Thursday, February 25, 2010

The False Logic of an Anthropological Definition of Faith as a Solution to Legalism and Boasting

It has come time to point out the fundamental illogicality of the anthropological distinction between faith and works as a way of escaping from the possibility of legalism and boasting. I have been prompted to do this as a result of the interesting discussion that has been taking place at Euangelion after Mike Bird picked up my post “The Significance of Romans 1–2: When Jews Are Gentiles, and Gentiles Are Jews.” For those who are interested, you can find the discussion on Mike’s blog in his post entitled “The Unity of Romans 1-2.”

The first thing we need to establish is that there is a condition for salvation. Evangelicals are agreed that faith is necessary in order to human beings to be accepted by God. This means that salvation is not unconditional. If it were unconditional, then presumably everyone would be saved. If we need faith in order to be saved, then faith is a condition for salvation.

The next question we need to consider is the humanness of faith: Is faith something that human beings do? Is faith a human activity, or does the human self not do anything when a person believes? When Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord (Acts 18:8), who did the believing? The answer is obvious: Crispus did the believing. Yes, such faith was the gift of God, but it was something that God worked in Crispus for him to be able to do. When people believe, there is not an alien inside of them that does the believing for them. An alien faith is certainly is not Luther’s position. For Luther, faith is an action of the inner person or soul, and therefore not a work (as far as he is concerned), but is it nonetheless an action of the soul.

If faith is a human activity, it is something we do. Faith is the gift of God, but it is still a human action. It is, for all intents and purposes, according to the normal way that we use the English language, a work. But even if you do not want to call it a work, faith is nevertheless a human activity.

The implication of the fact that faith is a human activity is very significant. The fact that faith is a human activity means that, even in the Lutheran system, human action is present in the process of salvation. In fact, without the human activity of faith we cannot be saved. So, salvation actually hinges (to some important extent) on human activity.

One of the arguments that is frequently heard in Protestant circles regarding the issue of faith and works is that Paul distinguishes clearly between faith and works in order to deal with the problem of legalism. The argument goes that lots of Jews back then mistakingly thought that they could be saved by their own efforts, so Paul linked justification to faith apart from works in order to preclude such people from boasting in their own efforts to make themselves acceptable to God. But the problem is that whilesoever faith is a human action, such an anthropological distinction between faith and works is not sufficient to deal fundamentally with the problem of human legalism and boasting.

You see, if faith is a human activity (which Luther acknowledges it is), then what is to stop me from boasting in my faith as that which makes me right before God? It may not be right for me to boast in my faith, but since faith is something that I do, theoretically I can boast in it, unless faith is taken to exclude boasting by definition. But if faith excludes boasting by definition, why can’t we say the same thing for the obedience of walking humbly with one’s God (Mic 6:8)? Furthermore, if faith is something that God has commanded (see Acts 16:31), then what is to stop me from thinking that I need to fulfill the command to believe in order to be saved? In fact, isn’t that true? We do need to obey the gospel command to believe, in order to be saved. Isn’t this a form of legalism?

The only kind of faith that precludes human boasting is an alien faith, a faith that is no longer human, a faith that has no connection with me as a person. And the only kind of faith that precludes legalism, is a faith that God has not commanded. Do you see the problem?

Those who reckon that Paul’s anthropological distinction between faith and works bursts the bubble of human pride and solves the problem of legalism need to recognize the illogicality of their position. The only way you can stop human boasting is by removing every skerrick of human involvement in the process of salvation, and you can only do that by asserting an alien faith, a kind of faith that is totally impersonal. An anthropological distinction between faith and works as the solution to human boasting and legalism is simply illogical.

Paul obviously distinguishes between faith and works. But surely his distinction must be logical. So, if an anthropological distinction does not work in terms of the normal standards of logic, then it makes sense to search for some other kind of explanation for that distinction. To me, the distinction that makes for the best sense in terms of logic, as well as being consistent with the biblical evidence, is a salvation-historical or covenantal distinction.

The historical issue of the day was fundamentally a Jewish one: Do we need to do the works of the Mosaic law (i.e., to obey the Mosaic covenant) in order to be saved? Paul’s answer was: “No! Being right with God in the new covenant age has to do with submission to Jesus as Messiah (faith). It is no longer a matter of submission to the law of Moses (the works of the law).”

You may not agree with this suggestion, but however you explain Paul it should at least be logical.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The Significance of Romans 1–2: When Jews Are Gentiles, and Gentiles Are Jews

There is a popular understanding of Rom 1–2 which says that in Rom 1:18–32 Paul convicts Gentiles of sin, and in Rom 2 he convicts Jews of sin. But this view is too simplistic.

Romans 1:18–32 should actually be viewed as forming a section with 2:1–29. This is evident from the fact that the language of Rom 2:1–3 refers back to the content of Rom 1:18–32. The word therefore in 2:1 links the beginning of the chapter in very closely with what has gone before. The phrases the very same things (2:1) and such things (2:2–3) do likewise.

So, Rom 1:18–2:29 should be treated as a common section, in which Paul is concerned to develop his first line of argument against his diatribal opponent. Paul's line of argument is developed over two stages, which then corresponds to the two main sub-sections of this section: 1:18–32 and 2:1–29.

In 1:18–32, Paul paints a picture of God’s wrath revealed from heaven against all instances of sin. This wrath is a pre-eschatological expression of God’s wrath that is pan-ethnic in nature. Even though the content of this sub-section is often thought of as being a description of God’s wrath directed against Gentiles, this is to misunderstand the nature of Paul’s argument. Even though some of the major sins enumerated here (such as idolatry and homosexual sin) were particularly associated in the Jewish mind with Gentiles rather than Jews, it should be noted that Paul does not use ethnic labels in 1:18–32. Instead, he employs the universal language of humanity (1:18). Then in 2:1 he applies this divine wrath to the unbelieving Jew of his day. The argument in 1:18–32 is, therefore, preparatory to that found in 2:1–29.

It is almost as if Paul has set his Jewish opponents a trap. In 1:18–32 he draws them in. "Yes, what else would you expect from Gentile sinners!" you can almost hear his Jewish opponents saying. But then in 2:1–5, 17-24 he turns the tables on his Jewish opponents, accusing them of the very same sins for which they had despised the Gentiles. "Got you!" says Paul. So, Rom 1:18–32 is actually preparatory to the main part of the first-line of his argument, which is given in 2:1–29.

In the second sub-section (2:1–29), Paul applies God’s wrath particularly to his non-Christian Jewish opponents, and in doing so he asserts the principle of a universal judgment according to works (2:6). The main function of the argument in this sub-section is to apply the principle of a universal judgment according to works to both Jew and Gentile in an attempt to destroy the fence of covenant righteousness that the Jewish covenantal exclusivists had built around themselves. On the one hand, he assumes that his Jewish opponents are sinners in need of repentance (2:4–5); and on the other hand, he asserts the possibility of Gentiles keeping the law (2:14–15, 26–27).

Paul engages his Jewish opponents in a virtual way through the use of diatribe. The rhetorical device of diatribe involves a writer or speaker taking on the persona of a debater conducting an argument against an opponent. It is characterized by direct address of one's opponent and the use of second person pronouns (e.g., 2:1–5, 17–19, 21–25), and by the extensive use of questions that embody the argument of one's opponents, which the rhetorician then bounces off to argue his case further (e.g., 3:1, 5, 9, 27, 31).

It is clear from 2:17–20 that Paul was conducting this diatribe with an orthodox Jew who is an advocate of traditional Jewish covenant theology. Paul applies the pre-eschatological revelation of God’s wrath mentioned in 1:18–32 to his Jewish opponents, and extends it by speaking of the wrath of God in its eschatological form, which unrepentant Jews will also have to face (2:1–5). In fact, on the day of judgment, the law-keeping Gentile will judge the law-breaking Jew (2:26–27).

In Rom 2 Paul is concerned to destroy the fence of Jewish covenantal particularism by asserting the principle of a universal judgment according to works (2:6–11) and by opening up the possibility of law-keeping and covenant righteousness on the part of the Gentiles (2:14–16, 26–27). Through the work of God’s Spirit writing the law and circumcising Gentile hearts (2:14–15, 29), Gentiles can now (i.e., in the new covenant age) participate on an equal footing with Jews in covenant righteousness (2:14, 26) and receive eternal life (2:7), glory and honor and peace (2:10), and even praise from God (2:29), as a result. Paul is not talking about the noble pagan in chapter 2. He is talking about Gentile Christians.

Paul's Jewish opponents believed that righteousness and salvation could only be attained by means of physical circumcision and a commitment to doing the law of Moses. But Paul had come to understand that the new covenant truths of Deut 30:6, 11–14; Jer 31:33; and Ezek 36:26-27 also applied to Gentiles through faith in Christ. That is to say, Paul had come to see how justification by faith in Christ had effectively opened up justification by the works of the law to Gentiles (as per the logic of 2:13) through the grace of the Spiritual circumcision of the heart that Christ had come to achieve as a key element of the new covenant!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Significance of Psalm 98 for Understanding the Righteousness of God in Romans 1:17

Paul understood that the gospel brings salvation (Rom 1:16) because it is a revelation of the righteousness of God (Rom 1:17). Paul’s understanding of the righteousness of God is explicated in greater detail in Rom 3:24–26, where he identifies how God’s righteous character is revealed in two particular ways: the death of Christ as an atoning sacrifice reveals God’s righteousness character in punishing sin (3:25), and it also allows God to justify justly those who believe (3:26).

But it is also important to keep in mind the Old Testament background to the use of the phrase the righteousness of God, for the Old Testament is the source of Paul’s knowledge of this concept.

The key Old Testament passage underlying Paul’s usage of the righteousness of God is Ps 98:1–3:
Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
In Ps 98 the righteousness of God is the eschatological salvation event that God would accomplish in the future to save his people (vv. 1, 3), to liberate all creation (vv. 4–8), and to judge the whole world (v. 9), all in faithfulness to his covenant promises to Israel (v. 3), which event would be revealed in the sight of all the nations (v. 2).

Paul understood that this prophetic expectation had been fulfilled in Jesus, and that the gospel (as the message proclaiming this event) was now revealing this salvation/judgment to all the nations of the world. The righteousness of God is God’s saving action in Jesus which reveals God’s righteous character in that he has brought vindication to his people and his world, and judgment against his enemies, all in faithfulness to what he has promised.

I suggest that the content of Ps 98:1–3 was clearly in Paul’s mind when he dictated Rom 1:16–17 to Tertius. Paul mentions power in Rom 1:16 under the influence of the phrase his right hand in Ps 98:1b. God’s right hand is a classic Old Testament symbol of God's power (e.g., Exod 15:6; Ps 20:6; 89:13). Paul also mentions salvation in Rom 1:16 under the influence of Ps 98:1b-2a where the root ישע (conveying the idea of salvation) appears twice. His mention of to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek is an exposition of the phrase in the sight of the nations, which occurs first in the clause in Ps 98:2b. This then leads naturally into his reference to the righteousness of God in Rom 1:17, which comes straight from the wording he has revealed his righteousness in Ps 98:2b.

The intertextuality evident between Rom 1:16–17 and Ps 98:1–3 strongly suggests that Ps 98 was a key psalm for Paul in terms of making sense of the Christ event from a biblical perspective.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Saving Power of the Gospel in Romans 1:16

Romans 1:16-17 states the fundamental theme of the book of Romans that undergirds the rest of Paul's teaching in this epistle. In v. 16 Paul states that he was not ashamed of the gospel. Implied within this statement is that Paul’s opponents, the Christian Judaizers, were ashamed of the gospel. By insisting on circumcision and keeping the law of Moses as part of the gospel (such as we see in Acts 15:1, 5), the Judaizers were effectively trying to make the gospel kosher by Judaizing it, by trying to force Jesus and the gospel into the traditional framework of the Mosaic covenant. Their motivation in doing this was to try and make Christianity look acceptable to orthodox Jewish sensibilities. The Judaizers compromised the gospel in the face of social pressure.

But Paul (after his conversion) would have none of that. He was not ashamed of the gospel, because he understood that it is the powerful word of God that brings the fullness of salvation “to everyone who believes, both to the Jew first and to the Greek.” This verse contains the first use in Romans of the pan-ethnic all (translated here as everyone), which is derived from the phrase all the nations in Rom 1:5.

Paul understood that the gospel has a pan-ethnic relevance and application. By making the point that the gospel brings salvation to everyone who believes, Paul was opposing the position of the Judaizers, whose understanding of the gospel limited salvation to one nation (i.e., the nation of Israel), whose national boundary was marked by circumcision, and whose way of life was the law of Moses. Paul understood that the gospel had opened the door of salvation to all nations. This was a truth of which he was not ashamed, a truth that he was prepared to defend no matter what the personal cost.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Similarities in the Concept of Faith between Paul and the Author of Hebrews

In my post entitled “The Concept of Faith in Hebrews,” I suggested that the concept of faith of the author of Hebrews has both similarities and differences with that of the Apostle Paul. The suggestion was that Paul thought of faith as being particularly operative in the age of Abraham and in the age of the new covenant, and that he tended to think of old covenant Israel as being under the law rather than faith. I also suggested that this common Pauline usage contrasts with the way in which the author of Hebrews views faith as being normative throughout salvation history.

I believe that the differences that I have highlighted are there in the text, although we also need to note the similarities that exist between Paul and the author of Hebrews when it comes to faith. In the new covenant age, the concept of faith for both authors focuses on confessing Jesus as the Christ: the confession in Hebrews centers on Jesus as the Son of God (Heb 4:14), and in Paul the confession is “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9). Their description of faith in the life of Abraham is also very similar. Paul describes Abraham’s faith as being one that believed in the power of God to raise the dead, and to bring that which is not into existence (Rom 4:17). This is very similar to the language found in Heb 11:3, 19. When discussing Abraham’s faith, Paul also relates this to the divine promise given to Abraham in a manner similar to the author of Hebrews (compare Rom 4:17-22 with Heb 11:8-12, 17-18).

Furthermore, even though Paul typically reserves the operation of faith to the Abrahamic and new covenant epochs, it could be argued that following the example of the Old Testament he was also able to speak of unbelief as existing in Israel during the old covenant age (assuming that he also has Israel’s old covenant rebellion in view in Rom 3:3 and Rom 11:20, 23), which in turn implies a requirement for faith during the old covenant age.

All in all, I think that the situation is that when Paul is concerned to contrast the (holistic) old covenant idea of faith in God as mediated through Moses with the new covenant idea of faith in Christ, then he speaks of the works of the law in contrast with faith. Such a contrast is not evident in Hebrews, where the author prefers to use a series of qal vahomer (i.e., a fortiori) arguments, and a number of lesser versus greater contrasts, to encourage his readers to persevere as believers of Christ (e.g., Heb 1:1-13; 2:2-3; 3:3, 5-6; 8:1-2, 5-6; 9:11-14; 10:26-29): if the saints of old believed back then, then how much more should we believe now, given that a greater revelation has come with the coming of the Son of God? The substance is greater than its shadow. So don't revert to the shadow, but stick with the substance!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Concept of Faith in Hebrews

One of the verses of Scripture that on the surface seems to argue against my suggestion that Abraham’s faith in Gen 12:1-4 cannot be distinguished from his obedience is Heb 11:8:
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.”
But in saying that the Hebrew text of Gen 12:1-4 does not in and of itself distinguish between faith and obedience, I am not saying that it is not logically possible or illegitimate for subsequent inspired interpreters of Scripture to make such a distinction. It all depends on how faith is defined by each author of Scripture. This requires us to read Scripture carefully to pick up the particular definitions and nuances of each writer.

The Apostle Paul, for example, holds that Israel was under law during the old covenant age (Gal 3:23-25; 4:1-5). He speaks of faith coming with the coming of Christ (Gal 3:23-25), and he speaks of the law as being not of faith (Gal 3:12). In other words, in Paul's typical way of thinking, old covenant Israel was under the law, not under faith. The writer of Hebrews, however, views faith as something that was always operative throughout salvation history.

For Paul, faith is primarily a christological concept, as Gal 3:23-25 suggests. It centers on the confession “Jesus is Lord” (Rom 10:9). In Paul’s thought it is a response that is directed towards Jesus (e.g., Rom 3:26; Gal 2:20; 3:26; Php 3:9; 1 Thess 1:3) more so than to God per se (although note Tit 3:8). In Paul’s usage, therefore, it was not possible for faith in this christological sense to exist prior to Jesus being revealed to Israel (Gal 3:23-25), yet faith in the gospel was nevertheless preempted in the person of Abraham (Gal 3:6, 8). Paul read the Old Testament prophets as predicting that, after the age of the law, faith would once again define righteousness, namely, in the eschatological age when the precious stone of stumbling would be laid in Zion (Hab 2:4 in Rom 1:17; and Isa 28:16 combined with Isa 8:14 in Rom 9:33).

But for the author of Hebrews, the term faith is used somewhat differently. Sure, faith in the new covenant age centers on Jesus; it involves the confession that Jesus is the Son of God, the great High Priest (Heb 3:1; 4:14; 13:15). But the author of Hebrews also views faith as being something that was operative (at least on the part of a remnant) throughout redemptive history (Heb 4:2; 11:2). Faith begins with the fact of the power of the word of God as revealed in the creation of the world (Heb 11:3). It was a virtue possessed by all the saints of old, from Abel until Samuel and the prophets (Heb 11:4, 32). Noah was an heir of the righteousness of faith (Heb 11:7). For the writer of Hebrews, faith is connected with the idea of patience, and has to do with inheriting (i.e., experiencing the realization of) the promises (Heb 6:12). Faith in its fullness has the boldness to follow in the footsteps of Jesus into the eschatological temple to encounter God (Heb 10:22). For the author of Hebrews, therefore, faith is not an eschatological concept per se, but it possesses a strong eschatological orientation where the faithful look to God for salvation and reward at the time of the realization of God’s promise at Christ’s second coming (Heb 10:35-39; 11:6).

For the author of Hebrews, faith believes that God has the power to bring that which is not into reality (Heb 11:3). It leads to genuine sacrifice (Heb 11:4), to pleasing God (Heb 11:5-6), and to obedience (11:8). It looks forward to the eternal city of God rather than focusing on life in this world (Heb 11:10, 13-16). It includes confidence in the faithfulness of God to keep his word (Heb 11:11). Faith believes in the power of God to raise the dead (11:19). It leads to worship and understands God’s intention to bless his people (Heb 11:21). It prepares for when God will keep his promise (Heb 11:22). It acts to protect God’s people (Heb 11:23), identifies with God’s people (Heb 11:24), and chooses to suffer persecution together with God’s people (Heb 11:25-26). Faith does not fear the godless (Heb 11:27). It results in victories won (Heb 11:28-30), and brings salvation to the Gentiles (Heb 11:31). Through faith the saints of old
conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated—of whom the world was not worthy—wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth (Heb 11:33-38).
In sum, the concept of faith in the book of Hebrews confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, but it also includes a strong assurance that the fullness of what God has promised will come true (Heb 11:1), which results in power to persevere despite opposition.

That is a rich concept of faith, and one worth celebrating. Nevertheless, it is the concept of faith of the author of Hebrews, which is similar yet different in various aspects from the concept of faith found in Paul and in the Old Testament. The distinctive voice of each part of Scripture needs to be noted and acknowledged.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Inheritance of Eternal Life through Faith instead of Law in Romans 4:13

In Rom 4:13 the Apostle Paul says that “the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” It is often concluded on the basis of this verse that Abraham would inherit eternal life solely through faith in God’s promise and not by obedience.

But this is to misunderstand Paul’s meaning. The law in question in the phrase through the law in Rom 4:13 is not law in general but specifically the law of Moses. What Paul is saying is that the revelation in which God promised life to Abraham was not the law of Moses. He is saying that God promised life to Abraham and his seed before the Mosaic law came into existence. Romans 4:13 is a shorthand form of the argument that Paul makes in Gal 3:17-18: “the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.” In other words, while Abraham was still uncircumcised (i.e., still a Gentile), he was already an heir of the promise of eternal life.

Paul is not saying in Rom 4:13, therefore, that Abraham solely inherited life through faith apart from obedience. To interpret Paul in this manner is to make him contradict the plain teaching of the Old Testament. Nowhere in the Abraham narrative in Genesis do we see faith spoken of in a way that is exclusive of obedience. In fact, I will show in the next few posts that the Abraham narrative clearly states in a number of places that obedience was necessary for Abraham and his seed to inherit the blessing.

To start off with, please consider Gen 12:1-3:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Looking at the clause structure of the Hebrew of vv. 2-3, it is clear that v. 2 contains three sequential imperfect clauses and one sequential imperatival clause. Verse 3 contains another sequential imperfect clause, a disjunctive imperfect clause, and a modal perfect clause. These clauses are all dependent on the imperative go in v. 1.

The function of the sequential imperfect clause in Hebrew is most frequently to indicate purpose or result. In other words, Abraham was commanded to leave his country in order that God might bless him. Abraham had to pack up his bags and leave. The blessing would not come without Abraham obeying God.

The Hebrew clause structure of Gen 12:1-3 is clear evidence, therefore, that right from the start of God’s relationship with Abraham, obedience was necessary in order for Abraham to be blessed. How many times do we hear people say that God's blessing of Abraham was unconditional? I sometimes wonder if the people who say that have ever read Gen 12:1-3, or at least read it carefully.

Genesis 12:1-3 also clearly shows that God’s revelation of promise to Abraham was not pure promise as many Protestants are inclined to think. In terms of linguistic categorization, Gen 12:1 is command, and Gen 12:2-3 is promise. This goes to show that Paul’s use of the term promise in Rom 4 cannot be a category of linguistic or literary genre. Rather, Paul’s idea of promise is a salvation-historical category. That is to say, by the term promise Paul designates the totality of the revelation that God gave to Abraham. Paul’s promise versus law contrast is a contrast of Abrahamic revelation (promise) with Mosaic revelation (law). To interpret the term promise in Rom 4:13 as indicating pure (i.e., command-less) promise is to contradict the reality of what exists in Gen 12:1-3, where promise is linguistically and logically dependent on command.

In a similar way, to say that Paul viewed eternal life as being inherited by faith alone apart from obedience is to make Paul contradict Gen 12:1-3. On the basis of the principle of the analogy of Scripture, Paul must be understood in a manner that is consistent with what God has already revealed. God is not a God of contradiction. The Old Testament functions as the Spirit-inspired foundation and framework upon which New Testament revelation, including that of Paul, is built. The remainder of the house must be consistent with the foundation and basic framework that has already been erected.

In sum, therefore, Paul is not saying in Rom 4:13 that eternal life is inherited by faith alone as if such faith did not include obedience as part of its meaning. If that were true, then Abraham could have stayed in Ur. But because command was an integral part of the promise of God in Gen 12:1-3, Abraham’s faith necessarily included obedience as part of its meaning.

Please consider the following question: If Abraham had simply said to God: “I believe in your word of blessing” (as contained in Gen 12:2-3), but did not leave Ur, would he inherit the blessing? This is not possible in terms of the Hebrew sense of Gen 12:1-3. God told Abraham to go in order to inherit the blessing! This means he had to obey in order to inherit the blessing. Abraham going is Abraham accepting the word of God, and accepting the word of God is saying amen to the word of God, and saying amen (אמן) to the word of God is faith (אמונה). In Gen 12:4, Abraham’s faith is clearly portrayed as being the faith which obeys God’s commands and which believes his promises. Abraham’s faith was the faith of obedience.

To say that eternal life is inherited by faith apart from obedience logically requires that the Apostle Paul either did not know or did not accept the plain meaning of Gen 12:1-3. I find it difficult to accept that a Hebrew of Hebrews would have failed to understand and accept the import of the Hebrew of Gen 12:1-3.