by Mike Ratliff
8 Πρῶτον μὲν εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ περὶ πάντων ὑμῶν ὅτι ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν καταγγέλλεται ἐν ὅλῳ τῷ κόσμῳ. Romans 1:8 (NA28)
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you because your faith is being proclaimed in all the world. Romans 1:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω (pisteuō), “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός (pistos), an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it?
Paul said something very similar to the Thessalonian church.
8 ἀφʼ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ [ἐν τῇ] Ἀχαΐᾳ, ἀλλʼ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν, ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι. 1 Thessalonians 1:8 (NA28)
8 For from you has been sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia, but also in Achaia; but everywhere your faith in God as gone out, so that there is no need for us to say anything.1 Thessalonians 1:8 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Here is our clue to why the faith of Romans was commendable as was that of the Thessalonians. What was the commonality? These churches were obeying the commands of the Lord in making disciples, in spreading the Gospel. Genuine believing means obeying. Here are the first 7 verses from Romans 1 from the NASB:
1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
7 to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 1:1-7 (NASB)
Here is v5 from the Greek followed by my translation:
5 διʼ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, Romans 1:5 (NA28)
5 through whom we receive grace and apostleship into obedience of faith in all the nations on behalf of His name. Romans 1:5 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Yes, obedience of faith translates ὑπακοὴν πίστεως. Yes, ὑπακοὴν does mean “obedience.” It is the accusative, singular form of ὑπακοή (hupakoē). This is talking about lordship because it has the underlying foundation of obedience, commitment, and submission.
Some have called this “lordship salvation” a heresy and I have defended it here before, but with more and more pressure coming to bear here lately to focus more attention away from God and His sovereignty and all His other attributes including His wrath, I decided to focus on what genuine salvation will look like beginning with saving faith. As we have seen above, it means that saving faith is an obedient faith. The adjective that should describe the walk of those that have this faith should be πιστός (pistos), which describes believers who are faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable, and, of course, obedient. God not only demands faith; He also demands fidelity.
Genuine Christians are called to be faithful to to the Word of God and their service to God. The true believer will remain faithful whereas, the false believer will eventually fall away (1 John 2:19). True faith is evidenced by practice. No where does the Word of God tell us that works are part of salvation and I am not saying they are either or that works keep us saved. Instead, works and how a believer lives is what God uses to prove the genuineness of his or her salvation and are used by Him in the process of our sanctification. Faithfulness is a fundamental part of Christian living (Ephesians 2:10). The faith that is remarkable enough that the Apostle Paul would say that it is spoken of all over the world is obedient, faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable and that belongs only to those under the Lordship of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!