My Translation of Romans 11

[UPDATE: I hope to amend and improve this translation as time goes by. The original is preserved in my archives.]

For my final project in my Greek class, I had to translate Romans 11. Here is the final result:
I ask, then: Has God driven His people away? Absolutely not! For I myself am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God has not driven His people away, whom He foreknew.

Or do you not know what the Scripture says about Elijah? As he appealed to God against Israel, 'Lord, they have killed Your prophets, destroyed Your altars, and I alone have been left behind – and they seek my life as well!' But what is God's response to him? "I have left behind to Myself seven thousand men, whose knees have not bowed to Baal."

In this way, then, there has come to be at this very time a remnant according to the choice of grace: and if by means of grace, then no longer from works, or else grace would no longer be grace.

What then? That which Israel sought, it did not obtain, but the chosen did. The rest were hardened, just as it is written, 'God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that cannot see, and ears that cannot hear, up until this very day.' And David says, 'Let their table be a snare and a trap and a stumbling block and a retribution to them; let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and let the south wind bend them forever.'

I ask, then: Did they stumble in order that they might fall? Absolutely not! But what is a lapse to them is salvation to the Gentiles, in order to provoke jealousy in Israel. And if their lapse is riches to the world and their loss riches to the Gentiles, how much greater will their fullness be!

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch, then, as I myself am an apostle to the Gentiles, I extol my ministry, if I may in that manner provoke some of my kin to jealousy and save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what is their acceptance if not life from the dead?

If the firstfruits of the dough are holy, so also is the entire batch; if the root is holy, so also are the branches. If some of the branches were cut off, you of the wild olive tree who were grafted into them and became partners of the nourishing roots of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

You will say, then: 'The branches were cut off in order that I could be grafted in.' Very well! They were cut off because of their faithlessness, but you have stood because of your faith. Do not, however, think yourselves exalted, but be afraid – for if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.

Behold, then, the kindness and strictness of God: strictness to the fallen, but God's kindness to you, if you remain in kindness. Otherwise you too will fall. And even they, if they do not remain in faithlessness, will be grafted in – for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from olive tree that is wild by nature and grafted into the cultivated olive tree contrary to nature, how much more will these natural branches be grafted into their own tree!

For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you will not be wise in your own eyes: A hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. And so all Israel will be saved, just as it is written: 'Out of Zion will come a deliverer; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this will be My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'

According to the gospel, they are enemies for your sake; according to the choice, however, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers, for God's gifts and call are irrevocable. For just as you were once disobedient to God but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, so too they now have disobeyed in order that by the mercy given to you they too may now receive mercy. For God shut up all men in disobedience so that he might have mercy on them all.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has given to Him first, and been repaid by Him? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things; to Him be glory into the ages! Amen."


Communion: April 25, 2010

"Hi. My name is Joseph Porter, and I am a sophomore here at Harvard. This is the time in our service when we celebrate what is called Communion, the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist. It is our time to remember Jesus Christ.

Oftentimes, we can think that the purpose of Communion is primarily to remember the cross – and indeed, Christianity is empty without the cross. But I do not believe that Jesus instituted Communion only so that we would remember the cross, because I do not think that the cross can be truly understood in isolation.

Christianity, as I said, is empty without the cross – but the cross is empty without the Resurrection. In 1 Corinthians 15.14, Paul writes, '[I]f Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.' And again, in v. 17: 'If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.' Paul’s point is striking: If Jesus has not been raised from the dead -
even if he died on the cross – our faith is in vain. If Jesus has not been raised from the dead – even if he died on the cross – we have no hope of a new life, of citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Salvation is found not in the God who died, but in the God who died and rose again.

As Christians, it can be easy for us to focus only on the cross or only on the Resurrection, forgetting that each depends upon and completes the other. When we focus only on the cross, we can make Christianity a guilt trip. 'Look at your sin! Look at what you did to him! Look at what he had to do for you!' We can forget that the true climax of Jesus’ time on Earth was not his death, but his
victory over death and over the grave.

On the other hand, when we focus only on the Resurrection, we can lose sight of the fact that God’s grace is not cheap – that we were bought at a price (1 Corinthians 7.23). We can think, 'God loves us, regardless of who we are!' That is true, but we were called to take up our
own crosses and to follow Jesus, to be united with him in death so that we could be united with him in a new life. Salvation required sacrifice on Jesus’ part, and it requires sacrifice on our part as well – sacrifice of time, money, ambition, and sin. Simply put: Just as the cross is meaningless without the Resurrection, the Resurrection is impossible without the cross. To focus on one and not the other is to distort the gospel. We desperately need both.

We are about to partake of the bread and fruit of the vine in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fruit of the vine represents Jesus’ blood shed on the cross – but it also represents the blood that flowed through his veins when he rose from the dead on the third day. The bread represents Jesus’ body hanging on the tree – but it also represents his resurrected body, which ensures that we too can be resurrected.

This is the beauty of Jesus Christ, the beauty I have found nowhere else. It is the beauty of strength in weakness, of life in death, of victory in defeat – of Resurrection in the cross. 'The punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed' (Isaiah 53.5b).

As 1 Corinthians 11.26 tells us, whenever we eat the bread and the drink the cup, we proclaim Jesus’ death until he comes. It is not without reason that we take time every Sunday to meditate upon the cross. But the cross is a triumphant cross only because it anticipates the Resurrection. And so I ask you: As you eat the bread and drink the cup, remember Jesus in his entirety. Remember the life he led, the life he gave up, and the life he regained. Do this in remembrance of him."


Fish Tank Post: Infant Baptism and Covenant


Believe It or Not

My favorite parts:
"The most venerable metaphysical claims about God ... start ... from the fairly elementary observation that nothing contingent, composite, finite, temporal, complex, and mutable can account for its own existence, and that even an infinite series of such things can never be the source or ground of its own being, but must depend on some source of actuality beyond itself."
"It is not logically requisite for anyone, on observing that contingent reality must depend on absolute reality, to say then what the absolute depends on...."
"Above all, Nietzsche understood how immense the consequences of the rise of Christianity had been, and how immense the consequences of its decline would be as well, and had the intelligence to know he could not fall back on polite moral certitudes to which he no longer had any right. [...] He understood also that the death of God beyond us is the death of the human as such within us."
(Hat tip to RGD.)


Ichthus Article: Façades

What Is Original Sin?

Given my recent post on the matter, I've been thinking a lot about original sin and talking about it with different people. I've been a bit a frustrated by the vagueness of the doctrine. One friend told me that he never thought original sin implied (for example) the guiltiness of infants, but that it had something to do with the sinful nature or fallenness of mankind. I've heard different people suggest similar understandings of original sin.

Call such an understanding a "weak" view of original sin. A couple thoughts about the weak view:

1. No one I know of claims that Jesus was born with the stain of original sin. (I may not think that Mary was immaculately conceived, but I certainly think that Jesus was!) But Jesus was tempted, so he must have had a sinful nature in some sense...right? (Remember that what the NIV translates "sinful nature" literally means "flesh" - and Jesus clearly had flesh.) So it seems that, under the weak view of original sin, Jesus was born with the stain of original sin. But that is problematic.

2. Does anyone really dispute that we are born predisposed to sin or with sinful natures? And, if not, is the difference between proponents of a weak view of original sin and opponents of original sin just a semantic one?


Fish Tank Post: Infant Baptism and Original Sin


A Resurrection That Matters

Reply to Evan Fales: On the Empty Tomb of Jesus


Fish Tank Post: The Man on the Cross