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Reason No. 81: Salvation by faith not law in Galatians 2-3 – 100 Reasons πίστις Χριστοῦ is an Objective Genitive

Posted by NT Wrong on December 23, 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. 81: Salvation by faith not law in Galatians 2-3

Paul makes an argument for salvation by faith versus law by utilising the example of Abraham in Gal 3.6ff. But before he does this, Paul makes an initial argument for salvation by faith not law from the Galatians’ receipt of the Spirit in 3.2-5.

This initial argument from the receipt of the Spirit is bracketed by two clear contrasts of (i) human works of the law and (ii) human faith through hearing:

– Gal 3.2: “Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?”
– Gal 3.5: “does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?”

The ensuing example of Abraham’s justification by faith in Gal 3.6ff is introduced as something the Galatians know (Γινώσκετε) as a result of (ἄρα) Paul’s prior words. So the justification ἐκ πίστεως in this section (Gal 3.8), which is also contrasted with works of the law, would likewise refer to the faith of believers.

So we have two successive and related sections in which Paul contrasts human faith and human works of the Law. So how should we read the earlier section in Gal 2.16.20, which makes the same contrast?

The shared context of these three connected passages strongly suggests that πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ and πίστει … τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ in Gal 2.20 concerns human faith.

Thus πίστις Χριστοῦ is an objective genitive: the faith of humans in Christ.

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