c) 2012' name='copyright'/>Michael DeShane Hinton: Missing Definite Articles

Friday, May 9, 2008

Missing Definite Articles

The New Testament speaks of the Faith once for all delivered in Jude 1:3. It speaks of the Faith in the Pastoral Epistles of Paul, as in I Timothy 4:1, Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.

In both these instances the scholars have correctly translated the original Greek into English using the definite article the as it occurs to modify faith, hence, the Faith, meaning Christianity. In the New Testament Judaism was referred to as Works of the Law and was often contrasted with the Faith of Jesus Christ, especially in Paul’s letters.

But this contrast between the two religions, Old Covenant Judaism versus the New Covenant in Christ’s blood, Christianity, is not clear because, strangely, the scholars were not consistent in their translation of the definite article in every case. Plus, there are some instances where the addition of the definite article would make the translation better even though it does not occur in the original Greek.

Here is an example. In Philippians 3:9 Paul says that he wants to be found in Christ not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.

Notice that faith occurs twice in the same verse.


Here, and in two other places, Romans 3:22 and Galatians 3:22, Paul seems to be redundant, saying that salvation is by faith in Christ … for those that believe.

If salvation is by faith isn’t it assumed that one would have to believe?

So, why the redundancy?

Well, it isn’t a redundancy. It’s a poor translation. There are missing definite articles.

In the historical, grammatical and literary context, his situation in life and writings, all taken together, Paul's meaning becomes clear: we are saved by the Faith of Jesus Christ, the religious system he instituted, the new covenant in his blood, if we believe it. The implication is clear, that to trust in Christ for salvation means to trust the man that teaches us all things, heals our diseases and leads us through the Cross to love and life in God. Immediately after Peter confessed him as the Christ, Jesus began to tell the disciples that he must suffer, be killed and raised … and that they must follow him in that same kind of faithfulness unto death and hope of eternal life. THAT is the faith of Jesus Christ that saves.

And so here also, in Philippians, Paul continues his thought, saying that he counts all things as refuse in comparison to being found in Christ with the righteousness that comes from God …

That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. –3:10-11

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