Epistle Lection, March 16 2014 Romans 4:1-4, 13-17; Comments on the Greek Text

Epistle Lection, March 16 2014

Romans 4:1-4, 13-17; Comments on the Greek Text

Ro 4:1 Τί οὖν ἐροῦμεν εὑρηκέναι Ἀβραὰμ τὸν προπάτορα ἡμῶν κατὰ σάρκα[A]; What then shall we say Abraham found—our forefather according to the flesh?
Ro 4:2 εἰ γὰρ Ἀβραὰμ ἐξ ἔργων ἐδικαιώθη, ἔχει καύχημα· ἀλλ’ οὐ πρὸς θεόν, For if Abraham was justified from works, he has a boast, but not before/toward God.
Ro 4:3 τί γὰρ ἡ γραφὴ λέγει; Ἐπίστευσεν δὲ Ἀβραὰμ τῷ θεῷ καὶ ἐλογίσθη[B] αὐτῷ εἰς[C] δικαιοσύνην. For what does the Scripture say?  “Abraham believed God, and it was counted for him as righteousness.”
Ro 4:4 τῷ δὲ ἐργαζομένῳ ὁ μισθὸς[D] οὐ λογίζεται κατὰ χάριν ἀλλὰ κατὰ ὀφείλημα· But for the one who works, the wage is not counted according to grace, but according to obligation.
Ro 4:5 τῷ δὲ μὴ ἐργαζομένῳ, πιστεύοντι δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἀσεβῆ[E], λογίζεται ἡ πίστις αὐτοῦ εἰς δικαιοσύνην, But for the one who does not work, but who trusts on the one who justifies the ungodly, his [or her] faith is counted as righteousness.
Ro 4:13 Οὐ γὰρ διὰ νόμου ἡ ἐπαγγελία τῷ Ἀβραὰμ ἢ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ, τὸ[F] κληρονόμον αὐτὸν εἶναι κόσμου, ἀλλὰ διὰ δικαιοσύνης πίστεως[G]· For [it was] not through law [that] the promise [came] to Abraham or to his seed, [that] he [would] be [the] heir of the world, but through [the] righteousness of faith.
Ro 4:14 εἰ γὰρ οἱ ἐκ νόμου κληρονόμοι, κεκένωται ἡ πίστις καὶ κατήργηται[H] ἡ ἐπαγγελία· For if the heirs [are] from [the] law, faith has been emptied and the promise has been wiped out.
Ro 4:15 ὁ γὰρ νόμος ὀργὴν κατεργάζεται[I], οὗ δὲ οὐκ ἔστιν νόμος, οὐδὲ παράβασις. For the law accomplishes wrath, but where there is no law, neither [is there] transgression.
Ro 4:16 Διὰ τοῦτο ἐκ πίστεως,[J] ἵνα κατὰ χάριν, εἰς τὸ εἶναι βεβαίαν τὴν ἐπαγγελίαν παντὶ τῷ σπέρματι, οὐ τῷ ἐκ τοῦ νόμου μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ τῷ ἐκ πίστεως Ἀβραάμ (ὅς ἐστιν πατὴρ πάντων ἡμῶν, For this reason [righteousness/promise comes] from faith, so that it [might be] according to grace, so that the promise might be secure to all the seed, not to the [one] who [lives] from the law only, but also to the one [who lives] from the faith of Abraham, (who is father of all of us,
Ro 4:17 καθὼς γέγραπται ὅτι Πατέρα πολλῶν ἐθνῶν[K] τέθεικά σε), κατέναντι οὗ ἐπίστευσεν θεοῦ τοῦ ζῳοποιοῦντος τοὺς νεκροὺς καὶ καλοῦντος τὰ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα[L]· as it is written, “I have appointed you [as] father of many nations/Gentiles,) in the presence of the God whom he trusted—the God who makes the dead come to life and calls the things that do not exist as if they do exist.

[A] The phrase could be adjectival (not just any forefather, but our forefather according to the flesh), or adverbial (What did Abraham our forefather find according to the flesh?)  Word order favors the former, but the latter is possible, and avoids the seeming oddity of Paul suddenly seeming to address only Jews.

[B] The more traditional translation is “reckoned.”  The word comes from the world of accounting.  That’s why I used “counted.”

[C] Or perhaps more literally “counted for him into righteousness.”

[D] The word can have the connotation of reward (beyond what is earned) or simply what is earned.  It may be better to translate simply “payment.”

[E] A surprising word here.  Paul has spoken earlier in chap. 3 of the justification of those who were not themselves righteous in their behavior, but implicitly identifying Abraham as one of the “ungodly” is a bit shocking here.  Cf. Rom 5:6.

[F] The article goes with the infinitive (thus neuter), not with the masculine κληρονόμον.

[G] Either a genitive of origin (the righteousness that comes from faith) or an appositional genitive (the righteousness that is faith.)

[H] Both verbs are perfect tense, indicating a continuing state which is the result of a prior action.

[I] See Rom 3:9ff.

[J] The subject is unstated.  “Promise” is suggested by its use later in the verse, but “righteousness” seems more like to come from faith.  The promise doesn’t originate in our faith, but in God’s free gift.  Nor is the giving of the promise dependent on faith, but only its reception.

[K] Note in Greek that this word could be translated either “nations” or “gentiles.”

[L] Literally, “calls the things not being as being.”  The “if” in my translation is interpretative.