ROMANS SIX–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

It is hard for me to believe that at one time I thought I would finish my translation of Romans before Independence Day.  Here it is July 6 and I am not even half-way through.  But I am having fun.

Theological Notes:  The baptism imagery is key in Romans 6.  It feels to me like Paul might be quoting some kind of early baptism liturgy regarding the old way of life as opposed to the new to make his point that sin should not be a natural part of life for the Christ-follower.

There is also a rather pointed sexual reference mid-way through the text that carries through to the end.  What most translations render as ‘members’ are, to me, clear references to genitalia.  Paul might have something specific in mind, such as men who are frequenting temple prostitution or sexual rituals in connection with pagan practices.  I say men because there could be some double entendre with the word “present” which can also mean “stand up.”  Instead of getting too graphic, however, I chose to use “body parts” although I don’t mean ears and toes.

For Paul it is all about who you serve.  Bob Dylan and Paul would agree that you “Gotta Serve Somebody.”  Paul believes there are only two choices–you can serve sin or you can serve Messiah.  The payoff for serving sin is death, but the payoff for serving Messiah is eternal life (v. 23).

Translation Notes:

Paul uses the word “walk” (v. 4) in all its metaphorical richness to describe the life we live after our baptism.  Again, I have chosen to use the metaphor walk rather than render it ‘live’ because it seems to me to speak almost as richly as the original metaphor did in the ancient world.

Verses 17 and 18 only make sense if they are interwoven.  These were particularly troublesome to get at.

In verse 20 I added the word “responsibility” to help smooth out the rendering.  Without adding that or some other word, the meaning is muddled.  Paul is trying to say that before we became faithful followers of the Lord, back when we lived as servants of sin, we were free from the requirements of righteousness.  Now, however, that we have received grace, we no longer have that luxury, for we are responsible to be righteous, we are responsible for our actions.

Chapter Six
1. What shall we say? Should we persist in sin so that grace might increase?
2. Never! We died to sin, how can we now live in it?
3. Do you not know that those of us who were baptized into Messiah Jesus were baptized into his death?
4. Therefore we were buried together with him in death through baptism so that just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so too we might walk in newness of life.
5. For if we become united in the likeness of his death, we also will have the likeness of resurrection.
6. This we know—that our old person has been crucified together with him—so that he might abolish the sinful body to no longer serve sin.
7. For anyone who has died is freed from sin.
8. If we died with Christ, we believe we will live with him.
9. Knowing that Christ has been raised from the dead, he no longer dies, nor does death any longer hold dominion over him.
10. For when he died, he died to sin once for all. Now that he lives, he lives to God.
11. You also should think of yourselves as dead to sin but alive to God in Messiah Jesus.
12. Therefore, do not obey your desires, letting sin reign in your mortal body.
13. Neither present parts of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness, but present your body parts to God as instruments of righteousness, present yourselves to God as if you came back to life from the dead.
14. For sin no longer will have dominion over you, for you are not under law, but grace.
15. What now? Should we sin just because we are not under the law but under grace? Never!
16. Do you not know that when you present yourselves as a servant to anyone in obedience, as a servant you must obey, whether it is sin unto death or obedience unto righteousness?
17&18  But the grace of God is that even though you had been obedient servants of sin, now, having been freed from it, you have given over your hearts to the form of teaching that makes you into servants of righteousness.
19. I speak in simple, everyday human ways because of your weakness. You once presented your body parts enslaved to impurity and lawlessness for the sake of more lawlessness, but now you must present your body parts enslaved to righteousness in holiness.
20. For when you were slaves to sin, you were free from the responsibility to righteousness.
21. What fruit did you have back then? Only those which you are now ashamed, those that lead to death.
22. But now that you have been freed from it and are now serving God, you have your holiness and the resulting eternal life as fruit.
23. For death is the daily wages of sin, but eternal life is the gift of God through Messiah Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS, CHAPTER FIVE–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

God proved–showed–demonstrated his love for us, because while we were sinners–unreconciled transgressors–enemies Messiah died for us–Romans 5:8

Every single time I read that verse it almost brings me to my knees.  The entirety of the gospel and the gospel way of life can be summarized in that passage.  It is also the easiest verse to translate in a chapter filled with rather complex grammar and ideas.

Translation Notes:  Many translations prefer the word “rejoice” and “rejoicing” (v. 3, for example), while I think that “boast” is a better rendering for the word.  There is another word for rejoice, and if Paul had intended to mean rejoice, he would have chosen that one.

Transgression is not a common word today, but the options for rendering it (v. 18) are limited.  I could have gone with violation, offense, or even crime.  The word, in my understanding, carries legal weight more than moral weight.  I decided to go with transgression because it feels more theological, but I came very close to choosing, “violation.”

Theological Notes:  Chapter five can boil down to one thought; Adam ruined everything by his one act, Jesus began the process of putting everything back together with his one act.  Most of this chapter is a compare and contrast between these two.  Two questions remain for modern interpreters.  First, is Paul again alluding to a kind of universalism with statements like those in verse 18.  I don’t think so, but it is a rather interesting verse and lends itself to dialogue.  A second question is how metaphorical is this contrast?  In other words, is Paul thinking of a historical Adam or of a type of literary Adam in the Hebrew Bible that gives us insight into what Jesus did?  Before you answer that question, just keep asking yourself why is Eve completely neglected in Paul’s working of the material?  Part of that answer might be that Paul has stylized the material so heavily that he is not thinking of historical figures as much as theological ideas.

Chapter Five
1. Therefore, having been made right by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Messiah,
2. by whom we have had access. We stand in this grace and should boast in the hope of the glory of God.
3. Not only this, but we should boast in afflictions too. We know that afflictions produce patience,
4. and patience produces character, and character, hope.
5. The hope does not let us down, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit he has given us.
6. For at just the right time Messiah died for us who are helpless, the ungodly.
7. Scarcely might someone die for a righteous person, or perhaps for a good person someone would dare to die,
8. but God proves his own love for us, because while we were sinners, Messiah died for us.
9. All the more then, having now been made righteous by his blood we will be saved by him from the wrath.
10. For if we were as enemies reconciled by the death of his son, then how much more after having been reconciled will we be saved by his life?
11. Not only this, but even boasting in God by our Lord Jesus Messiah, through whom we now have received reconciliation.
12. So it is through one man that sin entered the world, and by his sin, death, and from his death it spread to all people, for everyone sinned.
13. Until the law, sin was in the world but it was not counted, being as there was no law.
14. But death reigned from Adam until Moses, even upon those who did not sin the same way as the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.
15. The gift is not like the trespass. For if by the trespass of one person many died, how much more will many flourish through the grace of God and the gift of grace from the one man, Jesus Messiah.
16. The gift is not like the one man’s sin either, the one from whom came judgment and condemnation, but the gift is for the many acquitted of trespasses.
17. If death reigned in the one transgression, then how much more will the excesses of grace reign as people receive the gift of life from the one man Jesus Messiah.
18. So then as by one transgression all people enter condemnation, so also through one righteous act all people have the righteousness of life.
19. Indeed, because of the disobedience of the one person, many were made sinners. In contrast, because of the obedience of the one person, many will be made as righteous.
20. But law intruded so that the transgressions might increase, but as the sin increased, grace super-abounded.
21. So that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness in eternal life through Jesus Messiah, our Lord.

Romans Four

Romans Three

Romans Two

Romans One

ROMANS, CHAPTER FOUR–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

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

ROMANS, CHAPTER THREE–FROM THE GREEK TEXT

So, I’m a little behind schedule.  I hope to make up time during the month of June and still finish this translation of the New Testament letter from Paul the Apostle to the church in Rome before Independence Day.

Translation Notes:  In rendering this particular passage, I opt for the phrase ‘made righteous’ where a lot of English translations choose ‘justified’ to allow the English reader to perceive it is all the same word group. Also note, my verses 25 and 26 are very different from most English translations. I don’t really know what their problem is?

Theological Notes:  In my opinion the key text here is Romans 3:22 & 23, with its ringing judgment that everyone, Jew and gentile alike, are not righteous before God but through faith they are able to receive grace.  This is the main work of Romans 3, to put everyone on equal footing.  God doesn’t play favorites, as we were told in Chapter 2, and Paul is telling us that here is the proof, proof that has been there all along, according to his long string of quotations from Psalms, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Proverbs in verses 10-19.

Chapter Three
1. What, then, is the Jewish advantage, and what exactly is the benefit of circumcision?
2. A lot, and in every possible way. It is primarily because they were entrusted with the words of God.
3. So what if some of them were unfaithful, did their lack of faith nullify the faith of God?
4. Of course not! People are liars, but God is true, just as it is written, “So that you will be vindicated in your words and victorious in your trials.”
5. Humanly speaking, then, if the righteousness of God leads to our unrighteousness, what can we say? Is God unrighteous in bringing the wrath?
6. Never! How then could God judge the world?
7. But if my lie magnified God’s truth and glory, then why am I being judged as a sinner?
8. And why not say—as we are slandered as having said—that we should do evil so good might come of it? Those who say this of us deserve their condemnation.
9. What now? Are we better? Not at all, for we determined beforehand that both Jews and gentiles are sinners.
10. Just as it is written, “There is no one righteous.
11. No one understands, no one seeks God.
12. Everyone turned away together, becoming useless. No one shows kindness, not even one.
13. Their throat has become an opened grave. Their tongues deceive. Asp venom is upon their lips.
14. Their mouths, full of curses and bitterness.
15. Their feet, swift to shed blood.
16. Ruin and misery is their way.
17. They have not known the way of peace.
18. The fear of God is not before their eyes.”
19. We know at least this much, that the law says it shuts every mouth of those under it, and eventually the whole world shall be held accountable to God.
20. Therefore, because of this sin consciousness, it is not from works of law that all people will be made righteous before him,
21. but now the righteousness of God has been made clear apart from the law as attested to by the law and the prophets.
22. Through the faith of Jesus Messiah the righteousness of God is for all those believing, for there is no difference.
23. For everyone has sinned and come up short of the glory of God.
24. They are being made righteous as a gift of his grace through the redemption that is in Messiah Jesus.
25. God designed a place of propitiation with blood by his faith as proof of his righteousness, by overlooking their sins committed beforehand.
26. God’s tolerance toward us back then is proof of his righteousness right now, to the righteous and those he is making right by the faith of Jesus.
27. Where then does all this boasting come from? That was done away with, but by what kind of law? Works? No—not at all, but through the law of faith.
28. For we reason people are made righteous in faith without works of the law.
29. Is God of the Jews only? Not also the gentiles? Yes, yes, in every way.
30. If true, then God will make righteous those circumcised by faith and those uncircumcised through faith as well.
31. Do we therefore abolish the law because of faith? Never. Instead we keep the law.

Romans, Chapter One

Romans, Chapter Two