It is striking that this passage interprets Jesus' death not as the outcome of his own faithfulness but as God's saving action. While this action has its own particular time and place, it is not closed in upon itself but forms the basis of the ongoing divine action in which God justifies the one who respond to it in faith. Faith, and consequently righteousness, is what is intended in God's action in the death of Jesus: God set forth Christ as an atoning sacrifice by his blood, but with a view to the "faith" through which its benefits - righteousness, remision of former sins - would be received. God justifies the one who is of the faith of Jesus, since the name "Jesus" denotes nothing other than the saving action that God accomplished in his death. If, however, God's action in Christ intends the faith that leads to justification, this faith is itself the recognition and acknowledgement of the divine saving action. In a two-way movement from Christ's death and back to it again, God's saving act in Christ seeks to elicit the answering faith that acknowledges it as what it truly is. Faith, then, is "faith of Jesus Christ" in the dual sense that Jesus Christ, the embodiment of God's saving action, is as such both the origin and the object of faith. In this way, the ambiguous genitive formulation - "through faith of Jesus Christ", "the one who is of the faith of Jesus" (vv. 22, 26) - may be clarified, not by grammar but by context. (p. 75-76).
Monday, May 08, 2006
Last Thursday I was privileged to have had dinner with Francis Watson and the conversation was a most enjoyable one about the apocryphal Gospels, teaching NT to undergrads, contemporary Pauline scholarship, and spring rolls, etc. It all reminded me of one interesting quote from Watson's book Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith regarding Rom. 3.22 and the pistis christou debate: