A Question I Was Asked:



Shouldn't It Be 'Faith OF Christ' in Galatians 2:16?








Gal.2:16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

My question:
Why do so many bibles have faith IN Christ. Can you explain this to me. Thank you.



UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, we are concerned here with Galatians 2:16:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

However, it is only the first part of that verse which my questioner is concerned with here, the concern is with whether 'in' or 'of' should be used in English, so let us look at the first section:

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ... (Galatians 2:16a, KJV, my emphasis).

  Okay, I have looked at the Greek, then also looked at about 75 English language Bible versions (it took me quite a while!). The Greek 'pistis' (word G4102 in Strongs), is 'faith.' The more helpful word for our purposes here is the Greek 'dia' (G1223 in Strongs), which means 'by' or 'through,' so we have something like 'by (the) faith of Jesus Christ,' but it could equally be rendered by 'faith in Jesus Christ.' Actually the word 'the' does not occur in the Greek but we use it because it is implied and because we want our translations to be intelligible.

I looked at 53 New Testament English versions (including all the more famous ones), the translators preferred 'faith in Jesus Christ' to 'faith of Jesus Christ' by 33 to 20 (with the 20 preferring 'faith of'). But either way is permissible from the Greek, the more important thing is to grasp what it means. We must remember that many of these Bible translations were agreed upon by a whole committee of Greek experts so this should tell us that the translation is essentially sound, and in most cases it is. It also becomes obvious that whether 'in' or 'of' is used, it makes no essential difference; nobody is attempting to twist Scripture here.

This Scripture is somewhat similar to Romans 3:21-23:

21. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (Romans 3:21-23).

Here too, in verse 22, we have a similar construction and here too it matters not (as far as the original Greek goes) whether we use 'in' or 'of.' It might seem an important point in English but the Greek is unconcerned, we may freely use either, and both assist our understanding. The main point is this is the faith which comes from Christ (so is 'of'), but also it is the faith - the Gospel - which was taught by Christ, we need to hold to this and to believe in it (so 'in' is also fine). My questioner might know that I produced my own translation of Galatians a few years ago and in 2:16 I plumped for this:

knowing that a man is not justified by keeping the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ, have certainly believed on Christ Jesus so that we can be justified by faith in Christ and not by keeping the law. By observing the law no one will ever be justified. (Galatians 2:16).

So I decided on 'in' whilst knowing and accepting that if I had used 'of' it would have presented no real problem. Sometimes a point which might seem important to us in English was not considered such a vital point in Greek. So this refers to the faith which comes in and through Christ, it refers to the Gospel and to our belief, so both 'in' and 'of' are helpful. Jesus Christ is the only pathway to Justification, the law has no power whatsoever to save, this was Paul's point.

Robin A. Brace. March 1st, 2018.

UK APOLOGETICS HOME