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Why Gospel for a Study of Faith-Work Relation?

There are several reasons for choosing the four Gospels for the topic of Faith and Works. The first reason
is an attempt to narrow the framework of the study. Thus, the rest of the materials in the New Testament
will be seldom referred to. The second reason is due to the four Gospels being considered as the main
texts for Christianity in Islamic contexts, including academic settings.

The framework of this study is to reveal the type of relationship that exists between ‘faith’ and ‘works’
that one may witness in the Gospels. How do the Gospels present this issue? To be able to answer these
questions, the four Gospels should be studied and understood. The primary source of this study was the
English translation of the Gospels.

The framework is intentional in order to understand the roots of the idea of ‘justification by faith’ within
the context of the four Gospels. Therefore, the interest is in relevant verses within the Gospels that
support this idea, as Luther himself promoted the return to the scriptures. Hence, the Gospels must be
seen as a primary source to which one has to return to. Another intention of this study was to figure out
why two Christian saints, namely James and Paul, interpreted the relationship between ‘faith’ and ‘works’
so differently. The more one understands ‘faith and works’ within the context of the Gospels, the more
one may understand what the two Christian saints meant by justification by ‘faith’ or by ‘faith and

Introduction to the Topic

Through the reading of the Gospels, the framework in which ‘faith and works’ could be read can be
observed. This framework consists of three different contexts. First, the problem in the context of
hypocrisy will be discussed since the central criticism of Jesus towards Jewish leaders is about their
insincere pious work. A discussion on the necessity of the point— that if they were sincere they would
have believed in the One sent by God— will also be made. In this context, prayer as a ‘work’ and its
relation to ‘faith’ will also be dealt with. The second context is a prominent topic: Law and Gospel. The
study in this context will be about the moral dimensions of ‘works’ and its relation with ‘faith.’
Throughout the four Gospels, one can occasionally observe that ‘works’ is related to ‘moral deeds’.

Therefore, a relation of ‘works’ to the religious rituals and laws will also be made. In the third context, the
consequences of mankind’s works will be argued. Being saved or not on the Day of Judgment is the
central point of this context. The accounts of the four Gospels will be often referred to in this study,
including their interpretations. Christian commentators’ approaches will also be analyzed. Further,
interpretations of relevant verses will also be observed, along with discussions about the topic in the
literature of theology.

M. Ali Mertcan


1. What is the significance of using the Gospels in the study of ‘faith and works’?
2. What is the framework through which ‘faith and works’ could be read in the Gospel?
3. What is the central criticism of Jesus towards Jewish leaders?
4. Throughout the four Gospels, what is ‘works’ often related to?

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