Sunday, February 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.

No comments: