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I was actually looking up the verse for another question I might ask about rhema (actually rēmatos) "hearing, and hearing by..." but I noticed that though I had memory of it saying "the word of God", it clearly shows "the word of Christ" if the concordances are correct. Is there a good argument for using "God" instead or "Christ" or "The anointed" here?

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Why is “christou” translated “God” in KJV Romans 10:17?

It isn't. The text base used for the KJV was primarily the 1588/89 and '98 editions of Theodore Beza, occasionally departing to follow Stephanus's 1550 Novum Testamentum. These read:1

αρα η πιστις εξ ακοης η δε ακοη δια ρηματος θεου

This was correctly translated in the KJV ...the word of God. In contrast, the NA-28:

ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ.
So faith comes through hearing and hearing through the word of Christ.

The reading Χριστοῦ (of Christ) has broad and early attestation including Papyrus 46; Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus; and the Latin (Vulgate and Old Latin), Coptic, and other early versions. Stephanus's and Beza's text is that of Alexandrinus, the Byzantine witnesses, several miniscules, and a later correction of Sinaiticus that read instead ...ρηματος θεου (...the word of God).2

Modern critical editions (SBL, UBS4, and NA28) indicate that διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ is the superior reading. The UBS committee indicated their certainty of this choice with an {A} rating. Their reasoning was presumably due mostly to the nature of the witnesses. In addition, as recorded by Metzger:3

The expression ῥῆμα Χριστοῦ occurs only here in the New Testament, whereas ῥῆμα θεοῦ is a more familiar expression

He points out that ρημα θεοῦ occurs at Lk 3:2; Jn 3:34; Eph 6:17; and Heb. 6:5, 11.3. Scribes may have been inclined to change the less familiar δια ρηματος Χριστου to the more familiar δια ρηματος θεου.


1. Linked is the text of Beza's 1598/1599 edition, courtesy of The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts. Next to the Greek text are two parallel columns of Latin. The middle column agrees with the Greek (per verbum Dei); the final column (per verbu(?) Christi) is consistent with the Vulgate. Commentary on the discrepancy is found in Latin at the bottom of the page for the interested Latin reader.

2. Barbara Aland et al., eds., The Greek New Testament (4th ed.; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2001), 61.

3. Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 464.

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Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" (KJV), or "So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ" (NASB)?

James made note that faith in God was not something special: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that — and shudder" (James 2:19, NIV).

Salvation comes through Jesus Christ. Those that confess Christ before men, he will confess them before the Father and His angels.

The dispute is between the Word "Rhema" of God as translated in the KJV versus the Word "Rhema" of Christ. Rhema or ῥῆμα in Greek, literally means an "utterance" or "thing said". It is a word that signifies the action of utterance.

The KJV primarily follows the Byzantine text or Textus Receptus "received text" of Erasmus. The name given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, the Spanish Reina-Valera translation and most other Reformation-era New Testament translations throughout Western and Central Europe.

The series originated with the first printed Greek New Testament, published in 1516 – undertaken in Basel by the Dutch Catholic scholar and humanist Desiderius Erasmus. Although based mainly on late manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type, Erasmus' edition differed markedly from the classic form of that text, and included some missing parts back translated from the Latin Vulgate.

The Latin Vulgate is largely the work of St. Jerome, who, in 382, translated Rom.10:17 as: "ergo fides ex auditu auditus autem per verbum Christi" - or word of Christ. Luther's German Bible offered the same: "So kommt der Glaube aus der Predigt, das Predigen aber durch das Wort Christi" - or Word of Christ. All of the following also offer "word of Christ":

  • Nestle Greek New Testament (1904): "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

  • Nestle's latest version 28: "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

  • SBL Greek New Testament (2010): "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

  • Westcott and Hort (1881): "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

  • Westcott and Hort / [NA27 variants]: "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

  • Tischendorf 8th Edition: "ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ."

Personally I support the usage of Word of Christ, because this particular verse refers to where faith comes from. Obviously the entire Bible is the Word of God and Jesus is the Logos of God; Romans 10:17 refers specifically to the spoken word "rhema" of Christ. There are other verses in the Bible that refer to the Word "rhema" of God, but not every word is spoken by or about Christ, as a matter of fact Jesus did not write anything down that we know of other than some words in the sand. He spoke the fullness of Word of God, and as such they were his words remembered and written down by his Apostles and Prophets inspired to do so by the Holy Spirit; as was the TANAKH. However, if the OT was able to save it's hearers there would have been no need for a New Covenant; and Jesus need not have come, suffered and died fulfilling all the Law and Commandments. So faith comes through hearing and hearing the Words of Christ.

"But how can people call for help if they don’t know who to trust? And how can they know who to trust if they haven’t heard of the One who can be trusted? And how can they hear if nobody tells them? And how is anyone going to tell them, unless someone is sent to do it?" (Rom.10:14, The Message),

“Does anyone care? Is anyone listening and believing a word of it?” The point is: Before you trust, you have to listen. But unless Christ’s Word is preached, there’s nothing to have faith in. The Law cannot give faith. Faith comes through faith in Christ Jesus.

  • Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange, thanks for contributing! Be sure to take our site tour to learn more about us. We're a little different from other sites. – Steve Taylor May 30 '16 at 10:10
  • I've attempted an Edit to add some formatting to help clarify the emphasis of your answer somewhat, to try and improve readability. Have a look and make any corrections if I've interpreted anything incorrectly. – Steve Taylor May 30 '16 at 10:18

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