Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Pistis christou in Gal 2:16, 20, and Rom 3:22

Yung Suk Kim

Both the NRSV and NIV are united to mislead us about the translation of pistis christou in Gal 2:16, 20, and Rom 3:22. They treat this genitive phrase as an objective genitive. But this translation does not seem to fit Paul's thought and his gospel. In Gal 2:16, one's justification (not in the sense of imputed/imparted righteousness) means that he/she stands in a right/good relationship with God. Paul says that this right relationship with God is possible through Christ's faith (pistis christou). It is not by "faith in Jesus." In other words, if one lives by Christ's faith, he/she is in a good relationship with God. That is what justification (dikaiosyne) means by Paul. The similar idea of this is also found in Rom 1:17 (c.f., Hab 2:4): "The righteous one shall live by faith."

This righteous relationship with God is not by particular law, works, or any tradition, but through living in Christ or following his faith. In this light, justification is not made once and for all. It must be sought and lived out until the end.  

With this above understanding, Gal 2:16 is translated as follows: "yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through Jesus Christ's faith. And we have come to trust Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by Christ's faith, and not by doing the works of the law because no one will be justified by the works of the law."

The importance of Jesus Christ's faith is further emphasized in Gal 2:20 in which Paul says that he wants to live by Jesus Christ's faith. This verse is also translated as follows: "and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Pistis christou is also important in Rom 3:22,  in which Paul summarizes his threefold gospel: God's righteousness, Christ's faith, and Christian participation in his faith.

See this blog for a difference between pistis christou and pistis en christo.

For more about this idea of faith, see this book below:

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