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Romans 9:1-5

Context
Israel’s Rejection Considered

9:1 1 I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me 2  in the Holy Spirit – 9:2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3  9:3 For I could wish 4  that I myself were accursed – cut off from Christ – for the sake of my people, 5  my fellow countrymen, 6  9:4 who are Israelites. To them belong 7  the adoption as sons, 8  the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, 9  and the promises. 9:5 To them belong the patriarchs, 10  and from them, 11  by human descent, 12  came the Christ, 13  who is God over all, blessed forever! 14  Amen.

1 sn Rom 9:111:36. These three chapters are among the most difficult and disputed in Paul’s Letter to the Romans. One area of difficulty is the relationship between Israel and the church, especially concerning the nature and extent of Israel’s election. Many different models have been constructed to express this relationship. For a representative survey, see M. Barth, The People of God (JSNTSup), 22-27. The literary genre of these three chapters has been frequently identified as a diatribe, a philosophical discussion or conversation evolved by the Cynic and Stoic schools of philosophy as a means of popularizing their ideas (E. Käsemann, Romans, 261 and 267). But other recent scholars have challenged the idea that Rom 9–11 is characterized by diatribe. Scholars like R. Scroggs and E. E. Ellis have instead identified the material in question as midrash. For a summary and discussion of the rabbinic connections, see W. R. Stegner, “Romans 9.6-29 – A Midrash,” JSNT 22 (1984): 37-52.

2 tn Or “my conscience bears witness to me.”

3 tn Grk “my sorrow is great and the anguish in my heart is unceasing.”

4 tn Or “For I would pray.” The implied condition is “if this could save my fellow Jews.”

5 tn Grk “brothers.” See BDAG 18-19 s.v. ἀδελφός 2.b.

6 tn Grk “my kinsmen according to the flesh.”

7 tn Grk “of whom.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

8 tn The Greek term υἱοθεσία (Juioqesia) was originally a legal technical term for adoption as a son with full rights of inheritance. BDAG 1024 s.v. notes, “a legal t.t. of ‘adoption’ of children, in our lit., i.e. in Paul, only in a transferred sense of a transcendent filial relationship between God and humans (with the legal aspect, not gender specificity, as major semantic component).” Although some modern translations remove the filial sense completely and render the term merely “adoption” (cf. NAB, ESV), the retention of this component of meaning was accomplished in the present translation by the phrase “as sons.”

9 tn Or “cultic service.”

10 tn Grk “of whom are the fathers.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.

11 tn Grk “from whom.” Here the relative pronoun has been replaced by a personal pronoun.

12 tn Grk “according to the flesh.”

13 tn Or “Messiah.” (Both Greek “Christ” and Hebrew and Aramaic “Messiah” mean “one who has been anointed.”)

14 tn Or “the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever,” or “the Messiah. God who is over all be blessed forever!” or “the Messiah who is over all. God be blessed forever!” The translational difficulty here is not text-critical in nature, but is a problem of punctuation. Since the genre of these opening verses of Romans 9 is a lament, it is probably best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity (as the text renders it). Although the other renderings are possible, to see a note of praise to God at the end of this section seems strangely out of place. But for Paul to bring his lament to a crescendo (that is to say, his kinsmen had rejected God come in the flesh), thereby deepening his anguish, is wholly appropriate. This is also supported grammatically and stylistically: The phrase ὁ ὢν (Jo wn, “the one who is”) is most naturally taken as a phrase which modifies something in the preceding context, and Paul’s doxologies are always closely tied to the preceding context. For a detailed examination of this verse, see B. M. Metzger, “The Punctuation of Rom. 9:5,” Christ and the Spirit in the New Testament, 95-112; and M. J. Harris, Jesus as God, 144-72.



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