For the vast majority of my Christian life, I attended a devout southern baptist church that taught strictly from the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Although I never heard anyone say that it was the only preserved translation of the Scriptures, I can now see that, although that was not stated and likely not even realized as such, we lived as though the KJV was just that. It took me more than ten years to realize this. Needless to say, I have been set free from this shackled way of thinking.
Today, I tend to shy away from reading the KJV. However, I am, by no means, anti-KJV; my tastes have simply shifted over the years around gradual realizations. I admire its poetic nature today just as much as I ever have.
Recently, I was perusing the KJV when something pretty interesting caught my eye and, perhaps, tugged on my heartstrings.
Ever since I can remember, there has always seemed to have been some theological notion missing from what is taught by most churches, regarding the Atonement. There has always been some dot that just did not seem to connect—one thing or another that just did not click. Could it lie here?
For one reason or another, most modern translations of the Bible (even the NKJV) do not mention the faith of Jesus Christ. Why is that? Has no one thought it strange that no one mentions that Jesus epitomized a life of faith?
Since most churches read from modern translations of the Bible, this may partially account for why many pastors never preach on the faith of Jesus and why it is virtually unspoken of in Christian circles. I have yet to account for why it is not spoken of in KJV-only churches, though.
Although our faith is vital to the reconciliation of all things—which has also been infrequently spoken of in the church—Jesus should always be the epicenter of every doctrine that is good and true. Many attempt to claim that he is the center of our faith since we are saved via our faith in him, but, at the end of the day, according tomodern-day orthodoxy, our faith is ultimately what saves any of us—our faith takes center stage; it has become the epicenter of our religion.
As you consider the following passages, keep in mind that modern translations use “of” rather than “in” as noted. I would first like to consider each verse from a philosophical standpoint and to finally wrap things up by examining the Greek from which the New Testament is translated. I am no scholar, but I like to think I specialize in the small portion of Greek that is critical to my theological niche. You could call me a generalist, if you must call me anything at all.
Christians, for the most part, tend to appeal to the masses in defense of modern translations of the following passages by stating that most translators have chosen one word over another. In other words, they are suggesting that we should blindly trust their authority. Although I do not deny the authority of scholars, we must acknowledge that even translators have presuppositions, which affect how they translate certain terms. Scholars disagree with each other all the time. Why should we blindly follow the masses opinions, when other scholars, at times, disagree with them?
Scripture instructs Christians to “test all things and to hold onto what is good and true.” I am attempting to do just that; nothing more and nothing less. Never let anyone discourage you from questioning what doesn’t sit right with you. We have a God-given conscience. Unfortunately, many chalk their conscious up to human reasoning; as though there is godly reasoning that is beyond our reach. If that were true, why would God instruct us to test all things and to come and reason with him?
“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.” —Galatians 2:16 KJV
“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” —Galatians 2:16 ESV
The first rendition states that we believe in Christ so that we may be justified, primarily, by his faith, rather than by the faith of another. The second suggests, of course, that we are justified by our own faith. However, if we are justified by our faith, it follows that we justify ourselves when we decide to place our faith in Jesus. It seems to me that Calvinists have long seen this dilemma and have therefore clung to determinism in order to sidestep it.
Calvinists believe that if our faith has been given to us, by God, apart from our individual will, faith would then not be a work on our part, but a work of God—which is true enough. Yet, if anyone is to be held responsible for a lack of faith, then it only follows that we must have something to do with acquiring it. Otherwise, the uncommitted are damned for not possessing something that God has chosen not to give them. This is, primarily, why I reject hard-determinism. Yet, this whole way of thinking assumes that justification comes primarily through our faith and fails to consider the faith of Christ.
If our faith in Christ is only a means to be justified in and by Jesus’ faith, rather than it being treated as the mode of justification, perhaps Calvinism and Arminianism would never have formed.
“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.” —Galatians 2:20 KJV
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” —Galatians 2:20 ESV
The first rendition states that the life we live in the flesh is lived through the faith of Christ, rather than through primarily our faith. In the second, there is no mention of Jesus’ faith. Therefore, it suggests that the life we live in the flesh is lived through our faith. How feeble and unreliable is one’s life if it relies on the waning and flowing of one’s own faith? Jesus and his faith should be our cournerstone, but we have become self-dependent beings to our demise.
“But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” —Galatians 3:22 KJV
“But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” —Galatians 3:22 ESV
The first rendition states that the promise is a bedrock because its reality hinges on an unshakable foundation—the faith of the Only Begotten. Could it be that we share in Jesus faith when we place our faith in him, just as we share in his death and resurrection? Just think about that for a moment!
“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:” —Romans 3:22 KJV
“the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:” —Romans 3:22 ESV
The first rendition states that the righteousness of God is unto and upon all that believe. Moreover, it, once again, acknowledges that it is by the faith of Christ rather than by, primarily, the faith of man that we share in his righteousness.
The second rendition omits a few details in order to place emphasis on our faith. Righteousness is then attained through our faith, rather than through Jesus’. Does belief produces faith, or is that a bit redundant?
“and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” —Philippians 3:9 KJV
“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith:” —Philippians 3:9 ESV
The first rendition seems much clearer than the first. Both admit that our righteousness is not of ourselves, but of Christ. Yet the first states explicitly that it is imparted through Jesus’ faith, rather than through our own. It states “not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law . . .”
Granted, it was speaking of a righteousness that supposedly came through keeping the law, but is a righteousness that comes through our own faith amy better than a righteousness that comes through the faith of Christ?
Jesus’ faith is of utmost importance because without his faith, ours is without worth.
Seeing the end from the beginning, Jesus will be satisfied. Could he be satisfied with saving fewer than was lost through Adam? Will the sacrifice of the second Adam’s life be less effective than a single sinful/selfish act of the first’s?
We can rest assured in the following:
“He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.” —Isaiah 53:11 KJV
Is it by his knowledge or by ours that we shall be justified? Our faith plays an important role in salvific process, but our faith cannot justify us from our sins. Only Jesus’ faith can do that. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith, after all.
*Now I would like to remark on a grammatical aspect of the matter.
The Greek word for “in” is “eis”.
According to the Englishman’s Concordance, the KJV, NAS, and INT translate the passages above correctly as “of Christ” rather than “in Christ”.
If you look closely at the Greek phraseology, whenever those passages use the phrase “in Christ”, “eis” always precedes the noun that is translated “Christ”.
Whenever they have chosen to use “of Christ” rather than “in Christ”, “eis” does not precede the noun (Christ). In fact, nothing does. When Christou stands alone, “of” is used to precede the noun. “Of Jesus Christ” (]Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ without εἰς) is the genitive (i.e., possessive) case. It is therefore the more accurate translation.
“Christou”, without the term “eis”, is also the word that is used in the gospels when it speaks of the works and resurrection of Christ. Why shouldn’t the same standard follow with it speaks of faith?
Feel free to share your thoughts below. If you enjoyed this article, I would greatly appreciate a “like” or “share”. If you’ve enjoyed my blog, you can easily subscribe below.
Test all things; hold onto what is good and true.