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


In the second chapter of Romans Paul gives his reader a constant barrage of contrasts.  There is the contrast of having the law but not doing the law, not having the law but doing it anyway, failing at the law but teaching others about it, good works and bad works, eternal life and eternal wrath, circumcision and uncircumcision, secret Jew and the apparent Jew, and spirit and letter.  If one dug harder a person could find more contrasts, I’m sure.

All of these contrasts serve the purpose of showing the reader how unsuccessful a life committed to Hebrew law is, and how judgment looms on the horizon for all human beings.  Verse 6, in my opinion, takes its place alongside Job 1:8 and Hebrews 10:31 as some of the most frightening in all of scripture.

Translation Notes:  Verses 1 and 3 have a vocative and that is rare.  I think it sets a philosophical tone for the chapter.  Verse 18 was a particularly sticky wicket for me.  I think Paul is referring to the idea that Jews not only have the law, but that they know (they think they know?) what it means.  He is talking about hermeneutics and application.  I played with verse 27 quite a bit.  The phrase “by nature” I take to be best connected to the idea of judging rather than the usually take that it modifies circumcision as a natural or physical (ESV) reality.  It is possible that I am applying a modern idiomatic construct here, but I like the way I worded it.

Chapter Two
1. Therefore, O Man, you are without excuse! For whoever judges someone else condemns himself, because he is doing the same kind of things as the person he judged.
2. We know that the judgment of God truly is upon those who practice these.
3. What do you think, O Man, that you who do these things, and yet judge those doing them, that somehow you will yourselves escape the judgment of God?
4. Or do you, in the light of his abundant goodness, tolerance, and patience, not know that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?
5. But with your hard and unrepentant hearts you stored up for yourselves wrath on the day of the revelation of the just judgment of God,
6. who will give to each according to his works.
7. On the one hand, for those who seek perseverance in good works, glory, honor, and incorruption, there is eternal life.
8. But, on the other hand, for those who out of ambition and disobedience to the truth are persuaded by unrighteousness, there is wrath and rage.
9. Distress and anguish will be upon every person who works evil, to the Jew first and then the gentile.
10. In contrast, glory, honor, and peace will be upon all those working good, to the Jew first and then the gentile.
11. There are no favorites with God.
12. Those who sin without the law will be destroyed without it, and those who sin with the law will be judged by the law.
13. Hearers of the law are not made righteous by God, but those doing the law will be made righteous.
14. For when gentiles, who do not have the law, might naturally do the things of the law, even though they don’t have the law, they are a law to themselves.
15. Since these people show the work of the law to be written on their hearts, their conscience bears witness, reasoning within them—both accusing and defending them
16. on the day when God judges people’s secrets by my good news through Messiah Jesus.
17. Now, if you call yourself a Jew and rely upon law and boast in God,
18. and you know the will, and you determine the best understanding of the law,
19. and so you believe yourselves to be guides, leading the blind out of darkness into light,
20. an instructor of the stupid, a teacher of babies, having the formulas of knowledge and truth in the law.
21. Therefore, you who are teaching others, will you teach yourselves? Will you who preach “do not steal” steal?
22. Will you say, “Do not commit adultery,” but be an adulterer? Do you detest idols yet rob temples?
23. Those who boast in the law dishonor God by their transgressions of the law.
24. Just as it is written, “The name of God is being blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.”
25. Now then, circumcision only benefits you if you keep the law, but if you transgress the law your circumcision has become uncircumcision.
26. So if an uncircumcised person observes the decrees of the law, will not his uncircumcison be counted as circumcision?
27. Naturally, the uncircumcised who keeps the law will judge you who have the letter and circumcision yet transgress the law.
28. It is not those who are apparent, neither is it those who are clearly circumcised in the flesh who are Jews.
29. But the secret Jew, who has a circumcision of heart in spirit, not letter, not the praise of people, but of God.

Read Romans Chapter One


Each year during the Advent season I translate the Greek New Testament as part of my daily devotion.  In previous years I have worked mostly from the gospels–which always tend to be the frightening Olivet Discourse.  This year I am working through epistles. 

I take the readings from the Daily Office Lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer.  This year is Year One, as I understand it, and that makes the epistle readings from 1 Thessalonians for the first week.  I started a week early so that I could post them before the actual assigned readings.  I hope to stay a week ahead.

Before you begin to read the translation, please note that my translation style is, I think, unique.  My overall goal is to maintain faithfulness to the text but a secondary goal is to make the reading as smooth and modern as possible.  This is not  always easy.   I also try to keep verbs as verbs and nouns as nouns, but that too is tricky, especially given the persistent problem of slipper Greek infinitives and participles.  I also tend to want to keep subjects and verbs as close together as possible.   That is very hard in light of Paul’s writing style or putting the subject wherever he wants and shoving the verb at the end and oh, while we’re at it, let’s cram as many phrases and prepositions as possible.

In these particular texts from 1 Thessalonians, I’d like to observe that the verb “to walk” is an idiom for “to live.”  Many translations go ahead and translate it that way (NIV) but I have decided to maintain the  verb “to walk” even if it is archaic.  Our lives are not spent walking like the ancients.  However, I decided to keep it because it maintains the concept of life as a journey.  I also call your attention to Paul’s constant use of “just as” in this letter.  He does this as an affirmation of positive thins the Thessalonian believers are doing, but he does it right before he gives them exhortation to improve in that area.  It should also be noted that this is a very emotional letter and Paul’s writing style here is, to me anyway, choppy.     

Two other things to note.  One, I cleaned up the beginning of most of the verses.  Paul always seems to begin with a “for” or “but” or “therefore” for every sentence.  It makes for good Greek, but lousy reading in English.  Second, when possible, I try to use inclusive language for human beings–i.e. “brothers and sisters” where the Greek  “adelphoi” is found because that is the way I understand the word’s usage in the plural.  However, I do not use inclusive language for the Lord.  However, in these readings, note Paul uses both feminine and masculine imagery to describe his relationship to the Thessalonians.

I have broken the text up into the six daily readings (the BCP lectionary Changes on Sundays) so that, if you desire, you could use this translation as your daily devotions for each day of the week in order. 

1 Thessalonians 1:1-10

  1.  Paul, Silas, and Timothy—to the Thessalonian church, grace and peace to you in Father God and Lord Jesus Christ.
  2. We always give thanks for all of you, continually remembering you in our prayers
  3. remembering before our Father God your faithful work and good labor as well as your patient hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  4. We know as brothers and sisters how you have been loved by God as the elect
  5. because our gospel came not among you only in wonders, but in power, in the Holy Spirit, and with great conviction.  You know this is just exactly how we came among you, and it was for your sake.
  6. You became mimickers of us, receiving the word of the Lord in the midst of great distress with the joy of the Holy Spirit.
  7. So much so that you became an example to all those who became believers in Macedonia and Achaia.
  8. The word of the Lord resounds from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has spread to many other places to such a degree that I have no need to tell it anymore.
  9. For they themselves report to us the kind of acceptance we had with you and how you converted to God from idols to serve the living and real God
  10. and await his son in the heavens, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, the rescuer from the coming wrath.

1 Thessalonians 2:1-12

  1.  You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, our arrival to you was not empty.
  2. And you know how we suffered and were insulted in Philippi yet by our God we had the courage to speak to you God’s gospel in the face of much opposition.
  3. For our appeal comes not out of error, insincerity or subterfuge
  4. because we have been approved by God to believe the gospel.  So we spoke not to please men but God, who proves our hearts.
  5. You know that we came not with flattering speech nor a pretext for greediness.  God is our witness.
  6. Neither did we seek glory from people—not from you and not from others—
  7. even though we were able to by authority as Christ’s apostles, yet instead we became to you as a gentle mother nursing an infant, as she might cherish her own children.
  8. We longed for you so much that we decided to share not only God’s gospel with you but our very souls, because you became dear loved ones to us.
  9. Brothers and sisters, you remember our labor and toil night and day, working so as not to be a burden to anyone as we preached God’s gospel among you.
  10. You believers are witnesses, and so too is God, of how devoutly, uprightly, and blamelessly we behaved among you.
  11. You know we treated each of one of you as a father would his child;
  12. encouraging you, consoling you, and affirming you to walk worthy as God calls into his own kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:13-20

  1.  For this reason we give thanks continually to God because when you received the word you received what was heard not as the word of men but as it is, the word of God, and it really was the word of God among those of you who believed.
  2. You became a copy of the bothers in the church of God in Judea, who are in Christ Jesus, because you both suffered from fellow countrymen; they from the Jews.
  3. After having killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and persecuting us, they displeased God and became hostile to all men.
  4. Hindering us to speak to the nations so that they might be saved—so much so that now their own sins are fulfilled, as sins always do, and wrath finally has come upon them.
  5. Now brothers and sisters, you are in our hearts, yet we miss you because we have been orphaned off from you for a moment in time.  So we very eagerly long for and desire to see you.
  6. Therefore we desired to come to you—I, Paul, on more than one occasion—yet Satan blocked us.
  7. Who is it but you who are our hope, joy, and boasting before the Lord at his coming?
  8. You are our glory and joy.

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

  1.  When we couldn’t bear it any longer, we decided to be left behind in Athens, alone.
  2. And we sent Timothy our brother and co-worker in the gospel of God and Christ to strengthen and encourage your faith.
  3. So that no one would disturb themselves in these afflictions, which, as you know, we are destined for.
  4. You know that when we were with you, we forewarned that we are about to be persecuted.
  5. That is why I sent to know of your faith when I could no longer stand it.  I thought perhaps the tempter had tempted you and our labor had been empty.
  6. But now Timothy came to us from you and told us the good news about your faith, love and fond memories of us and how you always long to see us, just as we long to see you.
  7. Brothers and sisters, we were encouraged by your faith in our every distress and affliction.
  8. That you stand firm in the Lord enlivens us!
  9. For how can we thank God enough for all the joy and rejoicing about you before our God?
  10. We pray night and day greatly to see your face and to complete your training in the faith.
  11. May our father God himself and our Lord Jesus pave the road between us and you,
  12. may the Lord increase and make rich your love toward one another and to everyone just as he has for us,
  13. and to strengthen your hearts in blameless holiness before our God and father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with his holy ones.  [Amen.]

1 Thessalonians 4:1-12

  1.  Finally, brothers and sisters, we ask and encourage you in the Lord Jesus to walk in such a way that you please God just as you received from us, like you do now, but even more.
  2. For you know what rules we gave you by the Lord Jesus.
  3. It is the will of God, for the sake of your holiness, to abstain from fornication.
  4. Each of you knows how to control his tool in holiness and honor,
  5. not in passionate desires as the heathens who do not know God do.
  6. Do not go too far and take advantage in the affairs of brothers and sisters for the Lord is always an executor of justice in these matters, just as we forewarned and seriously testified to you.
  7. God has not called us to unrighteousness, but to holiness.
  8. Consequently the man who disregards this not only rejects God but the Holy Spirit he gave to us.
  9. Now, about brotherly love, you do not have need for us to write to you, for you yourselves were taught by God to love one another
  10. for you do so to all the brothers and sisters in Macedonia.  But we encourage you, do so even more.
  11. Make it your goal to live tranquilly and mind your own business.  Work with your hands, just as we commanded you
  12. to walk properly in the eyes of outsiders, but also so that you have no neediness.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

  1.  Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to not know about those who have died, because you ought not to grieve as others who have no hope.
  2. If we believe that Jesus died and rose then God will bring those who have died in Jesus with him.
  3. We say this to you as the word of the Lord, that when the Lord comes, those of us who are living—left behind if you will—should not arrive before those who have died.
  4. The Lord himself will come down from heaven as he summons the archangel with the sound of God’s trumpet and then those who are dead in Christ rise first.
  5. Then we who are living—left behind—will all at the same time be carried off into the clouds meeting the Lord in the air and then we will be with the Lord always.
  6. Console one another with these words.