Does Πιστις Mean ‘Faith(Fulness)’ In Paul? -- By: Kevin W. Mcfadden

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 66:2 (NA 2015)
Article: Does Πιστις Mean ‘Faith(Fulness)’ In Paul?
Author: Kevin W. Mcfadden


Does Πιστις Mean ‘Faith(Fulness)’ In Paul?

Kevin W. McFadden

([email protected])

Summary

This article argues that ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ are two distinct meanings of πίστις in Paul. Many Pauline scholars write as if πίστις means ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ at the same time, using glosses like ‘faith(fulness)’ and ‘faith/faithfulness’. But I argue that a distinction between the active meaning of πίστις (faith) and its passive meaning (faithfulness) is evident in Paul. The main pieces of evidence supporting this distinction are contexts in which Paul uses πίστις interchangeably or in parallel with the verb πιστεύω and contexts in which Paul uses πίστις with an object of faith indicated by a prepositional phrase. I conclude that Pauline scholars should not use the gloss ‘faith(fulness)’ for the word πίστις.

1. Introduction

Does πίστις mean both ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ at the same time in Paul? Translating πίστις with ‘faith(fulness)’ or ‘faith/faithfulness’ has been common in the debate over πίστις Χριστοῦ. However, as I will demonstrate in this article, the lexical evidence for translating πίστις with both ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ at the same time is questionable. After surveying the use of ‘faith(fulness)’ as a gloss for πίστις in Pauline scholarship and defining the distinction between the active meaning of πίστις (faith) and its passive meanings (faithfulness), I will argue that a distinction between these two meanings of πίστις is evident in Paul. In other words, my answer to the question posed in the title of this article is essentially ‘no’.

1.1 ‘Faith(Fulness)’ As A Gloss Of Πίστις In Pauline Scholarship

It is common today for Pauline scholars to speak as if πίστις means both ‘faith’ and ‘faithfulness’ at the same time in Paul, especially for those who interpret the phrase πίστις Χριστοῦ as a reference to Christ’s own faith or faithfulness (the subjective genitive view).

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