Here we are, the penultimate chapter of Romans.  Only one more to go after this.  To think, when I started I thought I might be done by July 4!  I was either foolish or arrogant.  Probably a little of both.

Translation Notes

I have supplied “doing” as a verb in verse 2.  The sentence works without it, but by adding it meaning is clarified.

In verse 16, the weird phrase ‘serving as a priest of the gospel of God’ is awkward and jarring for those of us in the Protestant tradition that de-emphasizes the priestly role of ministry.  The word picture is that of a priest tending the duties of God in the temple.  Paul is making the point that he is like a priest fulfilling his term of service, but the place of service is not in the physical temple, his place of work is among the gentiles. A priest to the gentiles.  The incredible theology here is implied:  The holy place of God is not a building, but people, and gentiles at that.  The thought parallels nicely with 1 Corinthians 6:19.

The ending of verse 24 is a little hard to translate because it feels like mostly idiom, idioms which are hard to get at. What Paul appears to be indicating is “I hope to stop by and visit you on my way to Spain. We’ll have a good time, won’t we?”

The word I render as ‘proceeds’ in verse 28 is actually the word ‘fruit.’ It is a reference to the money Paul has collected among the churches during his journey. This money was a love offering for the church in Jerusalem because they had been in severe famine.

Theological Notes

There are four striking components of this chapter.  First, Paul has the idea of “owe” in his mind.  The strong owe the weak and gentile Christ-followers owe the church at Jerusalem.  One of these debts is paid with care, the other is paid with money, but the reason for the debt is the same.  All of us are spiritually connected.

Second, I still think verse 7 is the key to understanding Chapter’s 14 and 15.  These complicated faith communities–some Jewish Christian, some gentile Christian, some both, and some with other religious flavoring from all over the empire must learn to practice an inclusive faith that never lets people whom Christ accepts be rejected.  It is hard work to be a welcoming congregation, but that is exactly what Paul wants them to be.

Third, Paul wants to go to Spain.  This is his new dream.  He has had enough of the Mediterranean basin.  He is ready for a new challenge, and he is not afraid of suggesting that the fat cats in Rome help pay for it.  That is probably what the last ten verses are hinting at.  He wants to highlight how Macedonia and Achaia sent money to Jerusalem, layng the foundation for Rome to send money through him to Spain.  He also wants to be refreshed (v. 32) by them, which might mean resupplied.  Paul has a new dream, and this is his fire in the belly.  Sometimes when old dreams die, new ones must replace them.

Fourth, Paul’s prayer at the end tells us that he is somewhat hesitant, perhaps even fearful, of his journey to Rome.  He tips his hand this direction when he asks the Romans to pray for him.  He asks them to pray that his ministry/service/life’s work be accepted by the Christ-followers in Jerusalem.  He really doesn’t know how things are going to happen when he gets there.

Chapter Fifteen
1. We who are strong owe it to the weak to bear their weakness and not please ourselves.
2. Each one of us should please our neighbor by doing good things, with the goal of edification.
3. For the Messiah did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults they insulted you with fell upon me.”
4. What was written beforehand was to guide us, written so that we might have hope in the scriptures by patience and encouragement.
5. May the God of patience and encouragement give that same thing to you, to think about one another as Messiah Jesus.
6. So that with one mind and mouth you might glorify God and Father of our Lord Messiah Jesus.
7. Therefore, you must welcome one another, just as the Messiah welcomed you into the glory of God.
8. For I say the Messiah became a servant to the circumcised to confirm the truth of God in the promises to our ancestors.
9. But he gave mercy to the gentiles so that they would glorify God, just as it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the gentiles and I will sing your name.”
10. And again, it says, “Be glad, gentiles, with his people.”
11. And again it says, “Praise the Lord, all you gentiles, and let all the people praise him.”
12. And again Isaiah says, “There shall be the root of Jesse, and he will arise to rule the gentiles. Upon him the gentiles will hope.”
13. May the God of hope fill you with all joy, peace in believing, and hope to overflow in you by the power of the Holy Spirit.
14. I myself am convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you are full of goodness, having been filled with all knowledge and are able to advise one another.
15. For my part, I write to you rather boldly, reminding you about the grace given to me by God
16. to be a minister of Messiah Jesus among the gentiles, serving as a priest of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the gentiles might be acceptable, consecrated by the Holy Spirit.
17. Therefore, I have something to boast about to God in Messiah Jesus.
18. For I will dare not to speak of anything except what obedience Messiah accomplished through me among the gentiles, in word and work
19. with powerful signs and wonders in the power of the Spirit, so that I filled from Jerusalem around about until Illyricum with the gospel of the Messiah.
20. And so making it a point to evangelize where Messiah has not been named, so as not to build on someone else’ foundation.
21. And just as it is written, “To those who have not known him, they will see, and those who have not heard, they will understand.”
22. For this I kept being hindered many times from coming to you.
23. But now, no longer having a place in these regions, and desiring to come to you for many years,
24. I hope as I travel to Spain to see you first as I pass through, and to enjoy being with you for a while before I am sent ahead.
25. But now I travel to Jerusalem, serving the saints.
26. For Macedonia and Achaia considered it a good partnership to do something for the poor saints in Jerusalem.
27. They thought well of it, for they are debtors because since the gentiles have a share in spiritual things, they owe the service of physical things too.
28. Therefore, accomplishing what I have personally guaranteed about the proceeds, I will come to you on my way to Spain.
29. I know that when I will come, I am coming to you in the full blessing of Messiah.
30. But I encourage you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Messiah and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together in prayer to God for me.
31. That I might be delivered from the unbelieving people in Judea, and my ministry in Jerusalem might be accepted by the saints,
32. and that I come to you in joy, by the will of God, and refresh myself with you.
33. And the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.


Romans 11 has an elegant simplicity to its argument, but Paul takes a lot of verses to make it.

Theological Notes:

The line of thought in Romans 11 goes something like this.

  • God has not rejected his people, genetic Israel.
  • What he is doing is using their failures to save the whole world.
  • When they come back (and they will come back) to grace and faith, imagine what it will mean for the whole world.
  • It is a complicated plan, but who can understand God’s ways–certainly not us.

In addition to this outline, there is buried within the chapter a strong, terrifying tone exemplified in a warning.  It is a warning that most people don’t notice and that most Calvinists simply ignore.  Verse 21 teaches us that if God wasn’t squeamish about cutting off parts of his chosen people, genetic Israel, neither will he hesitate to cut off us gentiles.  It is a terrifying warning that should cause all of us sober reflection.

Translation Notes:

In verse 3, most English translations use helping verbs,  “have killed, have dug up” but the verbs are aorist (past) tense, so I kept them that way.  No helping verbs needed.

Verse 12 ends with a difficult rendering. The word is usually written as “fullness” and is translated various ways in this verse. I prefer here, given Paul’s comparison of Israel’s past behavior, to use the word ‘success’ as a polar opposite of failure.

The word “irrevocable” in verse 29 is such a weird word for the modern ear. Perhaps irreversible or unchangeable would have been better for reading, but in the end I decided that the older, legal word was better especially given the context of a discussion about covenant.

Romans Eleven
1. Am I, therefore, saying that God rejected his own people? Never! For I myself am an Israelite, the family of Abraham, the tribe of Benjamin.
2. God has not rejected his people, whom he foreknew. Do you not know in the Scriptures what it says of Elijah, how he pleaded with God about Israel?
3. Lord, “They killed your prophets. They dug up your altars. I alone am left, and they seek my soul.”
4. What did the oracle say to him? “I have left myself seven thousand men who have not bent the knee to Baal.”
5. So now, in this time too, a remnant has come to be by the free choice of grace.
6. But if by grace it is no longer by works, since the grace would no longer be grace.
7. What then? Israel pursued and did no obtain, but now those chosen attained it, while the others are hardened.
8. Just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that do not see, and ears that do not hear until today.”
9. David says, “Let their table became a trap, a snare, a stumbling block of payback to them.
10. Let their eyes be darkened, not to see, and their back always bent.”
11. I ask, therefore, did they stumble so as to fall? No! Instead their lapses lead to the salvation of the gentiles, who then made them jealous.
12. If their lapses are riches for the world, and their failures are riches for the gentiles, how great will their success be?
13. But I say to you gentiles, that even though I am an apostle to the gentiles, and it is a ministry of honor,
14. nevertheless I will make some of my people jealous and will save some of them.
15. For if their rejection is reconciliation of the world, what can acceptance be except life from the dead?
16. If the first pinch is holy, so also is the whole batch of dough, and if the root is holy, then so are the branches.
17. If some of the branches were broken off, but then you wild olives were grafted in, you became sharers in the root of faith on the olive tree.
18. You branches should not boast. The root sustains you, not you the root.
19. You will then say, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”
20. True, the faithless were broken off, but you have stood by faith. Do think highly of yourselves, instead, be in fear.
21. For if God did not spared natural branches, neither will he spare you.
22. See then, the goodness and severity of God. Severity upon those having fallen, but upon you the goodness of God to preserve you in goodness. Otherwise, you would be cut off too.
23. Even those, if they do not persist in unfaithfulness, might be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
24. For if you naturally wild olives were cut off and against nature you were grafted onto a tame olive tree, how much more will those be grafted back into their same old tree?
25. For I do not wish you brothers and sisters to not know the mystery, and then think yourself wise, because a hardening upon part of Israel has come until the full number of gentiles should enter in.
26. Just as all Israel will be saved, exactly as it is written, “The deliverer will come out of Zion, he will turn ungodliness away from Jacob.
27. And this is my covenant to them, when I might take away their sins.”
28. On one hand they are enemies of the gospel because of you, but on the other hand they are chosen because of their beloved forefathers.
29. For the gifts and call of God are irrevocable.
30. It is the same way as when you disobeyed God, but now you found mercy because of their disobedience.
31. Thus, they now disobeyed for your mercy so that they themselves might find mercy.
32. For God linked together everyone in disobedience so that everyone might find mercy.
33. O the depth, riches, wisdom, and knowledge of God! His judgments are inscrutable and his ways are untraceable.
34. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, who has become his advisor?
35. Who has given to him that he should repay?”
36. For everything is from him, through him, and in him—to him be the glory in eternity. Amen.

Click on the links below to read other chapters from the Book of Romans.

Romans 10

Romans 9

Romans 8

Romans 7

Romans 6

Romans 5

Romans 4

Romans 3

Romans 2

Romans 1


Romans 10 has two verses that are dear to me, because they are a significant part of my theological tradition.  Baptists love Romans 10:9 and 10:13 almost as much as they love John 3:16.  Almost.

Theological Notes:  My point of view is that Romans is essentially a collection of the synagogue sermons Paul had been preaching around the Mediterranean Basin.  It is not one big sermon, but a lot of little ones.  He weaves them together to form a coherent whole, and chapter 10, in many ways, is a key summary of his overarching goal with Romans.  It is a midrash sermon that has one point:  God has now extended salvation–i.e. covenantal grace–to the gentiles.  Chapter 10 has no fewer than 11 references from the Hebrew Bible, which is amazing in that there are only 21 verses in the whole chapter.  In classic midrash form these quotes start with Moses, then support it with prophets (in this case, mostly Isaiah but also Joel) and then flourishes it out with the Psalms.  Sometimes he sticks to the Hebrew text, sometimes he uses the Septuagint, and quite honestly sometimes it feels like he might be using something else altogether different, such as is the case with verses 6 and 7.  For an interesting discussion of that, see Doug Moo’s exhaustive commentary in the New International Commentary series “The Epistle to the Romans.”

Paul uses all of this to make a point.  He is building an argument that gentiles are now included, but that doesn’t mean necessarily mean Jews are excluded.

Translation notes:  In the quote from the Old Testament in verse 15 there is a double “good” in the text. One good is embedded in the word “euangelion” which is “good news”, here in a participial form, followed by the words “the good.” I saw this as an intensification, and therefore added the common adverb “really” in front of good news.

I may have taken too much liberty with verse 17 because I added “believing” in front of faith. That is redundant, textually speaking, but I wanted a form of ‘believe’ in there because it intentionally mirrors the quotation in verse 16 about ‘believing’ the report, or message.

Chapter Ten
1. Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God is for their salvation.
2. I testify that they have a jealousy for God, but not knowledge.
3. For not knowing the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not obey the righteousness of God.
4. The end of the law is Messiah righteousness to all those believing.
5. Moses writes about righteousness from the law, that the, “Person doing righteousness from the law will live in them.”
6. But righteousness from faith says it like this, “Do not say in your heart who can go up within the heavens?” This would be to bring Messiah down.
7. Or “Who will go down into the abyss?” This would be to bring Messiah up from the dead.
8. And what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and heart,” the word of faith we preached to you.
9. Because you will be saved if you acknowledge that Jesus is Lord with your mouth and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.
10. For with the heart one believes in righteousness, but with the mouth salvation is acknowledged.
11. For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be ashamed.”
12. For there is no distinction between Jew and gentile, for they all have the same Lord, who is rich toward everyone who calls upon him.
13. For anyone who might themselves call upon the name of The Lord will be saved.
14. How, therefore, can they call upon someone they do not believe in? How can they believe when they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching?
15. But how can they preach if they are not sent? Just as it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of the ones delivering really good news.”
16. But not everyone responded to the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who believed our report?”
17. So believing faith is from hearing, and hearing by the word of Messiah.
18. But I ask, have they not heard? Certainly, for their voice went out into the whole earth, and their words to the ends of the world.
19. But I ask, did Israel not know? First, Moses says, “I will make you jealous of those who are not a people, then I will make you angry by way of a foolish people.”
20. Isaiah dared to say more. “Those not seeking me found me, they did not ask me but I revealed myself to them.”
21. But to Israel he says, “All day long I held out my hands toward a disobedient and contrary people.”

Romans 9

Romans 8


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.”