Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 1, 1952

How Is Faith Reckoned? — No. 2

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

This is my second article in a discussion between brother C. D. Crouch and me regarding whether or not the Revised Version is correct in rendering the Greek preposition "eis" by the word "as" in the expression "faith was reckoned for righteousness." (Rom. 4:3, 9) The other articles may be found in the December 20, February 7, and March 13, issues of the Guardian.

Some may be inclined to regard a discussion of the meaning of "eis" in this passage as "striving about words to no profit"; but there is a conception back of the insistence that "eis" be given the meaning of "in order to" that should not be ignored. It does not allow for the proper distinction between the law and the gospel. Its fruit is seen in the charge that members of the church are legalists and believe in and teach baptismal regeneration. In this connection, when illustrating the necessity of obedience, one should be careful to avoid illustrations that are capable of the wrong application because often some will draw the wrong conclusion. It is conceivable that some might get the idea that one is a legalist and has taught baptismal regeneration when he, in fact, has not; but it becomes a very serious matter if the preaching is rejected due to the fact that such charges are justified.

Paul said, "The law is not of faith; but he that doeth them shall live in them." (Gal. 3:12) That means that under the law doing was the thing that counted and that doing did not relate to something else of value that was the consideration on which one's acceptance with God was based. That is the reason why perfect obedience was necessary in order for one to be righteous on the basis of law. But if one regards the gospel as simply another law and regards compliance with its commands as being the basis of one's acceptance with God, he places the gospel on the same plane as the law of Moses. Paul said, "We are not under law, but under grace." (Rom. 6:15) He meant something by that statement but what he meant cannot be adequately explained by those who insist that the gospel is simply another law, and that a compliance with its conditions is in order to obtain pardon. What Paul said can be explained in light of the fact under the gospel, obedience, though necessary, does not sustain the relationship to righteousness of being "in order to obtain" it, as it was under the law, but instead is an expression of one's reliance on the redemption that Christ has obtained for us. (Heb. 9:12) This distinction is provided for in the rendering "faith was reckoned as righteousness," but it is certainly not provided for in the rendering "faith was reckoned in order to obtain righteousness." I am not being unfair in using the words "in order to obtain" here because that is clearly the significance of the words "in order to" when used with respect to righteousness. The reason I am using it is in order that we might see how utterly out of place such a rendering of "eis" is in this expression.

If those who hold brother Crouch's view were expecting him to say anything on his own defense of his position, they were certainly disappointed. He makes no reply to the fact that the Greek grammar uses the passage that we are studying as an illustration of an instance where "eis" can be translated by "as." Furthermore, I called his attention to the following scriptures where "eis" is rendered by "for" in the King James Version and by "as" in the Revised Standard Version: Acts 10:4; Rom. 2:26; Gal. 5:13 and Rom. 9:8. In as much as he contended that "eis" could not be rendered by "as," he should have attempted to make some disposition of these scriptures.

A large portion of his article is devoted to a quotation from Moses E. Lard's commentary on Romans, which we shall now notice. For our purposes the following sentence will be all of the quotation that is needed: "Now Abraham's belief was counted to him eis — in order to, dikainosunen — in order to his acquittal from sin, or then by means of his belief he might obtain justification." At first I thought that brother Crouch agreed with Lard on this passage, but after reading additional comment by Lard, I found that such is not the case. Notice that Lard uses the word justification instead of righteousness. That was no accident. On page 137, referring to the translation of "eis dikainosunen" Lard says, "Shall we translate by justification or by righteousness? If righteousness, what is the meaning? This: Belief was counted eis, instead of, or as the equivalent of a life of perfect obedience. This meaning of eis' is very rare; though it occurs in Ch. ii, 26." In other words, according to Lard, if you are going to translate "dikainosunen" by righteousness as brother Crouch does, you will give to "eis the same meaning it has in the expression "shall not his uncircumcision be reckoned 'eis' circumcision." (Rom. 2:26) Both Lard and Whiteside give to "eis" the significance of "as" in this passage. Therefore, according to Lard the passage should read, "Faith was reckoned as righteousness," providing you translate "dikainosunen" by the word righteousness. In fairness to Lard he translates "dikainosunen" by justification, but keep in mind that brother Crouch uses the word righteousness. Brother Crouch's use of the quotation from Lard is misleading because it leaves the impression that he and Lard are agreed, which is not true.

It seems to me that Lard is disturbed about the possibility of eliminating faith as a condition of pardon. That is the reason why he uses the rendering "in order to justification" rather than "as righteousness." The reason for this is that he like brother Crouch regards "as" as demanding the idea of "as a substitute for" or "in the identity of." The definition of "as" does not demand any such idea, however. "As" is defined as a prep. In the idea, character, or capacity of; as to appear as Hamlet; to get a Job as a janitor. It is also defined: In a manner like that of; as the audience rose as one man. Man was not a substitute for, nor was he identical with the audience. By the same token, faith is neither a substitute for, nor is it identical with righteousness. Faith was reckoned "in a manner like that of" righteousness.

In as much as brother Crouch contends that Abraham obtained righteousness, let us study the passage using that idea for the word "eis" thus: "Faith was reckoned 'in order to obtain' righteousness." Now the question is, can "eis" be correctly translated that way in this passage? It cannot because for "eis" to be translated "in order to," it must be used with a form of the verb that denotes motion toward with respect to a certain result. "Was reckoned" as here used is the first aorist passive indicative. It does not state the intent of Abraham's faith; but instead tells how God regarded it. The idea is one of attribute and not intent. There is nothing to indicate that Cornelius intended his alms as a memorial, but God regarded them that way just the same. (Acts 10:4)

It can be demonstrated that "in order to obtain" is not a proper rendering of "eis" in this passage by changing the statement "Faith was reckoned in order to obtain righteousness" from the passive to the active voice thus: "God reckoned faith in order to obtain righteousness." In this form it is obvious that it is not a statement of what brother Crouch has been contending. It not only asserts that God reckoned but it likewise asserts that God obtained; but our brother said of Abraham, "he obtained righteousness." In order to make the passage mean what the brother thinks it does, it is necessary to add the pronoun "he" to the expression. Thus: "God reckoned faith in order that he might obtain righteousness." In doing this the meaning of the passage is changed completely. There is no rule governing the use of "eis" that will allow that. This proves that "in order to obtain" is not a correct meaning for "eis" in this passage. The addition of words that change the meaning of the expression are not necessary when the definition of the correct word is used in the place of the word itself. This is seen when the meaning of "as" is used for "eis" thus: "Faith was reckoned 'in a [sic]

It is true that there are many instances where "eis" can be properly rendered "in order to obtain," but Rom. 4:3, 9 does not happen to be among them. "They gave them (thirty pieces of silver) for the potters field," Matt. 27:10 is one. When "in order to obtain" is substituted for "eis" in this passage the language flows in a free and natural way without any extra words being required.

In this study we have found that the rendering of "eis" by "as" does not support the idea that the subjective righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer; that it allows for a proper distinction between the law and the gospel; and that it conforms to a recognized use of the Greek preposition. This, it seems to me should be sufficient reason to justify the Revised Standard Version in rendering it "Faith was reckoned as righteousness."