Putting them together we have "the progress and the joy of you" or "the progress and the joy that is yours of (or 'in') the faith." The definite article informs us that it is a particular kind of progress, joy and faith. Vincent in his Word Studies on this verse, said - "Rev., in the faith. To be connected with both furtherance and joy."

Having this information as a basis, we can then work on discerning what is meant by the genitive τῆς πίστεως often translated as "of the faith." What is it then that is "of the faith"? Certainly it is both the progress and the joy.

The reason why this verse is a key to help establish that "the faith of the gospel" (vs. 27) is a term for the biblical revelation or creed is because the word "faith" is here first used in the Philippian epistle and is in the immediate context. Thus, the first occurrence of "faith" is in verse 25 and next in verse 27. So, it is proper that I should look at verse 25, and in doing so, who can doubt that my interpretation of verse 27 is thereby enhanced? Certainly "the faith" of verse 25 is the same "the faith" of verse 27. But, in neither case does "the faith" mean the subjective belief of Christians, but the objective truth of the Christian religion.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament says (emphasis mine): "for your progress and joy in the faith, i.e., for your advancement in the faith and consequent joy therein."

The joy and advancement are both "in the faith." Advancement, progress, furtherance, is not in personal subjective faith, first and foremost, but rather in knowledge and understanding of the teachings of divine revelation. Increasing in the degree of trust or subjective faith in God and his word is the result of increasing in the knowledge of that revelation. The joy comes not first from our own personal subjective faith, but rather comes from that objective faith that produces the former.

Likewise the Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged translates the key words under consideration as "joy springing from the faith."

Coffman's Commentary has these comments:

In the faith...Both New English Bible (1961) and Phillips make this read "your faith" instead of "the faith," for the obvious purpose of applying the passage to the subjective trust/faith of believers, rather than allowing the true meaning to stand. This most certainly is not a reference to subjective faith in the heart of Christians but has the meaning of "the Christian religion."

This is correct and if this is the true meaning of "the faith" in verse 25, then it just adds additional proof that "the faith" of verse 27 likewise means "the Christian religion."

Genitive of Apposition

A word in the genitive case refers to the same thing as the word it modifies. When such is used, we can substitute words such as "which is," "who is," or "namely," instead of the word "of." Daniel Wallace says that in substituting these words we test the genitive to see if it works or fits. "If this makes sense, an appositional genitive is likely." (Greek Grammar Beyond The Basics, page 98 - SEE HERE)

In our expression "the faith of the gospel" the translation should be "the faith which is the gospel." Further, who can doubt that this is at least true? Who can deny that this was in the mind of the apostle when he wrote the words? Who can deny that it "makes sense" that "the faith which is the gospel" is correct, and fully proven by the context? That it is the most "likely" of interpretations?

Gill's Commentary

by "faith" is meant not so much the grace of faith, though to show the nature, necessity, and usefulness of faith in Christ, and to direct and encourage sensible sinners, as he did the jailer, to believe in him, was a principal part of his ministry; but rather the doctrine of faith, which is always designed, when it is said, as here, to be preached or to be obeyed, stood fast in and contended for, or to be departed and erred from, to be made shipwreck of and denied. The Gospel is called the word of faith, the mystery of faith, the faith of the Gospel, common faith, most holy faith, the faith once delivered to the saints; it contains things to be believed; it proposes and directs to the great object of faith; and is the means of implanting and increasing that grace, and without which the ministry of it is of no use:

Gill affirms what I have affirmed in this series. Some terms are simply used interchangeably which basically refer to the same thing. Gill says that "the Gospel" is called "the word of faith," the "common faith," etc. What we are seeing thus far is that the term "the faith" is very old within the language of the apostles and first Christians and that it was synonymous with other commonly used Christian words such as "the oracles," "the word," "the gospel," etc.

Announcing The Good News of The Faith
νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν

"Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed." (Gal. 1:21-23 KJV)

The KJV, like some others, make a poor translation of εὐαγγελίζεται by use of the old English word "preacheth." A better English word for εὐαγγελίζεται is "proclaiming" or "announcing," rather than "preacheth."

First of all the words "hears" and "preacheth" are in Greek present tense linear and so should be translated as "they kept on hearing" and "now is preaching." 

Second, it is not any announcement of any news, but an announcement of good news. The subject of the announcing is already inherent within the Greek word itself. This fact is substantiated by consulting Strong or other Greek dictionaries on the meaning of the word and by looking at translations which reveal this fact.

On this word Strong says the word means "to bring good news, to announce glad tidings."

Obviously Strong believed that the Greek word did not denote simple reporting of news, good, bad, or indifferent, but denoted the announcing of good news. The "evangel" is not simply news, but good news, not mere "tidings," but "glad" tidings.

I realize that in old English "preacheth" may have included the idea that what is preached is good news, but today's readers do not necessarily connect "preaching" with polite discourse or with telling others good news. Rather, "preaching" is more often used in English vernacular as a rude way of talking to people, as when one says "quit preaching to (or at) me."

In conclusion on this point it must be admitted that one cannot translate the single word εὐαγγελίζεται into English by a one word equivalent, which is what the KJV has attempted to do by the single word "preacheth." By such a translation there is no idea that what is preached is good or true. But, such is inherent in the Greek word. This fact is necessary for us in correctly translating and interpreting the text.

As we will see, many English translations often use more than one word in English to convey the meaning of a single Greek word. Perhaps choosing one word today, in order to try to give a translation that is a word for word or "dynamic" translation, is not always the best, for it leaves the English reader lacking some information inherent in the Greek word that is not conveyed by use of a single word in English. Keep in mind too, that learned writers, inspired or not, try to be as brief and concise as possible, avoiding being verbose or overly repetitious. Already we have seen how it is essential that certain parts of speech, such as prepositions, "definite articles," and even punctuation, be added in an English translation to bring out the meaning of the Greek, and that oftentimes such choice of words is not so much a matter a strict translation but rather of interpretation.

At this point let us look at some translations of εὐαγγελίζεται. First, I will give those translations that put the idea of proclaiming good news as inherent in the single Greek word. Second, I will give those translations, like the KJV, that omit any idea of good news by simply using a word denoting simple proclamation.

The Complete Jewish Bible

they were only hearing the report, "The one who used to persecute us now preaches the Good News of the faith he was formerly out to destroy"

The Darby Translation

only they were hearing that he who persecuted us formerly now announces the glad tidings of the faith which formerly he ravaged


and they had only an hearing, that he that pursued us sometime, preacheth now the faith [now evangelizeth the faith], against which he fought sometime

Young's Literal Translation

and only they were hearing, that `he who is persecuting us then, doth now proclaim good news -- the faith that then he was wasting;

Net Bible

They were only hearing, "The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy."

Now let me cite just one version that omits any idea of good news being involved in the meaning of the Greek word εὐαγγελίζεται. I cite only one for brevity. Yet, this translation is typical of the majority of English translations.

English Standard Version

They only were hearing it said, "He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy."

What is the difference in translations of εὐαγγελίζεται between that which says "announcing the good news--the faith" and "announcing the faith"? Or between "the good news of the faith" and "announcing the faith"? Is τὴν πίστιν a genitive?

In answer, both "faith" and its definite article are accusative (direct object) and not genitive. So, "of the faith" is not warranted on this basis. "The faith" is the direct object of the verb or participle εὐαγγελίζεται. What is "preached" is "the faith." But, does this fact exclude the idea that it is good news that is specifically what is preached or announced? It does not. What this fact does do is to show that Berry, Young, and other translators are correct in using a comma or dash between "preacheth" and "the faith." In this manner the reader is alerted to the fact that Paul adds "the faith" in order to further identify the specific good news he is talking about. Literally, Paul was "announcing the good news, that is, the faith."

The purpose of the apostle is to make it clear that the gospel or evangel that he has been talking about is the same thing as "the faith."

Comma or No Comma?

Some Interlinears show the comma after (SEE HERE) εὐαγγελίζεται.

Berry's Interlinear gives us this translation - "only hearing they were, That he who persecuted us once, now announces the glad tidings--the faith, which once he ravished:"

In Berry's Greek text he shows the punctuation as well as in the English. The only exception is with the DASH mark (not hypen) that Berry adds between the words "glad tidings" and "the faith."

In Berry's Interlinear, his Greek text shows commas where he has commas, a dash (or two dashes), and a colon, in his English translation. I will not make a firm argument regarding Greek punctuation as this is yet for me still a matter of study and investigation. It seems that most Koine Greek scholars affirm that there was no punctuation in the original new testament writings. It is said that such punctuation was first introduced into the text in lectionaries by scribes, who added them to help in the oral reading of the text, some time in the 8th or 9th centuries.

It seems clear that the original writings of the new testament did not have spaces between words and were all of capital letters. That in itself would often make it hard for an English reader to read, though not for a Greek. There being no punctuation (supposedly), a non-Greek reader often had to surmise about when one sentence ended and another began, to know where quotation marks begin and end, where a comma, colon, semicolon, dash, parenthesis, etc., ought to be inserted. These are problems in interpretation and understanding which first century Koine Greek communicators did not generally experience.

The question as to whether there was any punctuation used by the new testament writers I will not address at this point. I will say however that the oldest manuscripts that we do have, whether Greek, Latin, Coptic, etc., do have some punctuation. But, I do intend as an appendix to this series to give some postings on this subject. Likewise, I plan to include information in such an appendix on the debate about the use and non use of the definite article in the Greek, about which I have already said much.

Since about the 9th century, when punctuation marks were supposedly first inserted into the sacred text, each translation and revision would add further punctuation marks. In fact, it has become a matter of some debate among contemporary translators just what kind of punctuation should be used in each particular text. It is no easy matter to judge in many cases. Bible students are generally aware of the debate over the location of the comma, for instance in the words "verily I say unto you today you will be with me in paradise." The KJV puts the comma after the word "you" while others will put it after the word "today." How can we tell who is right? Is there a comma in the original text? On what basis do translators make such a decision?

With these preliminary remarks made, let me say that Berry and Young are correct in putting the "dash" or "double dash" (not "hyphen") behind the word εὐαγγελίζεται and before τὴν πίστιν. Berry had this "the glad tidings--the faith." Young had this - "proclaim good news--the faith."

One writing grammar states this about the dash: (emphasis mine)

"Two dashes can emphasize a modifier. Words or phrases that describe a noun can be set off with dashes if you wish to emphasize them." (Semi-colons, colons, and dashes - The Writing Center at UNC-Chapel Hill - HERE)

The dash (–) is used to set off additional material within a sentence, often in order to emphasize it, to set off appositives that contain commas, or to indicate missing words. Sometimes confused with the hyphen, a dash comes between words as a form of division, whereas a hyphen generally joins words or parts of words to indicate a connection...The dash is intended to emphasize supplemental information.

Use a dash to set off appositives that contain commas. (An appositive is a noun or noun phrase that immediately follows and renames a noun or pronoun and is usually surrounded by commas.)

Thus, I think that Berry and Young are correct by their use of the dash. It helps the reader to see that by "the faith" the apostle is both further identifying "the good news" and giving emphasis. Further, if this is the correct interpretation, then this is another example where a new testament writer specifically uses "the faith" and "the gospel" as denoting the same thing.

In conclusion let me cite these words from the Pulpit Commentary. (emphasis mine)

Now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed (νῦν εὐαγγελίζεται τὴν πίστιν ἥν ποτε ἐπόρθει); now preacheth the faith which once he was making havoc of. The use of the term "faith" is the same as in Acts 6:7, "Were obedient to the faith," which is equivalent to the "obeying the gospel" mentioned Romans 10:16. The object to the verb εὐαγγελίζομαι is always something which is announced, never a thing which is required (cf. e.g. Luke 2:10; Acts 5:42; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:17; Ephesians 3:8); so that "faith" here cannot mean the faith which men are to render to Jesus, but the doctrine which they are to believe, to wit, that Jesus is Christ the Saviour. We have here the early beginnings of that objective sense in which afterwards the word got to be so commonly used in the Church to denote the Christian doctrine (see Bishop Lightfoot's essay 'Galatians,' pp. 154-158). In the second clause, "which he was sometime making havoc of," the "faith" is identified with the Church which held it (comp. ver. 13).

This is correct. Yet, there are those who disagree. Kenneth Wuest, new testament Greek scholar, in his commentary and translation of the Galatian epistle, wrote: (emphasis mine)

Faith does not refer to the body of truth preached by Paul, but to the faith in Christ which he exhorted his listeners to exercise. It was the principle of the Church’s life that the Pharisee Saul was aiming to destroy. His aim was the extermination of the Church and its faith in the Lord Jesus. This he tried to accomplish by the ravaging of the faith of individual Christians. Destroyed is from portheo (ðïñèåï), which means “to ravage, to overthrow, to make havoc.” It is in the imperfect tense which speaks of continuous action in past time. It is not the fact of having destroyed the faith, that is in view here, for Paul never did that, but the continuous process of ravaging and making havoc of the Church.


Indeed, they only kept on hearing, The one who used to persecute us at one time, is now announcing the glad tidings of the faith which at one time he was ravaging.

Though I greatly admire Wuest and believe he is right far more than he is wrong, yet he surely got it wrong in this instance. "The faith" is not subjective belief, as I think I have fully shown. Further, when it is said that Paul destroyed the faith, we are not to think that he actually or completely destroyed it, for this is, as Wuest says, impossible. Yet, the idea is that he sought to do it, and did do it in some ways, mainly by keeping the faith from being preached, and breaking up assemblies.

Feb 13, 2016

God's Faith? (ix)

In this and the next few postings we will look at some additional parallel expressions to "the faith of the God" of Romans 3:3, and then look at the statement of Galatian 3: 23 - "before the faith came."

First, we will look at the parallel expression "the faith of the gospel" (Phi. 1:27). Next we will look at the expression "the word of the faith" (Rom. 10: 8), and then we will look at Romans 14:1 where Paul exhorted the church to "receive him who is weak in the faith." Next, we will look at the expression "the same spirit of the faith" from II Cor. 4: 13.

In these passages "the faith" is mentioned, and our look at them will be in order to see if anything can be learned thereby that might help us in establishing correct views on the meaning of "the faith of God," "the faith of Christ," etc. They are chosen because of their similarity and in order to establish a Pauline definition or usage.

Already from the immediate context we noticed the parallel expression "the oracles of the God." In future postings, as promised, we will also look at several other verses in the Roman epistle where there is mention of "the faith," beginning with the first two chapters of the Roman epistle, the preceding context for our expression "the faith of God."

The Faith of the Gospel
τῇ πίςτει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου

"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel."

The phrase “the faith of the gospel” could mean at least one of several things: it could mean “the faith that is the gospel” (genitive of apposition), or “the faith that originates from the gospel” (genitive of source), or "the faith produced by the gospel" (genitive of product), or “faith in the gospel” (objective genitive), or "the faith belonging to the gospel" (possessive genitive), etc. Which is the chief idea intended by the Apostle? Which are true, especially in context?

It should be obvious why I have selected Philippians 1:27 and the expression "the faith of the gospel" in order to help understand the expression "the faith of the God" of Romans 3:3. In the first verse nearly all interpreters affirm that by "the faith" is denoted "the creed" and yet very few affirm the same of the latter verse.

In this passage we have the unique expression, only found here in the new testament, "the faith of the gospel." On it the Pulpit Commentary says (emphasis mine):

"Faith is here used objectively; the faith of the gospel is the doctrine of the gospel, as Galatians 1:23, "The faith which once he destroyed.""

This is correct. But, this only defines "the faith" and not the kind of genitive is intended by the phrase "of the gospel." Certainly "faith" is not subjective belief, as this commentary affirms, but objective faith, and this because

1) the definite article leads credence to this interpretation, being the common usage, and
2) the context and syntax also indicate such. Christians do not strive together for personal individual beliefs, but for the universally accepted creed of Christians.

The only way to view "the faith" as being individual subjective belief is to view the use of the definite article "the" as a demonstrative pronoun meaning "this subjective belief" that I have been talking about. However, for this view to have any validity, it must be shown that in the verses leading up to the one being analyzed (context) that Paul has been talking about individual faith in the Gospel. And, since context determines the meaning of "the faith," what does the context show? Is subjective faith or objective faith the matter of discussion in those verses? Let us see.

"your fellowship in the gospel" (1:5)

"in the defence and confirmation of the gospel" (1:7)

"the furtherance of the gospel" (vs. 12)

"speak the word without fear" (1:14)

"I am set for the defence of the gospel" (1:17)

"the gospel of Christ" (1:27)

From the citations given from verses 1-27, leading up to our main expression "the faith of the gospel," it is clear that "the faith," or "this faith I have been talking about," is not subjective belief but objective faith, referring to "the gospel of Christ."

Further, in the same sentence (or verse) we have side by side the expression "the gospel of the Christ" (another N-Ng) and "the faith of the gospel" (N-Ng). Obviously the expressions are designed to signify much the same thing. Even in the context we have the common term "the gospel" but also in conjunction with "the word," they being the same thing. The gospel is the word and the word is the gospel. But, now, in addition to "the gospel" and "the word" we have "the faith." And, again, "the faith" means "the gospel" or "the word."

Christians were to "walk worthy of" the gospel, but were to "strive together" for the faith. Why would they walk and strive for two different things? Is not walking worthy of the gospel the same as walking worthy of the faith, and vice versa? Is not striving for the faith not the same as striving for the gospel and word of God?

Further, who wants to say that "faith" in these verses means "faithfulness"? To replace the word faithfulness for faith would make no good sense. If men think that "the faith of God" means "the faithfulness of God," then "the faith of the gospel" must mean "the faithfulness of the gospel." Nonsense. Yet, men will insist that "the faith of God" in Romans 3: 3 means "the faithfulness of God" and yet will not so interpret similarly in other passages where we have "the faith of..."

And from Precept Austin Web page we have this commentary:

"About one-half of the uses of the faith refer not to the ACT of believing but rather to WHAT is believed, specifically as in this verse referring to the gospel...Jude writes that we are to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" which is a reference to the truth to be believed (Jude 1:4)."

I believe that there are probably more than one-half of the uses of "the faith" in the new testament that refer to the object of subjective belief. In fact, I think it is an overwhelming majority of cases. But, this is a matter of personal opinion to some degree. A. T. Robertson, noted new testament Greek scholar, says of this expression - "For the teaching of the gospel, objective sense of pistis (faith)." (Word Pictures)

The phrase τῇ πίςτει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου occurs nowhere else in NT. I agree with Robertson and others that "the faith" of this passage means "the teaching" (or some other similar word, such as doctrine, word, gospel, etc.) and that "the faith" is objective, referring to the creed of Christians. If this is so, then it helps us determine the kind of genitive intended by "of the gospel" or by  τοῦ εὐαγγελίου.  

If "the faith" means "this subjective belief" then not only would the definite article "the" act as a demonstrative pronoun, but  τοῦ εὐαγγελίου must be an objective genitive and in English the preposition "in" would be chosen rather than "of," and the passage would thus read - "this belief in the gospel." However, this is the very view that is unwarranted.

Two things seem clear to me. First, "the faith" denotes objective faith, or the thing believed by Christians and produces individual subjective belief, trust, and commitment. Second, tou evangeliou is not an objective genitive, nor a subjective genitive, but rather is a kind of plenary genitive, including the idea of descriptive genitive, possessive genitive, ablative genitive, and even possibly that of an attributive genitive or genitive of content.

However, before we discuss these, let us notice what a few other commentaries have said on this Greek phrase. (highlighting mine)

From the Exegetical Commentary by Kirk Miller (SEE HERE):

"For the faith of the Gospel (τῇ πίςτει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου). This phrase indicates the object of the contending just mentioned above. The use of the dative in τῇ πίςτει is interest (hence the translation “for”), meaning the Philippians are to contend for the sake of the faith of the Gospel. That faith is what they are to contend for. “Of the Gospel” as well as the use of the article (τῇ) specifies what faith Paul is making reference to here. They are to contend for the belief system of the Gospel, that is faith in a creedal sense."

Now, this is the correct view, in my view, for it takes into consideration facts that others seem to ignore in arguing otherwise.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

Striving for the faith of the gospel ... Dummelow declared that this does "not mean Christian doctrine ... but faith as a power in the soul";[49] however such an interpretation is surely wrong, being only another instance of modern commentators trying to make every reference to faith in the New Testament a subjective trust/faith inwardly experienced by Christians.

According to Lightfoot and others, "the faith" is here objective, that which is believed, the content of the gospel message, as in Jude 1:1:3, "to contend for the faith:" if so, it may be the earliest New Testament instance of this use of the word.[50]

Coffman is correct about commentators being overly anxious to make too many references to faith in the new testament to refer to a subjective belief. Already we have seen how some commentators realize that at least half of the new testament references to "the faith" refer to objective faith, to the creed believed by believers. Further, the fact that this verse may be "the earliest New Testament instance of this use of the word" highlights its importance and why I have included it in this study.

Who cannot see the parallel between "the faith of the God" (Rom. 3:3) and "the faith of the gospel" (Phlp. 1:27)? Who cannot see how that when the definite article is used with "faith" that it more often than not signifies "the word," "the doctrine," "the gospel," etc.?

Gill's Commentary

striving together for the faith of the Gospel: by the "faith of the Gospel", may be designed the grace of faith, which comes by the Gospel; as the means of it, and by which the Gospel becomes useful and beneficial to the souls of men, and which has the Gospel for its object; for faith comes by hearing the word, and that is only profitable when it is mixed with it, and is that grace which gives credit to every truth of it, upon the testimony of divine revelation: now as the doctrine of faith is that which the saints are to strive for, the grace of faith is that by which they strive for it...though rather the doctrine of faith is intended, that word of faith, or faith, which is the Gospel itself, and which is often so called; and for this, in all its parts and branches, believers should strive;

Again, this is the correct view.

The Kind of Genitive

Having established that "the faith" is objective and not subjective, referring to the object of Christian belief, to the word of God and gospel, to the creed confessed by believers, to the oracles, etc., and having eliminated taking tou evangeliou as being an objective or subjective genitive, that leaves us with determining what kind is the genitive under consideration. Is it then ablative, a genitive of source? Is it then a simple descriptive genitive? Or, is it an attributive genitive or genitive of content?

If I say "He has a love of ice cream," English speaking people understand that by "of" I mean "for," and so the meaning is "He has a love for ice cream." On the other hand, if I say "He has ice cream of his mother," I mean "He has ice cream from his mother."  Sometimes our English use of the preposition "of" is ambiguous, while other times it is easily understood. A example of such ambiguity is seen in such an expression as "the pot of iron." Do we mean that the pot is made of iron or that iron is in the pot? The same ambiguity in English is also seen in the case of Greek genitives. Common sense, logic, syntax, context, etc., are the only ways we have to discern the true sense of the writer or speaker.

Genitive of Source (Ablative)?

There is no reason to doubt that this idea is included in the phrase "the faith of the gospel." Certainly the good news is the source for "the faith." This is true whether we look at the first gospel revelation in Genesis 3: 15-16 (proto-evangelium), out of which has come the subsequent "oracles" and "word" of LORD God during old testament times, or whether we look at the gospel as revealed in the coming of Christ, to the new oracles from the mouth of Christ, for both are "the faith" of believers. "The faith" as it exists after the addition of the teachings of Christ finds its source in the "good news" about Jesus.

Genitive of Content?

As stated in previous postings, when a genitive of content is intended one may use the words "full of" or "containing." Thus, "the faith of the gospel" would mean "the faith full of or containing the gospel." I think there is great weight to this being perhaps the chief idea intended by the apostle, though not limited to this sense, seeing it may be a plenary genitive, having more than one kind of genitive that is either true or intended by the writer.

Attributive Gentive?

According to bible.org, the Attributed Genitive (SEE HERE) is defined and discussed. First, we are given these facts about this case (emphasis mine).

With a common attributive genitive, the genitive attributes something to the head noun, while with an attributed genitive, the head noun attributes something to the genitive. Thus, the head noun has an adjectival function.5 Wallace notes, “If it is possible to convert the noun to which the genitive stands related into a mere adjective, then the genitive is a good candidate for this category.”6

First, as noted above, if an attributed genitive is a possibility in a N-Ng construction, then the head noun must be able to be turned into an adjective. Obviously, then, not all nouns qualify. Certain abstract nouns are more likely to appear in this construction...Conversely, there are nouns that do not qualify for this usage of the head noun. For instance, proper nouns by definition cannot attribute adjectival quality to anything since they cannot be turned into an adjective.10

Second, in addition to the fact that the genitive (Ng) usually stands related to an abstract head noun, attributed genitives are often found in genitive chains of two or more. This is a debatable point, but there are several examples listed below that might contribute to the relevance of genitive chains to the attributed genitive.

Third, the head noun (N) to which the genitive (Ng) stands in relation is almost always in the dative or accusative case, and is usually singular.

Fourth, by way of structure, this construction is usually found with the head noun immediately preceding or immediately following the genitive. If there is a word in between them it is usually the article.

If in the expression "the faith of the gospel" all of the criteria listed above is met, then in such case we would translate "the faith gospel." I believe I have also read where attributed genitives also have the characteristic of being able to have head noun and genitive noun to trade places, so that we could as easily see "gospel faith" as well as "faith gospel." Further, if we take "the faith of the gospel" simply as a descriptive genitive, its most basic use, then we would have to translate the expression as "the gospel faith."

Possessive Genitive?

Who can exclude the idea that "the faith" is possessed by "the gospel"? And, if true, who can deny that Paul did not have this in mind as well as the other ways mentioned above? As stated in previous postings, when a possessive genitive is the meaning we could use the words "belonging to" to express the meaning and thus we would have "the faith belonging to the gospel."

In conclusion I hope that all can see the parallel between "the faith of the God" and "the faith of the gospel."

Feb 9, 2016

God's Faith? (viii)

I realize that the term "the faith" does not exactly mean "the word" or "the doctrine" or "the gospel," etc., yet I affirm that these terms are often used interchangeably by the new testament writers as denoting essentially the same thing. All these terms refer to the divine revelation in existence at the time when the term was used by an author of the new testament.

As I have stated, the presence or absence of the Greek definite article is of crucial help in judging whether "faith" is subjective or objective. Most often the presence of the definite article with "faith" signifies that it is the object or source of individual subjective faith that is denoted, with the exception that sometimes the definite article is used more as a demonstrative pronoun and in such cases "the faith" will mean "this subjective belief."

Remember too that the presence of a Genitive noun behind a Head Noun (N+Ng construction) requires a judgment of the interpreter as to what kind of Genitive it is in a particular instance, and that context is the ultimate criterion in making such a judgment.

Those like the Hardshell cultists who promote an extreme "KJV onlyism" and who think God so inspired the 1611 translators that they made no errors or mistakes in judgment in their translation, must think that the KJV translators not only got all their translations correct, but all their interpretive judgments also, for no translation is without such. This is such a foolish and unlearned position that it is not even worth responding to. Each of us must decide for ourselves, with helps, to make the correct judgment in our interpretation of Greek Genitives. I will not, like the Hardshells, put my faith in the 1611 translators so as to believe that they never erred in their interpretations of Genitives. They put their faith in men in doing so. I think it is because their preachers are lazy and have not wanted to study the original languages. And, if one did start offering alternative translations to the KJV, the cultists will cry "heresy." They might even do this if one cites an alternative translation to the KJV.

Plenary Genitives

This kind of genitive is generally defined as including both Subjective and Objective Genitives simultaneously, the author intentionally having more than one kind of meaning in mind by his use of the Genitive. Further, in my view, "plenary genitives" may not only combine both the objective and subjective kinds, but may also combine other types.

Though we may not know for certain the totality of what the particular author had in mind in using a genitive behind a head noun, yet in many cases the words being interpreted may be at least true in more than one sense as respects the kind of genitive. And, this being so, who can doubt that this plenary meaning was not intentional? Certainly context will help show whether the author limits the genitive to only one kind.

Some Greek linguists are reluctant to admit of the category of "plenary genitive," often affirming that such a category results from scholars being unable to determine with certainty whether a given genitive in a particular passage is either objective or subjective, and so call such cases "plenary genitive," where the writer may have had both ideas in mind, or at least both kinds are true in each passage. For instance, Daniel Wallace advocates the idea of a "plenary genitive." Others, like Robert L. Thomas in "Evangelical Hermeneutics: The New Versus the Old" (SEE HERE), believe Wallace errs in his idea of a "plenary genitive," thinking that each genitive must be singular, and cannot be both objective and subjective, for instance.

It is not my intention to defend the reality of the "plenary genitive," although I agree with Wallace and others in its usage and presence in the Greek New Testament. In the text to look at next, I think we have a possible example of such. But, before we look at that text, let us take a look at our main verse from Romans 3:3 and see if the genitive noun in "the faith of God" may not be plenary, including several ideas.

The Faith that is from God 

If the presence of the definite article before "faith" greatly leads credence to "the faith" being understood as being the object of individual personal belief and trust, and not to that subjective belief itself, then it is natural to think that by "of God" simply means "from God," and thus an Ablative Genitive or genitive or source is an intended idea of Paul.

Some think that the genitive form of the noun "God" (theou) being Ablative is rare, because more often when a writer wished to express source or separation he would use a preposition such as "ek" which more clearly expresses the idea of source. Yet, these also acknowledge that sometimes the idea of source is indeed expressed by the genitive case alone, without the use of such a preposition. And, I believe, that Romans 3: 3 is an example of this. Keep in mind that the presence of the genitive noun, rather than the use of an adjective or preposition, is for emphatic purposes. And, who can doubt that Paul in both "the oracles of God" and "the faith of God," is placing emphasis on the nature of "the faith." Both "the oracles" and "the faith" are "of God."

Who can doubt that by speaking of "the faith" as being "of God" that Paul implies a contrast with the "no faith" of apostate Jews and heathen Gentiles? Or, to put it another way, who cannot see that Paul in context was comparing the faith of Christians with the faith of carnal Jews and pagans? Further, this implied contrast between the religion of Jehovah and the religion of men and demons naturally involves the source of each. From whence comes the Christian creed or faith? From whence comes the faith of the apostate "Jew"? Or of the faith and beliefs of the Gentile polytheists? One is "of God," and the other is by implication "of men."

All genitive nouns in the N-Ng format are designed first and foremost to limit and describe the kind of thing denoted by the head noun. Certainly the idea of source or origin limits and defines "the faith." "The faith" of Christians has come from God, and affirming this says something about the quality of "the faith."

Further, if we equate "the oracles of God" with "the faith of God" (as we should), then who can doubt that in the first instance an Ablative Genitive or genitive of source is not included and intended? The oracles are "of the God" in the sense of "from the God," they coming from his mouth. Further, though Paul could have used the preposition "ek" to say "the oracles that are out of God," he does not do so, but uses the genitive form of "God" to denote source and this because he wants to emphasize it. If the expression "the oracles of the God" includes the idea of source, being ablative, then so does the expression "the faith of the God."

The two expressions are so similar. Both have the definite article before the head noun, being "the oracles" and "the faith." Both genitive nouns also have the definite article before "God." Many translations like the KJV omit the definite article before "God," but this is not warranted, for the presence of the article in both head noun and genitive noun furthers the contrast intended; in the one case it is a contrast between the "no faith" of lost men and "the faith" of God and Christians, and in the other case it is a contrast between the "no god" and "the God."

The Faith belonging to the God

As noted in previous postings, all genitive nouns in the N-Ng construction function in some way as adjectives, limiting, defining, and modifying the head noun. If there is only one intended way that the apostle Paul intended that his use of the Genitive was to be understood, then I would opt for the genitive of source, or the Ablative. But, believing that Paul intended more than this by his use of the genitive noun, being a full or plenary genitive, there is no reason to doubt that Paul also intended "tou theou" to be understood as denoting possession as well as source, and therefore may be seen as being both an Ablative and Possessive Genitive. If both are true, and may fit the context, who can doubt that they were all intended? It is a basic function or property of all Genitive Nouns in the N-Ng form is to describe adjectivally the head noun. Thus, as stated previously, "the law of the Lord" may simply mean the same thing as "the Lord's law." And, in the case before us, "the faith of God" would mean "God's faith." The only thing different in such a change is that the definite article before either the Head noun or the Genitive noun is generally dropped.

Still, when one contrasts or compares things (nouns) by looking at the source of each, or by looking at who possesses each, he is still saying something adjectivally and descriptively. In "Grammatical Role 1: Adjectival Genitives" (HERE) we read (emphasis mine):

"This is the most fundamental role of a genitive, it describes. Whether as a true genitive or as an ablative, the genitive describes the head noun. Thus it qualifies or modifies the head noun, indicating limitations as to the scope of that noun's class of persons or things. In this way, the genitive functions much like an adjective. However, the genitive is more emphatic or stronger than an adjective, and a genitive also implies movement or action from it to the head noun.

Depending on the characteristics of any genitive person or thing, there are usually strong implications of some kind of definite interactive relationship between the genitive noun and the head noun."

Who can doubt that there is an "interactive relationship" between "the oracles" and "the God"? Or, between "the faith" and "the God"?

Under "Possessive Genitives" the same Greek lesson says:

"It should also be mentioned that, even when a genitive may be clearly defined as a possessive, it still might be better to classify it (and thus interpret its meaning) as something else. In other words, while the aspect of possession might be a part of the meaning, other implications of meaning may need to be expressed more prominently. Wallace gave the following examples of genitives -- all of which indicate possession, but all of which indicate a greater emphasis on other meanings..."

This writer is simply saying that in determining the kind of genitive in a particular text that "other meanings" than one may be noted and possible. This upholds what I am saying about genitive nouns being capable of being "plenary."

The lesson also says:

"So, although the possessive genitive is common, it is best to reserve it as a "second to last resort" in terms of selecting it as a category. If the most relevant meaning of the genitive construction fits into some other category, choose that other category. Wallace gave some examples of genitives which indicate possession as the primary or dominant meaning."

The problem with this statement is that it seems, on the one hand, to deny that a genitive noun can be plenary, or carry more than one sense, and on the other hand to affirm it. The author wants us to pick one category, yet affirming that there are other meanings other than the "primary."

In this same Greek lesson on genitive nouns, there is mention of "Genitives of Production (Genitive of Producer)," and the author writes:

"Here, the genitive is used to indicate that which produces the head noun, and normally can be interpreted with the key words "produced by" (e.g., ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Θεοῦ = "the peace of God" = "the peace produced by God"). It is something like a genitive of source (and sometimes classified as such), because the genitive is a source of the head noun. But there is "a more active role on the part of the genitive [of production]" (Wallace), since it involves the production of the head noun (i.e., it means "peace produced by God," not just "peace from God")."

Again, who can doubt that in the expressions "the oracles of the God" and "the faith of the God" that God is not only the source of the oracles and the faith but that he produced them?

The Contrast

In the KJV "their unbelief" is the translation of a genitive and literally is "the no faith of them" and is contrasted with "the faith of the God." Both are genitives. If the former is a subjective genitive, then so would be the latter, and would be an argument in favor of "the faith of God" being subjective also, denoting the faith that God possesses or exercises. But, if the former is objective, then so would the latter. Finally, if the former is plenary then so would the latter.

In determining the kind of genitive noun in "the faith of the God" it is necessary to compare it with the two others in the immediate context. First, there is the contrast between "the faith of them" versus "the faith of the God," and Second, there is the comparable expressions "the oracles of the God" and "the faith of the God." By the "no faith" of the apostate Jews and pagan Gentiles Paul is referring to the religion or creed of these groups, both being viewed by the apostle as lacking real truth, or a real word of God, and all originating from men themselves via the inspiration of the demons. Not only does Paul refer to corrupt faith and religion as being in reality "no faith" at all, but he refers to the gods and lords of these religions as being "no gods." In the minds of the apostate Jews and pagan Gentiles their faith, like their gods and creeds, were "real" or "true," but Paul denies that they are real, saying that their faith is really "no faith" and their gods and lords are "no gods."

"The faith that is of them" must include the idea that it originates with them and thus must be a genitive of source. It also may include the idea of a possessive genitive, "their unbelief," or "the no faith that belongs to them," and this in contrast to "the faith that belongs to God," taking both genitives in the exact same sense.

"The faith that is of them" may also include the idea of an objective genitive and thus mean "the creed" of them, or their set of religious or theological beliefs. Further, "the faith of the God" may likewise be objective genitive, not because it is an object for God himself to place his own subjective faith in, but rather it is so because it is the object of Christian subjective faith. In fact, as we will see, it is "the faith" (objective) that produces "faith" that is individual subjective belief.