BOOK ENDS. Seraphim, April 2009.
JB ROMANS Chapter 1
THE LETTER OF PAUL TO THE CHURCH IN ROME
1:1 From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God
1:2 promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.
1:3 This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David:
1:4 it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead.
1:5 Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name.
1:6 You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ.
1:7 To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.
Thanksgiving and prayer
1:8 First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you and for the way in which your faith is spoken of all over the world.
1:9 The God I worship spiritually by preaching the Good News of his Son knows that I never fail to mention you in my prayers,
1:10 and to ask to be allowed at long last the opportunity to visit you, if he so wills.
1:11 For I am longing to see you either to strengthen you by sharing a spiritual gift with you,
1:12 or what is better, to find encouragement among you from our common faith.
1:13 I want you to know, brothers, that I have often planned to visit you – though until now I have always been prevented – in the hope that I might work as fruitfully among you as I have done among the other pagans.
1:14 I owe a duty to Greeks[*a] just as much as to barbarians, to the educated just as much as to the uneducated,
1:15 and it is this that makes me want to bring the Good News to you too in Rome.
SALVATION BY FAITH
The theme stated
1:16 For I am not ashamed of the Good News: it is the power of God saving all who have faith – Jews first, but Greeks as well –
1:17 since this is what reveals the justice of God to us: it shows how faith leads to faith, or as scripture says: The upright man finds life through faith.[*b]
- GOD’S ANGER AGAINST PAGAN AND JEW
God’s anger against the pagans
1:18 The anger of God is being revealed from heaven against all the impiety and depravity of men who keep truth imprisoned in their wickedness.
1:19 For what can be known about God is perfectly plain to them since God himself has made it plain.
1:20 Ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity – however invisible – have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. That is why such people are without excuse:
1:21 they knew God and yet refused to honour him as God or to thank him; instead, they made nonsense out of logic and their empty minds were darkened.
1:22 The more they called themselves philosophers, the more stupid they grew,
1:23 until they exchanged the glory[*c] of the immortal God for a worthless imitation, for the image of mortal man, of birds, of quadrupeds and reptiles.
1:24 That is why God left them to their filthy enjoyments and the practices with which they dishonour their own bodies,
1:25 since they have given up divine truth for a lie and have worshipped and served creatures instead of the creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen!
1:26 That is why God has abandoned them to degrading passions: why their women have turned from natural intercourse to unnatural practices
1:27 and why their menfolk have given up natural intercourse to be consumed with passion for each other, men doing shameless things with men and getting an appropriate reward for their perversion.
1:28 In other words, since they refused to see it was rational to acknowledge God, God has left them to their own irrational ideas and to their monstrous behaviour.
1:29 And so they are steeped in all sorts of depravity, rottenness, greed and malice, and addicted to envy, murder, wrangling, treachery and spite.
1:30 Libellers, slanderers, enemies of God, rude, arrogant and boastful; enterprising in sin, rebellious to parents,
1:32 without brains, honour, love or pity.
1:33 They know what God’s verdict is: that those who behave like this deserve to die – and yet they do it; and what is worse, encourage others to do the same.
JB ROMANS Chapter 2
The Jews are not exempt from God’s anger
2:1 So no matter who you are, if you pass judgement you have no excuse. In judging others you condemn yourself, since you behave no differently from those you judge.
2:2 We know that God condemns that sort of behaviour impartially:
2:3 and when you judge those who behave like this while you are doing exactly the same, do you think you will escape God’s judgement?
2:4 Or are you abusing his abundant goodness, patience and toleration, not realising that this goodness of God is meant to lead you to repentance?
2:5 Your stubborn refusal to repent is only adding to the anger God will have towards you on that day of anger when his just judgements will be made known.
2:6 He will repay each one as his works deserve.[*a]
2:7 For those who sought renown and honour and immortality by always doing good there will be eternal life;
2:8 for the unsubmissive who refused to take truth for their guide and took depravity instead, there will be anger and fury.
2:9 Pain and suffering will come to every human being who employs himself in evil – Jews first, but Greeks as well;
2:10 renown, honour and peace will come to everyone who does good – Jews first, but Greeks as well.
2:11 God has no favourites.
The Law will not save them
2:12 Sinners who were not subject to the Law will perish all the same, without that Law; sinners who were under the Law will have that Law to judge them.
2:13 It is not listening to the Law but keeping it that will make people holy in the sight of God.
2:14 For instance, pagans who never heard of the Law but are led by reason to do what the Law commands, may not actually ‘possess’ the Law, but they can be said to ‘be’ the Law.
2:15 They can point to the substance of the Law engraved on their hearts – they can call a witness, that is, their own conscience – they have accusation and defence, that is, their own inner mental dialogue.[*b]
2:16 …on the day when, according to the Good News I preach, God, through Jesus Christ, judges the secrets of mankind.
2:17 If you call yourself a Jew, if you really trust in the Law and are proud of your God,
2:18 if you know God’s will through the Law and can tell what is right,
2:19 if you are convinced you can guide the blind and be a beacon to those in the dark,
2:20 if you can teach the ignorant and instruct the unlearned because your Law embodies all knowledge and truth,
2:21 then why not teach yourself as well as the others? You preach against stealing, yet you steal;
2:22 you forbid adultery, yet you commit adultery; you despise idols, yet you rob their temples.
2:23 By boasting about the Law and then disobeying it, you bring God into contempt.
2:24 As scripture says: It is your fault that the name of God is blasphemed among the pagans.
Circumcision will not save them
2:25 It is a good thing to be circumcised if you keep the Law; but if you break the Law, you might as well have stayed uncircumcised.
2:26 If a man who is not circumcised obeys the commandments of the Law, surely that makes up for not being circumcised?
2:27 More than that, the man who keeps the Law, even though he has not been physically circumcised, is a living condemnation of the way you disobey the Law in spite of being circumcised and having it all written down.
2:28 To be a Jew is not just to look like a Jew, and circumcision is more than a physical operation.
2:29 The real Jew is the one who is inwardly a Jew, and the real circumcision is in the heart – something not of the letter but of the spirit. A Jew like that may not be praised by man, but he will be praised by God.
JB ROMANS Chapter 3
God’s promises will not save them
3:1 Well then, is a Jew any better off? Is there any advantage in being circumcised?
3:2 A great advantage in every way. First, the Jews are the people to whom God’s message was entrusted.
3:3 What if some of them were unfaithful? Will their lack of fidelity cancel God’s fidelity?
3:4 That would be absurd. God will always be true even though everyone proves to be false[*a]; so scripture says: In all you say your justice shows, and when you are judged you win your case.[*b]
3:5 But if our lack of holiness makes God demonstrate his integrity, how can we say God is unjust when – to use a human analogy – he gets angry with us in return?
3:6 That would be absurd, it would mean God could never judge the world.
3:7 You might as well say that since my untruthfulness makes God demonstrate his truthfulness and thus gives him glory, I should not be judged to be a sinner at all.
3:8 That would be the same as saying: Do evil as a means to good. Some slanderers have accused us of teaching this, but they are justly condemned.
All are guilty
3:9 Well: are we any better off? Not at all: as we said before, Jews and Greeks are all under sin’s dominion.
3:10 As scripture says: There is not a good man left, no, not one:
3:11 there is not one who understands, not one who looks for God.
3:12 All have turned aside, tainted all alike; there is not one good man left, not a single one.
3:13 Their throats are yawning graves; their tongues are full of deceit. Vipers’ venom is on their lips,
3:14 bitter curses fill their mouths.
3:15 Their feet are swift when blood is to be shed,
3:16 wherever they go there is havoc and ruin.
3:17 They know nothing of the way of peace,
3:18 there is no fear of God before their eyes.[*c]
3:19 Now all this that the Law says is said, as we know, for the benefit of those who are subject to the Law, but it is meant to silence everyone and to lay the whole world open to God’s judgement;
3:20 and this is because no one can be justified in the sight of[*d] God by keeping the Law: all that law does is to tell us what is sinful.
- FAITH AND THE JUSTICE OF GOD
The revelation of God’s justice
3:21 God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law,
3:22 since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone, Jew and pagan alike, who believes in Jesus Christ.
3:23 Both Jew and pagan sinned and forfeited God’s glory,
3:24 and both are justified through the free gift of his grace by being redeemed in Christ Jesus
3:25 who was appointed by God to sacrifice his life so as to win reconciliation through faith. In this way God makes his justice known; first, for the past, when sins went unpunished because he held his hand,
3:26 then, for the present age, by showing positively that he is just, and that he justifies everyone who believes in Jesus.
What faith does
3:27 So what becomes of our boasts? There is no room for them. What sort of law excludes them? The sort of law that tells us what to do? On the contrary, it is the law of faith,
3:28 since, as we see it, a man is justified by faith and not by doing something the Law tells him to do.
3:29 Is God the God of Jews alone and not of the pagans too? Of the pagans too, most certainly,
3:30 since there is only one God, and he is the one who will justify the circumcised because of their faith and justify the uncircumcised through their faith.
3:31 Do we mean that faith makes the Law pointless? Not at all: we are giving the Law its true value.
JB ROMANS Chapter 4
- THE EXAMPLE OF ABRAHAM
Abraham justified by faith
4:1 Apply this to Abraham, the ancestor from whom we are all descended.
4:2 If Abraham was justified as a reward for doing something, he would really have had something to boast about, though not in God’s sight
4:3 because scripture says: Abraham put his faith in God, and this faith was considered as justifying him.[*a]
4:4 If a man has work to show, his wages are not considered as a favour but as his due;
4:5 but when a man has nothing to show except faith in the one who justifies sinners, then his faith is considered as justifying him.
4:6 And David says the same: a man is happy if God considers him righteous, irrespective of good deeds:
4:7 Happy those whose crimes are forgiven, whose sins are blotted out;
4:8 happy the man whom the Lord considers sinless.[*b]
Justified before circumcision
4:9 Is this happiness meant only for the circumcised, or is it meant for others as well? Think of Abraham again: his faith, we say, was considered as justifying him,
4:10 but when was this done? When he was already circumcised or before he had been circumcised? It was before he had been circumcised, not after;
4:11 and when he was circumcised later it was only as a sign and guarantee that the faith he had before his circumcision justified him. In this way Abraham became the ancestor of all uncircumcised believers, so that they too might be considered righteous;
4:12 and ancestor, also, of those who though circumcised do not rely on that fact alone, but follow our ancestor Abraham along the path of faith he trod before he had been circumcised.
Not justified by obedience to the Law
4:13 The promise of inheriting the world was not made to Abraham and his descendants on account of any law but on account of the righteousness which consists in faith.
4:14 If the world is only to be inherited by those who submit to the Law, then faith is pointless and the promise worth nothing.
4:15 Law involves the possibility of punishment for breaking the law – only where there is no law can that be avoided.
4:16 That is why what fulfils the promise depends on faith, so that it may be a free gift and be available to all of Abraham’s descendants, not only those who belong to the Law but also those who belong to the faith of Abraham who is the father of all of us.
4:17 As scripture says: I have made you the ancestor of many nations[*c] Abraham is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith, and who brings the dead to life and calls into being what does not exist.
Abraham’s faith, a model of Christian faith
4:18 Though it seemed Abraham’s hope could not be fulfilled, he hoped and he believed, and through doing so he did become the father of many nations exactly as he had been promised: Your descendants will be as many as the stars.[*d]
4:19 Even the thought that his body was past fatherhood – he was about a hundred years old – and Sarah too old to become a mother, did not shake his belief.
4:20 Since God had promised it, Abraham refused either to deny it or even to doubt it, but drew strength from faith and gave glory to God,
4:21 convinced that God had power to do what he had promised.
4:22 This is the faith that was ‘considered as justifying him’.
4:23 Scripture however does not refer only to him but to us as well when it says that his faith was thus ‘considered’;
4:24 our faith too will be ‘considered’ if we believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead,
4:25 Jesus who was put to death for our sins[*e] and raised to life to justify us.
JB ROMANS Chapter 5
Faith guarantees salvation
5:1 So far then we have seen that, through our Lord Jesus Christ, by faith we are judged righteous and at peace with God,
5:2 since it is by faith and through Jesus that we have entered this state of grace in which we can boast about looking forward to God’s glory.
5:3 But that is not all we can boast about; we can boast about our sufferings. These sufferings bring patience, as we know,
5:4 and patience brings perseverance, and perseverance brings hope,
5:5 and this hope is not deceptive, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us.
5:6 We were still helpless when at his appointed moment Christ died for sinful men.
5:7 It is not easy to die even for a good man – though of course for someone really worthy, a man might be prepared to die –
5:8 but what proves that God loves us is that Christ died for us while we were still sinners.
5:9 Having died to make us righteous, is it likely that he would now fail to save us from God’s anger?
5:10 When we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, we were still enemies; now that we have been reconciled, surely we may count on being saved by the life of his Son?
5:11 Not merely because we have been reconciled but because we are filled with joyful trust in God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have already gained our reconciliation.
- DELIVERANCE FROM SIN AND DEATH AND LAW
Adam and Jesus Christ
5:12 Well then, sin entered the world through one man, and through sin death, and thus death has spread through the whole human race because everyone has sinned.
5:13 Sin existed in the world long before the Law was given. There was no law and so no one could be accused of the sin of ‘law-breaking’,
5:14 yet death reigned over all from Adam to Moses, even though their sin, unlike that of Adam, was not a matter of breaking a law. Adam prefigured the One to come,
5:15 but the gift itself considerably outweighed the fall. If it is certain that through one man’s fall so many died, it is even more certain that divine grace, coming through the one man, Jesus Christ, came to so many as an abundant free gift.
5:16 The results of the gift also outweigh the results of one man’s sin: for after one single fall came judgement with a verdict of condemnation, now after many falls comes grace with its verdict of acquittal.
5:17 If it is certain that death reigned over everyone as the consequence of one man’s fall, it is even more certain that one man, Jesus Christ, will cause everyone to reign in life who receives the free gift that he does not deserve, of being made righteous.
5:18 Again, as one man’s fall brought condemnation on everyone, so the good act of one man brings everyone life and makes them justified.
5:19 As by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
5:20 When law came, it was to multiply the opportunities of failing, but however great the number of sins committed, grace was even greater;
5:21 and so, just as sin reigned wherever there was death, so grace will reign to bring eternal life thanks to the righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord.
JB ROMANS Chapter 6
6:1 Does it follow that we should remain in sin so as to let grace have greater scope?
6:2 Of course not. We are dead to sin, so how can we continue to live in it?
6:3 You have been taught that when we were baptised in Christ Jesus we were baptised in his death;
6:4 in other words, when we were baptised we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.
6:5 If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection.
6:6 We must realise that our former selves have been crucified with him to destroy this sinful body and to free us from the slavery of sin.
6:7 When a Christian dies, of course, he has finished with sin.
6:8 But we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him:
6:9 Christ, as we know, having been raised from the dead will never die again. Death has no power over him any more.
6:10 When he died, he died, once for all, to sin, so his life now is life with God;
6:11 and in that way, you too must consider yourselves to be dead to sin but alive for God in Christ Jesus.
Holiness, not sin, to be the master
6:12 That is why you must not let sin reign in your mortal bodies or command your obedience to bodily passions,
6:13 why you must not let any part of your body turn into an unholy weapon fighting on the side of sin; you should, instead, offer yourselves to God, and consider yourselves dead men brought back to life; you should make every part of your body into a weapon fighting on the side of God;
6:14 and then sin will no longer dominate your life, since you are living by grace and not by law.
The Christian is freed from the slavery of sin
6:15 Does the fact that we are living by grace and not by law mean that we are free to sin? Of course not.
6:16 You know that if you agree to serve and obey a master you become his slaves. You cannot be slaves of sin that leads to death and at the same time slaves of obedience that leads to righteousness.
6:17 You were once slaves of sin, but thank God you submitted without reservation to the creed you were taught.
6:18 You may have been freed from the slavery of sin, but only to become ‘slaves’ of righteousness.
6:19 If I may use human terms to help your natural weakness: as once you put your bodies at the service of vice and immorality, so now you must put them at the service of righteousness for your sanctification.
The reward of sin and the reward of holiness
6:20 When you were slaves of sin, you felt no obligation to righteousness,
6:21 and what did you get from this? Nothing but experiences that now make you blush, since that sort of behaviour ends in death.
6:22 Now, however, you have been set free from sin, you have been made slaves of God, and you get a reward leading to your sanctification and ending in eternal life.
6:23 For the wage paid by sin is death; the present given by God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
JB ROMANS Chapter 7
The Christian is not bound by the Law
7:1 Brothers, those of you who have studied law will know that laws affect a person only during his lifetime.
7:2 A married woman, for instance, has legal obligations to her husband while he is alive, but all these obligations come to an end if the husband dies.
7:3 So if she gives herself to another man while her husband is still alive, she is legally an adulteress; but after her husband is dead her legal obligations come to an end, and she can marry someone else without becoming an adulteress.
7:4 That is why you, my brothers, who through the body of Christ are now dead to the Law, can now give yourselves to another husband, to him who rose from the dead to make us productive for God.
7:5 Before our conversion[*a] our sinful passions, quite unsubdued by the Law, fertilised our bodies to make them give birth to death.
7:6 But now we are rid of the Law, freed by death from our imprisonment, free to serve in the new spiritual way and not the old way of a written law.
The function of the Law
7:7 Does it follow that the Law itself is sin? Of course not. What I mean is that I should not have known what sin was except for the Law. I should not for instance have known what it means to covet if the Law had not said You shall not covet.
7:8 But it was this commandment that sin took advantage of to produce all kinds of covetousness in me, for when there is no Law, sin is dead.
7:9 Once, when there was no Law, I[*b] was alive; but when the commandment came, sin came to life
7:10 and I died: the commandment was meant to lead me to life but it turned out to mean death for me,
7:11 because sin took advantage of the commandment to mislead me, and so sin, through that commandment, killed me.
7:12 The Law is sacred, and what it commands is sacred, just and good.
7:13 Does that mean that something good killed me? Of course not. But sin, to show itself in its true colours, used that good thing to kill me; and thus sin, thanks to the commandment, was able to exercise all its sinful power.
The inward struggle
7:14 The Law, of course, as we all know, is spiritual; but I am unspiritual; I have been sold as a slave to sin.
7:15 I cannot understand my own behaviour. I fail to carry out the things I want to do, and I find myself doing the very things I hate.
7:16 When I act against my own will, that means I have a self that acknowledges that the Law is good,
7:17 and so the thing behaving in that way is not my self but sin living in me.
7:18 The fact is, I know of nothing good living in me – living, that is, in my unspiritual self – for though the will to do what is good is in me, the performance is not,
7:19 with the result that instead of doing the good things I want to do, I carry out the sinful things I do not want.
7:20 When I act against my will, then, it is not my true self doing it, but sin which lives in me.
7:21 In fact, this seems to be the rule, that every single time I want to do good it is something evil that comes to hand.
7:22 In my inmost self I dearly love God’s Law, but
7:23 I can see that my body follows a different law that battles against the law which my reason dictates. This is what makes me a prisoner of that law of sin which lives inside my body.
7:24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body doomed to death?
7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! In short, it is I who with my reason serve the Law of God, and no less I who serve in my unspiritual self the law of sin’.
JB ROMANS Chapter 8
- THE CHRISTIAN’S SPIRITUAL LIFE
The life of the spirit
8:1 The reason, therefore, why those who are in Christ Jesus are not condemned,
8:2 is that the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.
8:3 God has done what the Law, because of our unspiritual nature,[*a] was unable to do. God dealt with sin by sending his own Son in a body as physical as any sinful body, and in that body God condemned sin.
8:4 He did this in order that the Law’s just demands might be satisfied in us, who behave not as our unspiritual nature but as the spirit dictates.
8:5 The unspiritual are interested only in what is unspiritual, but the spiritual are interested in spiritual things.
8:6 It is death to limit oneself to what is unspiritual; life and peace can only come with concern for the spiritual.
8:7 That is because to limit oneself to what is unspiritual is to be at enmity with God: such a limitation never could and never does submit to God’s law.
8:8 People who are interested only in unspiritual things can never be pleasing to God.
8:9 Your interests, however, are not in the unspiritual, but in the spiritual, since the Spirit of God has made his home in you. In fact, unless you possessed the Spirit of Christ you would not belong to him.
8:10 Though your body may be dead it is because of sin, but if Christ is in you then your spirit is life itself because you have been justified;
8:11 and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, then he who raised Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you.
8:12 So then, my brothers, there is no necessity for us to obey our unspiritual selves or to live unspiritual lives.
8:13 If you do live in that way, you are doomed to die; but if by the Spirit you put an end to the misdeeds of the body you will live.
Children of God
8:14 Everyone moved by the Spirit is a son of God.
8:15 The spirit you received is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into your lives again; it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, ‘Abba, Father!'[*b]
8:16 The Spirit himself and our spirit bear united witness that we are children of God.
8:17 And if we are children we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.
Glory as our destiny
8:18 I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us.
8:19 The whole creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal his sons.
8:20 It was not for any fault on the part of creation that it was made unable to attain its purpose, it was made so by God; but creation still retains the hope
8:21 of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God.
8:22 From the beginning till now the entire creation, as we know, has been groaning in one great act of giving birth;
8:23 and not only creation, but all of us who possess the first-fruits of the Spirit, we too groan inwardly as we wait for our bodies to be set free.
8:24 For we must be content to hope that we shall be saved – our salvation is not in sight, we should not have to be hoping for it if it were –
8:25 but, as I say, we must hope to be saved since we are not saved yet – it is something we must wait for with patience.
8:26 The Spirit too comes to help us in our weakness. For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself expresses our plea in a way that could never be put into words,
8:27 and God who knows everything in our hearts knows perfectly well what he means, and that the pleas of the saints expressed by the Spirit are according to the mind of God.
God has called us to share his glory
8:28 We know that by turning everything to their good God co-operates with all those who love him, with all those that he has ,called according to his purpose.
8:29 They are the ones he chose specially long ago and intended to become true images of his Son, so that his Son might be the eldest of many brothers.
8:30 He called those he intended for this; those he called he justified, and with those he justified he shared his glory.
A hymn to God’s love
8:31 After saying this, what can we add? With God on our side who can be against us?
8:32 ‘Since God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up to benefit us all, we may be certain, after such a gift, that he will not refuse anything he can give.
8:33 Could anyone accuse those that God has chosen? When God acquits,
8:34 could anyone condemn? Could Christ Jesus? No! He not only died for us – he rose from the dead, and there at God’s right hand he stands and pleads for us.
8:35 Nothing therefore can come between us and the love of Christ, even if we are troubled or worried, or being persecuted, or lacking food or clothes, or being threatened or even attacked.
8:36 As scripture promised: For your sake we are being massacred daily, and reckoned as sheep for the slaughter.[*c]
8:37 These are the trials through which we triumph, by the power of him who loved us.
8:38 For I am certain of this: neither death nor life, no angel, no prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power,
8:39 or height or depth,[*d] nor any created thing, can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.
JB ROMANS Chapter 9
- THE PLACE OF ISRAEL
The privileges of Israel
9:1 What I want to say now is no pretence; I say it in union with Christ – it is the truth – my conscience in union with the Holy Spirit assures me of it too.
9:2 What I want to say is this: my sorrow is so great, my mental anguish so endless,
9:3 I would willingly be condemned[*a] and be cut off from Christ if it could help my brothers of Israel, my own flesh and blood.
9:4 They were adopted as sons, they were given the glory and the covenants; the Law and the ritual were drawn up for them, and the promises were made to them.
9:5 They are descended from the patriarchs and from their flesh and blood came Christ who is above all, God for ever blessed! Amen.
God has kept his promise
9:6 Does this mean that God has failed to keep his promise? Of course not. Not all those who descend from Israel are Israel;
9:7 not all the descendants of Abraham are his true children. Remember: It is through Isaac that your name will be carried on,[*b]
9:8 which means that it is not physical descent that decides who are the children of God; it is only the children of the promise who will count as the true descendants.
9:9 The actual words in which the promise was made were: I shall visit you at such and such a time, and Sarah will have a son.[*c]
9:10 Even more to the point is what was said to Rebecca when she was pregnant by our ancestor Isaac,
9:11 but before her twin children were born and before either had done good or evil. In order to stress that God’s choice is free,
9:12 since it depends on the one who calls, not on human merit, Rebecca was told: the elder shall serve the younger,[*d]
9:13 or as scripture says elsewhere: I showed my love for Jacob and my hatred for Esau.[*e]
God is not unjust
9:14 Does it follow that God is unjust? Of course not.
9:15 Take what God said to Moses: I have mercy on whom I will, and I show pity to whom I please.[*f]
9:16 In other words, the only thing that counts is not what human beings want or try to do, but the mercy of God.
9:17 For in scripture he says to Pharaoh: It was for this I raised you up, to use you as a means of showing my power and to make my name known throughout the world.[*g]
9:18 In other words, when God wants to show mercy he does, and when he wants to harden someone’s heart he does so.
9:19 You will ask me, ‘In that case, how can God ever blame anyone, since no one can oppose his will?’
9:20 But what right have you, a human being, to cross-examine God? The pot has no right to say to the potter: Why did you make me this shape?[*h]
9:21 Surely a potter can do what he likes with the clay? It is surely for him to decide whether he will use a particular lump of clay to make a special pot or an ordinary one?
9:22 Or else imagine that although God is ready to show his anger and display his power, yet he patiently puts up with the people who make him angry, however much they deserve to be destroyed.
9:23 He puts up with them for the sake of those other people, to whom he wants to be merciful, to whom he wants to reveal the richness of his glory, people he had prepared for this glory long ago.
9:24 Well, we are those people; whether we were Jews or pagans we are the ones he has called.
All has been foretold in the Old Testament
9:25 That is exactly what God says in Hosea: I shall say to a people that was not mine, ‘You are my people’, and to a nation I never loved, ‘I love you’.
9:26 Instead of being told, ‘You are no people of mine’, they will now be called the sons of the living God.[*i]
9:27 Referring to Israel Isaiah had this to say: Though Israel should have many descendants as there are grains of sand on the seashore, only a remnant will be saved,
9:28 for without hesitation or delay the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth.[*j]
9:29 As Isaiah foretold: had the Lord of hosts not left us some descendants we should now be like Sodom, we should be like Gomorrah.[*k]
9:30 From this it follows that the pagans who were not looking for righteousness found it all the same, a righteousness that comes of faith,
9:31 while Israel, looking for a righteousness derived from law failed to do what that law required.
9:32 Why did they fail? Because they relied on good deeds instead of trusting in faith. In other words, they stumbled over the stumbling-stone[*l]
9:33 mentioned in scripture: See how I lay in Zion a stone to stumble over, a rock to trip men up – only those who believe in him will have no cause for shame.[*m]
JB ROMANS Chapter 10
Israel fails to see that it is God who makes us holy
10:1 Brothers, I have the very warmest love for the Jews, and I pray to God for them to be saved.
10:2 I can swear to their fervour for God, but their zeal is misguided.
10:3 Failing to recognise the righteousness that comes from God, they try to promote their own idea of it, instead of submitting to the righteousness of God.
10:4 But now the Law has come to an end with Christ, and everyone who has faith may be justified.
The testimony of Moses
10:5 When Moses refers to being justified by the Law, he writes: those who keep the Law will draw life from it.[*a]
10:6 But the righteousness that comes from faith says this: Do not tell yourself you have to bring Christ down – as in the text: Who will go up to heaven?[*b]
10:7 or that you have to bring Christ back from the dead – as in the text: Who will go down to the underworld?
10:8 On the positive side it says: The word, that is the faith we proclaim, is very near to you, it is on your lips and in your heart.
10:9 If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.
10:10 By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved.
10:11 When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame,[*c]
10:12 it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help,
10:13 for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.[*d]
Israel has no excuse
10:14 But they will not ask his help unless they believe in him, and they will not believe in him unless they have heard of him, and they will not hear of him unless they get a preacher,
10:15 and they will never have a preacher unless one is sent, but as scripture says: The footsteps of those who bring good news is a welcome sound.[*e]
10:16 Not everyone, of course, listens to the Good News. As Isaiah says: Lord, how many believed what we proclaimed?[*f]
10:17 So faith comes from what is preached, and what is preached comes from the word of Christ.
10:18 Let me put the question: is it possible that they did not hear? Indeed they did; in the words of the psalm, their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the world.[*g]
10:19 A second question: is it possible that Israel did not understand? Moses answered this long ago: I will make you jealous of people who are not even a nation; I will make you angry with an irreligious people.[*h]
10:20 Isaiah said more clearly: I have been found by those who did not seek me, and have revealed myself to those who did not consult me;[*i]
10:21 and referring to Israel he goes on: Each day I stretched out my hand to a disobedient and rebellious people.
JB ROMANS Chapter 11
The remnant of Israel
11:1 Let me put a further question then: is it possible that God has rejected his people?[*a] Of course not. I, an Israelite, descended from Abraham through the tribe of Benjamin,
11:2 could never agree that God had rejected his people, the people he chose specially long ago. Do you remember what scripture says of Elijah – how he complained to God about Israel’s behaviour?
11:3 Lord, they have killed your prophets and broken down your altars. I, and I only, remain, and they want to kill me[*b]
11:4 What did God say to that? I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not bent the knee to Baal[*c]
11:5 Today the same thing has happened: there is a remnant, chosen by grace.
11:6 By grace, you notice, nothing therefore to do with good deeds, or grace would not be grace at all!
11:7 What follows? It was not Israel as a whole that found what it was seeking, but only the chosen few. The rest were not allowed to see the truth;
11:8 as scripture says: God has given them a sluggish spirit, unseeing eyes and inattentive ears, and they are still like that today.[*d]
11:9 And David says: May their own table prove a trap for them, a snare and a pitfall – let that be their punishment;
11:10 may their eyes be struck incurably blind, their backs bend for ever.[*e]
The Jews to be restored in the future
11:11 Let me put another question then: have the Jews fallen for ever, or have they just stumbled? Obviously they have not fallen for ever: their fall, though, has saved the pagans in a way the Jews may now well emulate.
11:12 Think of the extent to which the world, the pagan world, has benefited from their fall and defection – then think how much more it will benefit from the conversion of them all.
11:13 Let me tell you pagans[*f] this: I have been sent to the pagans as their apostle, and I am proud of being sent,
11:14 but the purpose of it is to make my own people envious of you, and in this way save some of them.
11:15 Since their rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, do you know what their admission will mean? Nothing less than a resurrection from the dead!
The Jews are still the chosen people
11:16 A whole batch of bread is made holy if the first handful of dough is made holy; all the branches are holy if the root is holy.
11:17 No doubt some of the branches have been cut off, and, like shoots of wild olive, you have been grafted among the rest to share with them the rich sap provided by the olive tree itself,
11:18 but still, even if you think yourself superior to the other branches, remember that you do not support the root; it is the root that supports you.
11:19 You will say, ‘Those branches were cut off on purpose to let me be grafted in!’ True,
11:20 they were cut off, but through their unbelief; if you still hold firm, it is only thanks to your faith. Rather than making you proud, that should make you afraid.
11:21 God did not spare the natural branches, and he is not likely to spare you.
11:22 Do not forget that God can be severe as well as kind: he is severe to those who fell, and he is kind to you, but only for as long as he chooses to be, otherwise you will find yourself cut off too,
11:23 and the Jews, if they give up their unbelief, grafted back in your place. God is perfectly able to graft them back again;
11:24 after all, if you were cut from your natural wild olive to be grafted unnaturally on to a cultivated olive, it will be much easier for them, the natural branches, to be grafted back on the tree they came from.
The conversion of the Jews
11:25 There is a hidden reason for all this, brothers, of which I do not want you to be ignorant, in case you think you know more than you do. One section of Israel has become blind, but this will last only until the whole pagan world has entered,
11:26 and then after this the rest of Israel will be saved as well. As scripture says: The liberator will come from Zion, he will banish godlessness from Jacob.
11:27 And this is the covenant I will make with them when I take their sins away.[*g]
11:28 The Jews are enemies of God only with regard to the Good News, and enemies only for your sake; but as the chosen people, they are still loved by God, loved for the sake of their ancestors.
11:29 God never takes back his gifts or revokes his choice.
11:30 Just as you changed from being disobedient to God, and now enjoy mercy because of their disobedience,
11:31 so those who are disobedient now – and only because of the mercy shown to you – will also enjoy mercy eventually.
11:32 God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.
A hymn to God’s mercy and wisdom
11:33 How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge – and how impossible to penetrate his motives or understand his methods!
11:34 Who could ever know the mind of the Lord? Who could ever be his counsellor?
11:35 Who could ever give him anything or lend him anything?[*h]
11:36 All that exists comes from him; all is by him and for him. To him be glory for ever! Amen.
JB ROMANS Chapter 12
12:1 Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God.
12:2 Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
Humility and charity
12:3 In the light of the grace I have received I want to urge each one among you not to exaggerate his real importance. Each of you must judge himself soberly by the standard of the faith God has given him.
12:4 Just as each of our bodies has several parts and each part has a separate function,
12:5 so all of us, in union with Christ, form one body, and as parts of it we belong to each other.
12:6 Our gifts differ according to the grace given us. If your gift is prophecy, then use it as your faith suggests;
12:7 if administration, then use it for administration; if teaching, then use it for teaching.
12:8 Let the preachers deliver sermons, the almsgivers give freely, the officials be diligent, and those who do works of mercy do them cheerfully.
12:9 Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil.
12:10 Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other.
12:11 Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit.
12:12 If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come; and keep on praying.
12:13 If any of the saints are in need you must share with them; and you should make hospitality your special care.
Charity to everyone, including enemies
12:14 Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them.
12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow.
12:16 Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor. Do not allow yourself to become self-satisfied.
12:17 Never repay evil with evil but let everyone see that you are interested only in the highest ideals.
12:18 Do all you can to live at peace with everyone.
12:19 Never try to get revenge; leave that, my friends, to God’s anger. As scripture says: vengeance is mine – I will pay them back,[*a] the Lord promises.
12:20 But there is more: If your enemy is hungry, you should give him food, and if he is thirsty, let him drink. Thus you heap red-hot coals on his head.[*b]
12:21 Resist evil and conquer it with good.
JB ROMANS Chapter 13
Submission to civil authority
13:1 You must all obey the governing authorities. Since all government comes from God, the civil authorities were appointed by God,
13:2 and so anyone who resists authority is rebelling against God’s decision, and such an act is bound to be punished.
13:3 Good behaviour is not afraid of magistrates; only criminals have anything to fear. If you want to live without being afraid of authority, you must live honestly and authority may even honour you.
13:4 The state is there to serve God for your benefit. If you break the law, however, you may well have fear: the bearing of the sword has its significance. The authorities are there to serve God: they carry out God’s revenge by punishing wrongdoers.
13:5 You must obey, therefore, not only because you are afraid of being punished, but also for conscience’ sake.
13:6 This is also the reason why you must pay taxes, since all government officials are God’s officers. They serve God by collecting taxes.
13:7 Pay every government official what he has a right to ask – whether it be direct tax or indirect, fear or honour.
Love and law
13:8 Avoid getting into debt, except the debt of mutual love. If you love your fellow men you have carried out your obligations.
13:9 All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,[*a] and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbour as yourself[*b]
13:10 Love is the one thing that cannot hurt your neighbour; that is why it is the answer to every one of the commandments.
Children of the light
13:11 Besides, you know ‘the time’ has come: you must wake up now: our salvation is even nearer than it was when we were converted.
13:12 The night is almost over, it will be daylight soon – let us give up all the things we prefer to do under cover of the dark; let us arm ourselves and appear in the light.
13:13 Let us live decently as people do in the daytime: no drunken orgies, no promiscuity or licentiousness, and no wrangling or jealousy.
13:14 Let your armour be the Lord Jesus Christ; forget about satisfying your bodies with all their cravings.
JB ROMANS Chapter 14
Charity towards the scrupulous
14:1 If a person’s faith is not strong enough, welcome him all the same without starting an argument.
14:2 People range from those who believe they may eat any sort of meat to those whose faith is so weak they dare not eat anything except vegetables.
14:3 Meat-eaters must not despise the scrupulous. On the other hand, the scrupulous must not condemn those who feel free to eat anything they choose, since God has welcomed them.
14:4 It is not for you to condemn someone else’s servant: whether he stands or falls it is his own master’s business; he will stand, you may be sure, because the Lord has power to make him stand.
14:5 If one man keeps certain days as holier than others, and another considers all days to be equally holy, each must be left free to hold his own opinion.
14:6 The one who observes special days does so in honour of the Lord. The one who eats meat also does so in honour of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; but then the man who abstains does that too in honour of the Lord, and so he also gives God thanks.
14:7 The life and death of each of us has its influence on others;
14:8 if we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord, so that alive or dead we belong to the Lord.
14:9 This explains why Christ both died and came to life, it was so that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
14:10 This is also why you should never pass judgement on a brother or treat him with contempt, as some of you have done. We shall all have to stand before the judgement seat of God;
14:11 as scripture says: By my life – it is the Lord who speaks – every knee shall bend before me, and every tongue shall praise God.[*a]
14:12 It is to God, therefore, that each of us must give an account of himself.
14:13 Far from passing judgement on each other, therefore, you should make up your mind never to be the cause of your brother tripping or falling.
14:14 Now I am perfectly well aware, of course, and I speak for the Lord Jesus, that no food is unclean in itself; however, if someone thinks that a particular food is unclean, then it is unclean for him.
14:15 And indeed if your attitude to food is upsetting your brother, then you are hardly being guided by charity. You are certainly not free to eat what you like if that means the downfall of someone for whom Christ died.
14:16 In short, you must not compromise your privilege,
14:17 because the kingdom of God does not mean eating or drinking this or that, it means righteousness and peace and joy brought by the Holy Spirit.
14:18 If you serve Christ in this way you will please God and be respected by men.
14:19 So let us adopt any custom that leads to peace and our mutual improvement;
14:20 do not wreck God’s work over a question of food. Of course all food is clean, but it becomes evil if by eating it you make somebody else fall away.
14:21 In such cases the best course is to abstain from meat and wine and anything else that would make your brother trip or fall or weaken in any way.
14:22 Hold on to your own belief, as between yourself and God-and consider the man fortunate who can make his decision without going against his conscience.
14:23 But anybody who eats in a state of doubt is condemned, because he is not in good faith; and every act done in bad faith is a sin.
JB ROMANS Chapter 15
15:1 We who are strong have a duty to put up with the qualms of the weak without thinking of ourselves.
15:2 Each of us should think of his neighbours and help them to become stronger Christians.
15:3 Christ did not think of himself: the words of scripture – the insults of those who insult you fall on me[*a] – apply to him.
15:4 And indeed everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about hope from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God.
15:5 And may he who helps us when we refuse to give up, help you all to be tolerant with each other, following the example of Christ Jesus,
15:6 so that united in mind and voice you may give glory to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
An appeal for unity
15:7 It can only be to God’s glory, then, for you to treat each other in the same friendly way as Christ treated you.
15:8 The reason Christ became the servant of circumcised Jews was not only so that God could faithfully carry out the promises made to the patriarchs,
15:9 it was also to get the pagans to give glory to God for his mercy, as scripture says in one place: For this I shall praise you among the pagans and sing to your name.[*b]
15:10 And in another place: Rejoice, pagans, with his people,[*c]
15:11 and in a third place: Let all the pagans praise the Lord, let all the peoples sing his praises.[*d]
15:12 Isaiah too has this to say: The root of Jesse will appear, rising up to rule the pagans and in him the pagans will put their hope.[*e]
15:13 May the God of hope bring you such joy and peace in your faith that the power of the Holy Spirit will remove all bounds to hope.
15:14 It is not because I have any doubts about you, my brothers; on the contrary I am quite certain that you are full of good intentions, perfectly well instructed and able to advise each other.
15:15 The reason why I have written to you, and put some things rather strongly, is to refresh your memories, since God has given me this special position.
15:16 He has appointed me as a priest of Jesus Christ, and I am to carry out my priestly duty by bringing the Good News from God to the pagans, and so make them acceptable as an offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit.
15:17 I think I have some reason to be proud of what I, in union with Christ Jesus, have been able to do for God.
15:18 What I am presuming to speak of, of course, is only what Christ himself has done to win the allegiance of the pagans, using what I have said and done
15:19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Thus all the way along, from Jerusalem to Illyricum,[*f] I have preached Christ’s Good News to the utmost of my capacity.
15:20 I have always, however, made it an unbroken rule never to preach where Christ’s name has already been heard. The reason for that was that I had no wish to build on other men’s foundations;
15:21 on the contrary, my chief concern has been to fulfil the text: Those who have never been told about him will see him, and those who have never heard about him will understand.[*g]
15:22 That is the reason why I have been kept from visiting you so long,
15:23 though for many years I have been longing to pay you a visit. Now, however, having no more work to do here,
15:24 I hope to see you on my way to Spain and, after enjoying a little of your company, to complete the rest of the journey with your good wishes.
15:25 First, however, I must take a present of money to the saints in Jerusalem,
15:26 since Macedonia and Achaia have decided to send a generous contribution to the poor among the saints at Jerusalem.
15:27 A generous contribution as it should be, since it is really repaying a debt: the pagans who share the spiritual possessions of these poor people have a duty to help them with temporal possessions.
15:28 So when I have done this and officially handed over what has been raised, I shall set out for Spain and visit you on the way.
15:29 I know that when I reach you I shall arrive with rich blessings from Christ.
15:30 But I beg you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of the Spirit, to help me through my dangers by praying to God for me.
15:31 Pray that I may escape the unbelievers in Judaea, and that the aid I carry to Jerusalem may be accepted by the saints.
15:32 Then, if God wills, I shall be feeling very happy when I come to enjoy a period of rest among you.
15:33 May the God of peace be with you all! Amen.
JB ROMANS Chapter 16
Greetings and good wishes
16:1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe,[*a] a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae.
16:2 Give her, in union with the Lord, a welcome worthy of saints, and help her with anything she needs: she has looked after a great many people,myself included.
16:3 My greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
16:4 who risked death to save my life:[*b] I am not the only one to owe them a debt of gratitude, all the churches among the pagans do as well.
16:5 My greetings also to the church that meets at their house.
16:6 Greetings to my friend Epaenetus, the first of Asia’s gifts to Christ; greetings to Mary who worked so hard for you;
16:7 to those outstanding apostles Andronicus and Junias, my compatriots and fellow prisoners who became Christians before me;
16:8 to Ampliatus, my friend in the Lord;
16:9 to Urban, my fellow worker in Christ; to my friend Stachys;
16:10 to Apelles who has gone through so much for Christ; to everyone who belongs to the household of Aristobulus;
16:11 to my compatriot Herodion; to those in the household of Narcissus who belong to the Lord;
16:12 to Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who work hard for the Lord; to my friend Persis who has done so much for the Lord;
16:13 to Rufus, a chosen servant of the Lord, and to his mother who has been a mother to me too.
16:14 Greetings to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and all the brothers who are with them;
16:15 to Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the saints who are with them.
16:16 Greet each other with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ send greetings.
A warning and first postscript
16:17 I implore you, brothers, be on your guard against anybody who encourages trouble or puts difficulties in the way of the doctrine you have been taught. Avoid them.
16:18 People like that are not slaves of Jesus Christ; they are slaves of their own appetites, confusing the simple-minded with their pious and persuasive arguments.
16:19 Your fidelity to Christ, anyway, is famous everywhere, and that makes me very happy about you. I only hope that you are also wise in what is good, and innocent of what is bad.
16:20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan beneath your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
Last greetings and second postscript
16:21 Timothy, who is working with me, sends his greetings; so do my compatriots, Jason and Sosipater.
16:22 I, Tertius, who wrote out this letter, greet you in the Lord.
16:23 Greetings from Gaius, who is entertaining me and from the whole church that meets in his house. Erastus, the city treasurer, sends his greetings; so does our brother Quartus.
16:25 Glory to him who is able to give you the strength to live according to the Good News I preach, and in which I proclaim Jesus Christ, the revelation of a mystery kept secret for endless ages,
16:26 but now so clear that it must be broadcast to pagans everywhere to bring them to the obedience of faith. This is only what scripture has predicted, and it is all part of the way the eternal God wants things to be.
16:27 He alone is wisdom; give glory therefore to him through Jesus Christ for ever and ever. Amen.
END OF JB ROMANS [16 Chapters].