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Is the phrase saying "the faith that Jesus imparts" or "the faith that the saints possess" (subjective vs objective genitive)?

FYI, I'll add my own understanding below:

τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ in Rev. 14:12 is objective genitive. Subjective genitive would read, πίστις Χριστοῦ, thus, “the faith of Jesus” meaning Christ as the author of this faith. Rev. 14:12 introduces two objective genitive clauses: “τὰς ἐντολὰς τοῦ θεοῦ” and “τὴν πίστιν Ἰησοῦ” from the verb present participle active nominative plural “τηροῦντες “. The sentence is dealing with obedience and faith in practice (active). The accusatives “the commandments” and “the faith” are the direct objects receiving attention of what the saints are doing and not what God or Jesus are doing.

Alternatively, the verse could be read as “those who are living by the commandments of God and by their objective confidence (faith) in Jesus”. This makes sense when we connect Rev. 14:12 to 14:1,4.

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  • Since τας εντολας του θεου the commandments of God concerns commandments prescribed by God, can't την πιστιν be the Faith (Jude 1:3; Eph 4:5; 1 Pet 4:15-16) of Christ, grammatically speaking? Aug 17, 2017 at 14:30
  • It's grammatically accurate in my opinion as both του θεου and την πιστιν express an objective (not subjective) idea.
    – T-Major
    Aug 18, 2017 at 19:38
  • As a Greek grammar exercise this is a great question; I could sadly offer nothing to the discussion though. However, zooming out slightly, don’t forget that this verse is the explanation given of the symbolism that occurs before it, so a very useful sentence either way (faith in / faith of)!
    – user36337
    Jan 9, 2022 at 4:55
  • Theologically, it doesn’t make a huge diffs, right? As faith, essentially, is trust, you either have trust in Jesus, or you have the trust of Jesus, i.e., given from Christ as a spiritual gift? It wouldn’t make much sense to say I have built up my trust in you..
    – user36337
    Jan 9, 2022 at 4:59

5 Answers 5

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Every attempt being made to understand the meaning of “the faith of Jesus" with spotlight on Revelation 14:12 must be carefully balanced with different scriptures where the word "faith" appears.

To start with, King James and ESV did not render the phrase the same way.

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. (KJV)

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. ESV

While King James translates πιστιν ιησου as objective genitive to say faith of Jesus, ESV and some other versions put it as subjective genitive; reading, πίστις Χριστοῦ (faith in Jesus). By this, the differing versions have left a large gap of arguments for various interest groups. As Michael in Epistles, Justification, Koine Greek, Revelations puts it in his post at: http://renewingtruth.com/2016/12/pistis-iesou-faith-of-jesus-or-faith-in-jesus/

In the scholarly world, a debate has been raging for a while now regarding the proper way to translate the Greek phrase “πίστις Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ” (pistis Iēsou Christou), meaning either the “faith of Jesus Christ” or “faith in Jesus Christ.” This would apply to other variations where we have the word pistis (faith) followed by different combinations of the name/title of Jesus in the genitive case.

However, there seems to be an agreement between the two versions that I'm considering here in the way they started their translations:

Here is the patience of the saints . . . (KJV)

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints . . . (ESV)

From these two openings, the sentence can be seen as dealing with endurance. The accusatives “the commandments” and “the faith” ought to be interpreted in a way that the direct objects would summarily conform to endurance. This is what Hebrews 4:3,4 seeks to point out when it says:

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

According to Abarim Publications, Revelation 14:12 seeks to encourage the body of Christ to behave as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hence the expression should be read as πίστιν Ἰησοῦ (objective genitive) and not as believing in Jesus.

The verb means to persuade or be persuaded, and the noun means faith; trust or certainty. From the noun in turn derives the equally important verb πιστευω (pisteuo), meaning to have faith, that is: to behave as someone who has been persuaded into certainty.

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  • Good explanation. This makes sense and has good references. Thank you. Jan 31 at 12:44
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The phrase “faith of Jesus” occurs five times in the NT (Rom 3:22, 26, Gal 2:16, 3:22, Rev 14:12). In all cases the Greek “pistis Iesou” (note the genitive) can be translated either as:

  • “Faith in Jesus” meaning the trust we have in Jesus to save us because we cannot do it ourselves. That is, we allow Him to do for us that which we cannot do for ourselves.
  • “Faithfulness of Jesus” (more literally) meaning the trustworthiness and faithfulness of Jesus Himself that He exercised on our behalf to save us; and that we imitate in order to receive the merits and benefits of Jesus. See especially 2 Tim 2:13. That is, we rely on Jesus faithfulness.

In my judgement it is not necessary to decide between these two as both are intended. That is, we trust Jesus to be trustworthy (and thus to save us). There is a similar situation with “Faith of God” in Mark 11:22, Rom 3:3.

The New Testament also contains the phrase “faith/trust in Jesus” (“pistis en Iesous”) and in all cases the phrase is used as the basis for the Christian life and/or a cause for celebration and note by others. Gal 3:26, Eph 1:15, Col 1:4, 1 Tim 1:14, 3:13, 2 Tim 1:13, 3:15.

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The verse could also be connected to 2:3, where Christ refers to "His faith" (η πίστις μου - lit. the faith of me):

οἶδα τὰ ἔργα σου καὶ ποῦ κατοικεῖς· ὅπου ὁ θρόνος τοῦ σατανᾶ· καὶ κρατεῖς τὸ ὄνομά μου, καὶ οὐκ ἠρνήσω τὴν πίστιν μου καὶ ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις αἷς Ἀντίπας ὁ μάρτυς μου ὁ πιστός, ὃς ἀπεκτάνθη παρʼ ὑμῖν, ὅπου ὁ σατανᾶς κατοικεῖ.

And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.

The word faith with the definite article (η πίστις) is used in the sense here (I believe) of the Christian faith or conviction. It is similar to the usage found in Acts and elsewhere. For example:

Acts 6:7 (KJV)

καὶ ὁ λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ ηὔξανε, καὶ ἐπληθύνετο ὁ ἀριθμὸς τῶν μαθητῶν ἐν Ἱερουσαλὴμ σφόδρα, πολύς τε ὄχλος τῶν Ἰουδαίων ὑπήκουον τῇ πίστει.

And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.


Acts 16:5

Αἱ μὲν οὖν ἐκκλησίαι ἐστερεοῦντο τῇ πίστει καὶ ἐπερίσσευον τῷ ἀριθμῷ καθʼ ἡμέραν.

And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.


On the other hand, your latter reading (“those who are living by the commandments of God and by their objective confidence (faith) in Jesus") seems to accord with the interpretation given by Andrew of Caesarea (563-637), who wrote the first authoritative commentary on Revelation in Greek:

The impious, it says, will be tortured throughout the age in the future, and so the saints here display patient endurance in (which), time quickly slipping away, they preserve inviolate the divine commandments and the faith in Christ*


* Tr. from Greek by Dr. E. Constantinou, Andrew of Caesarea and the Apocalypse in the Ancient Church of the East

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Since God has given everyone a measure of faith (Romans 12:3) and since Jesus is the specific author of that faith (Hebrews 12:2), would it not make sense that this is truly the faith OF Jesus? Would it not make sense when it says the saints are patiently enduring as they keep, or hold onto both of these gifts: the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus?

Translating this phrase as the "faith of Jesus" seems to me to fit more appropriately than "faith in Jesus" in Romans 3:22; Galatians 2:16; and 3:22 where "faith in Jesus" would be repetitive, but the "faith of Jesus" would express that His faith has been given to us to use as we make the active choice to believe in His salvation.

"Either translation implies that Ἰησοῦ (Iēsou) is to be taken as an objective genitive; the difference is more lexical than grammatical because πίστις (pistis) can mean either “faith” or “faithfulness" -NET Notes (Re 14:12).

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    Jan 8, 2022 at 13:59
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I guess the question, incidentally, is not put correctly for it is an instance of the unintentional "complex question" fallacy when two unreal opportunities are offered for an answer, like in an instance: "Has or has not Donald Trump ceased eating new born babes?" - in both possibilities of the answer, "yes" or "no", an unreal thing obtains that Donald Trump has in fact eaten new born babes.

Here also. If the question is: "what does an expression 'fear of enemy' mean? a) fear that enemy has; or b) our fear imparted on us by the enemy?" Here we have a legitimate and clear "either or" question, for both cannot be implied simultaneously.

But here, in the mentioned passage of the Apocalypse, a completely different situation can be at stake! - Namely, here we can have a reality that is impossible without reciprocality and mutuality. Like in a sentence: "A synergy of Volkswagen saved Audi from bankruptcy", here it is grammatically unclear whether it is activity of Volkswagen that saved Audi, or activity of Audi with Volkswagen saved it; however, semantically it is clear that both are simultaneously, for the reality of "synergy" entails only mutual activity analytically, for "syn-ergeia" per definition means "mutual-activity".

I guess, the faith in Christ is also a mutual, synergic activity both on the part of God and on the part of man, for God Himself does not have faith, so we cannot even say "faith of God" in the sense of God possessing something without us and then giving to us, like I possess my Beatles' disc and give it to you who do not possess it; no! God does not have faith without us, and even that faith which He puts in us is not possessed by Him without this very putting! And furthermore, it is indeed God who puts faith in us, but this "put" thing will not remain put in us unless we co-act with it, with the very presence of divine grace in us. So extremely difficult to express the relationship of God's grace and faith that He puts in us! But let me try to express it in just next paragraph, for I feel I can do it in this very moment, for I hold it like a tail of a lizard that is about to escape in bushes, and moreover, this tail can be that of a dinosaur also.

In difference from faith, we can say that God possesses grace without even us, for grace is His uncreated feature, that He had before even the world was created. Thus, what is then faith that He puts in us? This also must be grace, for He - I mean without the created world - possesses nothing to give to us unless His grace. Thus, is faith - grace? Yes and no. Faith is grace in the sense that it is invitational grace that influences our intellectual nature to covet it for its own eternal benefit, which benefit is more beautifully and tastily called "bliss". Just like a smell, a chill and a comely form of an ice cream in hot summer invites us for a (temporary and transient) bliss even before we smack it in our mouths the very first time; similarly, the beautiful and supra-humanly virtuous behavior of the Lord Jesus Christ, His ability and act of forgiving with love even his murderers at the very moment of being sadistically murdered, arises in us an awe and a dread, but also a strong impulse of credibility that He is the one whom all mankind expects as giving the best destiny to mankind, and a strong impulse to believe also in His words that this destiny, if His commandments are followed, will last eternally. Thus, those deeds and those words touching our hearts and minds are already invitational grace from Him, like the smell, form and chill of an ice cream in a scorching sunny summer day, and as we then, in case of yet untasted ice cream make an initiative of faith and put it in our mouths, so also, after being touched by the invitational grace, we make an initiative of faith and get baptized, start to go to church, pray, receive holy communion and grow more fully in faith, just like a glutton once having tasted ice cream will then discover the entire world of ice creams of hundreds of different nuances and gamut of taste. But a glutton will destroy eventually his health, while a glutton of grace will gradually destroy his sinfulness and become an inhabitant of the Eternal Kingdom of Christ.

But again, to return to the OP main topic: the offered question's grammatical correctness is defied by its semantical wrongness, for "faith" is a synergic thing, co-acting thing on the part of both God/Christ and men, and thus cannot be even regarded in separation.

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