Translating slowed down the past couple of weeks because we had “to summer.”   That involved a lot of driving, lakes, rivers, and spooky lights.  Never fear, however, here is Romans 9.  I might get finished with Romans before October.  Maybe?

Theological Notes:  Many have suggested that Romans 9-11 is unnecessary for Paul’s argument in Romans, and that the text is better if we move straight from Romans 8 to 12.  By contrast, I believe that 9-11 are essential to Paul’s overall argument–that gentile and Jewish Christians are no different in the eyes of God, and that both are responsible for their individual parts of his plan to include all of humanity in his act of grace.

To this end, Romans 9 builds the case that the Jews, though special, missed something important, and that the gentiles have now become special and gained what the Jews missed.  Through Messiah, both Jews and gentiles can become one in faith, and actually are one family–the spiritual descendants of Abraham.

As one who was adopted, this passage has an emotional connection for me.  That God chose us is not a kind of election/predestination question, but more about the love involved when someone chooses to include you into their family.  God chose to include me, and gentiles, into his great big family.

Translation notes: The text of verse three describes the people who are causing so much anguish for Paul as “the kinsman of me with flesh.”  It could be rendered “my relatives by way of flesh” or something like that.  We might use the word ‘biological’ today to refer to this, but the root word for kinsman is “gene”, plus when I take what he is speaking about, Jews, it is clear that he is referring not to relatives but to his race. So for kinsman I put ‘genetic’ and for flesh I made a big leap and put ‘race.’

Most English texts of verse 4 supply the verb ‘belong’ but Paul wrote it more like a list of adjectives that describe what it means to be an Israelite—so I tried to capture that feeling, even if it doesn’t sound quite right when read aloud.

In verse 27, I supplied “even” and “only” to the verse after careful consideration of its word structure and implied meaning.

“The time” has been added to verse 28 because the verb ‘cut short’ doesn’t have an object. Cross reference Isaiah 10:22-23. However, I freely admit it is altogether possible that both the prophet and the apostle do not mean ‘cut short the time’ but instead are referring to a limit that the Lord has put on his people because of their sin. In other words, when things are carried too far, God shuts it down by cutting them off.

Chapter Nine
1. I speak truth in Messiah; I do not lie. My conscience bears witness along with the Holy Spirit
2. that my sorrow is great and there is continual pain in my heart.
3. I keep wishing for myself to be accursed from the Messiah for the sake of my brothers and sisters, my genetic race.
4. Who, being Israelites, are the adopted family, the glory, covenant, law bearers, worship and promise.
5. From whom the patriarchs, and from them the Messiah, who is what these things are all about, came in the flesh. God be blessed eternally. Amen.
6. Of course, it is not that the word of God had failed, for not all those from Israel are Israel.
7. Nor are all of Abraham’s children actual descendants; for, “In Isaac your seed will be called.”
8. That is, it is not biological children who are the children of God, but the children of the promise; these are counted as descendants.
9. The word of promise is this, “That about this time I will come and Sarah will have a son.”
10. Not only this, but also Rebecca, from one bed, made Isaac the father of us all.
11. Though not yet born, not doing good or bad, even so they were preserved by the free choice in God’s purpose.
12. It was not from works but from the calling that she was told, “The elder will serve the younger.”
13. Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.”
14. What should we say then? Not that God is unjust? No way.
15. For he says to Moses, “I will show mercy on whomever I show mercy, and I will have pity on whomever I have pity.”
16. So now it is not desire, nor effort, but it is the mercy of God.
17. For the scripture says of Pharaoh, that “For this reason I raised you up, for my power to show itself in you, and so that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
18. Now therefore, he shows mercy on whomever he wishes, but he also hardens whomever he wishes.
19. You will then say to me, “Why then does he still blame people? For who can resist his will?”
20. O man! Truly, who are you to talk back to God? Will the creature say to the creator, “Why have you made me this way?”
21. Does not the potter have the power to make out of the same lump an object of honor and one of dishonor?
22. What if God, wanting to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power endured with great patience objects of wrath, prepared for destruction?
23. And also that he might make known his riches upon objects of mercy prepared for glory beforehand
24. to those he called, not only we who are Jews, but also out from the gentiles.
25. As it says in Hosea, “I will call those ‘not my people my people’, and the one ‘not loved, loved.’
26. In the same place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’ they will be called children of the living God.”
27. But Isaiah cries out for Israel, that “Even if the children of Israel number as the sand of the seas, only a remnant will be saved.
28. For the Lord will accomplish the words and will cut short their time upon the earth.”
29. Just as Isaiah foretold, “Unless the Lord of hosts left descendants for us we might have become as Sodom and made like Gomorrah.”
30. What therefore can we say, except that gentiles, who were not searching for righteousness received righteousness, and a type of righteousness from faith.
31. But Israel pursed a law type of righteousness. A law they did not attain.
32. Why? It was not faith but works. They stumbled on the stumbling stone.
33. Just as it is written, “Behold, I put a stumbling stone and a scandalous rock in Zion, and those believing upon him will not be disappointed.”


In the fourth chapter of Romans Paul turns the corner on his opening thoughts, where he outlines that the whole world is condemned, in one way or another, and comes down a stretch where he explains why exactly not only faith in Jesus matters, but also why it works.  Romans four might be the most Jewish chapter in the whole New Testament.

Translation Notes:  The reoccurring word I have translated here as “counted” is a sticky wicket.  It can be rendered in so many different ways, and they all would be accurate.  It might be reason, reckon, thought, considered or even evaluated.  I seriously thought about going with evaluated, because I think that is part of what Paul is communicating:  “God evaluated Abraham’s faith as righteousness.”  I am also intrigued by the word being translated here, because it is in the same root family from which the English word “logic” comes from:  “It was a logical conclusion that Abraham’s faith was righteousness.”  I like that a lot because of the shocking and alarming juxtaposition of “logic” and “faith” so close together.

One other note, about verse 14.  I have rendered the last phrase as, “the promise doesn’t work” but the actual word should probably be translated as “broken.”  I opted not to do that because it would indicate that the covenant is broken, but that is not really what Paul is saying.  Therefore, I opted for “doesn’t work” instead.

Theological Notes:  This entire chapter reads like a proof for a geometry problem we all had to work on in high school.  Remember those?  This one goes like this.  If Abraham was counted as a righteous person before he was circumcised and if it was his faith that made him righteous, then he is the spiritual father of all those who have faith, regardless of genetics.

Paul then tells us that the object of faith now is Jesus and his resurrection.

Chapter Four
1. Then what can we say about Abraham, was it only biologically that he was found to be our ancestor?
2. If Abram was made righteous because of works he has something to boast about, but not before God.
3. For what does the scripture say? “But Abram believed God and it was counted as righteousness to him.”
4. Now, to someone who has worked wages are not counted as a gift of grace, but as a debt.
5. Yet to the one not working, the one believing in him who makes the ungodly righteous, it is his faith that is counted as righteous.
6. Just as David says, “Blessed is the person who God counts as righteous without works.
7. Blessed are those whose lawlessness has been forgiven and those whose sins are covered.
8. Blessed is a man whose sins the Lord does not hold against him.”
9. Therefore, who is this blessing for then, the circumcised or those uncircumcised too? We say, “He counted Abram’s faith as righteousness.”
10. When was he counted? Was it when he was circumcised or while uncircumcised? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
11. He received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness of faith he had when uncircumcised, to be a father of many people who believe yet are not circumcised, so that righteousness might be counted to them too,
12. to be not only a father to those who are circumcised, but to those who are outside of circumcision who follow the footsteps of the uncircumcised faith of our father Abraham.
13. It was not by law that the promise to be heirs of the world was made to Abraham’s offspring, but by the righteousness of faith.
14. If it is by law that they are inheritors, then faith is empty and the promise doesn’t work.
15. The law causes wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.
16. That is why it is by faith through grace, so that the promise might be reliable for all the offspring; not only those from the law but those who also are from the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all.
17. Just as it is written, that “I have appointed you as a father to may nations,” in the sight of God, whom he believed gave life back from the dead and called forth things into being that did not exist.
18. He hoped against all hope. He believed that he would become, “A father to many nations,” according to the words spoken, “about his offspring.”
19. And not weakened in faith, he considered his already impotent one hundred year old body, not to mention Sarah’s dead womb,
20. but he did not doubt the promise of God in unbelief. Instead he was strengthened in his faith, giving glory to God.
21. And he was fully convinced that the one who had promised is able to do it.
22. And this is why, “He counted him righteous.”
23. That it was, “counted to him” was not written down for him only.
24. But it is for us that it is counted, those believing upon the resurrection of our Lord Jesus from the dead.
25. Who was handed over because of our trespasses and was resurrected for our righteousness.

Romans One

Romans Two

Romans Three