Hermeneutics… faith IN Jesus or faith OF Jesus?

Here is a chapter from Awakened…. Hermeneutics.

Biblical languages are my passion, both Hebrew and, more recently, Greek and Aramaic. And after completing this MA in Theology, I’m going to go on and get my degrees in Biblical languages. 

Koine Greek is the Biblical Greek used in the New Testament. The word koine means common. As the Greek language spread across the known world and interacted with other languages, it was altered. This alteration resulted in what we call today Koine Greek. It is also known as the Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic, or Biblical Greek. It was the ordinary, everyday language of the people. It was not the polished literary form of Greek. It was the simplified version of Classical Greek. And it is the language that was used in the Septuagint to translate the Hebrew Scriptures. It became the universal language of the known world, so that no matter where you traveled, you could speak the language and understand what was being said. And God used this universal language to communicate His gospel! 

I like what Bill Mounce says, “In the fullness of time God sent His Son, and part of that fullness of time was a universal language. No matter where Paul traveled, he could be understood.” 

I don’t believe you have to know Greek or Hebrew to understand Scripture. Because Holy Spirit enlightens and quickens your mind, giving you the ability to understand. But learning to understand these languages, not just the word meanings but also the grammar of the language, has helped me get a greater idea of what the writers were saying. Greek language (as well as Hebrew) is so vastly different from English. Sometimes you come across a word where there is just no equivalent in English. And because our Bible is translated into English, we tend to read it with an English understanding. In other words, understanding it from the perspective of our English/Western culture. And we end up understanding, or rather misunderstanding it, from our Western way of thinking. 

Not realizing that the culture, the people, and the language is different from ours. 

For example, when Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples, we read that with a Western understanding and interpret it from our church culture and language. We hear what we think is the “great commission.” In other words, we are to go evangelize, go spread the gospel, and get people to repent of their sins and get saved! 

But if we understood the language and culture of the day, we would understand what Jesus meant by GO! 

The Greek word for go is poreuomai and means to pursue one’s journey and lead or order one’s life. It is a participle meaning going, not go. Meaning, in your going make disciples, or in your everyday life, and everywhere you go, make disciples. In whatever you do, when you are at work or school, when you go hang out with a friend, when you go to church, or even when you go for a walk — make disciples. What does the Kingdom of God look like? It’s not about we do or don’t do, but it’s Christ IN us. It is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit — all of which are FINISHED and IN us. 

That’s going and making disciples! It is bringing others to an awareness of the FINISHED kingdom life IN them. 

Ok, so back to the subject of hermeneutics. It would help us to learn necessary, simple Hermeneutic skills. So that we could know how to interpret Scripture ourselves rather than rely on others’ commentaries or interpretations! Understanding that what we read in English translations may or may not accurately reflect what was written in the original languages. It may reflect the translator’s personal beliefs or understanding of God. In English, nouns are an essential part of sentences. But in Greek, it’s all about the verbs! And these Greek verbs each have moods, tenses, and voices. 

I love the aorist tense. It often gets mistranslated as past tense. It is a COMPLETED tense, DONE! FINISHED! In other words, it doesn’t need to be done again, and in fact, CAN’T be done again. Nor can it ever be undone! While English is built primarily on the present tense, the aorist tense is the default tense in Greek. I love that!! In other words, FINISHED is the default tense of the New Testament Scriptures!! 

In Luke 23:34, Jesus said, “Father forgive them.” Forgive is an aorist tense – it is FINISHED!! The Father is not forgiving anyone today. Why? Because He has COMPLETELY, FULLY forgiven us — FINISHED, DONE! 

In fact, when we mess up and ask Him to forgive us, we will ALWAYS hear Him say, “Forgiven!” Not because He is right now forgiving us for what we’ve done. But because FORGIVEN is who we are! FINISHED!!! Do we have to receive His forgiveness if it’s already given? Of course! But it’s received by understanding that He’s already COMPLETELY, FULLY forgiven us. He can’t forgive us any more than He already has — it is FINISHED, DONE!!

Our receiving that truth means we’ve grasped it and are now free in our thinking to experience His forgiveness. 

The aorist is a completed action that took place at a point in time. When did God forgive? On the cross. It was fleshed out in time two thousand years ago. But the cross is ETERNAL, which means He COMPLETELY forgave ALL mankind before time ever began! Before Adam fell, he was COMPLETELY, FULLY forgiven… FINISHED! Before humanity ever sinned, they were forgiven…. FINISHED! 

We have always been ETERNALLY forgiven (Ephesians 1)! 

Another essential element of Greek grammar that we need to understand is the genitive possessive case of nouns. It denotes ownership. In our English Bibles, the word “of” is usually added in translations to help the verse read easier. ALTHOUGH, at times, a different preposition is used by the translators, such as the word “IN.” Which can cause us to interpret the verse as something we need to do. 

For instance, Romans 3:22 (NKJV) says, “Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference.” 

The phrase is consistently rendered in English translations as “faith in Jesus Christ.” The Greek, however, says, “Pistis Iesou Christou,” which means the faith of Jesus Christ or Jesus Christ’s faith. Both of the nouns, faith and Jesus Christ, are genitive possessive. Remember, genitive possession denotes ownership, meaning Jesus owns the faith. But translating it as “in” makes it sound like we need to put OUR faith IN Jesus, and we miss the importance of understanding that the faith belongs to Jesus — it is His! 

Romans 3:22 is an important verse to correctly understand how God’s righteousness comes to us. 

Is it by Jesus’ faith or putting our faith in Jesus that we are made righteous? The NLT (New Living Translation) says, “We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ.” The ESV (English Standard Version) says, “The righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.” And the CEV (Contemporary English Version) says, “He (God) accepts people only because they have faith in Jesus Christ.” That’s only three translations, but MOST translations say something similar. I found only a few that say faith OF Jesus Christ, the KJV, Douay-Rheims Bible, Darby Bible Translation, and Young’s Literal Translation. 

Why is an understanding of the words OF or IN critical? 

Because the faith OF Jesus Christ says that it’s a free gift, a FINISHED work! But faith IN Jesus Christ makes it something we need to do to become righteous or that God ONLY accepts people BECAUSE of their faith in Jesus. And that’s just not true. That makes it about OUR works, instead of His FINISHED works. 

And just like you can’t understand Romans 7 unless you read it with the understanding of chapters 5 and 6. 

You also won’t understand chapters 5 and 6 without a correct understanding of Romans chapter 3! 

If you read it as putting your faith IN Jesus, that will also be the lens through which you read Romans 5 and 6. 

Martin Luther was a German monk and theologian whose impact on the world is still felt today. His German translation in 1534 profoundly influenced the tradition of our English Bibles. Martin Luther said about Romans 3:21-31 that it is the chief point, the very central place of the epistle, and the whole Bible. He translated the phrase “pistis Iesou Christou” in Romans 3:22 as an “objective genitive,” meaning Christ is the faith’s object, NOT the Possessor of the faith. In other words, Luther’s translation was faith IN Christ.

However in 1526 (8 years BEFORE Martin Luther’s translation), William Tyndale’s English translation chose to translate this verse as faith OF Christ. In other words, as Christ’s faith, He’s the Possessor of the faith! 

But it was Martin Luther’s translation, faith IN Christ, that influenced how we read verses today — taught to read it as putting OUR faith in Christ as the KEY factor in our new lives IN Christ. 

I think a correct understanding of Romans 3:22 is kind of like understanding the garden scene in Genesis 3. In those verses in Genesis 3, our perception of God sets the stage for how we see God through the rest of Scripture – either as a loving Father or a demanding God punishing disobedience. Here in Romans 3, our perception of Christ’s faith or (our) faith IN Christ sets the stage for how we read the rest of Romans and the New Testament in general. Either emphasizing it as the FINISHED work of Christ or conditionally based on our putting our faith in receiving justification, salvation, righteousness, etc. 

Paul’s opponents to his grace message believed that justification came from obeying the Law of Moses. 

However, Paul taught that our justification came NOT from works but from Jesus. 

Romans 3:20 tells us that NO ONE is justified by the law (or by our own works). And verse 24 says that we were FREELY justified by His grace through the redemption that is IN Christ Jesus. Both grace and redemption in this verse are also genitive possessive case nouns… they belong to Him. It is His grace, His redemption, and His faith that justified us. 

And Paul declared to the Philippians (in Philippians 3:9) that he is found IN Christ, NOT having his own righteousness, which is of the Law. But it is through Christ’s faith (genitive possessive case again). Declaring that THE righteousness of God is based on THE faith (of Christ). 

I love all of the “THE’s” in this verse… THE law (of Moses), THE faith (of Christ), THE righteousness (of God). Notice that none of it is ours… we are not THE source of any of it! 

Paul also tells the Galatians, “Man is NOT justified by works OF the law, but by THE faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus 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.” (Galatians 2:16, KJV – emphasis mine). 

It says THE faith. Meaning it’s not a general faith, it’s THE faith. Who’s faith? Ephesians 4:5 tells us there is ONLY ONE FAITH — HIS. And Paul said this is THE faith he lives by — THE faith (the ONE faith) of the Son of God.

metanoia moment: This verse (Galatians 2:16) mentions our believing in Christ Jesus that we might be justified by Christ’s faith and not the works of the Law. The word in is eis in Greek, meaning a point reached in conclusion. It is not putting our belief in Jesus. Instead, it means that His belief, His faith, is the ONLY valid basis for our believing. In other words, we believe what He believes. His belief is the conclusion of our belief (eis). 

Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. But is that what it says in Hebrews 12:2? Does it say that He is the Author and Finisher of OUR faith? That’s how I have always quoted it. But when you look it up in the Greek, it says looking unto THE faith Founder and Finisher. He is the Founder and the Finisher of THE faith (Ephesians 4:5 – the ONE faith). I love that! That tells me that there is NO OTHER faith that exists… not His faith AND our faith. NO, He is THE faith (the ONE Faith) Founder and Finisher! The Mirror Bible says it like this, “He is the Fountainhead, and Conclusion of faith.” I LOVE the words the Mirror Bible used, Fountainhead and Conclusion. THE ONE faith flows out from Him (as the Source) and ends or FINISHES in Him. The faith we have is His faith IN us…. it is a FINISHED faith, a PERFECTED faith. All that we do is rest in it. 

Romans 1:17 tells us that God’s righteousness is revealed (in the gospel) from faith to faith, and the righteous shall live by faith. Paul is not telling us that we are to live our lives by OUR faith. Although, for years, that’s what I thought he was saying. I thought the righteous he was talking about were ONLY those who had believed in Jesus, asking Him into their hearts. Those I saw in church every Sunday, not the worldly bunch that didn’t live for Jesus – they were unrighteous. Now, I can’t even think that way… it’s foreign to me. So, I thought the righteous were to live by THEIR faith. Meaning I needed to live a life of faith — a life of believing God and obeying HimAll based on me, on what I DO. But Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 what living a life of faith looks like. 

Galatians 2:20 (KJV), “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

The Mirror Bible version says, “So here I am dead and alive at the same time! I’m dead to the old me I was trying to be and alive to the real me, which is Christ in me! Co-crucified, now co-alive! What a glorious entanglement! I was in him in his death; now I discover that he is infused in me, in my life! For the first time, I’m free to be me in my skin, immersed in his faith in our joint-sonship! He loves me and believes in me! He is God’s gift to me!” 

Paul’s life of faith was a life of CO… co-crucified, and co-alive. It was a life of joint sonship, IMMERSED in Christ’s faith! He is infused IN our life!! Jesus’ beliefs were Paul’s beliefs. 

I like the wording, “What a glorious entanglement!” 

Paul doesn’t live by any faith of his own but IN the faith OF Jesus. BUT Galatians 2:20 reads in most translations, “I live by faith in the Son of God.” And unfortunately, most believers just read the way the translators translated it, and don’t look it up in the Greek to see what it actually says. In Greek, it reads, zo en sarki (I live in flesh), en pistei zo (in faith I live), te tou Huiou tou Theou (that from the Son of God). 

So what is Paul saying? 

He is telling us that his life in his physical body here on earth is lived IN faith. But who’s faith? Translations make it sound like it’s his faith in Christ. But the Son is a genitive noun, which means He owns the word (or the thing) that comes before it, which in this case is THE faith. The Son owns the faith. ALL of it!! In other words, we live IN the Son’s faith. There is no mention in this verse of our own faith or putting our faith IN Jesus. We live our lives here on earth IN a FINISHED, PERFECT faith — His faith IN us. The word IN (en in Greek) denotes rest. We live our lives resting IN His faith. 

That’s liberating!! It’s not doing; it’s resting. And when I do that, I don’t have to wonder if I have enough faith. And I don’t have to try and build my faith up. I only need to live life resting IN His faith!! 

But don’t we need to believe? Of course!! We are to believe that it’s His faith we live in, that we rest in! And then we realize that His beliefs, His believing, is already FINISHED IN us. 

Except for Romans 3:26, the KJV favors the faith OF Christ in all these verses. 

It’s His faith, His faithfulness, His trust, His obedience! It’s HIs heart response to the Father, and it’s His YES to the Father’s will that is IN us. FINISHED! In Romans 1:17, Paul is quoting Habakkuk 2:4, which says, “The just (the righteous) shall live by His faith.” Habakkuk says b’emunahto, which is translated by his faith. The b’ attached to the word is the Hebrew prefix bet meaning in, by, or with, but usually translated IN. The Septuagint uses the Greek preposition ek, a preposition that points to something’s origin, to the source. Paul, quoting Habakkuk 2:4, agrees with the Septuagint and also uses ek.. This verse is about the faith OF Jesus because He is the Ek, the Source, and the Origin of faith — He’s the faith Founder, and the faith Author.  And it’s His faith we live IN. 

What if Romans 1:17 is talking about the Righteous One, Jesus, living faithfully — FULL of faith? In other words, living as the embodiment of God’s faith, resulting in our justification? “The Righteous” was a common Messianic title in the Essene community of Paul’s day. In Christ, God finds an accurate and complete expression of Himself in a human body — an exact and FULL expression of THE ONE faith… God’s faith. 

And we as the righteous ones IN the Righteous One are an embodiment of His faith that is IN us. We are a living expression of His faith in human form. Isn’t that what Paul said in Galatians 2:20? Christ lives in me, and this life I now live in the flesh, I live IN the faith of the Son of God.” So, the just ones live IN the Just One IN His faith. Who are the righteous or just ones? Romans 5 says that ALL mankind is righteous because of Christ’s obedience. So, ALL mankind lives life IN and by His faith — the faith of the Righteous One. We are not living life by our faith in Christ to become righteous. NO!! We’re living our lives IN and BY the faith OF the Son of God. And trusting in His faith (or living IN and BY His faith) awakens my faith – faith to faith – to live in the awareness of FINISHED. To rest in the realization of who He is IN me, AS me, and THROUGH me. His faith becomes my experience in life. 

It was by His faith (the ONE faith, God’s faith) that we were justified – not just set free from sin but placed in the SAME position as the One who has NEVER sinned– as sinless! We (ALL mankind) are sinless! 

Let’s look at another verse. Galatians 3:24 says, “So the law was our guardian until Christ came, that by faith we might be justified.” In Greek, it says, ek pisteos, which is translated by faith. The word faith is a genitive case meaning that the faith belongs to someone. But who does it belong to? We see the word “by faith” and automatically read it as “by putting OUR faith in Christ” that we might be justified. NO! The Greek doesn’t say by, it says ek, which points to origin and source! So, whose faith is being referred to in this verse? Christ’s faith! 

OUR faith is not the origin or source of our justification — His faith is! 

In verse 25, Paul says, “Now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.” The word faith in this verse is also a genitive case meaning the faith belongs to someone. Again, who’s faith is Paul talking about? Did OUR faith set us free from the Mosaic Law? NO, of course not! Jesus set mankind free from the Law. So, this verse must be referring to His faith — when He who is the FULL expression of God’s faith came, mankind was no longer under the Law. The Faith came! Jesus came!! And the Faith justified ALL mankind two thousand years ago! 

It was the God faith embodied in the God- Man, Jesus Christ that justified us. 

And then we get to verse 26, and it says (NKJV), “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” This verse has the word IN in it… faith IN Christ Jesus. And in the Greek it is there too… pisteos en Christo Iésous. The Greek word en is IN. But it is not saying that we are to put our faith in Christ. Please don’t get to this verse and let it throw you back into thinking that we are made sons of God by putting our faith in Jesus. 

That’s not what’s being said! The word faith in this verse is a genitive case, meaning that it belongs to someone. The question is, who? 

Well, it says that it is through faith that we are made sons of God. And based upon the last two verses, it is His faith that justified us, and it is also His faith that freed the Jews from the Mosaic Law. So, it would be safe to say then that it is also His faith that made us sons of God. After all, Hebrews 2:10 tells us that HE brought many sons to glory. There is only ONE Faith — God’s faith. And His faith was FULLY expressed and embodied IN Jesus Christ. It was through the faith that was IN Jesus. He was God’s faith embodied in the Incarnation – in His birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, and seated-ness! Paul is NOT saying that we are sons BECAUSE OF our faith in Christ!! In Acts 17, Paul tells these Gentile unbelievers that we are ALL God’s offspring and that IN Him we live, and move, and have our being! 

We have ALWAYS been sons! It was His doing, not ours that made us sons…. we came FROM Him, He is our Daddy!!

I’m not sure why we as believers struggle with it being His faith and not ours. We realize that it is His strength, His wisdom, His righteousness, so why wouldn’t it also be His faith IN us, AS us, and THROUGH us? 1 Corinthians 4:7 asks, what do we have that we have not received? 

The word received is aorist indicative… past tense, FINISHED fact. ALL that we have received, which includes His faith IN us, is FINISHED, PERFECTED, and COMPLETE in us! 

Paul says in verse 27, “For as many as were baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.” He’s not talking water baptism; he’s talking immersion into Christ. He’s talking about our identity! Who was immersed or baptized into Christ? What is the as many as that Paul is talking about here in verse 27? In Romans 6, Paul talking about baptism in Christ equates it with those who died with Him, were buried with Him, and raised with Him. 

Who is it that died, was buried, and raised with Him? ALL mankind!! ALL were baptized or immersed into Christ so that we could live in newness of life, resurrection life – His life IN us! 

Sadly, not all are YET awakened to that truth. Not even everyone in the church, who prayed the sinners prayer and asked Christ to come into their heart, has awakened to the FULLNESS of His resurrection life IN us, as our life! 

Paul is saying in Galatians 3:27 that we were ALL baptized, immersed into Christ, and we have put on Christ. In other words, He IS our identity. His strength is our strength, His wisdom is our wisdom, His righteousness is our righteousness, AND HIS faith is our faith. Then in verse 28, he continues with mankind’s identity being IN Christ. They are no longer defined by their OWN personal identity of Jew, Greek, slave, free, male, or female… but ALL are defined by HIM. 

That’s good news! That’s the gospel — the good, glad, happy news that will make a man jump for joy (William Tyndale’s definition of the word gospel). 

Paul is not contrasting two human endeavors – obeying the law or having faith in Christ! Instead, he is contrasting works of the Law to the revelation of FINISHED (His faith IN us!!!). He is not saying that this new life is now about putting our faith in Christ instead of obeying the law…. that would still be works, it would still be DOING TO BECOME. Paul’s message was ALL IS FINISHED. And we are to live our lives resting in the realm of FINISHED! 

The good news of the gospel is that righteousness came through THE faith that is IN Jesus or THE faith OF Christ! Romans 3:9 says that ALL (Jews AND Greeks) were under sin. And verses 10-18 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one; 11 There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God. 12 They have all turned aside; They have together become unprofitable; There is none who does good, no, not one. 13 Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; The poison of asps is under their lips; 14 Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. 15 Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16 Destruction and misery are in their ways; 17 And the way of peace they have not known. 18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Paul is saying that ALL mankind has wholly lost sight of God! He’s telling these Jews that their moral conduct (the Law) did not free them from the same sin the rest of the world was also trapped in. There wasn’t any amount of THEIR faith or anything they could DO to restore what was lost. Verse 20 says, “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” The law couldn’t justify them, it could only point out their sin. 

Thank God for the, BUT NOW, that interrupted mankind’s lost fallen state of mind! 

Verse 21-22 of Romans 3 says, “BUT NOW the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the law and prophets, 22 the righteousness of God through THE faith OF Jesus Christ toward ALL believing, for there is no difference.” BUT NOW God’s righteousness has been revealed completely, successfully, 100% through THE faith OF Christ! This righteousness was revealed toward ALL believing, for there is no difference. 

That’s a challenging part of the verse for us to understand. Because we still read the words “to all believing,” and we hear it’s according to my faith or my belief. 

It’s how we’ve been taught, and it’s become, unfortunately, our default mode. 

I love the Mirror translation of this verse, “Jesus is what God believes about you! In Him, the righteousness of God is on display in such a way that everyone may be equally persuaded about what God believes about them, regardless of who they are; there is no distinction.” EVERY single person is equally persuaded… he’s talking Jew and Greek. ALL mankind may be equally persuaded about what God believes about them! How? Because it’s His faith IN us that convinces us. It says, “The righteousness of God through the faith OF Jesus Christ.” It doesn’t say our faith IN Jesus, although that’s what a lot of translations will say. The words faith and Jesus Christ are genitive possessive. It’s His faith!! And the next verse is probably one of the most well-known verses in the Bible. 

Verse 23 says, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” 

Paul had just said in Romans 3:9 that ALL mankind (Jews and Greeks) were under sin… so verse 23 shouldn’t be much of a surprise to us, when he says that ALL have sinned. The Mirror Bible translation says, “Mankind is in the same boat; their distorted behavior is proof of a lost blueprint!” Humanity (Jew AND Greek… ALL mankind) lived life out of context with the blueprint of their design. They were behaving out of tune with God’s original design – as sons in their Daddy’s image and likeness!”

The problem is that we stopped at verse 23 and constructed the entire Romans Road TO Salvation from it. We were supposed to keep reading and see that Paul’s message in Romans was not a road TO salvation but of our FINISHED salvation IN Christ!! 

So, Paul told us in verse 23 that ALL mankind has sinned. BUT thank God for verse 24!!! It says, “Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption IN Christ Jesus.” (Romans 3:24, NKJV – emphasis mine) The Mirror Bible says, “While the law proved mankind’s dilemma, the grace of God announces the same mankind (mankind under sin, in a dilemma) redeemed in Jesus Christ! Their blameless innocence is a free gift…. Mankind condemned in the language of religion is NOW mankind justified in the language of the gospel.” 

There is no good news, no gospel, in verse 23 alone. It is only good, glad, happy news that makes you jump for joy when connected to verse 24. 

Paul is saying that ALL fell short because of Adam. AND the same ALL are equally declared righteous because OF Christ. There is NO distinction! But don’t stop there! Keep reading. It just keeps getting better!! Verse 26 (NKJV) says, “To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” God’s justice is in the showing forth of His righteousness!! He is Just and the Justifier!!” Who does He justify? Our English translations read the one who has faith IN Jesus. So from our translations, it looks like He only justifies those who believe in Jesus. 

But is that true? Does He only justify those who believe? 

Paul in the previous two verses had been talking about ALL men. Why would he now switch to just those who have enough faith to believe in Jesus? He had just said in verse 24 that the ALL mankind in verse 23 was justified FREELY by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Jesus…. there is no mention at all of our faith. 

This is why just a little bit of understanding of Biblical languages would be helpful for us when we read Scripture. Because in Greek, verse 26 doesn’t say the one who has faith in Jesus. It says we are justified from out of Jesus’ faith.Out of is ek in Greek, which points to the source or origin. And both faith and Jesus are genitive cases — Jesus owns the faith, He is the Possessor of the faith! He IS the source and origin of our justification! ALL mankind was justified from OUT OF His faith! The Mirror Bible says it this way, “All along God refused to let go of mankind. At this very moment, God’s act of righteousness is pointing them to the evidence of their innocence, with Jesus as the Fountainhead OF faith.” 

And YET KJV translated this verse as God is the Justifier of him who believes IN Jesus… pulling us back into the legalistic, conditional language of DO TO BECOME! 

So, Luther translated these verses as faith IN Christ. And the majority of English translations, except KJV (for most of them), followed his lead. And the result has been that our justification is viewed from a conditional perspective rather than a FINISHED one. Emphasizing what man must do to bring about their salvation. Rather than what Christ has done, rather than what is FINISHED. Christ’s faith (the ONE faith) saw the end from the beginning. Christ’s faith was His overwhelming YES to the Father’s faith. God’s faith (the ONE faith — the faith OF Christ) saw us IN Christ! In Paul’s understanding, it is THE faith OF Christ, the faith that is IN Christ, the Faith of God that He embodies, that justified us. It is Christ’s faithful YES to the Father’s belief in us that justified ALL men. 

And it is that faith that is our faith. And it is PERFECT, FINISHED, AND COMPLETE IN us. 

This subject of faith is a big argument between theologians. The interpretation of Romans 3:22 can be either genitive subjective (faith of Christ). Or genitive objective (faith in Christ). Grammatically, either interpretation is possible. So, to interpret it correctly, we would need to look beyond the grammar and look through the lens of Christ – through the lens of FINISHED! Hebrews 1:2 tells us that God’s final word to us is spoken IN His Son. 

I love the beginning of verse 3 IN Hebrews 1 in the Mirror Bible, “Jesus is the crescendo of God’s conversation; He gives context and content to the authentic thought. Everything that God had in mind for mankind is voiced in Him.” Jesus is God’s language. His final words were IT IS FINISHED. And so, that has to be the lens through which we read Scripture! Therefore, when you come to Romans 3:22 and see the faith OF Christ, or faith IN Christ you have to choose faith OF Christ.  

Because that choice speaks the language of IT IS FINISHED! 

Luther was on track when he said that human works couldn’t lead to justification. Still, he should’ve gone further by saying that human faith, or human faithfulness in putting our faith in Christ, couldn’t lead to justification either!! It’s by believing that it was His faith alone. In other words, it is our aha of that truth that we experience our justification. It is our awareness of that truth that causes us to walk in the reality of our justification. 

Having the tools to be able to look up these verses in Greek is essential! We have trusted in the translators, theologians, and Biblical commentators’ interpretations and translations for too long. Trusting men who didn’t have an understanding of FINISHED. And so we read these verses thinking, “If I can just have enough faith or if I can just believe enough!” Not realizing and resting in the truth that there is only ONE faith, and it’s His faith IN us. We are simply reflections of the ONE faith, of God’s faith — the faith OF Christ! 

By translating these verses faith IN Christ, the translators allowed for only one interpretation – putting OUR faith in Christ. They forced upon us THEIR own interpretational decision of what the verse means, ruling out the passage’s reading as saying that it is Christ’s faith and not our own. And these faulty interpretations have been passed down for centuries resulting in believers who believe the FINISHED work of Christ is conditional upon putting our faith in Christ! 

But what if these verses had been appropriately translated as THE faith OF Christ? How might this have changed our Western theology?  Would we have thought that salvation, justification, redemption, etc., was conditional? Or would we have understood that ALL was FINISHED for ALL, requiring nothing on our part! 

For Paul, our faith is not a condition of our justification or salvation! Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift OF God.” The Mirror Bible says: “It was a grace thing from start to finish. Even the gift to believe simply reflects His faith!” The notes for this verse in the Mirror Bible says — Grace reveals who we are, and the faith of God persuades us of it! Grace completely, successfully, 100% saved us! Putting our faith in Jesus didn’t result in our salvation. We had ZERO contribution to our salvation! Both grace and faith are His gifts IN us. In Romans 1:17, where it talks about from faith to faith, the subject of the sentence is not the believer or even the believer’s faith. The subject is the righteousness of God and how it is revealed through the Gospel. It is God’s righteousness revealed from (Greek ek — pointing to source or origin) THE faith of Jesus unto the believer’s faith. God’s righteousness is revealed in the ORIGIN of HIS faith.  

If we miss that part (the origin of faith), we will always strive to have enough of our own faith.  

We don’t have to believe in our own faith for anything. We simply need to realize that it’s His faith IN us. The power to walk in healing, prosperity, deliverance, and WHOLENESS is by resting in His faith IN us, AS us, and THROUGH us. Faith to faith is His faith lived out AS our faith!! If we believe for those things in our faith, we end up striving. We strive to overcome doubts in our thinking by finding Scriptures to stand on, confessing those Scriptures repeatedly, louder and longer. Trying to figure out why we aren’t “getting” what we are believing for… whether it be healing, financial miracles, family salvation, etcetera. 

His faith is ETERNAL. It is always NOW! His faith says NOW you are WHOLE! NOW you are healed, NOW you are prosperous, NOW your family is saved! NOW is not a time-bound word. As in Jesus saying, “Ok NOW you can have it because you were faithful in obeying, faithful in tithing, faithful in the waiting, faithful in applying your faith to these things!” NO! HIS faith says NOW as in, “You have ALWAYS been WHOLE! Your family has ALWAYS been saved! You have ALWAYS been healed!” NOW was fleshed out in time on the cross two thousand years ago, and NOW was the Lamb who was slain before time began! NOW is eternal… it is NEVER bound by time’s limitations. And the language of His faith speaks NOW and FINISHED!! 

I don’t think Paul meant for us to struggle with faith IN Christ or faith OF Christ. I’m pretty sure to Paul they both are saying the same thing. It doesn’t seem from his writings that faith in Christ was about a walk to the altar, repenting of our sins, or asking Jesus into our hearts. It wasn’t about putting our faith in Him so that we could be justified, saved, made righteous, etcetera. For Paul, there was only ONE faith – Christ’s! 

We read his letters forgetting that he isn’t talking TO us! He’s talking to a generation who is on the other side of the cross. There are still sacrifices offered daily in the temple, the Law of Moses is still being upheld. For them, their faith and the faith of their ancestors had been in Moses’s law, believing that they would be made righteous by obeying it. Paul is telling them that they have been made righteous by Jesus’ faith ALONE. He’s telling them to simply believe that. Not as in “believe so that they can attain it.” Paul doesn’t talk in the Old Covenant conditional language of “IF and THEN.” He’s telling them to believe it by just resting in Christ’s FINISHED work that MADE them righteous. 

But what about Romans 10:9? Doesn’t it say that IF we believe with our hearts and confess with our mouths that THEN we will be saved? 

Romans 10 begins with Paul praying for Israel to be saved. He’s not longing for them to BECOME saved, but to REALIZE their salvation. In our Western understanding, the concept of salvation has been reduced to making heaven and missing hell. But that definition isn’t included in either the Greek word sozo or the Hebrew word yeshua. The Hebrew word signifies freedom from what binds or restricts. When the children of Israel were fleeing from the Egyptians and crossing over the Red Sea, Moses told them they would see the Lord’s salvation. He was NOT telling them they would go to heaven and miss hell! He was telling them they were going to be delivered and set free from the Egyptians! They were going to be free from what was binding them! And the Greek word sozo means WHOLENESS in every area of life! 

Paul’s heart was burning for his fellow Jewish brothers to REALIZE their salvation. To realize their freedom from what was binding them (the Law)! And to experience the life of God, to experience their WHOLENESS in every area of their lives! 

He goes on in verse 3 to say that they (his Jewish brothers!) are ignorant of God’s righteousness, which he had already told them in Romans 3 came through THE faith OF Christ! Yet, they seek to establish their own righteousness, and they haven’t submitted to God’s righteousness. They were ALREADY made COMPLETELY righteous! FINISHED! There was no need to continue to seek to BECOME righteous! The Mirror Bible says, “They are tirelessly busy with their own efforts to justify themselves while blatantly ignoring the fact that God has already justified them IN Christ.”

Christ was the conclusion of the law. 

This is the context behind Romans 10:9. He’s talking to his Jewish brothers, who were still living life trying to be righteous through the law. Ignoring the fact that IN Christ, they already were righteous. He tells them that Moses is the Law’s voice, but faith has a different voice! In verses 6-7, he tells them that faith righteousness (the righteousness that came through Christ’s faith) does NOT say, “Who will ascend to heaven? or who will descend into the abyss?” Right here, we see that salvation is NOT a heaven or hell issue! Ascending to heaven or descending into the abyss is not the language of faith! So what does faith say? He tells us in verse 8, “The word is IN your mouth and IN your heart. That is the word of faith (THE faith word – or the spoken faith) we proclaim.” The word of faith (or the ONE faith, God’s faith, the faith OF Christ) IN you speaks forth from your mouth and heart! 

It’s the effortless language of Christ’s faith. 

We’ve made verse 9 about our doing – confessing and believing. We’ve made it about a “prayer of salvation” so that we can make heaven and miss hell, and YET verses 6-7 specifically say heaven and hell is NOT what faith speaks! The Mirror Bible translation of verse 9 is, “Now your salvation is realized! Your own words echo God’s voice. The unveiling of the masterful act of Jesus forms the words in your mouth, inspired by the conviction of your heart that God indeed raised Him from the dead.” As our hearts believe (not through praying a prayer, but by having the AHA moment – the YES moment!), our language will echo His faith – IT IS FINISHED!! 

Jesus said in Mark 11:22 that we are to have God’s faith. In Greek, it is echete pistin TheouEchete is the word formed from adding the personal pronoun “you” to the word echo, meaning you have! Jesus told them, “You have God’s faith!” Or we could say it like this — you echo God’s faith, you echo the faith OF Christ. The word echo is in the present tense. We are to continually and habitually echo God’s faith — what He believes. 

In other words, echoing His faith is to be our lifestyle! 

In Mark 4, when the storm came, and the disciples in the boat were afraid, Jesus said in verse 40, “Why are you afraid? How is it that you have no faith?” Have is the word echo. In other words, “Why are you not echoing faith?” We are to echo His faith when there are mountains that need to be moved or when the storms of life are tossing us about, and we’re afraid. 

If we would begin to read the word faith as the ONE faith, God’s faith, THE faith of Christ, it would remove the struggles, the doubts, and the DO TO BECOME mindset that the body of Christ has. The phrase faith IN Christ speaks the language of waiting, doing, and becoming (Old Testament language). In contrast, the faith OF Christ (THE ONE faith, God’s faith!) speaks FINISHED, DONE, NOW! It is the language of our identity!

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robinsmit author

Robin Smit and her husband Steve divide their time between their farmhouse in Northern California and beach living in San Clemente, CA. Robin has a Master's in both Theology and Biblical Studies. She is a grace based Christian author who has a passion for the Hebrew and Greek languages. And she is the author of three books: IT IS FINISHED, AWAKENED, and I AM HEALED.

2 thoughts on “Hermeneutics… faith IN Jesus or faith OF Jesus?”

  1. Mind blown ! wow, I’ve always thought “IN” not “OF”…since I’m believing IN Jesus are you saying I’m doing works ? I know I’m saved by the finished work of Jesus, and believing that is Romans 5:1 I have peace with God, by placing my faith in the finished work of Jesus…
    God Bless,
    Dave

    Like

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