Parts one and two.

Moving along through the πίστις Χρισοῦ passages, the next one to examine is Philippians 3:7-11. Πίστις Χριστοῦ and Πίστις Θεοῦ are basically synonymous for John. In this passage, faith has a strong cognitive element, with Jesus Christ as its object. He spends a lot of time arguing against pure reason. Rather, he says, we receive all of the great truth through faith (δία πίστεως), in or by faith (simply πίστει and from/by faith, (ἀπό πίστεως. Righteousness is obtained by this faith, and not through “toil and sweat,” but there must also be works coming from this faith, especially sacrificial good works for the benefit of the poor. Faith especially empowers us to share in Jesus’ sufferings (and John quotes Col 1:24, 2 Cor 4:10 in addition to Phil 3:10 as evidence). Thus, we should not complain about suffering, since it is the method by which we are conformed to Christ’s death. Instead, we should rejoice and marvel at what God does through them.

Here are some salient excerpts:

If then Paul, who had righteousness [according to the law], on account of it not be righteousness, ran to this righteousness [the righteousness δία πίστεως], then how much more should those who have no righteousness run along with him! He rightly said, “Not having a righteousness of my own,” since he did not attain it through sweat and toil. Rather, he found it by grace (ἀπό τῆς χάριτος), as he said. Thus, if the upright one [Paul] is saved by grace, how much more all of you! Since then, it seemed reasonable for him to say to them, “the righteousness through toil is better,” he shows that it is rubbish compared to this [the righteousness by grace]. “For I was not upright at that time, but throwing it away I ran to this [the righteousness of grace].” But of what sort is this righteousness? It is by faith in God (ἡ ἀπό πίστεως Θεοῦ. That’s to say, it is given by God (καὶ ἅυτη παρὰ Θεοῦ δέδοται).

Initially I thought the bolded it referred back to faith, but now I think righteousness is the better antecedent. Either would be grammatically correct, but the whole discourse seems to be about righteousness, so I think he’s saying that “righteousness is given by God” rather than “faith is given by God.” He then picks up the discussion on faith:

What then, is this faith? It’s “on the basis,” he says, “of knowing him [Christ]. After all: knowledge is through faith, and faith without knowing him does not exist. But how? Through faith one must know the power of his resurrection. By what manner of reasoning does he prove the resurrection? None at all! Rather, it is faith.” [He discusses the resurrection and the virginal conception, proving that the virginal conception is a greater act. The point is that both must be received with faith, and not reason]. These things [the virginal conception and the resurrection] accomplish righteousness. This you must believe, that he was able [to do these things]. But how did his power work these things? That is not to demonstrate now. The sharing of sufferings is by faith. How? If we have not believed, we have not suffered. If we have not believed, that those who persevere with him will rule with him, neither will we suffer these sufferings, since by faith the genesis [virgin birth] and resurrection are received.

He then turns to works: “Don’t you see, then, that there must not only be faith, but also works through faith? (the last part makes no sense to me: ἀλλὰ δι’ ἔργων. Is there some elision here, so that he’s saying that faith must not stand alone, but must express itself through works?). For the one who believes best that Christ is risen, is the one who is eager to give himself to those in danger, the one who shares in sufferings. This is the one who shares in the resurrection. Later, after discussing discussing suffering further, and quoting Paul’s statements about “carrying in his body the death of Christ” and “filling up in his flesh the sufferings of Christ” John continues, And this [Paul’s suffering] happened by great faith (ἀπὸ πίστεως πολλῆς γίνεται).

So then, we see here the interplay in John (and Paul’s) thought between righteousness, law, grace, and works. John juxtaposes righteousness from the law and righteousness by grace. Righteousness by grace is given by God, and is by faith. Faith is on the basis of knowing him, and all our knowledge of him is received in faith. Knowledge especially concerns knowing Jesus’ redemptive life, which bring about, or accomplishes, the righteousness we enjoy by faith. Finally, faith must find expression in works, especially in the sharing of Jesus’ sufferings. In reference to the πίστις Χριστοῦ, human faith is almost entirely in sight here. There’s one potentially subjective genitive: ἡ ἀπό πίστεως Θεοῦ. τουτὲστι, καὶ ἅυτη παρὰ Θεοῦ δέδοται in the first part could be interpreted as, “It [righteousness] is by the faith of God. That’s to say, the faith which is given by God.” In such a case, the faith would not be the faithfulness of Jesus, the faith we trust for salvation. Still, it’s much more likely that John speaks of “righteousness” being given by God (rather than faith), and that the ἡ ἀπό πίστεως Θεοῦ. is an objective genitive (faith in God).

On the other hand, John does point out what a lot of subjective genitive folks want to emphasize: that it is Jesus’ faithfulness in his earthly life that enables us to be righteousness. Speaking of Jesus’ virginal conception and resurrection, he says “these things accomplish righteousness.” He’s also quick to point out the participatory implications of 3:10, that having faith in Jesus implies that we must share in his sufferings, and that good works must come from that faith. He brings in Col 1:24 and 2 Cor 4:10 as good parallels.

So, I suppose John emphasizes what many of the “faithfulness of Christ” people want to emphasize, but he goes about it a different way. Πίστις is consistently human faith, even cognitive faith, but he also discusses the redemptive significance of Jesus’ life and the response in us that our faith should bring about.

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