From: Carlton Winbery (winberyc@popalex1.linknet.net)
Date: Sat Apr 12 1997 - 02:49:42 EDT

Mike A Porter wrote;
>What is the sense of Episteusen (aorist) in Rom 4:3 and James 2:23? I am
>trying to answer the question of when Abraham believed. Here's why:

>We hold to justification by faith. Hence, Abraham believed and was
>justified. But, the writer of Hebrews tells us that

>8 By faith Abraham, when he was called,
>obeyed by going out to a place which he
>was to receive for an inheritance; and he
>went out, not knowing where he was going.

>and again,

>17 By faith Abraham, when he was
>tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had
>received the promises was offering up his
>only begotten son;

>The question is when did Abraham believe. Most commonly, we will argue
>that he believed in Gen 15:6 based on the covenant.

>Not knowing Hebrew, I can't really comment on the grammar of 15:6. I was
>hoping that the greek might offer a clue. Are we mandated, especially in
>light of Romans 4, to suppose that Abraham believed in God only when God
>made the covenant with him? Or, is there an alternative explanation?

First this use of the aorist seems to me to be the most common, it
happened. Some call it "indefinite," others "historical," and others
"summary aorist." Jim Brooks and I called it "constative." It does not
emphisize either the beginning or conclusion of the action, but that it

"When did Abraham believe?" For Paul in Rom. 4, the most important answer
to that question is "while he was still uncircumcised." This supports his
argument that Abraham can be the father of both the uncircumcised and the
circumcised, i.e., Jew and Gentile alike. It is most interesting that
James uses the same passage to argue for faith and works whereas Paul uses
it to argue for righteousness by faith apart from works of law.


Carlton L. Winbery
114 Beall St.
Pineville, LA 71360
Fax (318) 442-4996
e-mail winberyc@popalex1.linknet.net
Phone 318 487-7241 Home 448-6103

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