Re: Eph. 3:12

From: Carl W. Conrad (
Date: Thu Jun 13 1996 - 06:50:56 EDT

At 8:40 PM -0500 6/12/96, wrote:
>Dear Sister or Brother in Christ;
> I am very interested in an issue you raise in this last post, specifically:
> <The issue[s] of whether PISTIS should be translated "faith" or
>"faithfulness"[...]>. I wonder if this issue doesn't have more to do with
>current Christian use of the terms "faith" and "faithfulness" than it does
>with a distinction in our definitions of koine PISTIS.
> I write this because in my research for a Master's Thesis on "Hope in the
>Pauline Epistles," I became convinced that the common useage of "Faith" (at
>least in the Evangelical churches) has usurped some of the intellectual
>aspects of "Hope" (as used by Paul.) Because of this shift of meanings,
>"Hope" became superfluous, and Faith lost its connotation of "faithfulness"
>to become a mental acquiescence to "orthodox" Biblical interpretation
>(Believing PISTEUW). It also meant that "doubt" was "lack of faith".
> I don't want to try to recreate my thesis here, but I am interested in how
>the folks on this list might compare and contrast "faith" and "faithfulness"
>as alternate readings for PISTIS, and how you perceive the relationship
>between PISTIS, 'ELPIS and AGAPH in Paul's materials. (pardon me if my
>transliteration is not up to par, I'm not used to transliterating the

The way you phrase your inquiry, particularly with respect to your Master's
Thesis and theological history, poses dangers of bringing any discussion of
the right understanding of PISTEUW in any particular NT passage into
theological controversy, which we try to avoid on B-Greek in order not to
have to summon the Fire Department, which has not been known to be too
helpful when flames start flying on the internet.

However, it seems to me that one good clue to the Pauline understanding of
PISTIS and PISTEUW may be seen in Romans 4 where Abraham's trust in God and
action on the basis of trust that appear to be the focus of Paul's use of
the words. If there is an intellectual component at all in PISTIS as
discussed there, it would lie, I think, in Abraham's confident assurance
that God is creator and redeemer, calling life out of death and bringing
things into being out of what is not.

There has been a lengthy correspondence on more than one occasion on
B-Greek of this issue, of the usage of PISTEUW with EIS, and of the usage
of PISTIS with IHSOU XRISTOU understood as subjective genitive--the
faithfulness exercised by Jesus Christ vs. IHSOU XRISTOU understood as
objective genitive--whether that be understood as (1) faithfulness, trust
in, commitment to Jesus Christ, or (2) intellectual assent to the saving
acts of Jesus Christ as efficacious for the believer. Although I can't
speak for the list here, I suspect it might be better to refer to the
archives at one of the web sites and do a search there through the
discussions which can be examined by thread.

If anyone has ready to hand the dates for those threads, it might make
consultation of the archives easier.

Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University
One Brookings Drive, St. Louis, MO, USA 63130
(314) 935-4018 OR

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