Faith vs a judaising majority...THE issue in Determining who is an Israelite in the New Testament

I listened to a good interview with NT Wright yesterday. The interview was enjoyable. I appreciate Wright's desire and ability to be "biblical" in the best sense. I do wonder when/if his correct view on "the works of the law" will catch up with his incorrect usage of sacramental theology. He correctly emphasizes that "works of the law" are chiefly circumcision and temple qualification. And Paul clearly teaches one is not counted as legitimate by God through these markers. Unfortunately the widely received forms of the Christian religion have manipulated water baptism and "the Eucharist" into precisely the same role that "the works of the law" played in the early judaizing controversies of the New Testament. Roman Catholicism more directly, and Reformed Protestantism more circuitously, both teach a legitimacy attained through these means as renovated "works of the law." The actual teaching of the New Testament however is that one is counted legitimate only by loyal recognition and fidelity in Jesus Christ, -that is FAITH, even the obedience of faith.

"...through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name's sake, (Rom 1:5)"
"...among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; (Rom 1:6)"

for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Rom 3:26)"
"...For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. (Rom 3:28)"



When thinking about our important religious words it pays to investigate what the original words of scripture meant in their original context. Kittel's "Theological Dictionary of the New Testament" is a very useful tool for getting at the original meaning of the language of the New Testament. We must try to translate that original meaning to our modern minds. This way we hear the scriptures in their "own voice."

Part of the process of truing up our understanding of "Bible words" from the way they are popularly used now, may include examining how our modern usage has developed. Here are a few entries from an online etymological dictionary that give earliest dates when a word is found being used with a specific significance.

c.1250, "duty of fulfilling one's trust," from O.Fr. feid, from L. fides "trust, belief," from root of fidere "to trust," from PIE base *bhidh-/*bhoidh- (cf. Gk. pistis; see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. Theological sense is from 1382; religions called faiths since c.1300. Faith-healer is from 1885. Old Faithful geyser named 1870 by explorer Gen. H.D. Washburn, Surveyor-General of the Montana Territory, in ref. to the regularity of its outbursts.

c.1175, replaced O.E. geleafa, from W.Gmc. *ga-laubon (cf. O.S. gilobo, M.Du. gelove, O.H.G. giloubo, Ger. glaube), from *galaub- "dear, esteemed." The prefix was altered on analogy of the verb. The distinction of the final consonant from that of believe developed 15c. Belief used to mean "trust in God," while faith meant "loyalty to a person based on promise or duty" (a sense preserved in keep one's faith, in good (or bad) faith and in common usage of faithful, faithless, which contain no notion of divinity). But faith, as cognate of L. fides, took on the religious sense beginning in 14c. translations, and belief had by 16c. become limited to "mental acceptance of something as true," from the religious use in the sense of "things held to be true as a matter of religious doctrine" (c.1225).



There are a few very important words which will always be worthy of our special attention. "Faith" or "Believe" is just such a word. The biblical word group "pistos," pistis," and "pisteuo," is translated into our English bible versions as "believe" and "faith." There is no more important teaching for us to grasp than this: -He who believes in the Son has eternal life (John 3:15-18). There is a difference in how some habitually use the English word faith/believe and the biblical meaning. In the scriptures to have faith, or to believe, is to have a loyal recognition or loyal acknowledgment. One important thing about this "loyal recognition" is that it is directed toward a person...in this case the personal God who is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and The God who is personally recognized in His son Jesus Christ. This biblical idea of faith as a "loyal recognition" is different from the modern idea of faith as a generic "positive mental force" or "optimism." Some teachers have mistakenly emphasized "faith," as something valuable in and of itself...for which the object of that faith is irrelevant. In many cases people mistakenly think of faith as a "mind over matter" self-exertion. When this happens the biblical meaning is lost. A few passages are normally misread by these teachers. I will add some to this post with a few observations about them soon; but know that faith is all about who you are having faith in. Faith is about having a loyal recognition of God through a loyal recognition of Jesus Christ, God's son.