Doing our weekly men's study in Romans this morning, we arrive at the end of chapter 3. Translators don't agree, and there are some hot-button issues at hand.
King James says Romans 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
ESV says Romans 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
So is it "by faith of Jesus" or "through faith in Jesus"? If you go with ESV, the idea is that God's righteousness is manifested and witnessed when we put our faith in Jesus. But if you go with KJV, the idea is that God's righteousness is manifested and witnessed by the faith, or better, by the faithfulness of Jesus. In that case, the point in this verse would not be that we have faith in Jesus, but that Jesus acted faithfully in doing all that the Father gave him to do.
Paul's phrase is διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ (dia pistews Ihsou in case that Greek font gets scrambled) which is pretty straighforwardly "through/by faith ofJesus". The word "pistis" can mean either faith (heart trust-and-believe) or faithfulness (reliable performance), so the dictionary alone cannot tell us which way to read it.
This is a big question, and Pauline scholars write thick books in small print about such things. But one of the first things I do is to look at the way the word was used in Paul's copy of the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint). Typical of its currency there is a verse like 2 Kings 12:15 "Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully." You want workmen who deal "en pistei" in faithfulness. The faithfulness can be on man's side or God's. Thus, you also get a verse like Psalm 33:4 For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth." God speaks straight and his work is done "en pistei," faithfully.
I'm still listening to the discussion here, but as of today, I think I think that Paul's argument is that God has demonstrated his righteousness all along: as he promises so he delivers, all the way through all the law and prophets. And now, ultimately and finally, his promise and his deliverance is manifested by Jesus' faithful work.
Some people get all worried here that this view takes away the idea of having faith IN Jesus. But that's not the question. You can find the faith IN Jesus idea elsewhere. I just think that the faithfulness OF Jesus is the idea here.
Labels: Bible, translation