I read verses 7-8 of Romans 14 every time I officiate a funeral.  They are good words for a funeral.  However, Romans 14 is not about the dead, it is about the living, and how we, as servants of the Lord live by faith.  In that way, Chapter 14 is textually linked to the beginning of Romans (1:17).

Translation Notes

I changed the noun “arguments” in verse 1 into the verbal infinitive “to argue” for the sake of sounding better.  Without that change, it sounds psychologically unstable.
In verse 10, I chose “sibling” instead of the literal “brother” because of the way Paul is using the idea. I could have gone with “brother or sister” but I decided that there was already a gender neutral word that meant that. Notice In verse 15 I use both constructions to bring tension to the foreground for the reader.
There is a textual variant in verse 12. The prepositional phrase “to God” at the end of the verse is not in the earliest manuscripts. As I read it, it seemed to me like it didn’t belong, and was clearly a later addition.
Beginning with verse 13 we are introduced to two words that can both be translated as ‘stumbling block.’ These synonyms are used by Paul to describe the responsibility of the ‘strong’ to the ‘weak’ Christ-follower. I chose to clarify it with the words spiritual and moral, but that is a rather subjective choice, so be advised.

Theological Notes

Romans 14 answers the question asked by Cain at the beginning, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  The answer is yes.  We each have the sacred responsibility for making certain our actions do not cause spiritual crisis or destructive doubt for other people.  To be certain, discipleship and education are intended as the backdrop of this chapter because one of the goals of a faith community is to make everyone strong, not to permanently tolerate a weakened state of faith.  Nevertheless, the instruction is clear:  Do not let personal choices or habits destroy other people.

The last verse of the chapter puts things into a stark black and white frame.  Everything we do–raising our families, eating dinner, watching television, reading a book, or choosing which church to attend is either an act of faith (belief that God is in control and we are his servants) or it is an act of sin.  It is an act of sin when what we do serves to satisfy our lust, greed, anger, materialism, pride, and any other of the host of vices that compete with trusting faith.  Whatever is not of faith is sin.

Chapter Fourteen
1. But welcome the one who is weak in the faith, choosing not to argue.
2. One believes everything is okay to eat, but the other who is weak eats vegetables.
3. The one eating must not despise the one not eating, and the one not eating must not judge the one eating, for God himself welcomed him.
4. Who are you, judging another’s servant? To his own lord he stands or falls, but he will be made to stand for the Lord is able to stand him up.
5. Some judge some days different than other days, but others judge every day the same. Let each person make up his or her own mind about it.
6. The one who considers some days different, considers it for the Lord, and the one eating gives thanks to God, eating to the Lord, while the one not eating gives thanks and abstains unto God.
7. For none of us lives for himself and none of us dies to himself.
8. Indeed, if we live, we live to the Lord. If we should die, we die to the Lord. Whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
9. It is for this that Messiah died and came to life, so that he might establish rule over the dead and living.
10. But why do you judge your sibling? Why do you despise your sibling? Everyone will come and stand before the judgement seat of God.
11. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, that every knee will bow to me and every tongue will confess to God.”
12. Each of us, then, will give an account about himself.
13. Do not judge one another any longer, therefore, but judge it more important to not put a moral obstacle or a spiritual barrier in front of a sibling.
14. I know and I have been persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is automatically unclean, except when someone thinks it to be unclean.
15. For if by food your sibling grieves, you no longer walk in love. Do not destroy with food this brother or sister for whom Messiah died.
16. Do not let good be blasphemed by you.
17. For the kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
18. Serving the Messiah this way is pleasing to God and accepted by people.
19. Now, therefore, let us pursue the things of peace and the things that help one another.
20. Do not undo the work of the Kingdom of God on account of food. For while everything is clean, it is evil to eat something that is a moral obstacle for another person.
21. It is good not to eat meat, drink wine, or anything else if it is a spiritual barrier for your sibling.
22. Your faith is your own business, what you have is before God. Blessed is the one not judging himself in what he approves,
23. but the one beginning to doubt while he eats will stand condemned, because it is not from faith. Everything not of faith is sin.


Less theology, more behavior.  That is what happens with the beginning of Romans 12.  Paul gently moves the reader from his dense theological musings into the realm of practical application in everyday life.  Of course, he makes this transition with one of the most fascinating lead-ins ever:  Romans 12:1

Translation Notes:

There is not a whole lot to discuss on the translation side.  The chapter is pretty cut-n-dried.  However, it is interesting to note that the word “fervent” in verse 11 is closely associated with the word for “boil”, which is quite the word picture for spiritual life.

The chain of gifts (vv 6-8) is not as easy to handle as it might seem.  There is no easy flow from noun to verb, as seemingly each verb has some kind of different application.  For that reason I worked it over thoroughly to make it fit English grammar.

Theological Notes:

A Bible student could spend a decade trying to figure out what exactly verses 1 and 2 are all about.  I will only, therefore, make a couple of observations here.  First, the center of Christian worship is not about rituals or dead animals.  In worship there is something about denial, self-sacrifice, discipline, patience, and even mortification, but this worship is not dead but alive, and it is physical.  Worship is done with our living bodies.  Second, worship is more than our bodies, it is also what happens in our minds.  We must exercise control of our thoughts and transform (metanoia, as opposed to paranoia) the way our minds work.  That indicates to us that the Christian life is reasonable, logical, and driven by conscience choice, not bleeding hearts.

Some might parse out verse one as being about worship while verse two is about discipleship, and that might be correct, but Paul might rightly ask us what is the difference?

Verse 21 is sobering to me.  The world is filled with evils, and as followers of Christ we are not called to simply endure them or to tolerate them, but to overcome them.  We do not overcome them with worship or with prayer, which is odd.  We do not even overcome evil with scripture.  These are the things we would think we would need to overcome evil–worship, prayer, and the word.  But no, worship, prayer and the word are the building blocks (c/f v. 2 for knowing the will of God) that inform us what is “the good” we should do in the world.  It is our actions in the world that defeat evil.

Chapter Twelve

1. Therefore, I encourage you, brothers and sisters, because of the compassion of God, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God, your thoughtful act of worship.
2. Do not model yourself on this age, but be transformed in the renewal of the mind, so as to determine what the good, acceptable, and perfect will of God is.
3. I speak to all those among you by the grace given to me, do not think highly of yourself but think reasonably, each one by the faith God has given.
4. Just as we have many members in one body, but every member does not have the same function,
5. so in Messiah we are many in one body, but as individuals we are members of one another.
6. By the grace given to us, we are given different gifts. If it is prophecy use it in proportion to faith,
7. if service then as a deacon, if teaching as a teacher,
8. if encouraging in encouragement, if sharing in sincere generosity, if leadership in diligence, or if one has mercy in gladness.
9. Love without pretense. Abhor evil. Cling to good.
10. Let sibling-type love be tenderly affectionate among you. Lead out with honor for one another.
11. In diligence do not be timid. Serve the Lord with a fervent spirit.
12. Rejoice in hope. Endure distress. Continue faithfully in prayer.
13. Contribute to the needs of the saints. Pursue hospitality.
14. Bless the one persecuting you. Bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those rejoicing. Cry with those crying.
16. Think of one another as the same, not arrogantly, but be associated with those who are humble. Do not be too thoughtful of yourself.
17. Repay no one evil for evil. Think ahead about what is honorable in the eyes of all people.
18. For your part, if possible, live at peace with all people.
19. Do not vindicate yourself, beloved, but rather put wrath in its place. For it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I myself will repay,’ says the Lord.”
20. But, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him something to drink, doing this heaps fiery coals upon his head.”
21. Do not let evil conqueror you, but instead conquer evil with good.


I’ve been working on Paul’s letter to the Romans from the Greek New Testament.  Here is chapter one.  I’ll add more chapters as I get there.  My goal is to finish the letter before July 4.  We’ll see.  Translating a few lines every morning is slow going.  Before you start, three translation notes and a warning.  Note one:  Paul uses the word “For” a lot to start verses, but I omitted many of them because they are clunky.  Note two:  I tried and tried and tried to polish up the first five verses, but take heart, they are just as cumbersome in Greek as they are in English.  Its just the way he wrote it.  Note three:  I am opting for the Hebrew word Messiah instead of the Greek word Christ, because that is the eventual end translation, as Christ is a Greek word that means Messiah.  It is not always capitalized because it is not always a title.

WARNING:  This chapter ends with some strong material.  Rather than sanitize it, I tried to make it clear.  Some readers might find it offensive, but if you want to get offended, get offended at Paul.  He is the one who wrote it.

Romans–Chapter One
1. Paul, a slave of Messiah Jesus, a called apostle, who has been set apart for the good news of God
2. who promised before through his prophets in holy scripture
3. about his son, who was by flesh born into the family of David,
4. but he is by the Spirit of holiness designated as the son of God in power by resurrection from the dead, Jesus the messiah, our Lord.
5. By whom we received grace and apostleship in the obedience of faith among all the nations, for the sake of his name.
6. Among whom you are also called by Messiah Jesus.
7. To all those in Rome, loved of God, called to be holy, grace and peace to you from God our father and the Lord Jesus Messiah.
8. First, I give thanks to my God through Messiah Jesus for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in the whole world.
9. For God, whom I serve in the spirit of the good news, is my witness that I mention you without ceasing
10. in my prayers, always begging that somehow, sometime, I might finally succeed in the will of God to come to you.
11. For I long to see you, so that I might give a spiritual gift to you, to strengthen you.
12. What I mean is, to be encouraged by one another together, among the faithful, both you and me.
13. I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come to you so that I might produce some fruit among you just as I have among other people, but I was prevented up until now.
14. I am a debtor to Greeks, barbarians, wise, and those who are unlearned.
15. As for me, I am eager to preach the good news to those of you in Rome.
16. I am not ashamed of the good news, for it is the power of God bringing salvation to all those believing, to the Jew first, then to the gentiles.
17. For the righteousness of God is uncovered in him by faith and in faith , just as it is written, “The righteous will live by faith.”
18. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven upon all ungodly and unrighteous acts of men, those who obstruct the truth.
19. For it is known that God is evident, for he is God, and that has been made evident to them.
20. As created beings, they understood and perceived the invisible, eternal things of the creation of the world such as the power and deity. So therefore, they are without excuse.
21. Yet they knew God but they did not glorify or thank him as God, but they were vain in their logic, darkened, without understanding in their hearts.
22. Alleging themselves to be wise, they actually became fools.
23. They changed the glory of the immortal God into a likeness, an image of mortal men, birds, animals, and reptiles.
24. Therefore, God left them to the desires of their filthy hearts as they degraded their own bodies among themselves.
25. As such, they exchanged the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.
26. Because of this, God left them to their disgraceful passions. Women exchanged natural coitus for something against nature.
27. Likewise, the men abandoned natural coitus with women in their burning desire for one another, men in men, committing indecency. They received the necessary reward of their error.
28. Since in the same way they did not acknowledge God, God left them in their failed minds, to do that which is not proper,
29. being filled with every kind of unrighteousness evil—selfish greed, bad character, full of envy, murder, strife, guile, malice, gossip,
30. slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, boastful, innovative criminals, disobedient to parents,
31. without discernment, without honor, without feelings, without mercy.
32. They are the kind of people who know the decree of God, that those practicing these things are worthy of death, but they do them anyway, and give their approval to others who practice it as well.