Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 7, 1952
NUMBER 39, PAGE 10-11a

How Is Faith Reckoned?

J .T. Stanfill, Jr., Levelland, Texas

Most of the discussions of the Greek preposition "eis" have involved Acts 2:38 where it has been necessary to prove that its meaning is "in order to" instead of "because of." Contrary to that which is usually the case however; it becomes necessary to direct attention to an instance where "eis" does not have that meaning. The meaning of "eis" cannot be determined by the word alone, but is dependent on the words with which it is used. In Acts 2:38 it is used to denote an intended result and hence, is properly rendered "in order to." Just because the Greek preposition "eis" has that meaning in Acts 2:38 does not make it imperative that it have that meaning in every case, however. It seems that some have that idea.

I wonder if that is the reason why brother C. D. Crouch thinks that "eis" in the expression, "it was reckoned unto him for righteousness" (Rom. 4:3, 9) has the meaning of "in order to." It may be that it is some commentary that he has read. Whatever may be his reason for so thinking, he bases the entire argument of his article entitled "Faith Reckoned As Righteousness" on that belief. The article may be found on page one of the December issue of the Guardian. In his article brother Crouch objects to the attempts in the Revised Standard Version to simplify the passage by the use of the word "as" instead of the word "for." It is my belief that in these passages the word "eis" conveys the idea of equivalence and that a distinct service has been performed in the Revised Standard Version by rendering it by the word "as."

It is not the purpose of this article to make any defense of the Revised Standard Version as a whole; but it is hoped that when it is demonstrated to brother Crouch that the meaning of "eis" in the passage in question will not support his view, that he will re-examine his position which as it appears to me stems more from his legalistic conception of the gospel, than it does from any serious study of the Greek preposition "eis." Neither will it be necessary to reply to the attempts he makes to differentiate between righteousness and forgiveness because if "eis" means "as" then, all his arguments to that effect is beside the point.

After emphasizing that it is faith that is reckoned brother Crouch continues, "Be it understood that 'for' in those passages (Rom. 4:3, 9) comes from the Greek preposition 'EIS,' which the dictionaries tell us 'is a proposition governing the accusative'; its radical significance is 'into.' It means in these passages 'in order to.' The adverb 'as' therefore cannot correctly translate the Greek preposition 'eis.' The very fact that the Revised Standard Version so renders it, brands the said Version as unworthy to be called a translation."

In the first place the word "as' 'in the Revised Standard Version is a preposition and not an adverb in the expression under consideration. The word "as" can be used as an adverb, a conjunction, a preposition, and as a pronoun. Concerning its use as a preposition, the following is found in the fifth edition of Webster's Collegiate Dictionary: Prep. In the idea, character or capacity of;

as to appear as Hamlet; to get a job as a janitor. It is certainly not "a violation of a fundamental principle of language translation" to render a preposition by a preposition providing of course they have the same meaning.

As for the Meaning, it will be observed that brother Crouch was not quoting from the dictionaries or lexicons when he said, "It means in these passages 'in order to'." The lexicons will not support him in that statement. In a "Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament" by Green are listed, with examples, the following possible meanings of the Greek preposition "eis": into, unto, to, toward, in regard to, against, in reference to, in order to, for, as, and during. The expression "it was reckoned unto him for righteousness," is one of the examples listed. It is among a list of passages concerning which it is said, "This preposition is used in some important passages to denote equivalence and may be rendered 'for' or 'as'." Thus it is observed that the expression is used as an illustration of a meaning that brother Crouch contends that it cannot have.

One is not confined to the statements in the grammars and lexicons alone in so far as determining its meaning is concerned. Its meaning can be determined by an observation of the uses of the word in similar passages where its significance is not in doubt. There are some passages where, though "eis" is not actually translated, its significance of equivalence is carried over into the English with a force even greater than it would have if it were. This is done in English by what is known as the attribute complement. The following examples can be tested by using first the words "in order to" and then the word "as" where it is indicated that "eis" occurs in the original, and when this test is made it will be found that "as" makes sense whereas "in order to" does not convey the proper meaning: And the two shall become (eis) one flesh (Matt. 19:5); The same was made (eis) the head of the corner (Matt. 21:42); Wherefore tongues are (eis) a sign (1 Cor. 14:22). Consider the following passages where the word "eis" is translated by the word "for" in the Authorized Version and by the word "as" in the Revised Version, noticing the obvious fact that the word "for" has the significance of "as" instead of "in order to": Thine alms are gone up (eis) a memorial before God. (Acts 10:4); Use not your freedom (eis) and occasion to the flesh (Gal. 5:18); But the children of the promise are reckoned (eis) a seed (Rom. 9:8); Shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned (eis) circumcision? (Rom. 2:26) The last two examples are significant in view of the fact that "eis" is used with the verb "reckoned" just as it is in the expression "it was reckoned unto him for righteousness." Now if "eis" can have the significance of "as" when other things are said to be reckoned, just why is it so unreasonable to give it that meaning when faith is that which is said to be reckoned? I have a commentary in which some proof is given unintentionally that will be of interest just here. The author of this commentary takes the same position as brother Crouch on Rom. 4:3, 9; but he forgot it long enough to make the following comment on Rom. 2:26: "The Gentiles could neglect circumcision without sin; and if he lived a moral upright life, he would be considered as if he had been circumcised." Thus he gives to "eis" the significance of equivalence. More examples could be given but it seems to me that these are sufficient to prove beyond doubt that the Revised Standard Version is correct in giving to "eis" the meaning of "as" in the expression, "it was reckoned unto him for righteousness."

It is admitted that this conception of righteousness does not allow for the distinction in forgiveness and being reckoned righteous that brother Crouch makes in his article; but this distinction is not necessary if one will give to faith the full extent of its meaning in the passage by allowing it to include everything God requires of one before be can enjoy the promise of forgiveness. There are scriptures that include that much in the word faith. It seems to me that we should be able to do likewise.

The righteousness received in this way will be as Paul said, "not a righteousness of mine, even that which is of the law, but that which is by faith in Christ." (Phil. 8:9) If the righteousness reckoned unto him was due to the fact that he was righteous, then; his righteousness would have been his own, of the law. Any conception of obedience to the gospel which makes the resulting righteousness one's own, places it on par with the law. It makes what one does the consideration on which salvation is granted rather allowing what is done to express reliance in the thing that really is the consideration, namely the blood of Christ.