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Reason No. 15: Faith in Christ is attested in the undisputed phrases – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

Posted by NT Wrong on December 18, 2008

pistis_christouThe following post is an abridged version of one of the 100 reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive included in my forthcoming book:

100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

Reason No. 15: Faith in Christ is attested in the undisputed phrases

Furthermore, there is unambiguous evidence for faith in Christ in Paul’s epistles (Schreiner 2001):

    Rom 10.9-14 (“if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…”);
    Gal 3.26 (“in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.”);
    Phil 1.29 (“…believing in Christ…”);
    Philem 1.5 (“…your faith toward the Lord Jesus”);
    c.f. Col 1.4 (“…your faith in Christ Jesus”);
    c.f. Col 2.5 (“…the firmness of your faith in Christ”)

These explicit references to the faith of humans in Christ occur in and around the more difficult phrase, πίστις Χριστοῦ, and in similar descriptions of Paul’s concept of salvation. So there is a strong prima facie expectation that this more difficult phrase should be interpreted in light of the more secure meaning “faith in Christ”, and no persuasive basis on which to distinguish the meaning.

By contrast, there is no unambiguous evidence for the faithfulness of Christ to God in Paul’s epistles. (This has not, however, stopped reinterpreters of Paul from straining after a few gnats; e.g. Rom 1.17).

The evidence thus provides a strong basis for interpreting πίστις Χριστοῦ as an objective genitive.


  • Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: A Pauline Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001).
  • 11 Responses to “Reason No. 15: Faith in Christ is attested in the undisputed phrases – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive”

    1. mattdabbs said

      The other N.T. thinks Romans 3:22 is “faith of Christ” or “faithfulness of Christ” and not our “faith in Christ” meaning that the faithfulness of Christ to God’s plan and will results in God showing grace to his people. Paul for Everyone, 51-52.

    2. danielandtonya said

      All I see is a short list of argued-over verses (who says they’re undisputed?) and your insistence that they should be understood as ‘faith in’. Must I read Schreiner to get your point or will you offer clearer evidence?

    3. Geoff Hudson said

      Comment moved to the Hobbyhorse Post.

    4. I am enjoying the series, antibishop.

      By contrast, there is no unambiguous evidence for the faithfulness of Christ to God in Paul’s epistles.

      Phil 2.6-11?

    5. Geoff Hudson said

      [Comment moved to the Hobbyhorse Post.]

    6. NT Wrong? said

      Matt – one of the better responses to the Bishop of Durham on these verses was Gathercole’s Where is boasting?. Rom 3.21 and 22 should be read together, antithetically.

      Here we go:
      “The ‘righteousness of God revealed apart from the Law” in 3.21 is euivalent to ‘the righteousness of God through faith’ in 3.22… One should not look to the Law, Paul says, as the means to God’s saving righteousness. Rather one receives it by faith.” (224-225)

      Paul’s larger point is that this receipt-by-faith independently-of-the-Law is the same for Jew and Gentile in the new Israel constituted in Christ. That is, the emphasis is on human faith versus human law-following. What’s that comment about Luther and a career in metallurgy?

      Who was Gathercole’s supervisor?

    7. Doug said

      OTOH perhaps there is a commonality between δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ and πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The phrases don’t only balance each other, but the second is the development of the first, one subjective genitive succeeding another.

    8. NT Wrong? said

      That would be missing the forest for the trees. While sustained attempts have been made to dismiss Paul’s contrast of faith and law which is in focus here (eg. Wright’s Romans commentary), the result is highly forced. Paul is contrasting faith and law — the righteousness of God is in the background. Only by a sustained and sophistic bringing of this background into the specific meaning of the foreground can such an interpretation be defended. And in doing so, it sweeps the specific meaning away. The New Perspective is a farce, a faddish mistake — better named ‘The Wrong Turn on Paul’ than ‘New Perspective’.

    9. steph said

      He did it in Durham under Dunn I think.

    10. mattdabbs said

      Paul makes that point very well in Rom 3 without having to have 3:22 say “faith in Christ.” I can see it go either way as both are equally valid points. It is hard to know which has more weight. On the one hand Wright is saying that there is a contrast between Israel’s unfaithfulness in being a light to the Gentiles and Jesus’ faithfulness in getting the job done. On the other hand what Wrong is saying also fits the context of what Paul is saying in Romans 3 – the differences between faith and the law.

      I don’t know that it can definitively be determined as one over the other since they both fit the context and theology of Paul.

    11. Geoff Hudson said

      [comment moved to Hobbyhorse Post]

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