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In the King James Bible Romans 12:3 states ... "according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith"...

Does this mean his followers were given a different "measure of faith"; that each was given the same "measure of faith"?

Is this connected to Romans 12:4 with comparison in stating "and all members have not the same office"? Romans 12:6 "Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given us, let us prophesy according to the 'proportion of faith'"?

This seems they are all are given a specific amount in their ability to have faith rather than something determined by them and their own faith... It seems quite confusing to what this really does mean. Can someone help me to understand this more clearly?

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    An older interpretation (used by such figures as Tertullian) is "according to the analogy of the faith" and was understood basically as meaning "according to the rule of faith" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_Faith – david brainerd Sep 20 '14 at 4:20
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Interesting question: the TR(Textus Receptus) version says, "θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως" or "God has-allotted a-measure of-faith". This would seem to suggest that the "πίστεως" of the KJV, which was translated from the TR substituted "a" for "the", confirming your suspicions about whether the 'amount of faith' measured was measured according to one's office, rather than one's personal capacity, which would measure different for each person. It makes sense from the point of view of "we don't all have the same office", but we are left to speculate as to whether or not we all have the same "measure" of faith.

Pisteos used here is a noun which is used to describe "faith", the measure of which is defined by another word, in Acts 6:5 Stephen is "πλήρης*"(full) of faith, so without an adjective to describe what kind or measure, we are left to guess as to the quality or amount.

The important issue is that "πλήρης*", although a noun, is meant to accomplish something; as James 2:17, "πίστις"(pistis-a form of pisteos) is dead if there is no corresponding action. It is therefore understood that "Biblical" faith is more than mental assent, or doctrinal harmony, it is meant to accomplish some action; from your Rom. 12:6 reading to "prophesy" according to the proportion of faith you're given. Whether our faith moves mountains or gives someone a cold glass of water, we are to "act" upon our faith as the circumstances dictate.

So, "how much faith" isn't really the issue, whether you exercise it or not, is. Jesus says in Matt. 21:21, "

If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done."

In Matt. 17:20, He says,"

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you."

In both issues, 'size' is not the issue, but "belief without doubt" is. Going back to original question, although the text 'suggests' there may be a uniform measure, the truth is we must 'act' on whatever measure we have in fulfilling our "measure of faith".

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The way that I understand this passage is that it serves as an exhortation to not compare oneself with others but instead to measure themselves by the unique measuring rod that God has provided for each person. That is, it is a mistake to compare one gift and one's operation of that gift with someone who has another gift. The measuring rod you use to measure someone with the gift of prophecy is not the same device to use to measure someone who's gift is teaching. If you use the same device it might encourage you to think more highly of yourself than you ought to and to think of others (who lack the gift) as lower than yourself. This is the approach of the unrenewed mind.

Specifically, respect these pairings:

  • prophecy? measure by your faith
  • service? by the abundance and quality of your service
  • exhortation? by the abundance and quality of your exhorting
  • giving? by how well you resist the urge to add "strings"
  • ruling? by how diligently you govern
  • mercy? by how cheerfully and nonjudgmentally you show mercy

Notes:

  • "μέτρον" can refer to a "portion" OR to a measuring device:

μέτρον, ου, τό (Hom.+; ins, pap, LXX, En, TestSol 15:5; TestAbr A; Test12Patr; GrBar 6:7; ApcMos 13; Sib Or 3, 237; EpArist, Philo; Jos., Ant. 13, 294, C. Ap. 2, 216; Just., 112, 4; Tat. 27, 3; Ath.) gener. ‘that by which anything is measured’. ① an instrument for measuring, measure ⓐ of measures of capacity ἐν μέτρῳ μετρεῖν Mt 7:2; Mk 4:24; 1 Cl 13:2b. μέτρῳ μετρεῖν (Maximus Tyr. 32, 9c; 35, 2i) Lk 6:38b; 1 Cl 13:2a; Pol 2:3. W. heaping up of attributes μ. καλὸν πεπιεσμένον σεσαλευμένον ὑπερεκχυννόμενον good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over Lk 6:38a. In imagery: πληροῦν τὸ μ. τινός fill up a measure that someone else has partly filled Mt 23:32. ⓑ of linear measure Rv 21:15. μέτρον ἀνθρώπου, ὅ ἐστιν ἀγγέλου a human measure, used also by angels vs. 17. ② the result of measuring, quantity, number ⓐ lit. τὰ μ. τῶν τῆς ἡμέρας δρόμων φυλάσσειν keep the measure of its daily courses Dg 7:2. ⓑ fig. (Maximus Tyr. 40, 3c ὑγείας μ.; Alex. Aphr., Quaest. 3, 12 II/2 p. 102, 2 μ. τῆς ἀληθείας; Ath. 32, 2 δικαιοσύνης μ.; 33, 1 μ. ἐπιθυμίας ἡ παιδοποιία) ὡς ὁ θεὸς ἐμέρισεν μέτρον πίστεως as God has apportioned the measure of faith Ro 12:3 (CCranfield, NTS 8, ’62, 345–51: Christ is the measure of faith). ἑνὶ ἑκάστῳ ἐδόθη ἡ χάρις κατὰ τὸ μ. τῆς δωρεᾶς τοῦ Χριστοῦ grace was given to each one according to the measure (of it) that Christ gave Eph 4:7. κατὰ τὸ μ. τοῦ κανόνος οὗ ἐμέρισεν ἡμῖν ὁ θεὸς μέτρου according to the measure of the limit (=within the limits) which God has apportioned us (as a measure) (s. B-D-F §294, 5; Rob. 719) 2 Cor 10:13. κατʼ ἐνέργειαν ἐν μέτρῳ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου μέρους according to the functioning capacity of each individual part Eph 4:16 (ἐν μ. as Synes., Ep. 12 p. 171c). καταντᾶν εἰς μ. ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ attain to the measure of mature age (or stature of the fullness) of Christ vs. 13 (s. ἡλικία 2a and cp. μ. ἡλικίας Plut., Mor. 113d; μ. ἥβης Il. 11, 225; Od. 11, 317).—οὐκ ἐκ μέτρου J 3:34, an expr. not found elsewh. in the Gk. language, must mean in its context not from a measure, without (using a) measure (the opp. is ἐν μέτρῳ Ezk 4:11, 16; Jdth 7:21).—DELG. M-M. TW. Sv. Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 644). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Translators seem to all take the second usage but the first usage is, I believe in Paul's mind. Notice the context, that he is talking about having an accurate evaluation of one's faith:

KVJ Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

The KJV adds various words to try to smooth out their misreading of Paul's intent:

Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

If we omit the added, italicized words "let us prophesy" and add in the implied verb "measure" we get a more cohesive reading:

Rom 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, measure according to the proportion of faith;

In 2 Cor Paul explicitly refuses to enter into a urination contest with his critics and calls those who use themselves as measuring devices of their own choosing "fools":

ISV 2Co 10:12 We would not dare put ourselves in the same class with, or compare ourselves to, those who recommend themselves. Whenever they measure [μετρέω, a cognate of μέτρον] themselves by their own standards or compare themselves among themselves, they show how foolish they are.

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Short Answer: Being "allotted a measure of faith" is just another way of saying that you've been "given a particular function in the Church".


This is a great question. I think you were on the right track when you asked whether verse 3 is connected to verse 4. Yes it is! When seeking to understand a confusing verse, step 1 should always be to read it in context. So let's do that:

The Context

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly1: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith2; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. --Romans 12:1-8, NASB

NOTES: 1) This portion of the text is not in the Greek. 2) NASB suggests "in agreement with the faith" as an alternate.

While I may disagree at points with the translation, it will work fine for our purposes here.

The Flow

What I'd like to draw your attention to are the for's in the passage. Whenever you see a for there, you should ask what it's there for!" ;-) In both cases, "for" translates the Greek word γαρ. Γαρ indicates that what follows ִin the text is an elaboration on what we just read previously.

So let's summarize Paul's flow of thought through this passage. He wants the Romans to offer their lives in service to God, as opposed to being worldly. For they should not be prideful, but should each accurately assess the "measure of faith" given to them. For just like the body has different members which do different things, so also the Church has different people who do different things. [He goes on to provide examples.]

Now, let's look at how the verse in question relates to what comes before and what follows it:

  • Paul's desire is that they serve rather than being worldly, for they should not be prideful but realize their individual allotment of faith. Being worldly is elaborated by being prideful, while serving is elaborated by accurately assessing your "measure of faith".

  • God has allotted to each a "measure of faith", for different members of the Church have different functions (like a body). Here the individually allotted measure of faith is elaborated by the individual function in the Church.

"Allotted a measure of faith"?

As modern readers, we hear "allotted a measure of faith" and think "given an amount of faith", but here are three reasons to think this understanding is flawed:

1) Context. As we have just seen in tracing Paul's flow of thought through the passage, the context seems to indicate that being "allotted a measure of faith" is just another way of saying that you've been "given a particular function in the Church".

2) μερίζω, translated "allotted" can be defined as: divide into parts, divide, part, share, distribute. This sounds an awful lot like how God has divided ministry functions within the church. (It does not seem to convey the idea of being "given" an amount of trust.)

3) μέτρον, translated "measure" is the same word used twice in 2 Cor. 10:13 to describe a boundary (think division of territory). It is also used in Eph. 4:7 to prepare the reader to understand the diversity of ministries that Christ gave to the Church (Apostle, Prophet, etc.) It is also used in Eph. 4:16 to describe the way in which individual members of the Church work to build the body of Christ. This is a standard word for describing the division of territory and duties.

Conclusion

Taking these three factors into consideration, God "allotting to each a measure of faith" can hardly be understood as "giving each person an amount of trust". It must be understood as the apportioning of ministry functions amongst the members of the Church.

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I believe what the verse means It says that we were each giving "the measure of faith" meaning we all have been given the same amount of faith!!! To all of us that believe has the Holy Spirit dwelling inside of us, therefore we have access to that POWER! ⚡ All we need..is to believe ,have unadulterated faith that we have access to the mind of Christ and can do the same things he has done the Miracles he done with faith we all have different special unique gifts for our purposes but we all have the same measure of faith it is up to us how much are our faith are you using?

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    Your answer is a belief statement, and not supported by any scripture for proof or support of the concept you have put forth. Can you add scripture that supports your answer? – Gina Feb 4 '18 at 19:58
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The context of Rom. 12:3-6 was of the spiritual gifts assigned to each by the Holy Spirit after their baptism into Christ, and each gift was according to the measure - that is God's measure, or God's determination - of their abilities.

The word "faith" is Strong's Greek 4102: "πίστις", and means "which see". From Thayer's Greek Lexicon: "1. conviction of the truth of anything, belief...; a conviction of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things..." Source: here

Those who see, understand and believe have faith. The more they see, know and believe, the stronger their faith in God and His son, the Christ.

For we cannot believe in something or someone we do not know, and we cannot have faith in someone we do not believe. Faith, being able to see, is a learning process, and comes from exposure to the word of God.

Rom. 10:14-17,

"4 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (KJV)

And, faith of those who see - know and understand - through the word of God grows by continued exposure and testing of the word of God. The more knowledge we have, the more faith grows, and thereby faith is a direct result of God's word.

Thereby our faith comes from God because we are studying God's word that He gave to us by and through the Holy Spirit.

We have to hear His word, and read and study His word in order to know Him, see Him. The concept is not that God zaps faith into the hearts of those He chooses. We have to seek Him out (Matt. 7:7; Luke 11:9; John 7:34).

Those who believed the word of God in the first century A.D. when the book of Romans was written believed because they heard the word. They did not have the gospels in written form. They did not have the books of the NT that they could sit down and read as we have today. They could only hear it from those disciples and apostles who preached it vocally.

Therefore God determined to provide signs and miracles so that the people could know / see and believe those preachers, the teachers, disciples, and apostles of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:16-21).

Acts 2:22,

"Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:" (KJV)

That pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the prophesy from Joel 2. It was continued throughout that generation (Acts 2:39) for the purpose of authenticating and confirming the word of God so they could truly know the gospel was from Him.

Yet, they were only human, and began to compare the benefits of one gift against another, thinking themselves better than they ought (Rom. 12:3).

1 Cor. 2:14,

"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (KJV)

The spiritual man, those who responded to the gospel call were at that time of the first century AD given a measure according to their knowledge and faith, which measure was taken by God. God knows our hearts (Prov. 21:2; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chron. 28:9; 1 Sam. 16:7).

Who then but God could take the measure of their abilities in order to assign/give the spiritual gift that would best be used by that person for the profit of God, for the purpose of God which was to spread the gospel to every nation.

They began using the newly acquired spiritual gifts to elevate themselves above one another. And, that was Paul's lesson again in 1 Corinthians chap. 12.

1 Cor. 12:8-11,

"8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will." (KJV)

So, it was God who measured their hearts, and assigned the spiritual gifts according to their abilities that would best serve His purpose in preaching the word to others. Those spiritual gifts died out in that first century A.D. as the apostles and chosen presbyters (ie: Timothy and others) also died (1 Cor. 13:8-10).

Today, we have the written record of the scriptures. We have been given the ability to seek out God through the study of His word. The more we know, the more we see. The more we see, the more faith we have, and the more we become one in mind and spirit with God and Christ. He still measures our hearts, and will use us when and where He can to continue to spread the gospel call of Christ.

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You might want to consider this verse too. "It is absolutely crucial to the concussion of your question. The Apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 1:1; “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” The Greek word that was translated “like precious” in this verse is “isotimos,” which means “of equal value or honor.” We have the same faith that Peter used when he raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-42) and when he made people whole by touching them with just his shadow (Acts 5:15).

We also have the same faith that Paul had. Paul said in Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Paul did not say that he lived by faith IN the Son of God but by the faith OF the Son of God. The measure of faith that Paul had was the same measure that Jesus had. It was Jesus’ faith. If there is only one measure of faith (Rom. 12:3), then we also have the faith of Jesus.

We have the same quantity and quality of faith that Jesus has; therefore, we can do the same works that Jesus did, if we receive this truth and begin to use what we have (John 14:12). Because many Christians have not understood this, they have spent their time asking for faith or for more faith. How is God going to answer a prayer like that?

If I gave you my Bible and then you turned around and asked me for my Bible, what could I do? I would probably stand there in silence while I tried to figure out what was wrong with you. That’s the reason there isn’t an answer when we beseech the Lord for more faith. We already have the same faith Jesus has.

Our Lord did say that He had never seen such great faith as the centurion manifested (Matt. 8:10), and He also spoke of His disciple’s little faith (Matt. 8:26), but He was speaking about how much faith He saw. None of us use all the faith we’ve been given.

In that sense, some do have more faith than others, but technically, it is more faith that is being exhibited or that is functional. We all have been given THE measure of faith."

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Every man is given the measure of faith... every person who has ever lived has been given the measure of faith to believe in and on God/Christ. They can choose to believe or not to believe. But they have been given the measure, the same measure of faith to believe unto righteousness.

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  • Welcome to the forum Frances. Can you show from the Greek that it is "the" and not "a"? – user10231 Apr 28 '16 at 20:19

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