What Is The Meaning Of “Faith” In Luke 18:8? -- By: David A. Mappes

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 167:667 (Jul 2010)
Article: What Is The Meaning Of “Faith” In Luke 18:8?
Author: David A. Mappes

What Is The Meaning Of “Faith” In Luke 18:8?

David A. Mappes

David A. Mappes is Associate Professor of Theology and Bible Exposition, Baptist Bible Seminary, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania.

This article examines Jesus’ statement in Luke 18:8, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth.” Was He referring to faith as doctrinal knowledge (truth assertions about the content of the faith)? Or did He refer to His disciples’ being found faithful to Him when He returns?1 Warfield writes that one should “begin by determining the sense which is to be put upon the term ‘faith’ here—or ‘the faith,’ . . . since it has the article.”2 While Plummer acknowledges several views regarding this articular noun (such as “faith that perseveres in prayer” or faith as “loyalty to Himself”),3 he argues that “the faith” in question refers to “faith in Jesus as the Messiah and Saviour.”4 Also Stein notes that the “use of the article before ‘faith,’ i.e.,

‘the faith,’ suggests that this question should be translated ‘Will he find the faith?’ rather than ‘Will he find faithfulness?’”5

If the construction “the faith” (τὴν πίστιν) refers to a body of fixed doctrine6 that has been revealed to the church and that the church is to preserve against heresy,7 this is similar to other New Testament expressions such as Jude 3, where believers are commanded to contend for the faith, or Paul’s reference to “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:6)8 or “traditions” (2 Thess. 2:15).9 If “the faith” in Luke 18:8 refers to a body of truth, then expositors must look carefully at how Luke used this articular noun in the context of the parable in verses 1-8 to determine which component(s) of doctrine might be included.

On the other hand some say that Jesus used this articular noun to refer to the act of believing or t...

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