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Entries in Romans (2)


Curiosity and the New Living Translation

A while ago, as a gift for a donation, the Gideons sent me a copy of the New Living Translation. I have not used this translation much in the past. In my plan to read as many translations of Romans as I can, I decided to try this out. I'm only five chapters in, but already something has popped up that reminds me why I am leary of more dynamic translations: a lack of precision.

In Romans 5:19, the NLT renders the verse this way:

Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

By way of comparison, here are how the NASB and the NIV render it:

NASB: For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.

NIV: For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

The NASB capitalizes pronouns referring to God and Jesus, and so has capitalized "One" to indicate that Paul is talking about Christ. Yes, it is interpretive in its choice. You'll notice that the NIV uses the more general term "man." I suspect in its goal to avoid gender specific language, the NLT has chosen the word "person." I may be wrong about that. 

What is important to remember is the context. Prior to verse 19, Paul was drawing a parallel between Adam and Jesus. Adam's sin is imputed to us, and Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. The crucial point here is that it is Christ's obedience which becomes our obedience, resulting in justification. We can understand what is meant by "the man" or "the One" because we know the context. Unfortunately, the NLT is less precise when it uses "one person." Which person? Can anyone impute sin to another? Can anyone impute righteousness? While the NLT can be helpful in complicated texts, what it lacks in precision could present a problem. When it comes to this doctrinal issue, the imputation of Christ's righteousness, we should strive for precision.I'm not a Greek or Hebrew scholar, so perhaps my ignorance has clouded my view of this. Hopefully, when I start Greek studies next fall, I will be able to look more closely at the original language and evaluate the accuracy of this rendering in a better way.

Hating the God who doesn't exist

I've been reading Romans. I'm following along with the daily devotions in TableTalk as well. This morning, I've been reading Romans 1:18-21:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

The devotion for today brings up the topic of apologetics. I thought it was worth sharing part of it:

Apologetics is the discipline that seeks to give an intellectual defense of the Christian faith. Helpng unbelievers analyze the evidence for the Christian faith and to think more consistently and logically about their own claims is important work, and at least a basic case for the rational nature of Christianity is involved at some level in almost every evangelistic encounter. Seasoned evangelists and apologists will tell you, however, that the fundamental problem that people have with the gospel is not an intellectual one. Non-Christians will try to erect intellectual strongholds against belief in God and His Son, but the evidence is so overwhelming and compelling that there is no such thing as a true atheist. Dr. R.C. Sproul has often noted that the real problem for the atheist is not that he cannot see the truth of God's existence; the real issue is that he hates the God who does not exist.

I have personally seen this scenario. I have relatives who claim to be atheists, and this hatred toward a God they say they don't believe in inevitably gets directed toward Christians' lifestyles, and toward the Bible. This hatred is why we see attempts to label the Bible "hate literature." One of the fastest ways to silence the gospel is to outlaw the revelation of God.

It is sobering to think of the myriads around us who have darkened hearts. Some of them are very close to us. Some of my relatives, when I mention God, look at me with either a blank stare, or an impatient frown. Their hearts are darkened. What is sobering is the slippery slope of a darkened mind that follows Romans 1:21.

If you have been redeemed from a darkened mind, first praise the God who bought you. Secondly, live in a way that testifies to this redemption.