Category Archives: Teaching

A Translation of Mark Chapter 3

RomansText1“When his relatives heard what Jesus was doing, they set out to take control of him; for they agreed that he was overcome with religious ecstasy.” (Mark 3:21)

Sometimes when I am translating, I come across things that amaze me. Over the years, I had developed a pattern of checking the Greek or Hebrew languages as I prepared a message. I would check grammar, as well as the biblical author’s word choices, and generally walk away from my study well-prepared to share what a particular passage meant. However, when I began to dig deeper in order to actually translate the passage so that I could preach from my translation, I had to grapple with every word in a more intense, and much more time consuming, way. Instead of depending on a primary translation to do the heavy-lifting, I had to delve more deeply into word meaning and usage in a new way. The benefit is that I have learned a lot more about the words used in the New Testament than I had previously known, and I am enjoying the surprises.

One of the surprises was Mark 3:21 (quoted above). I know most translations indicate that the relatives thought that Jesus was out of his mind. That is not a bad translation. But as I studied the words more closely, I found myself reading articles on religious experiences and religious ecstasy, because that is what the particular word Mark uses often signifies. As the light bulb turned on, my understanding of what Mark was saying also shifted. Instead of portraying Jesus’ relatives as absolutely out of touch with his mission and purpose, it instead shows that they understood his life’s work, but thought that he had gone too far into the religious experience of it.

In my opinion, that opens up my understanding of this scripture at a far higher level, and in a way that I can more easily apply it to the lives of those I am teaching. Anyone who has pursued God with more zeal than their parents and relatives, has encountered similar misunderstanding. Many have heard loving relatives caution them that they must not go “too far.” In that way, Jesus’ relatives were just like ours. They thought he had gone too far, and they were on a mission to bring him back to reality.

How did that work out for them? As we see in the translation below, not so well.

Mark 3:1-35
A Translation by Randal Cutter

3:1   Then Jesus went again into the synagogue. A man was there who had a paralyzed hand.

3:2   So the Pharisees were watching Jesus to see if he would heal the man on a Sabbath day, because they wanted to accuse him of violating the Sabbath.

3:3   At one point, Jesus said to the man who had the hand with the withering paralysis,* “Stand up in the middle of the congregation.”

3:4   When the man had done this, Jesus said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or instead, to allow evil to occur; to rescue someone’s life, or allow him to die?” But they refused to speak.

3:5   He looked around at them with exasperation, and was deeply grieved by the hardness of their hearts. Then Jesus said to the man, “Extend your hand.” The man extended his hand, and it was healed.

3:6   When the Pharisees left the meeting, they immediately took counsel with the followers of King Herod about how they might destroy Jesus.*

3:7  After that Jesus traveled with his disciples from there to the sea, and multitudes of people from Galilee followed. Multitudes more also came from Judea,

3:8  Jerusalem, Idumea, the far side of the Jordan, and the region of Tyre and Sidon, because they heard all that he was doing.

3:9  There were so many people that he directed his disciples to make a small boat ready for him, so that the people would not crush him;

3:10   for he had healed so many people, that those who still had afflictions would fall against him in order to touch him.

3:11   In addition, whenever unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and shrieked, “You are the Son of God!”

3:12   In response, he repeatedly rebuked them so that they would not make him known.

3:13   At another time, Jesus went up a mountain and summoned the ones he himself preferred,* and they came to him.

3:14   Then he selected twelve, whom he also named apostles, in order that they might be with him, that he might send them to preach,

3:15   and that they might walk in authority to expel demons.

3:16   So he selected the twelve, and he gave the name Peter to Simon;

3:17   he also gave the name Boanerges, which means “Sons of Thunder,” to James* the son of Zebedee, and to his brother John.

3:18   He also selected Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot,

3:19   and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.

3:20   Afterwards, he came to his house, and again the crowd gathered there. Jesus and his disciples were so busy that they were not even able to eat a piece of bread.

3:21   When his relatives heard about this, they set out to take control of him; for they agreed that he was overcome with religious ecstasy.

3:22   At that same time, the scribal scholars who came down from Jerusalem began to say, “He has Beelzebul,” and, “He casts out demons by the leader of the demons.”

3:23   After Jesus had summoned the scribal scholars, he spoke to them in parables: “How is Satan able to cast out Satan?”

3:24   “If a kingdom has been divided against itself,* that kingdom cannot stand.”

3:25   “In the same way, if a house has been divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

3:26   In like manner, if Satan has risen against his own followers, and is divided against them, he cannot stand. On the contrary, his end has come.”

3:27   “In reality, it is like this: No one is able to enter into the house of a strong man to steal his goods, unless he first restrain the strong man. Only then can he steal from his house.”

3:28   “I am telling you the truth, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, even the many slanders* by which they have abused each other.”

3:29   “But whoever slanders the Holy Spirit will never find forgiveness, even if he lives to the end of time. As a matter of fact, he is guilty of an eternal sin.”

3:30   He said this because they were saying: “He has an unclean spirit.”

3:31   Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. They decided to stay outside of the house, and instead sent a message summoning him.*

3:32   By this time, a crowd of disciples was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Look, your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking about you.”

3:33   He responded by asking them, “Who is my mother and my brothers?”

3:34   With that, Jesus looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Look, my mother and my brothers.”

3:35   “For whoever does the will of God, this one is my brother, sister, and mother.”

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3:6   How they might destroy Jesus: Though many translations state that they plotted to kill Jesus, the Greek word means “to destroy” (Used here and in Matthew 12:14). While it certainly could mean that they were plotting to kill him, something that they clearly did later, here it probably means that they were only plotting to destroy his influence and ministry. Compare how Luke describes their discussion, “But they were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus” (Luke 6:11 NIV).

3:13   He himself preferred: Note how Mark emphasizes Jesus’ choice. Although it may be a bit awkward in English, Mark emphasizes that it was Jesus “himself” who wanted each of these men. That himself is very emphatic.

3:17   James: This man’s real name is Jacob. The book of the Bible is also really “Jacob” rather than “James.” However, as the name Jacob passed through many iterations, James became the pronunciation of Jacob. Yaʻaqov (Hebrew) → Iacobus (Greek) → Iacomus (Latin) → Jammes (Old French) → James (English).

3:24   Has been divided against itself: Most translations render this phrase with the linking verb (is). While that makes for a smooth translation, it misses the passive nature of the verb. The house and the kingdom “have been divided,” meaning that someone did it to the house and kingdom. While this doesn’t make a huge translation difference, I chose to retain the slightly awkward passive construction so that the readers can see the passive nature of the phrase.

3:28   Slanders: The word blasphemy means to slander or to denigrate someone or something. Since very few people really know that, I like to translate this word as “slander” because people know what that word means.

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A Translation of Mark Chapter 2

RomansText1

This past week someone asked me about my translation of Mark 1. As I answered the questions, I realized that it might be helpful to explain my translation philosophy. Some translations are word for word translations, which can be awkward, difficult to understand for modern day English readers, and often do not communicate the fullness of what a Greek reader of two thousand years ago would readily understand as they scanned the printed text. Even with these problems, word for word translations are beneficial because they do bind us closely to the words of the Greek and Hebrew text.

Other translations attempt to convey a thought for thought translation of the original language. Rather than bind the English reader to awkward constructions, or things that a modern reader may not understand, they do their best to convey the thought that a reader of the Greek or Hebrew text would have understood thousands of years ago. While these translations may be far easier to read than a word for word translation, the cultural or theological presuppositions of the translators can cause them to misinterpret what the original authors were trying to communicate. Again, even with this potential problem, such translations are beneficial because they help us more easily read and understand the Bible. They also flow so well that it is easier for us to read a lot more of the Bible at any given time.

Of course, it is good to have one translation that you can easily read in order to devour larger chunks of Scripture in your devotional reading times. However, it is also good to get the more awkward word for word translations for your deeper study times. In this way, you get the best of both worlds.

How do I attempt to translate? While I strive for a word for word translation as much as possible, I am quite comfortable going thought for thought when I believe it is appropriate. I’ll even add italicized words to add thoughts that the author and his original readers easily understood, but modern readers might miss because we live in different cultures or contexts (see verse four below). In that way the reader gets the benefit of something that was obvious to the original writer, but can clearly see that I added it to the translation as an aid to understanding.

Starting today, I will also add a few explanatory notes at the end of the translations I post on this blog, if I feel there is a benefit to doing so. I wouldn’t let a particular asterisk interrupt reading through the entire translation, but would peruse the additional notes after you are done reading.

Mark 2:1-28
A Translation by Randal Cutter

2:1   Some days after the healing of the leper, when Jesus came again to Capernaum, the word went out that Jesus was home.

2:2   As a result, so many gathered that there was no longer any room at the house, not even near the door. Then Jesus spoke the word to them.

2:3   Then four men came to him bringing a paralytic whom they were carrying.

2:4   Since they were not able to bring him through the crowd, they took the outside stairway to the roof and removed some tiles above where Jesus was speaking. After they were finished breaking it open, they lowered the bed on which the paralytic was lying.

2:5   When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are pardoned.”

2:6   But some of the scribal scholars* were sitting there and thinking in their hearts,

2:7   “What is this man implying? He is blaspheming! Who is able to forgive sins except the only God?”

2:8   Then immediately, when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they were thinking this way, he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?”

2:9   “What is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are pardoned,’ or to say, ‘Get up, pick up your bed and walk around?'”

2:10   “But in order that you might know that the Son of Man possesses authority to pardon sins upon the earth,” he said to the paralytic,

2:11   “I say to you, ‘Get up! Pick up your bed and go home.’”

2:12   Then the paralyzed man got up, picked up his bed immediately, and went out in front of everyone. This astonished everyone, and they glorified God by saying, “We have never seen such things!”

2:13   In another instance, Jesus went out again beside the sea, and all the people kept coming to him, so he continued teaching them.

2:14   Then, while he was walking along, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collection station, and so he said to him, “Follow me!” As a result, he stood up and followed him.

2:15   As the events of the day unfolded, Jesus ended up dining at Levi’s house, and many tax collectors and sinners were enjoying a meal with Jesus and his disciples; for many tax collectors and sinners were already following him.

2:16  When the scribal scholars who belonged to the party of the Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they began pestering his disciples asking, “What possible reason does he have in eating with tax collectors and sinners?”

2:17   When Jesus heard about it, he said to them, “Those who are healthy have no need of a physician, but only those who are ill. I have not come to call righteous people, but sinners.”

2:18   At another time, John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came and pursued this line of questioning, “Why do John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples are not in the habit of fasting?”

2:19   So Jesus responded to them, “The guests at a wedding cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they are not able to fast.”

2:20   “But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken from them. In that day they will fast.”

2:21   “No one sews a piece of shrinkable cloth upon an old garment. But if someone does try this, the old garment’s new patch will separate from the main part of the garment, and the tear will become more severe.”

2:22   “In the same way, no one puts new wine into old inflexible wineskins.* But if someone does try this, the fermenting wine will break the wineskins, and the wine and the wineskin will be destroyed. On the contrary, new wine must go into new flexible wine skins.”

2:23   At another time, while he was passing by a grain field on the Sabbath, his disciples began to walk along picking heads of grain.

2:24   Then the Pharisees questioned him, “Look, why do they do what is not legal to do on the Sabbath?”

2:25   But Jesus said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he had need, when he and those with him were hungry?”

2:26   “How he went into the house of God during the days of Abiathar the high priest, and he ate the bread of presentation, which you are not permitted to eat if you are not a priest? And how he also gave it to those with him?”

2:27   Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was created to serve man, but man was not created to serve the Sabbath.”

2:28   “For this reason the Son of Man* is also master of the Sabbath.”

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2:6   Scribal Scholars: Most translations call these gentlemen scribes; however, they were more than that. The NIV calls them “teachers of the law,” which they certainly were. But, when we identify them only as teachers of the law, we risk disconnecting them from their historic role as scribes of the word.

2:22   I translated “old wineskins” as “old inflexible wineskins.” The term for “old” includes the idea of being worn out. Since a worn out wine skin is inflexible, this translation captures the picture that Jesus’ hearers understood. In the same way, the word translated “new” can also mean fresh. The main feature of a fresh or new wineskin was its flexibility. That is what made it safe to store fermenting wine in.

2:28   When Jesus uses the term “Son of Man,” he is emphasizing his human nature. If we pay attention to his use of this term during his ministry, we can find out more fully what fallen humanity had lost, and what Jesus came to restore.

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A Translation of Mark Chapter 1

RomansText1The Lord is continuing to show his people many things. Of course, you wouldn’t know that if you’ve been checking what I’ve been writing lately. I’ve actually got quite a few things I could write about (How Israel’s enemies are over-reaching, and a Red Sea event is approaching, how the Lord is building his Body into an ethnically diverse community where everyone in it has the best job in the world, how lines of demarcation are coming in the Church that will change our perceptions of Christianity, and how the Lord is about to answer the cry, “Lord, help me learn to love,” among other things—and that’s all fairly recent). But I haven’t been publishing a lot lately because it feels like God’s people are a bit distracted, and even a bit angry and impatient with each other over political choices (we should probably read 1 Corinthians 1:10-13 over and over so that we continue to be patient and love one another even though we may prefer different political candidates).

However, I know that one thing that draws us together is a love for the Word. Back in November, I posted a translation of Romans 8 that I had done, explained a bit about my credentials, and why I did that translation (You can read that post HERE). It was only one chapter, but it was well received.

At about that same time, I began teaching through the book of Mark, and decided that when I teach at our congregation, I will use my own translation of the scriptures I am teaching whenever time allows. I have especially focused my attention on the Sunday morning messages and the book of Mark. I actually started doing this with Mark chapter two, but went back and translated chapter one just to have the whole book translated by the time I finish.

Over the course of the next several weeks, I will be posting my translation of the book of Mark. We are currently in chapter six. So I will publish a chapter a week until I catch up with where we are, and then I will publish the chapters as I finish them.

As an added bonus, you can listen to the messages that I taught using my translation if you so desire. I remind those who attend our congregation every week that we are using my translation from the Greek language as we study Mark. However, I ask them to bring their favorite version of the Bible along so that they can compare the choices I have made in translation compared to their translations. Many times I will also mention why I made a choice that their favorite translations did not, and explain the reason and implications of the way I translated it.

For instance, did you know that in Mark 3:21, that when Jesus’ family thought that he was “out of his mind,” that the Greek word used can refer to an ecstatic religious experience? That certainly fits the context far better than the “out of his mind” translation. Thus, I translated that verse, “When his relatives heard about this, they set out to take control of him; for they said that he was overcome with religious ecstasy.” That makes a huge difference in our understanding, don’t you agree? Actually, the implications and the applications are completely different than the traditional translation. You might want to listen to my message on Mark 3: 21 to see why. You can listen to the audio HERE, or download the video HERE. You can find all my messages by going to NewDawn.org, our congregation’s web page, and following the appropriate links to either audio or video copies of the messages. You can also stream the three most recent messages from the front page of our site.

Please feel free to ask any questions, especially about chapter one. I hadn’t started doing this while I was teaching chapter one, so if you listen to the teachings from chapter one, I am not using my own translation yet. However, you can often hear reasons that I have chosen a particular translation direction just by listening to my teaching on that scripture. Enjoy the variety, and I trust the new translation will help with our understanding.

Mark 1:1-45
A Translation by Randal Cutter

1:1     The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

1:2     Just as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “Behold I am sending my messenger before you, who will prepare your journey.

1:3     “A voice calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his highways straight.’”

1:4     John came baptizing in the desert, and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5     At that time, all the region of Judea, and all those in Jerusalem, went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.

1:6     John was wearing camel hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he was eating locusts, and honey gathered from the fields.

1:7     While he was preaching, he explained, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I am not even worthy to stoop down and loose the thong of his sandals.”

1:8     “I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you in the Holy Spirit.”

1:9     In those days events transpired so that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10   As soon as he came up out of the water, he saw the heavens rent open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.

1:11   Then a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son. I am well pleased by you.”

1:12   Then the Spirit immediately compelled him to go out into the desert.

1:13   As a result, he was in the desert forty days being tested by Satan. He was with the wild animals, but the angels were attending to him.

1:14   Later, after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee preaching the good news about God

1:15   by reporting, “The time is complete, and the Kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe the good news.”

1:16   At another time, while he was going along beside the sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

1:17   Then Jesus said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you into fishermen who catch men.”

1:18   At once they dropped their nets and followed him.

1:19   After he went a little further, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John mending their nets in their boat.

1:20   So he immediately called them. Then they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired workers, and followed after him.

1:21   They went into Capernaum, and on the next Sabbath, Jesus went into the synagogue and was teaching there.

1:22   Those in attendance were overwhelmed by his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not like the scribal scholars.

1:23   Right at that time, a man who was in their synagogue and had an unclean spirit shouted out

1:24   demanding, “Why are you bothering us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.”

1:25   So Jesus rebuked him and said, “Be silent and come out of him!”

1:26   After it convulsed the man, and cried out with a great cry, the unclean spirit left him.

1:27   Everyone was so astonished that they questioned each other asking, “What is this? It is a new teaching demonstrated with authority. He even commands the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”

1:28   Consequently, the report about him quickly went out everywhere into the entire region of Galilee.

1:29   When they came out of the synagogue, they went directly to the house of Simon and Andrew. James and John accompanied them.

1:30   But Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down with a fever, so they spoke to Jesus about her as soon as he arrived.

1:31   Then he went to her. He took her by the hand and raised her to her feet. At that moment, the fever left her and she was able to begin serving them.

1:32   Then when evening came, when the sun had set and the Sabbath ended, they brought to him everyone who had any type of illness, and those troubled with demons.

1:33   So the whole city was gathered at the door.

1:34   At that time, Jesus healed many who had various severe diseases. He also sent many demons away, but he did not permit the demons to speak because they knew him.

1:35   He rose early the next morning while it was still dark, and went out of the house. Then he traveled to a desert place where he spent time praying.

1:36   Then Peter and those with him searched for him.

1:37   When they found him, they told him, “Everyone is seeking you.”

1:38   But Jesus said to them, “Let us go to other cities that have a market places, in order that I also might preach there. I have come for this very purpose.”

1:39   So he went into all of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and compelling demons to flee.

1:40   Then a leper came to him. He pleaded with him on his knees and said, “If you are willing, you are able to heal me.”

1:41   Jesus was filled with compassion, so he extended his hand and touched him. Then he said to him, “I am willing. Be clean!”

1:42   The leprosy immediately left him, and he was clean.

1:43   Then Jesus bluntly warned him, and immediately sent him away.

1:44   He said this to him, “See that you tell nothing about this to anyone, but go show yourself to the priests and make the offering for your cleansing that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

1:45   But when the man had gone, he began to share what happened openly, and spread the word everywhere, so that Jesus was no longer able to come into a city openly. As a result, he remained outside in desert places. In spite of this, people kept coming to him from everywhere.

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Romans Chapter Eight

RomansText1Many of you know that, among the other things that I do, I also teach biblical Greek when needed at MorningStar University College of Theology. Since my normal focus for this blog doesn’t require a lot of Greek, I rarely reference it. But recently I was reminded of something that I often take for granted. I was at a pastors’ meeting, and was using a Bible program on my iPhone to check Greek and Hebrew references. Whenever the person who was speaking referenced a nuance of the original languages, I would check it. I usually check references to the original language because, on occasion, I will find that the person who is speaking has overstated the case for the meaning of a particular Greek or Hebrew word. Like a good Berean, I always have my iPhone at the ready.

What I didn’t realize while I was at the pastors’ meeting, is that the person to my right could clearly see me reading Greek and Hebrew scriptures from my iPhone as the speaker referenced them. At the conclusion of the message, that person told me what an amazing thing it was that I could work with the original languages. It was clear that the person saw it as a great blessing. I agree with that assessment, but rather than feeling a sense of pride, I am simply grateful that the Lord took me through an education system that had required me to learn the biblical languages. I do not suffer from any illusion that I would have sought those skills on my own.

As a result of the interaction at the pastors’ meeting, the Lord was able to remind me about Romans 8. He reminded me that he wanted me to use the skill set that he has given me to work on a translation of Romans 8 that is more accurate and meaningful than those that are available. That, actually, is not as difficult as it sounds. Most translations are done by a committee. Each committee member has theological prejudices and understandings that may actually close some areas of the Scripture to his or her understanding. Since it is a committee, there is no guarantee that the most appropriate or meaningful translation will be the one chosen.

The other problem translators have is the one of tradition. The King James Version has left its mark. Unless a new Bible is clearly labeled a paraphrase, it will not do well if it strays too far from the King James Version. Since so many of the newer translations have stayed fairly close to the King James Version’s choices in many areas, it has made it very difficult to break from the crowd with any sense of legitimacy.

Do not get me wrong, most modern translations are amazing tools for our growth in Christ, and the scholarship has advanced in profound ways from the days of Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, and those scholars who labored over the KJV. Our translations are special gifts from God, and the fact that we have so many good translations at our disposal is an incredible blessing. However, for the reasons mentioned above, every translation has strengths and weaknesses.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: At this point, some of you may simply want to scroll down to the translation of Romans 8 below. I’m about to get into a bit of grammar. Some of you will find it very interesting. It may put some of you to sleep. You know who you are. Scroll down now if you need to do so.

For those who are still with me in this paragraph, I will give an example of how the King James Version often sets the direction a translation can or will take. In Romans 8:28, the KJV translates the Greek in this fashion: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is a well known translation of the Greek, but it has theological difficulties in the English translation, and grammatical difficulties from the Greek. However, it is such a well known passage of Scripture, that newer versions are almost forced to stay somewhat close to it. I’ll give several examples from newer translations:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)

The NIV breaks the furthest from the KJV by making God the subject of the sentence. Instead of the rather nebulous concept of “all things” somehow working themselves out for good, the NIV clearly shows that God is the one who works all thing for good. That is significantly different than the other translations, and I certainly agree with that choice of the NIV translators to make God the subject.

There is still a puzzling problem with the verb. The verb most naturally means to “work with someone,” not to “make things work together.” None of the translations above incorporate this rather awkward fact into their framework. However, the verb clearly indicates that God is working with someone. So if God works with someone, it would be nice to know who that someone is. Actually, there is only one option: those who love him. The Greek phrase translated “those who love God” is in the dative case. The verb “works with” almost requires that it be followed by the dative case. These two phrases are like magnets being drawn together. “God works with” must irresistibly attract “those who love him.” Thus, this becomes the most grammatically and theologically appropriate translation of the verse:

And we know that God works all things for good with those who love Him; with those who are called according to his purpose.

This is a very natural reading of the Greek language of Romans 8:28. I polish it a bit in my translation below, but in my view, it is the only reading that makes the most sense grammatically and theologically. I am certainly not the only Greek scholar who translates it this way, however, the versions have stayed away from it (although the NIV did place this option in a footnote). My suspicion is that they stay away because it is too radical of a departure from the tradition.

Please note that the theological implications of this sentence are staggering, and far different than the traditional understanding. In our normal understanding of this verse, God is working behind the scenes so that all of the things that happen to us, whether good or bad, work out for our good. What it actually states is that God is working with us, and we are actively engaged in working with God so that all things result in good. In the traditional translations, we are recipients of the actions of God. As corrected, we are participants in making all things result in good. In the corrected translation we become agents of God working to bring positive change in a world where negative things happen. All things are most certainly not good, but we actively partner with God to release as much good as we can into even the most awful situations.

I trust that the translation of Romans 8:28 whets your appetite so that you are eager to read the entire chapter of Romans. Translations by one translator certainly can also have their issues. However, one translator works without a committee, and thus can make choices that more clearly indicate what he believes is Paul’s intent. You will be able to see if I have achieved that objective.

I present my translation of Romans 8 here to fulfill an assignment that the Lord gave me, and to provide a clear and workable translation of the chapter:

Romans 8:1-39

  1. Now then, there is no sentence of death for anyone who is in Christ Jesus.
  2. For the power of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus set you free from the power of sin and death.
  3. For what the power of law was unable to do, in that it was weak on account of the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and He punished sin in the flesh of his Son for the sake of those who sinned.
  4. He did this in order that the legal requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who are not walking according to flesh, but according to spirit.
  5. For those who live only in flesh think of fleshly things, but those who live according to spirit think of spiritual things.
  6. For the thoughts of the flesh release death in all of its manifestations, but the thoughts of the spirit release unmistakable life and peace.
  7. For the thoughts of the flesh are hostile to God because the flesh is not submitted to the principles of God; it is unable to do so.
  8. And those who are living according to their flesh are not able to please God.
  9. But you Romans are not living according to flesh, on the contrary, you are living according to spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in your midst. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
  10. But if Christ is in your midst, the body has death working in it on account of sin, but the spirit has life working in it on account of righteousness.
  11. And if the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in your midst, the One who raised Christ from the dead will also release life to your physical bodies through His Spirit dwelling in your midst.
  12. Now therefore, brothers, we are in debt, not to the flesh to live according to fleshly principles,
  13. for if you live according to fleshly principles, you will most certainly die a premature death. But if instead you put to death the fleshly deeds of the body with the Spirit, you not only will not die prematurely, you will have life in you,
  14. because as many as are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
  15. For you did not receive a spirit that is in bondage to the fear of death, but you received a spirit of divine adoption by which we cry, “Abba Father!”
  16. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
  17. Now if we are children of God, then we are also heirs; heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer together with Him in order that also we might share in glory together with Him.
  18. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us.
  19. For the creation is filled with confident expectation as it eagerly awaits the revealing of the sons of God.
  20. For the creation has been subjected to futility, not willingly, but because the One who subjected it to futility has absolute confidence
  21. that the creation will be released from slavery to decay, and will be brought into the freedom and the splendor of the children of God.
  22. For we know that the whole creation together groans and suffers even until the present time.
  23. But creation isn’t the only one, we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan in ourselves awaiting divine adoption, the freeing of the entire body of believers.
  24. For this hope we have been rescued, but it is no longer hope when you can see it. For who hopes for what he sees?
  25. But if we hope for what we do not see, we are patiently waiting.
  26. And likewise also the Spirit helps with our weakness. For we do not fully understand the absolute necessity of prayer, but the Spirit himself appeals on our behalf with inexpressible groans.
  27. And the One who examines hearts knows what the thoughts of the Spirit mean, because it is by the will of God that the Spirit approaches the throne on behalf of the saints.
  28. And we know that God works with those who love Him so that all things result in good; He works with those who are called according to His purpose.
  29. Because those He foreknew, He also set on a path to conform to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
  30. And those He set on that path, He also called. And those He called, He also pronounced righteous. And those He pronounced righteous, He has also given honor.
  31. Therefore, what shall we say to these things? If God is our champion, who can oppose us?
  32. Indeed, He did not spare his own Son, but delivered Him up on behalf of us all. Since that is true, how will He not also, working with His Son, freely give all things to us?
  33. Who would dare bring an accusation against God’s chosen ones? God is the one who has declared them righteous!
  34. Who would dare bring a guilty verdict? Christ Jesus, the One who died, and more than that, was raised to life, He is also on the right hand of God and He is always pleading before the throne on our behalf.
  35. Who can divorce us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, dire straits, harassment, famine, nakedness, peril or threat of sword be able to do it?
  36. Just as it is written: “For your sake we are put to death the entire day; we are counted as sheep for slaughter.”
  37. But in all these things we are completely and overwhelmingly victorious through the One who loved us.
  38. For I am fully persuaded that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither current events nor future events, neither earthly powers,
  39. nor powers in the heavens above or in the depths below, and nothing else in all of creation is able to divorce us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

I trust that you are edified and encouraged. If you have any questions about the translation, I am more than willing to discuss the nuances of the translation with anyone who desires. I know that one question many readers might have is, “Why, in verse 9, do you translate Paul’s words as ‘You Romans,’ when the Greek word for Romans is nowhere to be found?” Ahh, that is a great question. I am glad you asked. The answer is that Paul used the plural form of “you” in several places in that section. It is obvious at those points that he was not addressing a hypothetical person (using “you” in the singular), he was addressing a group of people to whom he was writing. That group of people was the Romans. Whenever the “you” is plural, I have attempted to show that he was addressing the Roman congregation as a whole, rather than only the individual.

I trust you will be blessed by this translation. If you share it with others, you might want to link back to this blog so that they can see the reason for some of my choices, and ask questions if they are so inclined.
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The Winnowing Has Begun

TrainsThe Body of Christ is currently being separated into two groups. One group will be used in amazing ways in the days ahead. They will unleash the power of the Kingdom of Heaven with such love and grace that the world will stand in awe that such things are being done by mere humans. Those in this group will become God’s end time agents who will help turn Satan’s kingdom upside down, and will initiate the restoration of all things (see Acts 3:19-21). The other group will find themselves on the outside of God’s purposes, looking with longing and regret on what could have been.

The good news is that the group you join is your choice. The bad news is that many are currently choosing the path to disaster.

The Lord recently gave us a picture of the choice that we now face. The picture was that of two trains that run on parallel tracks side by side. The trains look almost the same. They appear to be going to the same destination. For all practical purposes they will run in the same direction at the same speed for quite some distance. But in the end, only one of the trains will get to its destination. The other will suffer loss.

The Lord then said that the two trains are the Encouragement Train and the Discouragement Train.

The Lord has warned us that there is a wave of discouragement coming. He issued a strong warning that it will be such an intense wave of discouragement that many will begin to waver. Even as he gave us this advance warning, he mentioned the Discouragement Train and said, “Don’t get on that train!”

I know this warning is necessary. I have been surprised at the amount of discouraging hype that has recently been released in the body of Christ. Relatively prominent teachers have released predictions about the times in which we live. I do not know their intent, or the full extent of their teaching, but I have seen the results. I have seen an onslaught of fear and self-focus among God’s people. Fear and self-focus are not a fruit of the spirit. Instead, they are evidence that we have boarded the Discouragement Train. If you have given in to fear and self-focus, get off that train right now!

Do not misinterpret what I am saying. I believe that there are certainly difficult times ahead. But one thing I know, we do not get through those difficult times by endlessly parroting what this moon or that seven year cycle portends for the future. Difficult times are upon us. Get over it. The world is under judgment. Get over it. We overcome all of it by focusing on the Kingdom authority we have been granted in Jesus Christ. We overcome it by focusing on our mission and purpose in a lost world as we lay down or lives for those around us. We overcome it as we have always overcome every obstacle in this new covenant era—by the blood of the lamb, the word of our testimony, and not loving our lives so much that we shrink back from laying them down if necessary.

Jesus told his disciples, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19). He said that before his victory on the cross. Now that he has crushed Satan’s head, we have even more authority, and more power to overcome. We are overcomers. There is nothing that Satan can unleash against the Body of Christ that is able to overcome it. The gates of hell, all the evil that Satan is capable of marshaling against the Church, will not be able to stand against the power of God’s overcomers. Rather than focusing on the judgment and the evil, why don’t we focus on our job description? Why don’t we extend the Kingdom of God and the shelter it provides (see Matthew 13:31-32) wherever we go?

The Lord showed us another picture recently. He showed us that he was setting out nets to trap those who were releasing fear among his people. When he told us this, I knew that some of the very things that have recently released so much fear in the Body of Christ were part of the trap. As the Lord showed us the trap, he said, “It is a huge challenge when you hang around chickens. Chickens have a tendency to make you doubt and second guess yourself. They are not encouraging at all. They’re always skeptical, and they are always chickens.”

The Lord is beginning to draw the chickens away to the Discouragement Train so that the chickens do not hinder the people of God. Then his people will board the Encouragement Train and can encourage each other once the chickens have been separated in the current winnowing.

There is a time soon coming, and even now upon us, where the righteous will shine forth as the sun exercising the authority of the Kingdom of Heaven. However, before that can happen, the winnowing must take place. Those who claim to be a part of God’s Kingdom will board the one train or the other. Those who preach fear and discouragement will be removed, just like the ten spies who discouraged Israel (see Numbers 14:36-38). It is a time like that which Jesus prophesied in Matthew 13 when he said,

“The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
“Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:41-43 NASB)

If you are on the wrong train, I don’t believe it is too late to jump off, but now is the time. Get on the right train.

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Shameless Plug for Drinking Water in Kenya:

A friend of mine, Pat Selvey, is living in Kenya digging wells to save the lives of children there. He asked if I would advertise an opportunity to purchase a drilling rig. The ministry has already raised most of what is needed for the drilling rig. Here is what Pat wrote, and a few excerpts from the website:

There is a water crisis in Africa. In many areas waterborne disease is the biggest killer of children under the age of 5. Water born disease is preventable. Clean drinking water for 150,000 school children requires that Hydrating Humanity purchase a deep-hole drill rig. We have been able to raise over $265,000 so far. Our goal is to raise $300,000 as quickly as possible to get this drill rig purchased and deployed into the Kuria School District in Southwest Kenya.

Would you consider being a part of raising the additional money needed? Every dollar given in this fundraiser will be used to purchase this critical equipment. Your gift of $10, $50, $100, $1,000 or $10,000 gets us one step closer to helping kids get clean water for the first time ever! It truly is a gift that will keep on giving!

If you would like to help, or to find out more, click HERE.

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