Which Gospel is your favorite? / Justification by faith and/or works?


I think that this understanding is completely antithetical to what Paul actually says in Romans 3. It completely breaks his entire argument down. Paul says that all, both Jew and Greek, are under sin, that there is no one righteous, no not one, all have turned aside and have become worthless, no one does good, and in vs 20 that by works of the law no human being will be justified in God’s sight.

In this passage, Paul flatly denies that there is a faithful remnant in each generation. The only righteousness there is, is through faith in Christ.

Your understanding is also further contradicted by Paul’s reiteration of the problem of sin in Chapter 5. Paul says that we were enemies of God that were reconciled to God by the death of his son. He says that sin and death came into the world through one man and spread to all men because all sinned. It is only through Christ that we are justified.

Paul’s epistle to the Romans was written to both Jew and Gentile. He says this in his introduction in Chapter 1. He says that the gospel is the power of salvation to everyone, Jew and Greek. He then says that the gospel is the righteousness of God revealed from faith into faith (my translation of the Greek ek pistews eis pistiv). This is Paul’s thesis statement. Probably the most meaningful dynamic translation I have seen that takes into account this rather odd Greek phrase is this: For in it the righteousness of God is being revealed beginning and ending in faith. This translation seems to be born out by the content of Romans as a whole. So your understanding is still at odds with that.

Thanks for the dialogue. Regards.


Greetings, Hodos. I looked forward to your reply. However; I am disappointed that you’re not confining our disputation to pm.

My first response is: What does your translation of the Bible say exactly in Romans 3:28?

Mine says: “ For we hold that a man is justified apart from works of law. “

That tells me that it’s faith that justifies apart; not alone. That refutes sola fide.

As such, let’s look at the context of first century Judaism. Now, the Jews of the first century were taught Law; not faith. The Pharisees missed the forest for the trees in their study of the Law; focusing on works of the Law bringing righteousness.

This, a first century Jew or convert; would have no problem in understanding.

Now, what Saint Paul teaches in this passage is that it’s faith that justifies: Faith under the Law; translated to the Law of Our Lord. When we have faith, the Latin “ fide “ is the root of fidelity; we uphold the Law by sticking to it.

With this exegesis; of course the Lutheran exegesis falls apart of itself, with what Saint Paul wrote in Romans 3.

As for Romans 5, Saint Paul uses “ if “ as rhetorical. “ If we were enemies “ means even if we were enemies to God, Jesus saved us from the power of sin so we may live holy lives pleasing to God.

I’m wondering, Hodos: Are you a pastor, yourself?


Well, the response was made here, so for the benefit of the community I will respond here. If you want to take the remainder of the conversation off line, feel free to PM me.

Right, so this tells me that you have a misunderstanding of Sola Fide. All of the Solas (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia) were written in contrast to what was being taught in the late middle ages. So in order to understand what they mean, you need to understand what they are addressing. Sola Fide was addressing the thought that we are saved by faith AND something else, in this case works. As you read the first three chapters of Romans Paul is setting up a dichotomy between justification by works and justification by faith. He is setting up works as a contrast to faith when it comes to the means by which we are justified before God. As Paul himself stated, we are saved apart from works, and he says thus three or four times (quite emphatically by his use of repetition here) that we are saved by faith, not works. Keep in mind though the audience is both Jews and Gentiles. And given that Paul doesn’t hold either accountable to the works of the law you are speaking of (ceremonial sacrifice, observance of Sabbaths, etc.) Paul is clearly speaking of obeying the moral law. Paul again, has already stated quite emphatically that No one is righteous, no not one, all have become corrupt, they have altogether become worthless. Clearly, Paul who is addressing both Gentile and Jewish audiences is not speaking of ceremonial cleanliness, when he tells us that we are saved by faith apart from works of the law. Keep up the reading. Go at least through Chapter 8 if you want the full perspective here. So far I haven’t seen you progress past chapter 2 in your analysis.


I’ll respond here and then I’ll leave it to you to address this further in pm.

I disagree with your analysis. Luther clearly ignores Saint James because Saint James refutes his position quite clearly. I heard that Luther wanted to cut out Saint James from the NT; calling it “ The Epistle of Straw” for it’s clear defense of faith and works.

Now, if Luther only said that works without faith are useless; than he’d be quite right.

I have progressed past Chapter 2; as can be clearly said in my earlier posts.

My understanding of sola fide is fine.

As I’m still at work, I’ll have to respond more fully later.


We would disagree on that. James is addressing the subject of sanctification of believers rather than being justified through faith, and is concerned with the outward manifestation of faith, which Paul addresses as I have done, as a result of faith, not as the means of justification. The interpretation of James in the manner in which you are currently reading it essentially causes James and Paul to be in conflict with one another, which is a problem. I would be glad to go through James 2 with you sometime as well, as both James and Paul specifically address the example of Abraham, which creates a useful parallel for comparing the two views of James and Paul.


Sanctification and justification are the same thing. Luther split hairs as he was trying to make Sacred Scripture say what he wanted it to say. Saint James clearly said that faith without works is dead. As for Saints James and Paul; they are not in conflict. They synch up nicely in Catholic doctrine. The two positions are complementary; not diametrically opposed.

As for your claim that the doctrines taught in the Middle Ages are false; look to the early Church Fathers and the practices of the early Church clearly shows the practice of intercessory prayer, veneration of saints and relics; among other things. Clearly, they are not the invention of the medieval Church or the accretion of pagan practices; as alleged by Protestant apologists.


No, Peter and Paul and others make a distinction between the two, using both often in the same sentence, but referring to different things. Whereas justification is usually a past tense action, sanctification is usually described as a process.

I agree they are not in conflict when interpreted correctly. However, I do believe the Catholic interpretation of James 2 is in stark contrast with Paul.

We will have to agree to disagree here. I see a huge difference between veneration of saints as practiced by early Christians compared to what had developed by the middle ages.


As for justification vs sanctification; please cite specific verses.

Please explain how you think Saints Paul and James are in stark contrast. Saint Paul teaches against hypocrisy in teaching the Law and violating the Law in practice; the classic “ Practice what you preach “. Rightly so. However: Saint Paul teaches that we uphold the Law in faith.

Saint James, complementary to Saint Paul; teaches that faith without works is dead. They both end up teaching much the same thing; namely that we uphold the Law with faith filled works. Both are necessary for our salvation; for as Saint James says: “ The demons believe and shudder “. Works show who the true Christian is.

As for veneration of the Saints: You then agree that the early Church was right in venerating the Saints? Also: Please cite specific instances of what you think the Church “ went wrong “ by the Middle Ages.


I agree that St. Paul teaches that we should uphold the law. That is not at question here. The question is how we are justified before God. And St. Paul clearly teaches that justification is by faith apart from works.

Paul teaches that we are declared righteous, or reckoned as righteous, or imputed righteous before God by faith in Christ. However, as we are declared righteous, Paul teaches that we should walk in the Spirit that we might be what God has already declared us to be in Christ. Again, Paul and James are in alignment, unless you take the view of justification before God by works. Then they aren’t because Paul teaches we are justified by faith apart from works. Again, our faith is not antinomian.

You would need to define what you mean by veneration of the saints in doctrine and practice. Of course I agree with veneration of the saints within certain parameters. If you would like to see what we believe on this subject, feel free to read the Augsburg Confession, Article XXI.


No, Hodos. Luther tried to have it both ways in his exegesis. Faith and works are required. Saint Paul taught apart, not alone. You have to remember the context of first century Judaism.

Faith, yes; is a prerequisite. But, it does not save us alone. If Saint Paul meant sola fide; he’d have said alone.

Now, veneration of the Saints.

We honor and venerate the Saints by remembering them and contemplating their examples of living holy lives and martyrdom for the Faith. We also call upon them in prayer as we would from someone here on Earth. However: We do not worship them.


St. Paul is presenting a contrast between justification by faith, and justification by works, and stated that we are justified by faith apart from works. This is what Sola Fide is all about. Take it up with Paul.

I agree with the first half of your statement. I would disagree with the second half because I do not agree with the application that what is practiced would be considered as something other than worship by any first century Jewish believer. Had Mary in her day seen statues of her being prayed to in particular asking for her to redeem us instead of Christ doing the redeeming (see the Prayer for Our Mother of Perpetual Help), she would have been horrified. And to command that I submit to that kind of worship practice without any shred of Biblical support is an issue. Sorry, my friend, there are good reasons for the Reformation and our questioning of this aspect of doctrine. Again, I direct you to the Augsburg Confession which addresses what we believe to be proper veneration of saints.


Yes, Saint Paul was teaching a contrast. But, you missed my point. If Saint Paul taught sola fide; he’d have said alone. So: Sola fide falls apart.


You keep stating that Paul taught that we are “justified by faith apart from works.”

Care to finish the sentence you’re quoting but not putting in quotation marks? Because Paul’s sentence doesn’t end there.


No, I get your point, it just makes no sense. You are playing semantic games. St. Paul said we are justified by faith apart from works. Sola fide teaches that we are justified by faith, not by works. We are upholding the same contrast that St. Paul made in Romans. Thank you for conceding to my original explanation about Romans though.


Right, and if you scroll up and read our conversation, you would see that this point was already addressed two or three times.


No, I get your point. It doesn’t make sense. As for your analysis of Romans: it is you that are playing semantics games.

Saint Paul sets aside works without throwing it away as Luther does. In order to show his contrast.


Never satisfactorily. And repeatedly using the phrase while truncating the end of it, an end that is heavily involved the Catholic interpretation of it, is deceptive. It’s not like it would take a huge effort to append “of the law.”


I am sure if you are trying to turn Romans into a doctrinal piece about works righteousness, no “satisfactory” answer may be given. Nonetheless, my answer thoroughly addressed your objection.


What, in your interpretation, is the Catholic view on the role of works in justification? Try to give their position as charitably as you can.


It does not, Hodos. Your position is untenable.

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