Posted by Travis Berry
In this third post we will continue our look at pastor Hampton’s video “King James Bible”. The first two posts were “KJV Onlyism Pt.1” and “KJV Onlyism Pt.2”. Please read those before reading this one.
We have responded to pastor Hampton’s first two texts of Scripture and he puts forth his third starting at 6:20 so you can skip forward to that point now.
On the surface Galatians 2:16 may seem like a “powerful” argument for the King James onlyist but as we look at the text we will see this “powerful” argument is only surface level.
Before I go on and give my views of this text I want to point out that there has been extensive conversation on how to translate this passage. If you want more reading on this subject you can CLICK HERE.
Let’s start by looking at Galatians 2:16 in the KJV and the ESV:
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” -KJV
“yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” -ESV
You will notice this verse starts very similarly to how it ends, “works of the law” does not justify anyone. It isn’t by works but by faith that anyone is justified.
We see this contrast in both the KJV and the ESV. The problem with the KJV is that the verse stops the flow of argumentation between works and faith to discuss the “faith of Jesus Christ“. I am not suggesting that Christ isn’t faithful. He is, but the flow of Paul’s argument gets interrupted if we us “of” instead of “in”. The internal evidence is on the ESV’s side. Beyond the flow of the text we see that Paul is using “faith” and “believed” synonymously. The ESV Study Bible defends their rendering when they write:
Some contend that the Greek means the “faithfulness of Jesus Christ.” But “faith in Jesus Christ” seems much more likely since “faith in Jesus Christ” is synonymous with the next phrase, “we also have believed in Christ Jesus.”
The harmony breaks between the two phrases when we use the KJV.
Beyond the flow and harmony of the text there are a couple of questions that needs to be asked of pastor Hampton and KJ onlyists.
#1 Does using “of” or “in” really change the meaning of this text?
I would contend that good exegesis would lead you to Paul’s point. So, pastor Hampton may say that the translation difference is important or “powerful” but it does not change how one is justified. And that was his main contention in this section of his video. He implied that somehow modern translations were trying to overthrow salvation by faith. However, solid exegesis of both the KJV and ESV would lead you to the same conclusion…It is by faith and not by works one is saved.
#2 What is Paul trying to communicate to the Galatians in this text?”
Paul’s argument isn’t about Jesus being a faithful savior. Rather, it is about trusting in Jesus to save instead of works. Thus, “faith in Jesus Christ” is a faithful translation of the text.
On a grammatical level Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan says this:
“Grammatically, the ‘case’ is genitive (Iēsous ‘Jesus’), which is frequently rendered in English with the preposition ‘of’, hence ‘of Jesus’. But ‘of’ doesn’t always mean ‘from’ ‘out of’ or ‘possessed by’. It can mean ‘with reference to’ (and many other nuances beside). So, when some have chosen ‘in’, that is a very good English rendering of the sense we mean to convey when we say ‘faith IN Jesus.'”
I agree with Rev. Buchanan on this point. The reason why he says that the word “in” could be used is because the word “of” has many different meanings. If, in fact, “with reference to” is a possible meaning then the internal evidence coupled with that makes the ESV’s rendering proper.
The ESV translators end their defense for their rendering of “faith in Jesus Christ” when they write:
“But through faith in Jesus Christ” is the opposite of depending on one’s own good deeds for justification, since justification comes through faith in Christ alone.
With all the internal evidence that I have explored for the support of how the ESV renders this verse there is still one HUGE problem with pastor Hampton’s argument. That problem is circular reasoning. I mentioned in the first part of this series that pastor Hampton engages in circular reasoning. He begins with his presupposition that the KJV is flawless then will argue all of his points back to it. That does not prove the KJV is better…it only proves that it is different. That is the real issue and it needs exposing.