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On Romans 8:28

If you read the KJV of this passage it runs something like this; “For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.”   This sometimes leads to a false sense of security.  

But the Greek text (from the Textus Recptus) doesn’t really say that.  If I could switch to Greek (there MUST be some way to do that) then is would say something like “oidamen de ote tois agapos ton Theon panta ounergei eis agathon tois kata prothesin klatois ousin.”  

Close.  But, when you ask a modern-day Greek what that means to him, you get something like this; “(we) know that those of us (the ones that) love (the) God alway work together toward good (pure good, God-kind of good) us according wishes (intentions) called (as you have been called) us.”  

Putting that back into English, “We know that those of us who love God always work together toward good for we are called according to the wishes of God.”  Not quite the same, is it?  Basically, it’s now saying that if we are called by God then we are always working for the pure, upright and holy wishes of God.  Sort of put the onus back on us to do good things, not to expect good things to “just happen because we are called of God.”  

I’m not sure that what I have here is absolutely correct, but I do know that the original Greek didn’t say what the King James crew wanted it to say.




April 24, 2008 - Posted by | Religion |

1 Comment »

  1. Sounds great…except for the small, but all-important point that ‘sunergei’ (you incorrectly transcribed this as ‘ounergei’) is third person singular…’HE works alongside’. I don’t know modern Greek, but I do know it has lost a lot of inflection in the last 2000 years, so maybe it sounds to modern ears as if ‘we’ are the ones doing the work. However, the syntax is clear in Koine Greek.

    There is a slight imprecision in the Greek, the subtely of which is difficult to convey fully in an English translation. It is not quite clear if the text means that God works in collaboration with ‘everything’, or if he works in collaboration with us in everything. I like to think that Paul probably kept it slightly imprecise because he meant both. In any case, the KJV certainly does get it slightly wrong here because it makes it fails to make it explicitly clear that it is God who is doing the work. ‘Panta’ is accusative and plural, so cannot be the subject of ‘sunergei’. The verse is about God actively supporting us, and working with us, in and through every situation we face, in order to bring about the best outcomes. The RSV puts it quite well by saying “…in everything God works for good with those who love him”.

    Incidently, a minority of variant readings insert ‘ho Theos’ just after ‘sunergei’, which simply serves to further emphasise the fact that the KJV is slightly incorrect.

    Comment by Chuck Newton | August 23, 2008 | Reply

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