The Epistle to the Romans, Part 2

Caravaggio, The Conversion on the Way to Damascus

The Epistle to the Romans, Part 2

translated by Darrell Sutton


In a previous QR posting on October 10, 2017, I published some preliminary remarks on Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Those comments consisted of prefatory matter for a new rendition of chapters 1-5. Translating from one language to another creates its own problems, particularly if the source-tongue and receiving-language are developed in different language families. Other dilemmas arise even when languages of the same linguistic group are poised to convey one another’s meanings. Modern English, unlike Latin, is no longer an inflected idiom as it was 1200 years ago. At the time, Old English, the language of the Germanic tribes before the Norman Conquest, was able to replicate Greek and Latin nuances fairly closely. All the same, English in its present form is not undermined by its loss of inflections. A few more words merely are necessary to depict certain lexemes. Perceptive translators remain capable of rendering ancient thoughts for modern readers with precision and accuracy.

Paul’s Epistle to the Romans alludes to or cites ancient Hebrew passages in numerous places. Several Latin expressions have counterparts in other ancient Latin prose texts (Seneca’s Epistles: XLI.1-2 comes to mind). The Vetus Latina, which I presume derives from Paul’s hand, resonates. Turning over the soil in order to unearth these treasures for extensive examination requires effort even if one does so with or without concordances. The syntactical parallels between select ancient passages are traceable in Paul’s document. Romans is an intensely theological tractate. The notion of “sin”, as an act or as an inherent human defect, is carefully explicated. The five chapters below show Christ as the effective cause of our justification. There is an introduction (1.1-16); the universal guilt of mankind is described (1.17-32); the Jewish nation then is specifically singled out for their rebellion against the knowledge of God (2.1-3.19); redemption by grace [or justification] for Jewish persons and non-Jewish people is defined (3.20-4.25); but the results of this gratuitous act of God is outlined clearly (5.1-21).

Paul likely knew Greek, Latin, Aramaic and Hebrew. To make him speak with English lips requires penetration and creativity. In the main, the old Latin text is workmanlike. Imagination is shown, however, in the interpretative descriptions of accounts of Abraham. Those texts which report of specific character traits of his enliven the Pauline discourse of the earlier chapters. Dictionaries are not the final arbiter of exactness; context should inform a word’s meaning. For example, the term praevaricatio must be examined by observing the words written before and after it (see its meaning is disclosed at 2:25 and 4:15); and conjecture is required later in the text at 14:9 after resurrexit: In hoc enim Christus mortuus est, et resurrexit, et ascendit, ut et mortuorum et vivorum dominetur (… Christ had died, and resurrected, as well as ascended…). When possible, I follow the Latin closely. Brackets are employed a few times for clarification. The English version has few colloquialisms. Hopefully, this letter, which is an unforgettable literary text, will find new readers in this day.


1  Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an Apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God,[i] 2 which aforetime he had promised thru his prophets in holy scripture: 3 regarding his son, who was fashioned from the seed of David according to the flesh; 4 who was predestined to be the son of God in power, on the authority of the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all gentiles for His name, 6 in whom you, too, are called of Jesus Christ. 7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, designated ‘saints:’ grace to you, and peace from God our father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First of all, I really am grateful to my God thru Jesus Christ for you all: because your devotion is remarked upon by the entire world. 9 God is my witness, whom I serve by my spirit in the Gospel of his son, how that without intermission I remember you, 10 always in my prayers, asking, if somehow at last I might have a prosperous journey, coming to you by the will of God. 11 Indeed I long to see you, that I may impart unto you something: a spiritual gift that you all may be strengthened. 12 That is to say, that I may be consoled together with you, by your faith and mine. 13 Brethren, I do not want you to be unaware of this, that time and again I had resolved to come to you (and I have been prohibited even until now) that I might have some fruit among you, even as among other nations. 14 To Greek and Barbarian, wise and unwise I am indebted. 15 Therefore (as much as is in me) I am prepared to evangelize you and those at Rome also.

16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe: first to the Jew, also to the gentile. 17 For therein, is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith. 18 Namely, that God’s anger is revealed from heaven upon all their irreverence, even unrighteousness of men, who cling to the truth of God in unrighteousness. 19 Because that which is known of God is manifest in them, for God manifested unto them. Indeed, the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world are obviously understood by the things that are made, also, by means of his eternal power and divinity. Therefore, they are without excuse. 21 Since when they knew God, as God they did not glorify him, nor were they grateful. However, they became vain in their thoughts, and their unwise heart was darkened still. 22 Professing themselves to be wise they became foolhardy. 23 and transformed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image in the likeness of corruptible man and birds and four-footed beings and serpents.

24 As a result, God handed them over to the cravings of their heart, to impurity, that they might authorize the debasement of their bodies among themselves, 25 who converted the word of God into a lie, and cared for and served the creature more than the creator who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 Consequently God handed them over to disgraceful passions: for their women indeed transmuted the natural use by that use which is against nature. 27 And similarly, however, men departed from the natural use of the woman, they burned in their lusts for one another: men with men doing despicable things, and receiving, themselves, that which is proper compensation for their error. 28 And because they were not amenable to having a God in view, God handed them over to an erroneous way of thinking, in order to do those things which are not convenient, 29 replete with every iniquity, spite, fornication, avarice, wickedness, filled with envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity, muttering; 30 backbiters, haters of God, abusive, haughty, boasters, inventers of evil, not obedient to parents; 31 unwise, unruly persons, without feeling, far from the covenant, lacking mercy: 32 who are knowledgeable of the righteous law of God; whereas not comprehending that those who affect such are worthy of death, and not only they who do them, but those who yet agree with the doers.


1 O man, who therefore judges everything, you are not excusable. For in those things of which you judge others, you condemn yourself, since you do the same things which you judge. 2. Whereas, indeed we know that the judgment of God is according to the truth, against them which do such things. 3 However, O man, who judges them which do such things and does likewise, do you suppose that you shall evade the judgment of God? 4 Or do you so lightly esteem the riches of his goodness, and patience and long suffering, seeing that you are ignorant of the kindness of God that leads you to repentance? 5 Contrariwise by your hardness and impenitent heart, you amass to yourself a treasure-like indignation against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will return unto every man in proportion to his deeds: 7 to them who, in accordance with enduring works of good, are looking for glory and honor and imperishable eternal life. 8 But to those who are contentious and do not submit to truth, they however furnish faith in iniquity, wrath and indignation, 9 tribulation and narrowness, to every man’s life that performs evil: first to the Jew and to the Greek. 10 But glory and honor and peace to all who do good things, to the Jew and Greek; 11 with God there is no respect of persons.

12 In fact whosoever has sinned without the law, without the law shall they perish; and everyone who sins by the law, through the law they will be judged. 13 For not only are the hearers of the law just with God, but the doers of law will be justified. 14 When, however, the gentiles, who do not have the law, do naturally the things of the law, they create a measure of the law not in their possession: they become a law unto themselves: 15 who do display the work of the law inscribed upon their hearts, their own conscience giving testimony, and between themselves their thoughts, accusing or still excusing one after another: 16 unto the day when God will judge the secreted things of men in accordance with my Gospel through Jesus Christ.

17 But if you are known to be a Jew, and do rest in the law and do glory in God, 18 and know his will, even approve things that are to good purpose: training through the law; 19 you believe yourself to be a leader of the blind, a light to them who are in darkness: 20 the instructor of unwise ones, teacher of infants, having a form of knowledge and of truth in the law. 21 who, because you teach others, you do not teach yourself, who preaches do not steal, you steal; 22 who says do not commit adultery, you commit adultery; you who abominate idols, you commit sacrilege, 23 who glory in the law through duplicity, you dishonor God! 24 Indeed by you the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles, as it is written:

25 Assuredly circumcision is of use if you attend to the law; but if you misrepresent the law, your circumcision turns into uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcised safe-keeps the righteousness of the law, should not their uncircumcision be allowed? 27 And will you judge if that which by nature is uncircumcision, satisfying the law, you who through the letter and circumcision are insincere regarding the law? 28 For he is not a Jew who is one visibly, nor him who evidently in his flesh is circumcised. 29 On the contrary, he whose [circumcision] is unseen is a Jew: in addition, circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit; not of the law, whose commendation is not of men but of God.


1 As a result, in what way is the Jewish person bettered, or what is the utility of circumcision? 2 It is an exceedingly great one in every way, since first of all, to them were given the words of God. 3 For example, what if some of them did not believe? Will their unbelief annul the faith of God? 4 Absolutely not. Let God be true; but every man a liar.

As it is written:
“that you might be made righteous by your words,
And prevail when you are put on trial.”

5 But if our iniquity commends the righteousness of God, what will we say? I am speaking as a human being. Is the God who introduces wrath unfair. 6 Absolutely not. Otherwise, how will God judge this world? 7 If the truth of God in me abounds through a falsehood unto his glory, why until now am I judged just like a sinner, 8 and not according to how we are blasphemed, and according to how some affirm we are saying: “let us do evil so that good may come!,” whose condemnation is just?

9 What then, are we better? No, not all. In fact, it was alleged afore that we, Jews and Gentiles, are all under sin. 10 As it is written:
because no one is righteous,
11 there is none that understand; there is none that pursue God.
12 All of them have turned aside, altogether they are of no use.
There is none who does good, there is not even a single one.
13 An open grave is their throat; they foster deceit with their tongues;
The venom of asps is within their lips,
14 whose mouth is full of bad speech and acrimony.
15 Their feet are quick to spill blood
16 Ruin and misfortune are in their path.
17 and a pathway of peace they have not known.
18 There is no fear of God before their eyes.

19 But we acknowledge that whatever the law says, it says it to those who are under the law: in order that every mouth may be obstructed, and all the world put under the authority of God. 20 Because by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified before him. For through the law is knowledge of sin.

21 Devoid of the law however, the righteousness of God now is manifested: the law and the prophets having testified, 22 that the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ is for all and upon all who believe in him. For there is no distinction, 23 because all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. 24 Unreservedly justified through his grace, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. 25 The propitiation, which God displays, through faith in his blood toward the rendering of his righteousness because of the remission of past offences 26 by the leniency of God, to the display of his righteousness in this time: that he might be just, and the justifier of him who exhibits faith in Jesus Christ.

27 Where is your boasting then? It is ruled out. By what manner of law? By deeds; no, but through the law of faith. 28 Verily it is decreed: a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Is he the God of the Jews so much? Is he not, indeed, [God] of the gentiles, moreover of the nations? 30 seeing he is one God, who justifies circumcision by faith and uncircumcision through faith. 31 Well, do we destroy the law through faith? Absolutely not. On the contrary, we establish the law.


1 What then are we to say that Abraham discovered, [who is] our father according to the flesh? 2 If indeed Abraham was justified by works, he has a reason to glory, but not with God. 3 For what does the scripture say? Abraham trusted God, and it was attributed to him as righteousness. 4 If however, one has striven, the reward is not imputed according to grace, but in proportion to debt. 5 But if one does not truly work [to earn it], but trusts in him, who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted righteousness according to the showing of the grace of God. 6 Moreover David says also:

“blessed is the man to whom God assigns righteousness apart from works:
7 blessed are those whose iniquities are remitted,
and those whose sins are covered.
8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute sin.”

9 This blessed condition, does it abide in such measure upon the circumcision, or also upon the uncircumcision? For we say that faith unto righteousness was attributed to Abraham. 10 As a consequence, by what method was it ascribed? In circumcision or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision but in uncircumcision. 11 And he received the sign of circumcision, a symbol of justification by faith, which is in uncircumcision, that he might be father to all who believe through uncircumcision, that to them righteousness also might be attributed. 12 And [that he should] be father of circumcision not just of the one so much as those who are circumcised, but also of those who pursue the path of faith, which exists for our uncircumcised father, Abraham.

13 Surely through the law it was not promised to Abraham, or his seed, that he might be heir of the world, but through justification by faith. 14 If indeed those who by means of the law are heirs, faith is destroyed, and the promise is abolished. 15 For the law produces wrath: that is to say, wherever there is no law, there is no violation of duty. 16 Therefore [it is] by faith according to grace, so that the promise might be established for all the seed, not only them who are of the law, but also them who are of the faith of Abraham who is father of us all. 17 As it is written, ‘A father of many nations, I have established you’, before the God whom he trusted, who raises the dead and declares things that are not as if they are. 18 Who, against hope, trusted in the hope, that he might become the father of a multitude of people according to what was said: ‘Thus will be your seed.’ 19 Though not enfeebled by faith and yet being around a hundred years old, he had not considered his own dead body and Sarah’s dead womb. 20 Even still, he did not hesitate in despair at God’s promise, but was made strong by faith, giving glory to God: 21 fully understanding, because whatsoever he promised he also was able to fulfill. 22 For that reason, it was attributed to him for righteousness. 23 But it was not written so much for him to whom it was attributed as righteousness, 24 but also for us, to whom it will be attributed: we, believing in him who raised Jesus Christ, our Lord, from the dead. 25 Who was delivered up for our offences, and resurrected for our justification


1 Given that we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace, in which we stand, and boast in the hope of the glory of the son of God; 3 but, not solely, still also in tribulations we glory, knowing that tribulation effects patience: 4 patience, however, [effects] approval: approval [effects] genuine hope: 5 But hope does not confound, because the love of God is diffused in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us. 6 Indeed Christ, when hitherto we had been weak, according to the season, he died for the ungodly. 7 Hardly for a just person does one indeed die; for a good one perhaps, one is bold enough to die. 8 But God commends his love to us: whereas when we were yet sinners, at an appropriate time, 9 Christ died for us. Much more therefore, being now justified in his blood, we are saved from wrath through him. 10 for if when were enemies, we are reconciled to God through the death of his son, we are much more saved, reconciled by his life. 11 Not only that, but we rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we now have received reconciliation.                          

12 Therefore as by one man sin entered into this world, and by sin, death, accordingly into all men death has gone, for all have sinned. 13 For until the law, sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. 14 Despite this, death reigned from Adam unto Moses, even upon them who had not sinned in the similarity of Adam’s transgression, who was the type of the one to come. 15 But not as the offence, so also the gift. For if by an offence of one many are dead, much more the gift of God, and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ abounds unto many. 16 And not as through one sin, as it also is said, the gift: but judgement which is by one unto condemnation; however, grace is of many offences unto justification. 17 For if by the offence of one death reigns through one, even more so, still, those who have received of the abundance of grace, and free gift, and justification will reign in life through the one Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore just as through the trespass of one all men [come] unto condemnation, thus by the righteousness of one all men [come] unto justification of life. 19 For as by the disobedience of one many are constituted sinners, so also through the obedience of one many are constituted righteous. 20 But the law intruded so that the offence might abound. Yet, where sin abounds, grace abounds abundantly 21 in order that sin might reign by death. In this way, grace reigns through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.

Darrell Sutton publishes poetry and technical studies on the Latin text of Manilius’ Astronomica, a 1st century AD treatise

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