Faith in Romans, Part 1 - The Obedience of Faith among all Gentile Nations:Volume 5, Number 2
Created Date: August 18, 2019
Posted Date: August 18, 2019
This is the first in a series examining the use of the Greek word pistis, (G4002) usually translated “faith” in Romans where it occurs 40 times, the most frequent in any New Testament (NT) book. Today, we’ll compare the first and last occurrences of faith and then the 2nd through the 6th in the first chapter:
• First occurrence; “By whom (the Lord Jesus Christ) we (Paul and his fellow apostles) have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”,
• Fortieth and last occurrence; “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my (Paul’s) gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:”.
We’ll focus on the significant phrases “for obedience to the faith among all nations,” Romans 1:5 and “made known to all nations for the obedience of faith,”but first we note that Paul begins Romans by branding himself a slave of Jesus Christ Who divinely selected/appointed him an apostle (a messenger sent forth with orders), set apart for the purpose of the Gospel (good tidings or news) of God, . God promised this good news by the prophets He inspired to write the (Old Testament, [OT]) Scriptures, . They prophesied God’s Son Jesus Christ our Lord would be born in the lineage of King David, , and He was subsequently ordained the Son of God when He was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit, . It was by the loving kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ that Paul and his associates received their Apostleship (assignment to be sent out) for “obedience to the faith” among all nations for the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 1:5. The word “nations” is from the Greek “ethnos” (G1484) translated “gentiles” 93 times, “nations” 64 times, “heathen” five and “people” twice in the NT King James Version (KJV). “Ethnos” is first found in the NT in , where it is translated gentiles and is a quote from where the Hebrew word translated nations refers to all nations except Israel, i.e., the gentiles. Thus, Paul’s ministry was to preach the “obedience to the faith” among all gentile nations.
InPaul bestows Grace (a benefit of joy and favor) upon the Roman believers (as well as on believers today). In Romans 16:25 he teaches that the Lord Jesus Christ is the power to stablish, i.e., “to make steadfast, confirm or ratify” the Roman believers (and believers today). This is according to the Gospel revealed to Paul, which is the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. Then in Romans 16:26 Paul explains that the Lord Jesus Christ commanded he and the Apostles with him to reveal this secret to all gentiles/nations for the obedience of faith. We get from this that Gentiles (and individual Jews) today are saved by believing the specific Gospel Paul preached, which had been a secret until the Lord Jesus Christ revealed it to Paul. Prior to Paul, the obedience of faith had been for the Nation of Israel and prior to that, for certain individuals, but never to the Gentile Nations.
The KJV translates the phrase in Romans 1:5 “for obedience to the faith” while the phrase in Romans 16:26 is translated “for the obedience of faith.” I asked my brother in Christ, David Havard how these phrases appear in the original Greek and he said the Greek is identical in both passages. So, although the KJV translators saw fit to translate them a little differently, they are identical; “for obedience to [the] faith.” The Greek word translated “obedience” in these verses is “hupakoe” (G5118), that occurs 15 times in the NT where it is translated obedience 11 times and once each as “obedient,” “to make obedient,” “to obey” and “obeying.” Paul uses it 11 times in the epistles identified as having been written by him and it is found once in Hebrews and three times in 1st Peter. The “Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament,” page 540, defines the Greek word “hupakoe” as “a hearing attentively, or listening; hence, obedience, as the result of attentive listening.” This definition fits with: “so then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” The word “cometh” is not in the original so it reads “faith by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.”
The Greek word translated “hearing” in Romans 10:17 is “akoe” (G189), that occurs 24 times in the NT, usually translated “hearing” but also with other words such as “ears,” “fame,” etc. The “Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament,” page 361 defines “akoe” as “hearing, the sense of hearing, and also, the thing heard.” I’m not a Greek scholar but it’s obvious that “akoe” is the last half of the word “hupakoe” and therefore understandable that “hupakoe” (translated obedience) conveys the idea of “a hearing attentively, or listening; hence, obedience, as the result of attentive listening.” The thought that “hupakoe” conveys also exists in our English; consider the mother who tells her little boy or girl not to walk on the carpet with muddy shoes. The next day, when the little one does it again, Mom might say, “didn’t you hear me when I told you not to do that” or “didn’t I tell you not to do that?” The child probably heard Mom's words the day before but not with the “obedience of faith.” Likewise, many people “hear” the Word of God but don’t believe and appropriate it; they don’t have the “obedience of faith.” I’ve known of people who claim they are atheists or agnostics even though they know a great deal of Scripture and can quote passages thereof from memory.
Hebrews, the 11th chapter provides examples of men and women who are witnesses to what the “obedience of faith” accomplished:
• “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.”. God recognized Abel as righteous because Abel offered a sacrifice by faith in God’s Word, i.e., Abel obeyed what God told him and offered the sacrifice God told him to;
• “By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”. It was by faith that Noah built the ark in which he and his family were saved from the flood that killed all unrighteous mankind. Noah’s was the “obedience of faith” because he did what God told him to;
• “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,”. Abraham’s was the “obedience of faith” because he obeyed God by offering Isaac as a sacrifice, believing God would raise Isaac up, .
God has not told us to offer an animal sacrifice; build an ark; offer our son as a sacrifice; or even to follow the Law of Moses like the Nation of Israel. His Word to we Gentiles (and individual Jews) is found in the Pauline epistles, which teaches the Gospel we are to believe. This Gospel was a secret before God revealed it to Paul for the obedience of faith to all Gentiles/Nations,Although the Romans who believed were “Called Saints,” . There are several aspects of the secret revealed to Paul, which we will examine as we proceed through his epistles but let’s consider the word “faith” in the rest of the first chapter of Romans. The second occasion of “faith” is in : “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.” By this we know they had heard the Word of God, Romans 10:17 and exercised “the obedience of faith.” and their faith was spoken of throughout the world, Romans 1:8, Paul never-the-less wanted to visit them to impart a Spiritual Gift in order to establish or strengthen them ; “That is, that I (Paul) may be comforted together with you (the Romans) by the mutual faith both of you and me.” . Paul uses this, the third occasion of the word “faith” in Romans to indicate that he longed to be comforted or strengthened together with them in the “faith” they shared.
The fourth, fifth and sixth occasions of the word “faith” are found in: “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” The phrase “the just shall live by faith” is a quote from , which Paul also quotes in and . The phrase “from faith to faith” refers to the fact that from the beginning, in order for a person to be righteous (right with God), God has always required faith in His Word “for without faith it is impossible to please Him,” , thus “the just shall live by faith.” But God’s word (instruction) was different to Abel, than it was to Noah or to Abraham or to Moses for Israel. God instructed something different for each to do in order to be righteous before Him. Each responded in “obedience of faith” and so the righteousness of God was revealed from faith to faith, i.e., from the faith of Abel, to that of Noah, etc.
For almost 2,000 years now, mankind has been saved by believing the Gospel Paul preached; that Christ died, was buried and rose again,. Our salvation is by God’s Grace (His favor that we can do nothing to earn or merit), and it is received through faith, and not of ourselves, it is God’s gift . Paul makes it clear that it is not through our faith, explaining in a number of passages “the faith” that makes believers righteous before God is that of Jesus Christ:
• “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”,
• “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, 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.”.
• “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.”.
So it is that as believers proceed through life, we are to turn our eyes away from other things and look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith,.