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The phrase, διὰ τῆς πίστεως , is shared in Col. 2:12 and Eph. 2:8, meaning "through the Faith". Colossians 2:12 reads, "Buried together with him in Baptism, in whom also ye have resurrected through the Faith of the operation of God, who quickened him up from death."

This [through the faith] is also found in Gal. 3:26 - Πάντες γὰρ υἱοὶ θεοῦ ἐστε διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ.

They are almost the same: "through faith" & "through the faith". But articles can be of major importance. For instance, the meaning between the two phrases "a son of God" & "the son of God" can obviously lend to completely divergent contexts. I'm sure such phrases as they are found (that is if in manuscripts prior to capital/lower case or punctuation), they would be rendered as "a son of God" and "the Son of God" respectively. Therefore, shouldn't translations be mindful of the article and render Eph. 2:8 as the following?

"For by grace ye be saved through the Faith, and this not from you; for it is the gift of God."

I'm aware that there is a variant issue here. “Since the presence of τῆς is supported by the majority of manuscripts as well as one important uncial in the Alexandrian family (and is therefore of great antiquity), it can be concluded from the external evidence that the article is original.” (Gregory P. Sapaugh, "Is Faith a Gift? A Study of Ephesians 2:8", Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society Spring 1994—Volume 7:12)

I think there is a clear agenda though. Which [agenda] is that the concept of being saved ‘through faith’ fits more easily into the notion that personally accepting Jesus as the Savior is the extent of faith’s purpose. Sola Fide is a fictitious heresy (see James 2:24). Proponents of ‘faith alone’ like to think that Faith is the instrumental cause of salvation. But why is it then that Scripture states that the Faith is not of yourselves, we are saved through the laver of regeneration (Titus 3:5), and that the Faith is God's operation? Regeneration throws a wrench in the machination of reformed theology, because it contradicts their formal and instrumental causes of justification.

It makes sense from what Col. 2:12 says, since the Faith is something one enters by the laver of regeneration, the sacrament of Baptism. This omission of the article τῆς is almost as violent to the Scriptures as when Luther inserted 'alone' into Romans 3:8 according to the so-called "sense" of the text. (Well, even if τῆς is a text variant, is it not supported by the "sense of the text", given the correspondence with Colossians and Galatians?)

Has anyone else noticed this? I'm curious.

  • The definite article is part of a name. Faith is not a name. But why is it then that Scripture states that the Faith is not of yourselves..." Faith is required but salvation is a gift. Think of the decision to have a child. You know what you need to do to have a child and you do it but the child didn't come from you. – Gigi Sanchez Mar 3 '17 at 10:48
  • There is a lot of leading speculation in this question which is muddying the waters - even phrases like 'the sacrament of Baptism' is to read an anachronism into the key passage. Given that your only clear question is "has anyone else noticed this?", I'm voting to close this as 'unclear what you're asking'. – Steve Taylor Mar 31 '17 at 11:09
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    This started as an excellent question over textual criticism. The two paragraphs about an agenda that are very out of place here. I'm voting to close. – Frank Luke Mar 31 '17 at 21:38
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This question muddies the waters of translation by adding conjecture about doctrinal implications, which should not govern the way that we treat these textual variants.

For a start, I find it incredible that the OP chooses their sole supporting reference from faithalone.com and then in the very next paragraph states that "Sola Fide is a fictitious heresy", and infers there is a "clear agenda" among those who choose the Textual reading. It doesn't take much time on Google to find that Greg Sapaugh is firmly in the camp the OP opposes, and so it seems that they have mis-appropriated the quote they have chosen.

Manuscript Evidence

Sapaugh makes a clear enough argument for preferring the Variant reading in the link provided, and it's fair for anybody to follow his line of reasoning on this passage. So we should not take Sapaugh's analysis for granted - he's as senior in NT Studies and Biblical Languages as any source we're likely to find.

Yet the Textual reading is not without its merits: Aleph and B are two 4th C. Majuscules - Alexandrian-type texts which Metzger and Ehrman have commended as the primary and most valuable Greek manuscripts. Sapaugh himself lists at least thirteen witnesses to this reading, yet prefers the Majority Text. Based on this disagreement between these scholars, I can't then easily declare a preference from the available manuscripts.

Hermeneutical Evidence

In terms of causation of this variant, we're left choosing between scribes accidentally omitting the article, or else intentionally adding it as a better fit for their contemporary theology. Either seems perfectly plausible, especially in light of the fact that Paul uses both constructions elsewhere in his corpus, and so it could even be innocent enough for a copyist to consider a minor change in either direction.

Indeed, as I understand it Paul uses our textual reading δια πιστεως about five times in his writings, and our variant δια της πιστεως ten times, and so we could play the probability game and say there probably was a της, but I'm not sure probability is the best way to weight things like this!

Conclusion

All in all it seems difficult to choose a clear 'winner' between the two readings. If there was genuinely a της, then again we need at least to interpret that in context, and not from the base of our own modern context. If there is a της, then this is probably a link back to Eph 1:15, "because I have heard of your faith...", and not intended as a stand-alone as if it were the first time the author had mentioned it in the letter.

Regardless of whether we agree with Sapaugh's analysis as the OP has presented it, I contend that one does not then inevitably arrive at their presented conclusions. Their choice of source has discredited their own pejorative conclusion, because their source holds a position entirely contrary to the "clear agenda" sources of his persuasion are claimed to have.

There is indeed a clear agenda in this Question, but it's not where the OP thinks it is.

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The article τῆς appears in the majority of manuscripts, as well as the Alexandrinus codex. It is also in the current text of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchal Text of 1904, which is the Greek text that has come down to the Greek-speaking churches mentioned in the New Testament that are still in existence. It is not, however, in certain other manuscripts and for that reason the editors of the Critical Text chose to ignore it. Its omission does not warrant any comment in Metzger's Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament.

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