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“The Hebrew Analogy”: “Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” – Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible

Thursday, August 1, 2013, 21:46
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“The Hebrew Analogy”:

“Shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”


Romans 3:3 Geneva Bible


“His will, His testament, His blood support me in the whelming flood;

when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.” [1]



Romans 12:6   Geneva Bible   1560

Seeing then that we have gifts that are divers, according to the grace that is given unto us, whether we have prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

Romans 12:6   King James Version   1611

Having gifts differing according to the grace, that is given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides

Romans 12:6 English Revised Version 1881

And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us, whether prophesy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of our faith.*

Puisque nous avons des dons différents, selon la grâce que a nous ètè accordèe, que celui qui a le don de prophètie l’exerce selon l’analogie de la foi.*

* Greek = pistis   Latin = fides


“After That Faith Hath Come

Paul’s expression “after that faith is come” (Gal. 3:25) had epochal, as well as  autobiographical, significance.  The apostle to the gentiles spoke of “faith” objectively [2] as the prophesied gospel events became the ground and substance of faith.  “Faith,” for Paul, defined the new epoch established by Christ.  By means of an analogy rooted in his own Jewish culture, Paul explained this epochal fulfillment:

4:1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; 2  But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. 3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:  4 But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, 5  To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. 6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba! Father.  7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. [3]

This new epoch of faith began at the date set by the heavenly Father designated in the above analogy as “the fulness of the time,” and was centered in the incarnation of the Son.  Accordingly, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians, Paul spoke of a “new testament” [4] in keeping with the prophetic promise of Jeremiah 31:31. [5]  Paul described this new testament as a “ministration of the spirit” which “giveth life” in contrast to the old testament “letter” which “killeth.”  Altering the metaphor just a bit, he characterized the “ministration of righteousness” as exceeding the glory of the “ministration of death” ( i.e., “the ministry of condemnation”) “written and engraven in stone.” [6]

For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart. [7]

Paul’s expression, “after that faith hath come,” contrasted with the expression “before faith came.” [8]   The arrival of “that faith” connoted gospel fulfillment in the incarnation of God’s Son “born under the law” with the express purpose of redeeming those under the law and adopting them as sons. [9]  By contrast, to be “kept under the law” had been to be “shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.” [10]  Only the promised Messiah could resolve the crisis brought on by human sin which flew in the face of the law of God.  While the backdrop for the Galatian Epistle was the Law of Moses, that crisis extended to the gentiles.  For Paul argued in the Epistle to the Romans that the gentiles, no less than Jews, were under the moral law of God and, apart from the gospel of Christ, stood condemned under that law. [11]


Setting the Record Straight

   In the Galatian Letter, Paul pointed out:

  1. that God himself had preached the gospel to Abraham in the words “In thee shall all nations be blessed”;
  2. the prophetic dictum was that “the just shall live by faith” [Hab. 2:4];
  3. that the law itself was “not of faith” but rather included a curse upon those who failed to uphold it in every detail;
  4. that all those relying upon the “works of the law” were therefore “under a curse”;
  5. that Jesus Christ took upon Himself the curse of the law by hanging on a tree [Deut. 21:23];
  6. that the blessing of Abraham, one and the same with the promise of the Spirit, was therefore available to the Gentiles no less than Jews, through Jesus Christ, and was to be received through faith;
  7. that the inheritance was given to Abraham, not by the law, but by a promise;
  8. that Christ Himself was Abraham’s singular “seed” to whom the promise was made; [12]
  9. that the law which came 400 years after the promise could not annul the promise but rather functioned as a prisonhouse and a strict “schoolmaster” whereby the heirs would be made ready for the promised Messiah;
  10. that those who had been “baptized into Christ,” had “put on Christ,” and were  included in “Abraham’s Seed” irrespective of ethnicity, social status, or gender [male or female]; [13] and
  11. that “. . . because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba!  Father!’” [14]


The Importance of Christian Thinking

It is clear from Paul’s Galatian Letter, that “faith,” objectively considered, is predicated upon the Incarnation, redemption, and the trinity of persons within the Godhead.  Further,  “faith,” as expressed in Galatians 3:25, is propositional since it defines the gospel message itself–the very message the apostle was clarifying for the benefit of the Galatian churches! [15]  For Paul, the former Saul of Tarsus who had persecuted the church, that gospel reflected a new understanding and mind-set brought about by Christ’s unique, supernatural, and personal “revelation” to him on the Damascus Road as the risen Lord called him to be an apostle to the gentiles. [16]  On the basis of this revelational fact, Paul, was able to affirm on behalf of the apostolic team and all true Christians, “We have the mind of Christ.” [17]

Later Jude, “the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,” [18] would reflect the same  objective concept of “faith” in his reference to the “faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” [19]  Paul’s new perspective, life-direction, and ministry were initiated by a personal, historical, transforming encounter with the risen Messiah, which he in turn intelligently related  to others in his Epistle to the Galatians; to a large assembly of the Jewish people in Jerusalem (by permission of a Roman tribune); [20] to Herod Agrippa (by request); [21] and to the entire Roman imperial guard (by way of legal testimony). [22]  The point is that the gospel revealed to Paul, however transcendent beyond words, was a message that he himself verbally communicated. [23]  Otherwise there would have been no gospel to defend and no doctrinal error to refute. [24]

Consistent with the polemic tenor of the Galatian epistle, the gospel demands the commitment of our intellects, as well as our hearts.  It is not a wordless book; nor does it consist of meaningless, undefinable babble. When Paul wrote to the churches, he expected those letters would be read to the congregations, and when undecipherable messages were spoken in the gathered congregation, however prompted by the Holy Spirit, the rule was that an interpretation should follow.  Christians are to be “infants in evil” but “mature in thinking.”  Edification involved the mind as well as the heart. [25]  A Christian leader was commanded to “hold fast the form of sound words,” [26] as distinct from being innovative or trendy.

“Faith,” as Paul used the Greek pistis, was not unlike Jesus’ use of the word in Revelation 2:13: “. . . thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith.”  It is, first and foremost His faith, [27] a sacred trust between Christ and his bride, and practically synonymous with the word “covenant.”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. [28]



[1]. The writer has taken liberties with one verse of Edward Mote’s hymn “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” written in 1834, by substituting the words “His will, His testament” to convey the meaning of the Greek diatheke in Hebrews 9:16-17 and the importance of Christ’s “will” in our redemption noted in Hebrews 10:7-10. While modern English versions have opted for “covenant” in Hebrews 9:16-17, the King James Version had employed the word “testament” as had the Geneva Bible and the Douay-Rheims following Jerome’s use of the Latin “testamentum” to render the Greek diatheke.

[2]. Note the presence of the Greek definite article (equivalent to the English “the”) in Gal. 1:23;  3:23, 25.

[3]. Gal. 4:1-7

[4]. Rendered “new covenant” in the English Standard Version

[5]. 2 Cor. 3:6

[6]. 2 Cor. 3:6-10

[7]. Heb. 12:20

[8]. Gal. 3:23

[9]. Gal. 4:4-5

[10]. Gal. 3:23

[11]. Rom. 2:14-15

[12]. Gal. 3:8-16; cf. Gen. 17:7

[13]. Gal. 3:27-29

[14]. Gal. 4:6

[15]. Gal. 1:23

[16]. Gal. 1:11-12; 2:7-9; Ephes. 3:7-11

[17]. 1 Cor. 2:16

[18]. Jude 1:1  Note also that James was a brother to our Lord. (James 1:1)

[19]. Jude 3

[20]. Acts 21:37-22:29;

[21]. Acts 26:1-32

[22]. Phil. 1:12-14

[23]. 2 Cor. 12:1-5

[24]. 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Titus 1:9; 2 John 1:6-11; 3 John 1:4

[25]. 1 Cor. 14:5, 20, 27-28

[26]. 2 Tim. 1:13

[27]. Observe the “faith of Jesus” genitives in the Greek, an interlinear version, or at least in the English versions prior to the English Revised Version of 1881, in the following passages: Romans 3:22, 26; Galatians 2:16, 20; 3:22; Ephesians 3:12; Philippians 3:9; Revelation 2:13; 14:12.

[28]. Matt. 11:28-30



Bruce, F. F. 1961. The English Bible: A history of translations. New York: Oxford University Press.

________. 1964. The Epistle to the Hebrews.  The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Cyber Hymnal, The

Geneva Bible. 1560.

Latin Bible with Douay-Rheims and King James Version side-by-side.

Marshall, Alfred. 1966. The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament: The Nestle Greek Text with a Literal English Translation.  London: Samueal Bagster and Sons Limited.

Morris, Leon. 1955. The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.


About the Writer

            David Clark Brand is a retired pastor and educator with missionary experience in Korea and Arizona.  He and his wife reside in Ohio.  They have four grown children and seven grandchildren.  With a B.A. in the Liberal Arts, an M. Div., and a Th.M. in Church History, Dave continues to enjoy study and writing.  One of his books, a contextual study of the life and thought of Jonathan Edwards, was published by the American Academy of Religion via Scholars Press in Atlanta.


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