The NT leans very heavily on Habakkuk 2:4 and it is clear that it is not looking at the Hebrew, which reads like this:

[Rom 1:17 NKJV] (17) For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith."

[Gal 3:11 NKJV] (11) But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for "the just shall live by faith."

[Heb 10:38 NKJV] (38) Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him."

Here is the Masoretic Hebrew based Habakkuk:

[Hab 2:4 NKJV] (4) "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.

So it is clear to me that the NT authors were working from the Greek.

But there are also key differences between the NT Greek and the LXXs that I have. There is the matter of word order in Hebrews 10:38 but much more importantly is the fact that Habakkuk has μου after πίστεώς.

[Hab 2:4 LXX] ἐὰν ὑποστείληται οὐκ εὐδοκεῗ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐν αὐτῷ ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται

[Hab 2:4 Brenton] If he should draw back, my soul has no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith.

If I remove ἐκ πίστεώς μου I get "...but the just shall live."

What does that clause add? Does it say that "...the just shall live by my faith"? Or is it, "...the just owing to my faith shall live"?


I also posted this here:


  • 'Live by faith' and 'live by his faith' mean the same thing, but with a slight difference of emphasis. One can only live by one's own faith, not another's. Brenton translated from the Vaticanus which may be a variant. The Hebrew original says 'his'. – Nigel J Jul 14 '20 at 10:03
  • The Romanian translation (among others ?) seems to relate the pronoun my/mine to the noun righteous, and interpret the passage as Messianic, especially in light of the preceding verse; others seem to render it as a dative, i.e., live unto Me. – Lucian Jul 14 '20 at 10:12
  • @NigelJ Since we're looking at the Greek, not the Hebrew, it isn't "by" (DIA) but rather "originating from" (EX) or some other EX type. – Ruminator Jul 14 '20 at 20:44
  • @Ruminator I don't accept your premise (that the apostolic authors were influenced by the Septuagint). It is the Hebrew that matters. And the epistle references agree with the Hebrew. – Nigel J Jul 14 '20 at 21:19
  • @NigelJ Well then it is truly remarkable that they coincidentally/miraculously use the EX construction as well. So I guess it's a contradiction? blueletterbible.org/nkjv/rom/1/17/t_conc_1047017 – Ruminator Jul 14 '20 at 21:49

The main difference between the the Hebrew of Hab 2:4 and the LXX translation is the pronoun:


וְצַדִּ֖יק בֶּאֱמוּנָתֹ֥ו יִחְיֶֽה׃ = the just shall live by his faithfulness


ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεώς μου ζήσεται = the just shall live by my [= God's] faithfulness

In the three occasions when this is quoted in the NT the text is changed:

  • Rom 1:17 - Ὁ δὲ δίκαιος ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται. = the just shall live by faithfulness
  • Gal 3:11 - same as above
  • Heb 10:38 - ὁ δὲ δίκαιός μου ἐκ πίστεως ζήσεται = but my righteous one shall live by faithfulness

We can observe several things about the way this is quoted in the NT:

  1. The NT Bible writers usually felt free to "adjust" the text of the OT to better suit their purpose. That is, we rarely find a true quote but usually a slight paraphrase.
  2. The Habakkuk text says, "his faithfulness" while the LXX says "my faithfulness". Not one of the NT versions includes this "his" or "my".

Linguistically, the difference is significant. Theologically and soteriologically, the difference is much less than it appears.

  • If we accept the literal Hebrew text ("his faithfulness"), then it says that the just shall live by trusting in the provisions of God. Such a trust is necessarily grounded in the confidence we have that God will provide.
  • If we accept the literal LXX text (my/God's faithfulness) we arrive at almost the same meaning! [This is a regular phrase in the NT, Rom 3:22, 26, Gal 2:16, 3:22, Rev 14:12, where we meet πίστεως Ἰησοῦ = faithfulness of Jesus.]

Therefore, given Paul's erudition, I cannot believe he was ignorant of these subtleties and was inspired to write what he did my omitting the pronoun entirely which retains the same meaning: "the just shall live by faithfulness".

The implication is that the just live by their faith in the faithfulness of God.

  • I understand your idea. However, I think it is a more complex matter. Please see the responses here for reference: ibiblio.org/bgreek/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=5202 – Ruminator Jul 14 '20 at 17:17
  • None of the answers offered any explanation - they only quoted some earth church Fathers who used the text highly interpretativly. Is there something I am missing? – Dottard Jul 21 '20 at 3:33
  • I think it is too early to tell... – Ruminator Jul 21 '20 at 3:34

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