Question:

Greetings brother Hamilton,

I am perplexed as to what the later part of Colossians 2:12 means, "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead." Does this part of the scripture mean our subjective faith in the working of God is what raised us from spiritual death or when it says "the faith" is it in reference to the objective faith which is spoken by Jude 3? I have taught it is the later because of Romans 1:16. Paul says the gospel is the power of God to save and our personal faith is just a condition we must obey in order to be saved.

Also after reading an Interlinear Bible, in Ephesians 2:8 the definite article "the" is placed before faith. Does this also mean that when faith is spoken of in Ephesians 2:8 it is referring to the gospel and not a sinner's personal faith as the medium of which God's grace is imparted? I have taught it is in reference to the gospel instead of our personal faith because of Romans 1:16, "Gospel is power of God unto salvation" and Titus 2:11, "For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live sensibly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" and I concluded that only the word of God teaches (II Timothy 3:16-17). So am I in error?

Thanks for your time.


Answer:

When you are dealing with another language, you must be careful not to apply the rules of your language to the other language. Greek has a definite article, which is translated as "the" in English. However, it doesn't always function in the same manner as "the" does in English. For example, "Greek often uses the definite article before a proper name. For example, you will often find ο Θεός (the God) or ο Ιησυς (the Jesus)" [William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek]. The "the" is dropped because in English we don't put "the" in front of names. "Greek often includes the article with abstract nouns, such as "the Truth" (η αληεια), although English does not normally use the article" [ibid.] Therefore, when you see "the faith" in Greek it can be translated as "faith" or "the faith" depending on the context.

"having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead" (Colossians 2:12 NASB).

In this context "faith" is not being used as a system of belief but of the individual being raised up. It is a faith in the working of God; that is, because God raised Jesus from the dead, the person buried in baptism believes that he is raised up having died to sin. "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:3-11). Colossians 2:12 is saying the same thing as Romans 6:3-11 but in a much more abbreviated form.

In Ephesians 2:8, the "the" before "faith" does not appear in all manuscripts. But whether it is there or not, it still doesn't alter whether a "the" is needed in the translation to English.

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

Here you might argue that we are saved by the system of faith, such as in Romans 1:16, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." But notice that personal belief is still required. The Gospel is the power of God for salvation, but it doesn't automatically save everyone one. It only saves those who believe in it. Therefore we are saved by the Gospel (the Faith) through our faith. Personal faith in God's work is required in order to be saved. "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" (Hebrews 11:6). But that personal faith cannot exist without something to believe in. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). This is likely what Paul meant when he said, "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "The just shall live by faith"" (Romans 1:17). The righteousness of God is revealed from the faith (the Gospel) leading to or producing faith in the individual.