Faith working through love - Galatians 5:6


#1

Some time ago I asked about another verse in Galatians, which initiated a good discussion (Thread ‘Justification by Faith - Gal 3:26’).

Following from this I am now concerned with Galatians 5:6 The NAB translation is “For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

Does this mean we are justified by faith, and is this faith expressed principally through our love for God or for our neighbor(u)r, or both equally? There is another possibility, that what really counts is the faith of Christ Jesus, acting through his love, expressed in his birth, life, death and resurrection.

So I have several queries.

  1. Are we justified by faith?
  2. Is this expressed through our love of God?
  3. Is this expressed through our love of our neighbo(u)r?
  4. Is this expressed through our love of God and neiighbour?
  5. Is this expressed through Christ’s love for us?

#2

Yes, we are justified by faith.

Romans 3:28

For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 5:1

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Galatians 2:16

*know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

Galatians 3:24
*
So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith.


#3

No, it means that faith is incomplete without love. Here’s how Augustine put it:
"Without love faith can indeed exist but avails nothing"
And St Paul in 1 Cor 13:
"…if I have a faith that can move mountains but have not love I am nothing."

The following are excerpts from the Council of Trent session 6, on justification that I posted in another thread. The first is a snippet from chap 7. The second is all of chap 8:

**CHAPTER VII

For faith, unless hope and charity be added thereto, neither unites man perfectly with Christ, nor makes him a living member of His body

CHAPTER VIII.
In what manner it is to be understood, that the impious is justified by faith, and gratuitously.
And whereas the Apostle saith, that man is justified by faith and freely, those words are to be understood in that sense which the perpetual consent of the Catholic Church hath held and expressed; to wit, that we are therefore said to be justified by faith, because faith is the beginning of human salvation, the foundation, and the root of all Justification; without which it is impossible to please God, and to come unto the fellowship of His sons: but we are therefore said to be justified freely, because that none of those things which precede justification-whether faith or works-merit the grace itself of justification. For, if it be a grace, it is not now by works, otherwise, as the same Apostle says, grace is no more grace.**

The Church’s teachings on justification were never before defined more thoroughly than at Trent. It requires some effort to study but is very profitable reading: history.hanover.edu/texts/trent.html


#4

SJacob7,
thank you for your reply, but it does not answer my concerns fully.


#5

FHansen
thank you so much for your reply to me. It is very solid and demands much reflection on my part.

My questions follow up from a previous thread, to which you contributed, where the need for faith working through love was established. So I consider this point settled, as shown by my use of ‘love’ in four of my specific questions.

I fully agree with your (slightly altered) comment “The Church’s teachings on justification… require some effort to study but is very profitable reading”.

But again, I would like specific answers to my 5 concerns.


#6

In addition to what has been said: Roman 1: 16 clearly states, “the Gospel is the power of God to save.”


#7

Yes, but not by the protestant idea of faith alone, as you pinted out, the formula, if you will, is ‘faith working through love.’

  1. Is this expressed through our love of God?

Yes

  1. Is this expressed through our love of our neighbo(u)r?

Yes

  1. Is this expressed through our love of God and neiighbour?

This is the fullest expression of love, the ‘both/and’ idea.

  1. Is this expressed through Christ’s love for us?

What do you mean? Christ’s love is the greatest love one can have, to expend oneself for others - in Christ’s case, for all people, through all time. As a sidenote, as an argument against ‘faith alone,’ Jesus redeemed all people, yet only some are saved, so the question is, did Jesus not do something, or did the unsaved not do something? Obviously, faith itself is a work, one doesn’t just ‘faith.’ To believe, to trust in Our Lord is an act of the will, just as love is an act of the will, not a feeling.


#8

BiffRuffle

Thank you for your clear reply to me. I agree with your answers to eh specific questions, except the reply to question 5 could be developed.

NAB Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
(Gal 5:6 NAB)

I wrote “There is another possibility that what really counts is the faith of Christ Jesus, acting through his love, expressed in his birth, life, death and resurrection.”

Question 5 can be further considered. There are the objective and subjective meaning of Christ’s love, as it can mean our love of Christ or Christ’s love of us. The question is are we justified by our love or Christ’s love. Simply put do we save ourselves by our faith expressed by our love, or are we saved by the merits of Christ, that is his love for us.


#9

Jim,
I do not think your reply answers my specific concerns.


#10

That clarifies what you mean a bit. We are, in an absolute sense, saved by grace, that is, the life of Christ. So, yes, we are saved by the merits of Christ - BUT - we must co-operate with that grace, to truly be a member of Christ. That requires a response on our part - which is ‘faith working through love.’ Jesus used the image of the vine - we are grafted in (salvation by grace in baptism) but if we do not bear fruit, we are cut off, yet we can be re-grafted in through repentance (part of which is approaching the sacrament of confession.) Another analogy could be the idea of receiving a gift - the giver gives the gift (life and merits of Christ[grace]), yet the receiver still needs to receive said gift (faith working through love).


#11

In Catholic teaching, faith and love are separable. Faith is the means to justice for man (we’re justified by faith) because faith is the means to communion with God- and God is the means to the virtue of love. And love is what constitutes full justice or holiness or righteousness for man, which is why the greatest commandments are what they are. But faith doesn’t necessarily lead to this justice, it doesn’t have to work through love, which is why James can say that “even the demons believe”. So Trent teaches that faith is the beginning, the root and foundation, of our justification. Some theologies seem to fall into the trap of viewing faith as equivalent to justification for man, as if that’s all God desired of us.


#12

NoelFitz

I guess you are correct.


#13

Noel

I mentioned Gospel, the power of God to save because it seems to contain faith, love,and hope.

It seems to me that it is more primary than love giving energy to faith.

Gal 5 yells that it is love the give energy to faith.

I do not have time to explain my opinion, sorry.

I am not sure if I could explain them, sorry.


#14

We are justified by grace. How can we get grace? We can get it through the sacraments, and that requires action on our part.


#15

Teeboy,Thanks. We do not earn grace through the sacraments. Grace is a free gift from God.

Jim Baur, I appreciate your deep understanding of our religion. The Gospel is the good news God has given us. It tells us about the importance of love, but love itself is the greatest of the supernatural virtues.

FHansen, I agree with you. Faith, hope and love are separate virtues. But for Catholics and Protestant faith means different things. For Catholics it is acceptance of doctrines, for Protestants it is trust in God.

The replies I received show concern and effort of so many of you, which I appreciate. They have encouraged me to try to understand better my religion.


#16

1. Are we justified by faith?
Yes, faith is the first response to God’s call-to grace; its the beginning of a walk with God, a* life *of grace to the extent that we cooperate with Him.
2. Is this expressed through our love of God?
It can be as faith is intended to ultimately blossom into love as the mutual relationship matures and deepens, as we’re transformed into God’s image. 2 Cor 3
3. Is this expressed through our love of our neighbo(u)r?
Yes, whatever we do for the least we do for Christ. Matt 25
4. Is this expressed through our love of God and neiighbour?
Yes
5. Is this expressed through Christ’s love for us?
Gal 5:6 is speaking of the changes that God, because of His love, wants to make in us, replacing our stony hearts with hearts of flesh (Ez 36), and writing His law on our hearts and in our minds (Jer 31:33-34). This is the life of God: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, within us. This begins, on God’s part, with grace, and, on our part as a response, with faith. Faith is the opening of ourselves up to God so He may do His work in us, of healing, justifying, saving. Faith is moving from being lost to being found, from dead to alive.

But we’re not* forced to enter or remain in that state of justice, in that relationship. As Augustine put it:* “He who made you without your consent will not save you without your consent.”** In any case keep in mind the words of St Paul in 1 Cor 13:13, **“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” **


#17

FHansen,

thank you so much for your detailed and sound reply to me. I appreciate your insights and that you took so much time to reply to me on many occasions.

My knowledge of the faith is limited, but is sufficient to be able to realize that your views are based on true Catholicism.

Thank you!


#18

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