"AS I SEE IT"
Volume 13, Number 5, May 2010
“I too will have my say; I too will tell what I know.
For I am full of words, and the spirit within me compels me;
Inside I am like bottled-up wine, like new wineskins ready to burst.
I must speak and find relief; I must open my lips and reply.
I will show partiality to no one. Nor will I flatter any man.”
“That which ordinary men are fit for I am qualified in, and the best of me is diligence.”
Earl of Kent
Shakespeare’s King Lear
Act I, scene iv, ll. 32-34
[“As I See It” is a monthly electronic magazine compiled and edited by Doug Kutilek. Its purpose is to address important issues of the day and to draw attention to worthwhile Christian and other literature in order to aid believers in Jesus Christ, especially pastors, missionaries and Bible college and seminary students to more effectively study and teach the Word of God. The editor’s perspective is that of an independent Baptist of fundamentalist theological persuasion.
AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at: DKUTILEK@juno.com. You can be removed from the mailing list at the same address. Back issues sent on request. All back issues may be accessed at http://www.KJVOnly.org
All articles are by the editor (unless otherwise noted) and are copyrighted but may be reproduced for distribution, provided the following conditions are met: 1. articles must be reproduced in unedited, unabridged form; 2. the writer must be properly credited; and, 3. such reproduction must be for free distribution only. Permission to distribute in any other form must be secured in writing beforehand. Permission for reproduction in Christian print periodicals will generally be given upon request.]
The Only Valid Standard for Judging Ministerial “Success”
1st Corinthians 4:1-5 is a highly significant Biblical passage regarding evaluating ministerial “success” and apparent “results”--one’s own and that of others. British Classical Greek scholar Arthur S. Way produced a most expressive translation of this passage, bringing out with clarity and in bold relief the meaning of Paul’s words:
The only right estimate of Apollos, myself and the rest, is that we are but servants of the Messiah, trustees of the mystic secrets of God. Here on earth, I grant you, the conduct of trustees is scrutinized at the audits, to prove each one’s fidelity to his trust. But, as to my being called to account by you, or any human judgment bar, that is a matter of perfect indifference to me. Not that I constitute myself my own judge. I am not conscious of any dereliction of duty, it is true; still, I do not on that account claim to be exonerated of blame. But I do say that the only one who has a right to judge me is the Lord. Therefore do not risk any premature judgment, before the Coming of the Lord. He will flash light upon the secrets now shrouded in darkness; he will lay bare the motives of men’s hearts. And then will the due praise be awarded to each of us from God.”
The Letters of Paul, translated by Arthur S. Way,
8th edition, Marshall, Morgan, & Scott, 1950
Erasmus, His Greek Text and His Theology
by Doug Kutilek
Part II: Erasmus and His Theology
[Note: this study is one of my earliest published articles on the Bible translation controversy. It first appeared in The Biblical Evangelist, vol. 19, no. 20, October 15, 1985. It was subsequently reprinted in several periodicals and was published, along with its sister article “Erasmus and His Greek Text” (reprinted in our previous issue), as a 22-page booklet by Interdisciplinary Biblical Research Institute of Hatfield, Pennsylvania (1986). Though these articles have been posted at our website, www.kjvonly.org, they have not appeared in the pages of As I See It. Here we present this study once again, with slight revisions--editor]
Erasmus, as we have shown, was responsible for the publishing of the Greek New Testament for the first time. In his lifetime, five editions were issued by him. These editions, and especially the fourth (1527), were more or less slavishly reprinted by Stephanus, Beza, the Elzevirs, and others. All these editions are now collectively referred to as the textus receptus or “received text” (though no two are precisely alike in every single detail, differing from one another in a number of minor matters). In a very real way, then, Erasmus is the father of the received Greek text, which served as the basic text for virtually all Protestant New Testament translations until the 19th century.
There is currently in some quarters a lively debate over Greek texts, namely whether the textus receptus text or the critical text, usually identified as the Westcott-Hort text, more accurately reproduces the inerrant original writings of the Apostles. In reality, Westcott and Hort were not the first to print a revised Greek text, nor the last to do so. The English Revised Version of 1881 did not precisely follow their text. While a handful of obscure English translations were made directly from the Westcott-Hort text, no one holds today (and indeed, no one ever did) that this text is precisely correct in every reading and detail. Nevertheless, we will use the Westcott-Hort text for comparison, since it is mentioned so prominently.
Various arguments have been put forward to discredit the Westcott-Hort text. One of these, employed by Seventh-day Adventist Benjamin Wilkinson (and apparently originated by him) in "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated" (included in edited form, as part of Which Bible?, edited by D. O. Fuller, 2nd ed., 1971) is the classic tactic, "poisoning the wells" (see A. J. Hoover, Don't You Believe It!, pp. 63-65, for an explanation of this particular type of fallacious argument). This line of argument seeks to discredit information a priori by discrediting its source before even considering the information the source has to present. The maxim, "If you cannot answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names," summarizes this argument. In the case of Westcott and Hort, the vile names hurled at them are "apostate" and "Romish" (to which others later added “occultist”). Wilkinson tries to establish (pp. 194-199) by quotes extracted from biographies of Westcott and of Hort that they were less than orthodox, less than conservative, sympathetic to higher criticism, and inclined to Roman Catholicism. These things being established as true in Wilkinson's mind, the implication is then given that these errors automatically discredit everything Westcott and Hort did, including in particular their Greek text.
I do not write to defend the orthodoxy of either Hort or Westcott. I have not read anything but snippets of the biography of either, and have read only relatively small amounts of Westcott's commentaries and other writings. Of Hort's works, I have read a part of his "Introduction" to their edition of the Greek New Testament, plus one other small and rather unimportant book. Since this is not enough in the case of either man to form a first-hand opinion as to his doctrinal soundness, I will reserve judgment until such time that I have read more extensively in their works (I do note, meanwhile, that their “arch-critic” in matters regarding the Greek text, Dean John William Burgon, though marshalling every possible argument to discredit the text of Westcott and Hort never once, to my knowledge, ever attacked them for bad theology). I do write, however, to expose the inherent flaw in the "poisoning the wells" argument as used by Wilkinson and others. This tactic is logically fallacious and doesn't "wash" in this particular case for several reasons.
First, Wilkinson's case is substantially weaker than a casual reading may indicate. On the one hand, a number of the quotes he employs are colorless. Hort is quoted as saying, "I am very far from pretending to understand completely the oft-renewed vitality of Mariolatry." Such a statement surely does not implicate Hort in Mary-worship. Who has not been surprised at the continued worship of Mary, including the construction of shrines with cement statues as found in the yards of many Catholics? Such idolatrous folly in otherwise educated people is indeed difficult to understand. This quotation proves nothing at all.
On the other hand, Wilkinson has (wittingly or unwittingly) altered the thrust of at least one quote through deletion. Under the heading "Their Mariolatry," Westcott is quoted at length (p. 195):
After leaving the monastery, we shaped our course to a little oratory [a small chapel for private prayer] which we discovered on the summit of a neighboring hill. . . . Fortunately we found the door open. It is very small with one kneeling-place; and behind the screen was a "Pieta" the size of life (i.e., a Virgin and dead Christ). . . . Had I been alone I could have knelt there for hours.
From the quotation in its edited form, it appears that Westcott was here inclined to venerate this statue of Mary and Jesus. However, the full quotation shows just the opposite. In the second editorial deletion made by Wilkinson (immediately following the parenthesis), Westcott continues:
The sculpture was painted and such a group in such a place and at such a time was deeply impressive. I could not help thinking on the fallen grandeur of the Romish Church, on her zeal even in error [emphasis added], on her earnestness and self-devotion, which we might, with nobler views and purer end, strive to imitate. (Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott, vol. I, p. 81)
Then follows the remark about praying for hours. Clearly it was not the statue or veneration for Mary that compelled him to want to pray, but recognition that those in error are often more zealous, self-devoted, and earnest than the orthodox. Certainly it would serve Christianity well if our enthusiasm in propagating our belief matched that of the heterodox.
Of course, some of the quotations produced by Wilkinson do seem to set Hort and Westcott in a bad light doctrinally. I do not deny this, nor do I care to gloss over their theological errors or defend them in any way. However, doctrinal error does not in and of itself discredit their Greek text. "If the premises are sufficient, they are so, no matter by whom stated," (M. R. Cohen). "You can prove I'm the Devil's brother, and you still haven't answered my argument," (Anonymous, both quoted by Hoover, p. 59).
Second, many doctrinally orthodox men have accepted the critical Greek text as more closely corresponding to the inerrant original writings than the textus receptus. S. P. Tregelles was a British scholar affiliated first with the Plymouth Brethren and reportedly later with the Baptists. (See Schaff-Herzog, vol. IV, p. 2388, and Life and Letters of John A. Broadus, p. 352.) Tregelles was premillennial in eschatology and wrote a famous commentary defending the historicity of the Book of Daniel. He produced a revised Greek text (1857-1879) before the Westcott-Hort text was issued (1881). Tregelles' text was the result of decades of laborious and exacting personal inspection of manuscripts. There is very little difference in substance between his text and the later text of Westcott and Hort. If orthodoxy in theology guaranteed the soundness of an author's textual studies, then we would be compelled to accept the critical text because Tregelles was doctrinally orthodox. (The same line of argument could be pursued using another 19th century Greek text editor, Constantine Tischendorf, and the 18th century scholar J. A. Bengel, who formulated many of the guiding principles of textual criticism).
Not only text editors, but also pastors, scholars, and seminary professors of unquestioned doctrinal orthodoxy could be paraded almost ad infinitum who accept the primacy of the critical text. A few examples will suffice. B. B. Warfield, the great Princeton theologian, was one of the authors of The Fundamentals. J. Oliver Buswell, Jr., called him "the greatest defender of the inerrancy of the Bible among scholarly theologians of the recent past," (see A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, vol. I, p. 325). In his book, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, Warfield advocated the superiority of the critical text over the received text. John A. Broadus, the preeminent Baptist in America in the 19th century, advocated the superiority of the revised text over the textus receptus (Commentary on Matthew, preface, p. xlix; On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons, Weatherspoon revision, pp. 21-22, 36). A. T. Robertson, probably the greatest New Testament scholar America has ever seen, and an orthodox Baptist, advocated the revised Greek text as more accurately representing the original text of the New Testament than the textus receptus (An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament, throughout). We could add the names of Spurgeon (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, 1881, pp. 342-343), B. H. Carroll (Inspiration of the Bible, pp. 52-53, 105) and a multitude more, but this is unnecessary. The point made is this: if doctrinal orthodoxy alone guaranteed sound judgment on matters of the Greek text, then the critical or revised text should be accepted simply because sound men do so. What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. If the one argument is invoked (discrediting the critical text because of the alleged heterodoxy of Westcott and Hort), then so must the other (accepting the critical text because of the demonstrated doctrinal orthodoxy of Tregelles, Warfield, Broadus, Robertson et al.). In reality, neither argument has any necessary relationship to the issue at hand.
Third, if there are hints of Romish leanings in Hort and Westcott (we allow the assertion for the sake of argument), there is a veritable flood of quotes from Erasmus himself protesting his absolute and undying loyalty to Roman Catholicism, its doctrine, and its pope.
Erasmus was a Roman Catholic priest. While he vigorously denounced the corruption and immorality of the monks and priests of his day, he did not object to Roman Catholic doctrine. He objected to Roman conduct, not to Roman theology. He was a lifelong, devoted Catholic. Note his own words (taken from Froude, Life and Letters of Erasmus):
From the time when I was a child I have been a devoted worshipper of St. Anne. I composed a hymn to her when I was young, and the hymn I now send to you, another Anne. I send to you, besides, a collection of prayers to the Holy Virgin. They are not spells to charm the moon out of the sky, but they will bring down out of Heaven her who brought forth the Sun of Righteousness. She is easy to approach. (p. 86)
Disowning any connection at all with Luther, Erasmus wrote, "Christ I know; Luther I know not. The Roman Church I know, and death will not part me from it till the Church departs from Christ," (p. 261). Again, "I have sought to save the dignity of the Roman Pontiff, the honour of Catholic theology, and the welfare of Christendom," (p. 262). And again,
But be assured of this, if any movement is in progress injurious to the Christian religion, or dangerous to the public peace or to the supremacy of the Holy See, it does not proceed from Erasmus. . . . I have not deviated in what I have written one hair's breadth from the Church's teaching . . . . I am not so mad as to fly in the face of the Vicar of Christ. (pp. 162, 271-272)
The Holy See needs no support from such a worm as I am, but I shall declare that I mean to stand by it. (p. 270)
The Pope's authority as Christ's Vicar must be upheld. (p. 275)
You may assure yourself that Erasmus has been, and always will be, a faithful subject of the Holy See. (p. 279)
The Lutherans alternately courted me and menaced me. For all this, I did not move a finger's breadth from the teaching of the Roman Church. (p. 340)
. . . I will bear anything before I forsake the Church. (p. 355)
Froude speaks of the need to clearly differentiate between Erasmus' desire to change the conduct of the Church and Luther's desire to change its doctrine:
You cannot understand the sixteenth century till you recognize the immense difference then present in the minds of men between a change of doctrine and a reformation of the Church's manners and morals. (pp. 295-296)
This truth is illustrated by a number of Erasmus' own statements:
The reformers turn the images out of the churches, which originally were useful and ornamented. They might have been content to forbid the worship of images, and to have removed only the superfluous. They will have no priests. It would be better to have priests of learning and piety, and to provide that orders are not hastily entered into. There would be fewer of them, but better three good than three hundred bad. They do not like so much ritual. True, but it would be enough to abolish the absurd. Debauched priests who do nothing but mumble masses are generally hated. Do away with the hirelings, and allow but one celebration a day in the churches. Indulgences, with which the monks so long fooled the world with the connivance of the theologians, are now exploded. Well, then, let those who have no faith in saints' merits pray to Father, Son and Holy Ghost, imitate Christ in their lives, and leave those alone who do believe in saints. If the saints do not hear them, Christ may hear them. Confession is an ancient custom. Let those who deny that it is a sacrament observe it till the Church decides otherwise. No great harm can come of confession so long as men confess only their own mortal sins. Let men think as they please of purgatory, without quarreling with others who do not think as they do. Theologians may argue about free will in the Sorbonne. Laymen need not puzzle themselves with conundrums. Whether works justify or faith justifies matters little, since all allow that faith will not save without works. In Baptism let the old rule be kept. Parents may perhaps be left to decide whether it shall be administered in infancy or delayed to maturity. Anabaptists must not be tolerated. . . . As to the Eucharist, let the old opinion stand till a council has provided a new revelation. The Eucharist is only adored so far as Christ is supposed to be present there as God. The human nature is not adored, but the Divine nature, which is Omnipresent. The thing to be corrected is the abuse of the administration. (pp. 344-345)
The mass has been made a trade for illiterate and sordid priests, and a contrivance to quiet the conscience of reprobates. So the cry is raised, "Abolish the mass, put it away, make an end of it." Is there no middle course? Cannot the mass be purified? Saint-worship has been carried so far that Christ has been forgotten. Therefore, respect for saints is idolatry, and orders founded on their names must be dissolved. Why so violent a remedy? Too much has been made of rituals and vestments, but we might save, if we would, the useful part of such things. Confession has been abused, but it could be regulated more strictly. (p. 358; cf. also p. 360)
But never will I be tempted or exasperated into deserting the true communion. . . . I will not forsake the Church myself, I would forfeit life and reputation sooner. . . . Doubtless I have wished that popes and bishops and cardinals were more like the apostles, but never in thought have I desired those offices be abolished. There may be arguments about the Real Presence, but I will never believe the Christ would have allowed the Church to remain so long in such an error (if error it be) as to worship a wafer for God. (p. 365)
Erasmus wished to avoid technical discussion concerning transubstantiation. "Such problems may be discussed among the learned. For the vulgar it is enough to believe that the real body and blood of our Lord are actually present," (p. 386)
And finally, did Erasmus reject the basis tenets of Romanism? Some of his accusers affirmed so. In defense, he wrote:
. . . they sing the old song. Erasmus laughs at the saints, despises the sacraments, denies the faith, is against clerical celibacy, monks' vows, and human institutions. Erasmus paved the way for Luther. So they gabble; and it is all lies. (p. 421)
Church historian Philip Schaff, while acknowledging that in many ways
Erasmus laid the foundation for the Reformation, said his influence was felt in
other areas as well: "He was as much a forerunner of Rationalism as of the
Reformation." (History of the Christian Church, vol. VII, p. 404). His son David S. Schaff, in the same set
speaks of Erasmus' loyalty to Rome:
Erasmus never intended to separate from Rome any more than his English friends, John Colet and Thomas More. He declared he had never departed from the judgment of the Church, nor could he. "Her consent is so important to me that I would agree with the Arians and Pelagians if the Church should approve of what they taught," (vol. VI, p. 641).
Roland Bainton, in his biography of Erasmus, characterized the fundamental theological differences between Erasmus and Luther:
Luther shrank from the sight of the crucifix because the Christ on the cross would some day sit upon a rainbow to consign the damned to eternal perdition. Erasmus shuddered at death because it might cut him off before he could so far progress in virtue as to be "capable of eternal life," (p. 17)
The reading of Froude's biography of Erasmus left me with the distinct impression that Erasmus believed that sincerity alone was enough to please God.
One interesting side note on the theology of Erasmus: his favorite church father, like that of Hort, was Origen (Bainton, p. 143). Of Origen's writings, Erasmus wrote, "I have also read a great part of Origen, who opens out new fountains of thought and furnishes a complete key to theology," (Froude, p. 93).
It must also be remembered that Erasmus' first edition of his Greek New Testament was approved by Pope Leo X (Froude, p. 191).
Doctrinally, there is no question where Erasmus stood. Our perception is not limited to a few hints or suggestions, a deduction here or an inference there. Boldly and repeatedly, Erasmus declares himself to be a loyal and devoted Romanist, consenting to all that Rome stood for doctrinally, with its Mary- worship, veneration of the saints, sacrifice of the mass, papal supremacy, purgatory, monastic vows and orders and all else. He refused to side with Luther, and vigorously opposed the Protestant Reformation. He sought and got the Pope's sanction for his New Testament.
If theological inclination accredits or discredits a man's work on the text of the New Testament--I do not think there is any necessary connection, but this is the argument of Wilkinson and others--if Romish and heretical leanings by Westcott and Hort discredit their Greek text, then the text of Erasmus and all subsequent editions based on it, i.e., all textus receptus editions, are blown completely out of the water.
I trust advocates of the supremacy of the textus receptus see the corner into which they paint themselves by using this faulty argument. I strongly urge that the merit or demerit of printed Greek Testaments be evaluated on the basis of manuscript evidence, ancient translations, quotations from patristic authors, and principles of textual criticism, and not on the basis of the largely irrelevant issue of the theology of the text-editors.
Bainton, Roland H., Erasmus of Christendom. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1969.
Broadus, John A., Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew. Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1886.
________. On the Preparation and Delivery of Sermons. New, revised edition by Jesse Burton Weatherspoon. New York: Harper and Row, 1944.
Buswell, J. Oliver, Jr., A Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962.
Carroll, B. H., Inspiration of the Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1980.
Froude, James Anthony, Life and Letters of Erasmus. London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1900.
Hoover, A. J., Don't You Believe It! Chicago: Moody Press, 1982.
Robertson, A. T., Life and Letters of John Albert Broadus. Philadelphia: Judson Press, 1901.
________, An Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament. Nashville: Broadman, 1925.
Schaff, David S., History of the Christian Church. Vol. VI. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910.
Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church. Vol. VII. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1910.
[Schaff, Philip]. "Tregelles, Samuel Prideaux." A Religious Encyclopedia, vol. IV. Edited by Philip Schaff. 3rd ed., revised and enlarged. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1891.
Warfield, B. B., Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the New Testament.. London, 1886.
Westcott, Arthur, Life and Letters of Brooke Foss Westcott. 2 vols. London: Macmillan and Co., 1903.
Wilkinson, Benjamin, "Our Authorized Bible Vindicated." In Which Bible? Edited by D. O. Fuller. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. Grand Rapids: Grand Rapids International Publications, 1971.
S. D. Gordon--A Biographical Sketch
[Note: I was recently asked for any biographical information I had on early 20th century author S. D. (Samuel Dickey) Gordon (1859-1936) who is of course not to be confused with 19th century Baptist pastor A. J. Gordon (1836-1895), though the late Paul Harvey managed to do it almost annually at Easter. In the process of searching for information, I ran across a good summary article compiled by Peter Wade, posted at http://peterwade.com/articles/gordsd/biogsdg.shtml. So as one who judiciously seeks to avoid re-inventing the wheel, I pass on, with permission, that brief article--editor]
In the early 1900s, S. D. Gordon was a widely traveled speaker in high demand. A prolific author, he wrote more than 25 devotional books, most with the phrase "Quiet Talks" in the title. His first book sold half a million copies over 40 years! He died in 1936.
E. W. Kenyon said that "S. D. Gordon is a sporadic outburst of divine grace. He is unusual, as are all of God's rare tools . . . he is perfectly balanced in the Word and in the Spirit. He represents that rare but vanishing class of spiritually minded men of the last generation."
“The Treasury of Quiet Talks: Selections from S. D. Gordon (1951) by John W. Bradbury gives this brief biography (adapted): "Samuel Dickey Gordon ministered the deep things of God. He was not an ordained minister. He could boast no academic degrees. He was never doctored [that is, he never received an earned or honorary doctorate]. Theological concepts he obtained from his Bible. A plain man, controlled by a deep desire to edify God's people, he won the respect of the learned and at the same time the affection of the simple.”
"Gordon lived a long and useful life. He was born in Philadelphia August 12, 1859 and died June 1936. A public school education was all the academic training he had. But, as a young man, he was hard working, consecrated and sought the best God had for him. He served as assistant secretary of the Philadelphia Young Men's Christian Association in 1884-86 so efficiently that he became state secretary for the YMCA in Ohio, serving from 1886 to 1895. In this period he developed a quiet style of devotional speaking which was quite the opposite of the powerful forensics which dominated the pulpit style of that period.”
"Gordon then took four years to visit the mission fields of the Orient and to tour Europe on speaking missions. His quiet manner, simplicity, illustrative quality and gentle spirit won for him a great following wherever he went. Quiet Talks on Power was his first book, published by Fleming H. Revell in 1901. Gordon was then forty-two. His Quiet Talks on Prayer followed in 1904, Quiet Talks on Service and Quiet Talks about Jesus in 1906. The demand for his books had grown so great that he could produce two in a year and follow thereafter with one series of Quiet Talks each year until 1915 when the First World War disrupted everything. After the war he resumed his Quiet Talks in books but not at the same speed. Altogether he produced twenty-five books, twenty-two of which belonged to the Quiet Talks series.”
"An incessant and tireless itinerant, Gordon never lacked for opportunities to preach. He never called himself a preacher, preferring the title of lecturer. In a real sense he was unique. His manner of speaking, never dull, always illustrated by parabolic stories, had gripping power to hold the attention and stir the heart."
His brother, James Logan Gordon, was an ordained minister, and served three pastorates in Canada and then at the First Congregational Church in San Francisco.
“Faith IN Jesus Christ”: A Point of Greek Grammar
Hi! Hope things are going well for you! I have come across an interesting translation of the Bible that Dallas Seminary produced. It is on line and called NET Bible. I was wondering if you would agree with how they translated Galatians 2:15: "...by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ . . . “ (other verses translated the same way are Galatians 2:20; Romans 3:22, 26; Galatians 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9). I hope I am not a bother to ask you this, but I value your opinion and think this is extremely thought provoking if their translation is correct. If you have time I would love to know your thoughts on this!”
Dear M. H.--
I own a print copy of the First Beta edition of the NET Bible. The interpretative notes in the NET Bible at this point are undoubtedly the work of NT Professor Daniel Wallace. His Greek Grammar beyond the Basics takes precisely the same view, and indeed with precisely the same wording much of the time.
The Greek word at issue is pistis, a noun, which occurs more than 200 times in the Greek NT. Depending on the context and how it is used, it can mean “faith” or “faithfulness” (for example, in the list of the “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 6, is it “faith” or “faithfulness”? A case can be made for either meaning there).
After considering Wallace’s arguments, and examining every passage where pistis is used in the Greek NT, I must strongly disagree with the NET and Wallace interpretation at this point and rather side with the most widespread understanding of all these passages among grammatically-mind commentators, namely, that the use of the genitive in these passages is what grammarians call an "objective genitive", that is, it is faith IN Jesus Christ. Faith in Christ, with Him as its object, is presented as the effective means of securing salvation throughout the NT, and is taught beyond question in numerous NT passages which do not involve the issue of the force and meaning of the genitive case. For example: John 3:16; Acts 16:31, 20:21, 24:24, etc., and especially Galatians 3:26, which is in the same general context as Galatians 2:16 (see also Ephesians 1:15), etc. There--Galatians 3:26--it is a dative case where no other interpretation but "faith IN Jesus Christ" is possible.
I cannot recall any place in Scripture where it is unambiguously stated that we are saved because of Christ's faithfulness to us; the emphasis is always on our faith in / directed toward Him. The alternate view, which Wallace champions, a so-called subjective genitive--"the faithfulness of Jesus Christ"--is more novel than convincing and is rejected by such notable NT scholars as F. F. Bruce in his commentary on Galatians at 2:16 (I could heap up quotations and citations from grammarians and commentators who agree with Bruce, but let me simply say, it is a very strong majority). Christ is the object of our faith, and it is our faith in / commitment to Him that is the means of securing salvation.
In the NT, when "faithfulness" is spoken of with reference to Divine Persons, it seems to regularly refer to God the Father: I Corinthians 10:13--"but God is faithful, who will not let you be tempted, . . .” I John 1:9--"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and justice to forgive. . . " See also Romans 3:3; 2nd Corinthians 1:18; etc. Here, the Greek word is pistos, an adjective related to the noun pistis. In Revelation 1:5; 3:14, Jesus is called "the faithful witness," specifying the realm of His faithfulness there under consideration--as a witness; His soteriological work is not directly in view.
I find in checking just now, Mark 11:22, where "have faith,” literally, “of God' MUST be an objective genitive--“faith in God”; it would be absurd to speak of "having God's faithfulness" in this context. Likewise, Revelation 14:12, where it MUST be understood as "faith IN Jesus Christ" (objective genitive).
While Christ is, of course, perfectly faithful to us, that is not the topic under consideration in the passages noted in NET. Having just now examined every verse in the NT where pistis (faith) and pistos (faithful) occur, I think the "faithfulness" interpretation put forth by Wallace and the NET Bible is complete nonsense, and without any justification at all.
More “What Would Jesus Do?” References in Spurgeon
Pastor Kerry Allen, whose reading of Spurgeon’s published sermons has been exhaustive, wrote in response to “Spurgeon and ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ Once Again” in the previous issue (As I See It, 13:3):
There are at least four more references to WWJD that were missed:
"A heavenly pattern for our earthly life," sermon # 1778, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 30, page 252.
"Love's transformations," sermon # 1871, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 31, page 635.
An All Round Ministry, Banner of Truth copy, page 268.
The Gospel according to Matthew, comments on Matthew 12:46-50.
Kerry J. Allen