Translating the “faithfulness of Yeshua”

Romans 3:22a

Translating the “faithfulness of Yeshua”

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I will concentrate on the words in red in this article, for which is is necessary to supply some surrounding context. The reader must realize that it is difficult to teach a subject in which multiple items are customarily mistranslated, and also where multiple items have a false interpretive tradition attached to them. I do cover a lot of points in passing or in explanation of the main point, which do address the problem traditions. But this article’s purpose is to teach just one point: “the faithfulness of Yĕshua”. I am aiming at a comprehensive understanding of these words and not other points used to explain them.

But now apart from the norm the justice of the Almĭghty is made visible, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 that is, the justice of the Almĭghty, through the faithfulness of Yĕshua, the Mĕssiah, unto all those who are trustingly faithful [Good News of Messiah, 3rd edition, Romans Ebook: 4th edition].

Just reading a sampling of other translations gives a hint of the controversy lying beneath the theme of this article. I have underlined the words we are concerned with:

1. “But now, apart from the Torah, a righteousness of Elohim has been revealed, being witnessed by the Torah and the Prophets, and the righteousness of Elohim is through belief in יהושע Messiah to all and on all who believe. (ISR 1998)]

2. “But now, quite apart from Torah, God's way of making people righteous in his sight has been made clear - although the Torah and the Prophets give their witness to it as well - and it is a righteousness that comes from God, through the faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah, to all who continue trusting.” [The Complete Jewish Bible, David Stern].

3. “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:” [King James Version]

4. “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed – namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe..” [New English Translation, NET Bible.]

5. “But now a righteousness from God,a apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe” [The New International Version].

6. “But now without the law the justice of God is made manifest, being witnessed by the law and the prophets. Even the justice of God, by faith of Jesus Christ, unto all and upon all them that believe in him:” [Douay-Rheims Bible, 1899]

7. “ וְהִיא צִדְקַת אֱלֹהִים בֶּאֱמוּנַת יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אֶל־כֹּל וְעַל־כֹּל אֲשֶׁר הֶאֱמִינוּ בוֹ” (Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament). Delitzsch used Biblical Hebrew, which in English literallly comes out, “And she [is] [the] justice of Elohim in [the] faithfulness of Yeshua the Messiah unto all, and upon all which have put their support in him.”

8. ܟܿܐܢܘܼܬܼܗ ܕܿܝܢ ܕܿܐܠܗܐ܃ ܒܿܝܕܼ ܗܝܡܢܘܼܬܼܐ ܗ̱ܝ ܕܿܝܫܘܼܥ ܡܫܝܚܐ܂ ܠܟܼܠܢܫ܂ ܐܦܼ ܥܠ ܟܿܠܢܫ܂ ܕܿܡܗܝܡܢ ܒܿܗ܂ “a justice yet of the Almighty by the hand of the faithfulness being of Yeshua Messiah to anyone, also upon anyone which has trust in Him” [Aramaic Peshitta]: In Hebrew letters if don't have Syriac fonts installed: כאנותה דין דאלהא ביד הימנותא הי דישׁוע משׁיחא לכלנשׁ אף על כלנשׁ דמהימן בה Again I have translated this text using a Biblical Hebrew paradigm, which some may think anachronistic.

9. δικαιοσύνη δὲ θεοῦ διὰ πίστεως ᾽Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ “even the righteousness of God, through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ” [Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics]

After reading these it should be evident that the versions are not agreed on a fundamental doctrine of salvation. This will come as a tremendous, and yes unsettling suprise to most Bible Students, who have been sheltered from the controversy by the tradition they are reading. It is therefore imperative to learn the truth. Paul had only one meaning in mind at the beginning. The devil has had better success at fostering mistranslation and misinterpretation of Paul than burning Paul.

The first issue is whether the word πίστεως means belief, faith or faithfulness. The word may have all of those meanings, but what do the dictionaries say?

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BDAG, 3rd: “1. faithfulness, reliability, fidelity, commitment” Anyone who has the slightest bit of doubt should go and inspect Additional Greek Lexicons in a photo archive I have provided with complete source information.

The meaning is supported by the same word in different parts of speech, i.e. πιστός means faithful (BDAG). And the verb πιστεύω means to have fidelity, be faithful, be trustingly faithful. Thayer supplies, to commit oneself trustfully, and BDAG suggests the meaning commitment. Even though the Christian Lexicons are very reluctant, and almost loathe to unify, or note that the word group is unified, the sense is obviously, be faithful, faithful, and faithfulness for the verb, the adjective, and the noun form respectively.

Above all the Greek usage is a calque of the Hebrew sense of the verb used in Genesis 15:6: הֶאֱמִן, which when studied in Hebrew gives the fundamental root (or infinitive) meaning of to support (cf. BDB Lexicon). Gen. 15:6 says “He had made [his] support in Yahweh, and it was counted to him for righteousness.” The root is used for literal supports, pillars, a nurse supporting a child, and and sponsors materially supporting children. A word study using a Hebrew text and using a Hebrew concordance will prove out the sense that support has both the senses of to be a supporter of Yahweh, to be faithful and loyal, and also to be supported by Yahweh, to make one’s support in Him, which gives the aditional sense of trust, or rely on. It was this background which informed Paul's usage and the understanding of his readers.

The next issue is whether Paul meant “faith in Jesus or “faithfulness of Jesus”. The first use is called the objective genitive because the second noun is treated as if an object of a verb: “to have faith in: Christ.” The second use is called subjective because the first noun may be treated (by definition of the subjective genitive) as a verb and the second its subject: “Christ being faithful” or “Messiah is faithful.” According to the subjective genitive, the sense is that “justice of the Almighty through Messiah being faithful” Daniel B. Wallace discusses the very same text (Rom. 3:22) in his famous Grammar he remarks, “Older commentaries (probably as a Lutheran reflex) see Χριστοῦ as an objective gen., thus, “faith in Christ.” However, more and more scholars are embracing these texts as involving a subjective gen. (thus, either “Christ’s faith” or “Christ’s faithfulness”). Without attempting to decide the issue, we simply wish to interact with a couple of grammatical arguments, one used for each position. The grammatical argument for the objective gen., then, has little to commend it. ”

Therefore “the justice of the Almighty” is “through the faithfulness of Yĕshua.” God's justice is accomplished through Messiah being faithful. Paul specifically has in mind Messiah being faithful to His Father’s commandment to die for the sins of the world. Yeshua said “This commandment I received from My Father” (John 10:18). This agrees with Hab. 2:4, “the just shall live by His faithfulness”, but also “the just shall live by his faithfulness”, which is to say our faithful response to His faithfulness.

If the theologians are not gnashing their teeth at this point, then they should be mourning that the Most High should grant them repentence. I mourn the terrible crime they have done to scripture. But they are so dull of hearing the real Word of God that most will remain in their stupor. When they wanted to turn our “faithfulness” and our “fidelity” into “belief” only, they also managed to do away with the covenant faithfulness of Messiah. For the insistance that faith means believe only at the same time destroys “the faithfulness of Yĕshua.” If the faithfulness of Messiah is not understood, then it is also not understood that He is asking for a faithful response to it, and there are many who live their lives as if they only need to believe certain things while having no real fidelity to Messiah. As Paul says, these will not enter the kingdom of the Most High.

I know very well that many Christians have believed incorrectly what Paul is saying, or have not understood him, yet their heart has understood the need to be faithful to Messiah, and they have been, though weakened in intellect and weakened in good apologetic for the necessity of that response. And for lack of knowledge have been unable to pursue all the truth. May this article bring you strength of mind and blessings as you set your course anew to serve Messiah in a full knowledge of the truth.

So now, let me recap all of this is broader terms. For the repentant saints, for the people of God, the punitive justice demanded by the Father, for their sins, was in His mercy determined to be satisfied by the suffering and death of Messiah as a divine substitute. Justice is satisfied for us by the fidelity of Messiah to His Father’s commandment, that he should lay down his life for the sin of the world. And this promise is for everyone who pleads guilty before him, and who commits to be faithful henceforth to Messiah. Then He is faithful to forgive us our transgressions, and to cleanse our hearts of guilt, and to sanctify us in Him until the day of our perfection when Messiah returns.

But now apart from the norm the justice of the Almĭghty is made visible, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 that is, the justice of the Almĭghty, through the faithfulness of Yĕshua, the Mĕssiah, unto all those who are trustingly faithful [Good News of Messiah, 3rd edition, Romans Ebook: 4th edition].

This justice we recieve is apart from the status quo, or the norm. If the world does not take advantage of Messiah’s faithfulness done for it, then they will have to receive the customary justice, which is that the sinner must be punished with his own eternal death. But the atonement is an extraordinary justice, yet still taught in the Law and Prophets. All we need to do to receive this free gift and the forgiveness that goes with it is to trust and be faithful to Messiah instead of being loyal to rebellion against Him. Loathe your rebellion, and resolve to obey him. For he who keeps his commandments abides in the salvation already received.

Now I have pointed this out before. Paul is also teaching the sanctification of the faithful in these words: the justice of the Almighty through the faithfulness of Yeshua.. For the word justice is equally validly translated righteousness. Before diverting into that course of sanctification, I will explain what I said before using the term righteousness. The Father’s righteousness required a penalty for our sin, which His Son paid. That is the justice part. Sadly, the English tends to separate justice and righteounsess. They are one and the same thing in the original languages. When Messiah died, the Father’s righteousness (justice) was satisfied. The righteousness to be satisfied was not a forensic imputation of divine righteousness to our legal accounts. Any judge would call such a pleading an acquittal, and such the Scripture does not permit. What was satisfied was His own righteousness to punish sin in such a way that he could have mercy on the faithful (cf. Ex. 20:6). Now I will move to sanctification.

The righteousness of the Almighty comes through the faithfulness of Yĕshua I now explain this from the point of view of sanctification. Firstly, Yĕshua is the source of all righteousness. He is the source of life, because he is the Eternal Life, one with the Father. From Him flows all righteousness, and every good thing. Therefore, all righteousness that we may have comes from the source of life, which is the Almighty. His faithfulness is imparted to us as a gift. For we are sanctified from glory to glory until the day of glorius perfection. His righteousness is the same has His faithfulness, and his faithfulness is his covenant faithfulness to all Israel, which will all be saved when the fulness of the nations is entered in, and then the ungodly are cut off. His righteousness is imputed in degrees according to our faithfulness. His righteousness is eschatological, being only fully imputed on the last day, when the Great Trumpet is blown.

Therefore, the good news begins at Passover with Messiah's satisfaction of justice, and then moves foward to Shavuot, the feast of weeks, at which the Law was given for our sancitification on Mt. Sinai. Since the law is given on Mt. Sinai, therefore the loving-kindness of Messiah's covenant faithfulness can flow into our lives and become our faithful response, so that we may abide in life, and keep hold of life, until the day that Messiah establishes the New Jerusalem, and completes the task of writing his Law on our hearts through the instruction of the Spirit and the resurrection body.