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The phrase, διὰ τῆς πίστεως (variant +τῆς majority text, RP) 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)

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. (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.

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  • 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. Mar 3, 2017 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 can help
    Mar 31, 2017 at 11:09
  • 1
    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, 2017 at 21:38

5 Answers 5

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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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It is a big misconception to compare the Greek article with English, by those who are having only as much exposure to Greek as from their reading of the interlinear Bible. This is why we frequently see topics of the same misunderstanding of the article. The Greek article should not be even called definite article because there is no corresponding indefinite article in Greek. Rodney Decker writes in Reading Koine Greek:

There is no such thing as a definite article in Greek—only an article that may or may not express definiteness. Likewise, the lack of an article is not necessarily an expression of indefiniteness but may express a qualitative meaning or some other nuance.

There is no fixed rule in the usage of article in Greek, as it is in English. The word can be definite or indefinite, with or without the article. Daniel Wallace writes in his Exegetical Syntax p. 209:

The article was originally derived from the demonstrative pronoun. That is, its original force was to point out something. It has largely kept the force of drawing attention to something. .... As Robertson pointed out, “The article is never meaningless in Greek, though it often fails to correspond with the English idiom. . . . Its free use leads to exactness and finesse.”

What it IS NOT
The function of the article is not primarily to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite. It does not primarily “definitize.” There are at least ten ways in which a noun in Greek can be definite without the article. Further, its use with words other than nouns is not to make something definite that would otherwise be indefinite, but to nominalize something that would otherwise not be considered as a concept.

One further note: There is no need to speak of the article in Greek as the definite article because there is no corresponding indefinite article.

What it IS
a. At bottom, the article intrinsically has the ability to conceptualize . In other words, the article is able to turn just about any part of speech into a noun and, therefore, a concept. For example, “poor” expresses a quality, but the addition of an article turns it into an entity, “the poor.” It is this ability to conceptualize that seems to be the basic force of the article.

b. Does it ever do more than conceptualize? Of course. A distinction needs to be made between the essential force of the article and what it is most frequently used for. In terms of basic force, the article conceptualizes. In terms of predominant function, it is normally used to identify an object. That is to say, it is used predominantly to stress the identity of an individual or class or quality.

c. The Greek article also serves a determining function at times—i.e., it definitizes. On the one hand, although it would be incorrect to say that the article’s basic function is to make something definite, on the other hand, whenever it is used, the term it modifies must of necessity be definite.

Wallace states that the article functions to conceptualize, identify and definitize. The particularizing article serves to identify or denote persons or things and to distinguish them from all others. This is the article’s basic function. As pronoun: personal, relative, possessive, demonstrative. The article is not a true pronoun in Koine Greek, even though it derived from the demonstrative. But in many instances it can function semantically as an indirect substitute of a pronoun.

It can particularize a proper and abstract nouns: ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν (“salvation is from the Jews”; John 4:22). “Salvation”(σωτηρία) is an abstract noun. In such (common) instances where a Greek article is used in conjunction with an abstract noun no article should be used in English translation.

The article with abstract nouns is only used when it seems important to definitize it. We should feel no problem if a translation has been less frequent in the usage of article. If someone translates θεοῦ εἰμι υἱός as "I am son of God" as opposed to "the son of God", in Matt 27:43, it shouldn't be a big deal, let the readers interpret by themselves. We shouldn't be too rigid in English grammar either. I don't understand why should it matter if you use faith or the faith when we understand that faith without the definite article can still be particular from the context. It is not any faith but a particular faith in Christ.

Sometimes the scribes would add articles or pronouns to clarify and elaborate.

Rom 14:22 ESV The faith that you have; the NET Bible has "The faith you have" without the relative pronoun, explaining the variant:

tc ‡ Several significant Alexandrian witnesses (א A B C 048) have the relative pronoun ἥν (hēn, “the faith that you have”) at this juncture, but D F G Ψ 1175 1241 1505 1739 1881 M lat co lack it. Without the pronoun, the clause is more ambiguous (either “Keep the faith [that] you have between yourself and God” or “Do you have faith? Keep it between yourself and God”). The pronoun thus looks to be a motivated reading, created to clarify the meaning of the text. Even though it is found in the better witnesses, in this instance internal evidence should be given preference. NA places the word in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

Similarly, the addition of article addition with faith in Eph 2:8 should have been a clarification. I have found the source of the objection of the topic, which tries to impose the faith interpretation in order to connect it with Baptism, to make it an evidence for the Roman "Sacrament of Baptism". The article is from vaticancatholic site, by some Michael Dimond.

Baptism is the instrument through which a person receives regeneration and first justification. Ephesians 2:8 uses the exact same phrase in the Greek as Galatians 3:26-27 and Colossians 2:12 (διὰ τῆς πίστεως), to express the means through which initial salvation is received, precisely because it's also referring to the reception of first justification in Baptism. Preserving the original wording of ‘through the faith’ further demonstrates that being saved through the faith describes entrance into the Church/faith in water baptism, and not just a personal faith.

There are some translations that render Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 3:26, and Colossians 2:12 as ‘through the faith’, but the vast majority do not, even though the definite article is present in the Greek. The reason for this widespread omission, I believe, is twofold: 1) Many translations of the New Testament from the Greek are done by Protestants. Their false theology and incorrect understanding of those verses make them more inclined to omit ‘the’; and 2) in Latin there is no definite article – i.e. there is no word for ‘the’. That could be why numerous Catholic versions and commentaries render Ephesians 2:8 simply as ‘through faith’, from the Latin per fidem. However, Greek is the original language of the New Testament and it contains the definite article (the). It’s true that the definite article in Greek is not translated in many passages; however, it is important (or at least illuminating) to preserve it in the translation here for the reasons explained.

Further, many translators and commentators simply did not understand or recognize the direct connection between Eph. 2:8 and the verses that refer explicitly to water baptism (Col. 2:12 and Gal. 3:26). This is a connection our material brings out and explains. The connection between Ephesians 2:8 and the verses on water baptism - which reveal how one is initially saved in Christ - is the interpretive key to Ephesians 2:8. Hence, it is preferable and useful to maintain the original wording of ‘through the faith’. As the early Church taught and understood, Baptism is how one enters the faith, and the baptized are called the faithful.

The article refutes the issue of the translation and interpretation since no catholic Bible renders it that way, and there is no definite article in the Roman language anyway. The author Michael Dimond is definitely doing eisegesis when he tries to interpret one verse with a necessary aid of other verses. A common cross-referencing eisegesis employed by those who cannot find their beliefs substantiated by the plain text. It uses other reference in other verses with a similar word construct of faith to tie faith with baptism.

The NET Bible gives another reason for adding the Greek article in Eph 2:8, which talks about the motivation to indicate "content" of faith rather than Baptismal sacrament.

tc The feminine article is found before πίστεως (pisteōs, “faith”) in the Byzantine text as well as in A Ψ 1241 1881 al. Perhaps for some scribes the article was intended to imply creedal fidelity as a necessary condition of salvation (“you are saved through the faith”), although elsewhere in the corpus Paulinum the phrase διὰ τῆς πίστεως (dia tēs pisteōs) is used for the act of believing rather than the content of faith (cf. Rom 3:30, 31; Gal 3:14; Eph 3:17; Col 2:12). On the other side, strong representatives of the Alexandrian and Western texts (א B D* F G P 0278 6 33 1175 1505 1739 al bo) lack the article. Without the article, the meaning of the text is most likely “saved through faith” as opposed to “saved through the faith.” On both internal and external grounds the anarthrous wording is preferred.

I don't know why NET Bible states that with the article, the meaning would be "through the faith", when they have translated all those other verses with similar construct dia tēs pisteōs as simply faith, not the faith. The article could simply be functioning as a possessive pronoun instead.

As NET itself translates Col 2:12:

Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead. tn The article with the genitive modifier τῆς πίστεως (tēs pisteōs) is functioning as a possessive pronoun (ExSyn 215).

Wallace writes:

The article is sometimes used in contexts in which possession is implied. The article itself does not involve possession, but this notion can be inferred from the presence of the article alone in certain contexts. The article is used this way in contexts in which the idea of possession is obvious, especially when human anatomy is involved. Thus, in Matt 8:3, there is no need for the evangelist to add tod to what is patently evident: “stretching out his hand” ἐκτείνας τὴν χεῖρα (ExSyn p. 215)

He cites some examples for translating the article as possessive pronoun.

  • Rom 7:25 I serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh, the law of sin.
  • Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives.
  • Matt 13:36 he came into his house. (note: a number of late mss adds αυτου, "his" pronoun, which means they understood the article as possessive pronoun)
  • Phil 1:7 I have you in my heart. etc.

The same way της πιστεως most of the times should be translated your faith when it is in a possessive, instrumental sense, as theologians believed as John Eadie writes,

(Ephesians 2:8.) τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσωσμένοι διὰ τῆς πίστεως—“For by grace ye have been saved, through your faith.” The particle γάρ explains why the apostle has said that the exceeding riches of God's grace are shown forth in man's salvation, and glances back to the interjectional clause at the end of Ephesians 2:5. Salvation must display grace, for it is wholly of grace. The dative χάριτι, on which from its position the emphasis lies, expresses the source of our salvation, and the genitive πίστεως with διά denotes its subjective means or instrument. Salvation is of grace by faith-the one being the efficient, the other the modal cause; the former the origin, the latter the method, of its operation. The grace of God which exists without us, takes its place as an active principle within us, being introduced into the heart and kept there by the connecting or conducting instrumentality of faith.

But this grace does not operate immediately and universally. Its medium is faith - διὰ τῆς πίστεως. The two nouns “grace” and “faith” have each the article, as they express ideas which are at once familiar, distinctive, and monadic in their nature; the article before χάριτι, referring us at the same time to the anarthrous term at the close of the fifth verse, and that before πίστεως, giving it a subjective reference, is best rendered, as Alford says, by a possessive. Lachmann, after B, D1, F, G, omits the second article, but the majority of MSS.

Theologians like these interpret many other instances of the article as possessive pronoun. Moreover since faith, love, mind are subjective entities, they should be understood mainly as subjective, even without the article, when occuring the genitive case. Your faith about God, or your/our love towards God, etc.

Don't blindly believe anything without confirming, especially when it's about silly claims in Greek which have no honesty and fair hermeneutics.

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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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Based on the GNT text, πίστις, faith, was used 8 times in the letter to the Ephesians:

1:15 διὰ τοῦτο κἀγώ ἀκούσας τὴν καθ᾽ ὑμᾶς πίστιν ἐν τῷ κυρίῳ Ἰησοῦ καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην τὴν εἰς
        πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους
2:8  τῇ γὰρ χάριτί ἐστε σεσῳσμένοι διὰ πίστεως καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐξ ὑμῶν θεοῦ τὸ δῶρον
3:12 ἐν ᾧ ἔχομεν τὴν παρρησίαν καὶ προσαγωγὴν ἐν πεποιθήσει διὰ τῆς πίστεως αὐτοῦ
3:17 κατοικῆσαι τὸν Χριστὸν διὰ τῆς πίστεως ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν ἐν ἀγάπῃ ἐρριζωμένοι
        καὶ τεθεμελιωμένοι
4:5  εἷς κύριος μία πίστις ἓν βάπτισμα
4:13 μέχρι καταντήσωμεν οἱ πάντες εἰς τὴν ἑνότητα τῆς πίστεως καὶ τῆς ἐπιγνώσεως τοῦ υἱοῦ
        τοῦ θεοῦ εἰς ἄνδρα τέλειον εἰς μέτρον ἡλικίας τοῦ πληρώματος τοῦ Χριστοῦ
6:16 ἐν πᾶσιν ἀναλαβόντες τὸν θυρεὸν τῆς πίστεως ἐν ᾧ δυνήσεσθε πάντα τὰ βέλη τοῦ πονηροῦ
        τὰ πεπυρωμένα σβέσαι
6:23 εἰρήνη τοῖς ἀδελφοῖς καὶ ἀγάπη μετὰ πίστεως ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

If this accurately depicts the original text, then 3:12, 3:17, 4:13, and 6:16 were written with the article and 1:15, 2:8, 4:5, and were written 6:23 without. In this case, the best explanation for the article in the entire letter or its omission when πίστις was written is the article is anaphoric (previous reference):

The anaphoric article is the article denoting previous reference. (It derives its name from the Greek verb ἀναφέρειν, "to bring back, to bring up.") The first mention of the substantive is usually anarthrous because it is merely being introduced. But subsequent mentions of it use the article, for the article is now pointing back to the substantive previously mentioned. The anaphoric article has, by nature, then a pointing force to it, reminding the reading of who or what was mentioned previously. It is the most common use of the article and the easiest use to identify.1

"The" faith which saves is first mentioned in 2:8 without the article (it is the anarthrous use); subsequent uses of πίστις with the article with are referring back to "the" faith mentioned in 2:8:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God (2:8) [NKJV]

in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through [the] faith in Him (3:12)
that Christ may dwell in your hearts through [the] faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love (3:17)
till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (4:13)
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. (6:16)

If the article was included in 2:8, πίστις could be misunderstood to mean "the" faith first mentioned in 1:15:

Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints (1:15)

By omitting the article in 2:8, Paul avoids this misunderstanding.

Conclusion
The phrase was originally made in the context of the letter and, based upon the use in the entire letter, the article should be omitted in 2:8. However, if one were to use verse 2:8 as a "stand alone" statement with the article, the use would not be anaphoric: it would be to identify or make definite.

In other words, if one read the entire letter, verse 2:8 should not have the article. But if one simply quoted verse 2:8, one should probably include the article. The textual variants are likely explained by this aspect.


1. Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament, Zondervan, 1996, pp. 217-218

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Romans 1:17 (ESV)

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

From faith, for faith, and by faith.

Brand new here guys and wanted to try to answer this question.

Faith described in Romans 1;17 is described as from a location, for a purpose, and as a result of.

I am trying to learn about parsing and how to apply them to the text. The context of faith is centered on the source of.

Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)

looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

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