Romans 2:6 ESV "He will render to each one according to his works". [autou ta erga-his works].

1 Thessalonians 1:3 ESV "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ".

Why does Romans 2:6 speak of "works", a plural, if infact there is but one work-"the work of faith" [1 Thess 1:3]?

"there is but one work" if our faith, labor, love and steadfastness is His work in us.

  • It is a conjecture and eisegesis fallacy to assume there's only one work, that is to believe in him. Like faith alone.
    – Michael16
    Jul 15 '21 at 14:41

In greeting the Thessalonians, Paul is following the standard template of thanking his audience for either past kindness when he visited them or some kindness that was reported to him.

We give thanks to God always concerning all of you, making mention constantly in our prayers, because we remember your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father,

Notice the "faith, hope, love" trinity. Here "work" (ergon), "labor" (koros) are synonyms, used so as not to sound repetitive. The semantic ranges are not identical, ergon suggests work done out of a moral obligation so "duty" is sometimes used and "koros" suggests work done for a wage, but they are both types of work and are interchangeable here.

The premise of the question -- that there is only one possible ergon in all the universe because Paul thanked the Thessalonians for their ergon of faith when he last visited them - is an unsound interpretation. Fantastically unsound.

If A tells B, "thanks for your gift of fish", and then A tells C "Thanks for your gift of eggs", then we do not need to be all confused, saying "I thought there was only one possible gift that could be given, the gift of fish, so what is this egg? How can I interpret this cryptic passage?"

Proof texts are not needed, but just for fun we can point out that Paul referred to "living in the flesh" as fruitful work (as opposed to dying) in Phil 1.22. And in general, this verb was used to describe both good and bad deeds of many different sorts and as a generic "deed" as in James 1.22 (be a doer who does works (ergon) not a hearer"). In 1 Tim 3.1, being a supervisor is referred to as a good work. "The saying is trustworthy: if anyone aspires to supervision, he desires a good work. (ergon)", etc.

  • In Galatians 5>22 the Spirit produces fruit [karpos-singular] but when we see ourselves we think plural, I did this, I did that. "Works" a plural seems to suggest a way of thinking.
    – C. Stroud
    Feb 12 '21 at 11:15
  • This discussion is not about the works of the spirit, but a specific work of the Thessalonians that Paul thanked them for (most likely a donation), which for some reason the question assumes must be the only kind of work that can ever happen by anyone. But as you point out, the spirit can do works, so can the evil one, so can Christ, so can believers, so can the father, and all of these can do many different kinds of good works from "being an overseer" to "showing faith", etc. So no, there is not just one kind of work.
    – Robert
    Feb 12 '21 at 11:19

Romans 2:6 ESV "He will render to each one according to his works".

Thayer's Greek Lexicon STRONGS NT 2041: ἔργον

  1. business, employment, that with which anyone is occupied ...
  2. any product whatever, anything accomplished by hand, art, industry, mind ...
  3. an act, deed, thing done

Romans 2:6 is talking about countable, enumerable, specific acts performed by the believer. It is not about justification by works. Rather, it is about reward by works.

Hebrews 11:6 New International Version

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

  • If Hebrews 11:6 "auton misthapodotes ginetai" is translated "he becomes a rewarded" and the reward is the "eternal life" of Romans 2:7 does that effect your answer?
    – C. Stroud
    Feb 9 '21 at 18:46
  • Sorry that should have been "he becomes a rewarder".
    – C. Stroud
    Feb 10 '21 at 11:04
  • The rewards could be earthly or heavenly. It is open to interpretations.
    – Tony Chan
    Feb 10 '21 at 15:05

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