The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Translation of Romans 3 22

I’ve a request for anyone who has a knowledge of Koine Greek.
I am perplexed by Romans Ch3 v 22. It is translated in such a varied manner as to give radically different meanings. I would appreciate some input as to what the unbiased and correct translation should be. I would naturally tag Jason and Paidion but I don’t know how folks do that.

I was actually considering starting a thread on this passage (specifically vv. 21-26, but possibly including chapter four as well, as part of the atonement threads we’ve had recently). It might end up evolving into this anyway.

I might be able to offer a very small understanding of this verse, though I don’t really have that much knowledge about Greek.

This verse tends to get roughly translated like this - that the righteousness of God is given through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. To be honest, I find that translation a little bizarre. I don’t think it has that much relevance considering the context of what Paul is talking about in the previous verse and I think it’s adding theological assumptions into the original Greek.

I think a more literal summary (and as far as I can see, a better translation) is that the righteousness of God is displayed (as was the point that was being made in verse 21) through the faith of (rather than in) Jesus Christ towards all those who believing. So whereas the first translation is an implied imputation, where we get given the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus, the second translation seems to be much more relevant to the context as in verse 21 - that those who are believing can see the righteousness of God displayed in the faith of Jesus.

I might be wrong though. I’ll tag [tag]JasonPratt[/tag] and [tag]Paidion[/tag] for you (and also for me because I’m quite interested in this passage).

John, to tag someone, you use the “tag” tag at the top of your reply window. It’s the last one on the right, so it’s easy to find. Between the “tag” tags, you just put the person’s user name. The tricky part is that you have to do it exactly the way it’s entered in the system. (As presented below their icons when they make a post) I tag Jason and Paidion so often though, that I remember those two. :wink:


As everyone knows, I’m no Greek scholar, but for general information and any help it may be, here is the Jonathan Mitchel NT version:

And the exeGesis Ready Research Bible:

The Concordant Literal Version:

And finally the Revised Youngs Literal Translation:

(Mainly just because these can be kind of hard to find, and I happen to have them on my E-Sword program.)

I agree with Jonny, the missing/presumed verb in verse 22 is “displayed” or “manifested” in verse 21. Or it might possibly be “testified”. More on that in a minute.

The Greek of verse 22 is pretty stable in transmission with only one notable variation, which when you see it will explain why some of the translations read one way or the other way or both ways!

{dikaiosunê} == fair-togetherness (or if you insist, just/fair-much-emphasis-based-on-together-as-an-archaic-suffix-quality :wink: ), righteousness, justice

{de} = minor conjunction, printed post-positively, but conceptually begins the new clause; “justice” is fronted in the clause for emphasis

{theou} = of God

[dia} = through, could be physically/temporally or by reason/causation

{pisteôs} = faith / trust

{Iêsou Christou} = normally this would be “of Jesus Christ”; [u]sometimes this can be something other than a genitive, though. Paidion more likely will remember the rules about that. Even if it means “of JC”, it isn’t impossible it could refer to a type or kind of faith, like we would say “Declaration of Independence”: the Independence isn’t doing the Declaration, nor does the Declaration belong to the Independence.

Contextually if the missing implied verb is {pephanerôtai}, or even {marturourmenê}, from back in verse 21, the meaning of the suffix {-ou} for Jesus Christ would certainly be possessive: what belongs to Jesus Christ or what Jesus Christ does / did. Certainly the subsequent context talks about salvation being an action of grace provided though (the action of) the redemption in Jesus Christ whom God displayed as a propitiation {hilastêrion} through the faith in the blood of him (more literally “in that of his, blood,” {en t(i)ô autou haimati) which demonstrates His righteousness at the present time that He may be just and be the justifier of the one who (is) from faith of Jesus.

And tracing out to the end of the sentence there at verse 26, you can see why translators might want to put a verb about people being given faith in verse 22. That last set of prepositional phrases isn’t easy to translate and one way or another does refer to those who have faith in Jesus given by Jesus.

The propitiation, meanwhile, is displayed (v.25) publicly, which isn’t at all the same word for display back in verse 21 – where that term is more closely related to the idea of the presence of God showing Himself – but the ideas are related and certainly Jesus (and God) is the one doing the public display in either case. How was the propitiation displayed? The grammar there gets a little squirrely again, but since Jesus on the cross is obviously the topic the answer as far as I can tell would be, “the propitiation was (and still is) displayed through the faith of his, in that which is his, namely his blood”. In other words, the propitiation was displayed through the faithfulness of Jesus in giving His own blood on the cross (which is certainly not a theme foreign to Paul nearby in Romans! :wink: )

Anyway, after [dia pisteôs Iêsou Christou}, verse 22 continues with:

{eis pantas} or {epi pantas} or {eis pantas and epi pantas} = in all, or on/above all, or in all [u]and on all. This is the main textual question of the verse. The earliest direct texts read only “in”, and they have a wide spread; and not many texts read only “on”; but a respectably wide set of texts, including early witnesses outside the text (like Origen), read both, which probably testifies that “on all” or “above all” {epi pantas} was a lot more widespread as a textual variant in early texts which we don’t have anymore.

{tous pisteountas} = the ones believing, accusative form

{ou gar estin diastolê} = for not is a distinction (for there is not a distinction)

I have to do a business meeting soon, but that may be enough for some interesting discussion. :slight_smile:

Thank you Jason. In picking out the above quote I am not wanting to erase or ignore your other comments but to get at the kernel of what is bothering me.
I have two questions:
Am I right in saying that you believe that the best interpretation is that the genitive suffix is possessive so our salvation is due to the faith(fullness) of Jesus and that faith(fullness of Jesus) found in Jesus’ blood? And am I right in then saying that you also express understanding in why SOME have translated it differently (ie our faith IN Jesus in verse 22) because they see the ‘faith IN Jesus’ thought expressed in those later prepositional phrases?

  1. Regarding the end of verse 22 and beginning of 23: “to all, and upon all those believing, for there is no distinction, for all did sin”
    With the phrase ‘for all did sin’ implying that the ‘all’ is truly universal (ie the whole of humanity) am I right in believing that Paul is saying in v22b:
    “to the whole of humanity, and upon all those believing”?
    If so, then am I correct in interpreting that phrase to mean that God’s righteousness is given to the whole of humanity, and is upon all those believing?
    Or, alternatively, is Paul saying that God’s righteousness is given to all (those believing) and upon all those believing?

I will give an interlinear translation to the best of my ability. The Greek word “δε” was always placed second in a sentence or phrase, though we must read it as the first word. The word is translated in many different ways: “but” or “and” is the most usual. But also “that is”, and “now” in the sense of “Now I want to tell you…”

**21 νυνι δε—χωρις νομου δικαιοσυνη----θεος—πεφανερωται— μαρτυρουμενη—υπο του νομου και των προπητων
21 now but without law–righteousness of God was manifested being witnessed by—the law— and the prophets

22 δικαιοσυνη----δε------θεου—δια------πιστεως ιησου----χριστου εις παντας τους------πιστευοντας
22 righteousness that is of God through faith—of Jesus Messiah into all-------the ones trusting **

Here is how I would translate it:

But now without [the] law, [the] righteousness of God was manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets——that is, [the] righteousness of God through [the] faith of Jesus Messiah into all the ones trusting.

Here is my interpretation:

Verse 20 states that “through the law no flesh will be made righteous in His sight.” That is, through self-effort in trying to keep the Mosaic law, no one can become truly righteous. Rather one can become truly righteous through faith in Jesus the Messiah. This righteousness has its origin in God, but we must coöperate with God in order to make it ours. This righteousness will not come into us by God’s sovereign action, while sit back, dormant. Nor can we produce this righteousness by self-effort alone. But “working together with Him” (2 Cor 6:1), we can become righteous. God makes it possible by His enabling grace, and we appropriate it by our coöperation with Him.

Thank you Paidion
You have certainly pointed out to me that I needed to be more precise in my question. I believe that you have translated some of v22 using Wescott-Hort, but the Majority Text has a little more in the Greek text namely:
και επι παντας
-and this is crucial to my enquiry (my bad)

I have three questions following your kind response

  1. I believe that even WH+ does not finish where you have finished , it goes on to say:
    ου γαρ εστιν διαστολη

Could you please incorporate this into your interpretation because I do not (at present) see how it would fit in?

  1. I assume Paul could have written ‘faith IN Jesus’ (in verse 22a) rather than ‘faith of Jesus’.Why do you think Paul chose not to do this, do you think the ‘faith OF Jesus’ has any significance because (and forgive me if I am wrong) I don’t see it has any significance if your interpretation is correct?

  2. v23 immediately starts (as a continuation) ‘for ALL have sinned’ - does this, to you, seem to refer back to an ‘all’ in verse 22 and if so, once again, does this have any bearing on how we might interpret 22?

P.S. Do you generally believe that WH is more reliable than Majority Text and why?

…yes? I think the answer is yes. :slight_smile:

The blood would be the display of the faithfulness of Jesus giving it on the cross.

I am however very interested in cross-checking with Paidion on the grammatic issues here. I know sometimes {-ou} suffixes don’t always refer to possessives, though I think the context here confirms it.

I didn’t really get into that, partly because I had a business meeting, and partly because that’s a whole other difficult grammatic ball of wax to unsnarl.

I’m sure Paul argues later what you’re asking about here: Christ’s victorious triumph in bringing “all” and “many” to righteousness must at least meet or exceed whoever fell in “all” and “many” sinned. I’m not at all sure Paul is making that argument yet back here in (what we call) chapter 3. At the moment I lean more toward “without distinction” referring to Jews and Gentiles broadly, Jews being no more inherently righteous and no less in need of God’s salvation from sin than Gentiles (also thus trying to smooth over tensions between Jews and Gentiles in the Roman congregation). This was Paul’s topic earlier in chapter 3, and I think he’s still doing that here.

Obviously there would still be connections between that idea and Paul’s much more emphatic insistences in chapter 5 about how far the reconciliation and salvation of Christ goes, how wide the scope and how sure the victory.

The Majority Text agrees with the majority of texts, but this is not an appropriate way to determine what was likely to be the original text, since most of these texts are from much later centuries. Textus receptus also includes και επι παντας.
But the earliest extant text containing verse 22 is papyrus 40 which dates from the third century (in the 200s). It does not contain και επι παντας.
Nor do the most reliable uncials: Sinaiticus 4th century, Alexandrinus 5th century, and Vaticanus 4th century as well as other uncials.

Those uncials which DO contain και επι παντας are D 6th century, G 9th century, and K 9th century, and many more late uncials.

I didn’t quote that phrase since it belongs to the verses following.

For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are made righteous by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Messiah Jesus, whom God put forward as a means of mercy by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

Paul had been contrasting attempts to be righteous through trying to keep the law of Moses, with obtaining actual practising righteousness through faith in Messiah Jesus. There is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles under the new covenant. It is through faith that we appropriate the enabling grace of God made available through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Prior to Messiah’s death, God passed over the sins of the Hebrews when they offered sacrifices. He didn’t want sacrifices, but He received them as a concession and overlooked their sins. But after Messiah Jesus died to deliver people from their sins, things changed. No longer does God overlook sins but now commands all people everywhere to repent. (Acts 17:30). God’s dealing with sins dramatically changed under the New Covenant.

Thank you Paidion. You and Jason have been a great help.

You and I did well too, Cindy :wink: :smiley: Our tagging of Paidion and Jason was flawless :laughing:

:laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Going back a minute as a reminder: there are in fact early witnesses to {epi} and {eis} together (not {epi} alone) in patristic writing contemporary with pap40 and the early unicals – though naturally this could be an artifact of their own textual transmission processes! But the Nestle/UBS apparatus generally accepts that, so far as we can tell (from pauce materials relative to the preponderance of NT materials), the use of both prepositions did originally occur that early in some Fathers (Origen for example).

This might explain on one hand why later Greek unicals (and miniscules) started using both prepositions on a fairly regular basis (following ancient commentary); and might on the other hand be a witness to lost variants (with both prepositions or only {epi}) prevalent enough at the time that the commentors harmonized the two variants in their own work. We only have a few of the hundreds of copies which had to have existed before the 4th c after all; though of course the proper conclusion to draw based on what survives, and checking the spread (into the 300s and 400s, and into other languages) after the earliest surviving witnesses, is to go with {eis} alone.

In regard to the Majority text: that’s basically a technical shorthand for the thousands of texts surviving from the high middle age onward where those texts conform (with minor variations of course) to a standardization program instituted by Eastern Orthodox authorities, compared to some other equally late Greek texts dating up through, say, the 1300s, which have some kind of significant difference from the standardization project. Thus the group used to have a fancy “B” sigil (for Byzantine) but that led to confusion with the Byzantine text family, so a few decades ago text scholars agreed to change the designation to a fancy “M” sigil (for Majority).

It’s an important textual witness in its own right, but because of the standardization project which imposed authoritative wordings (a perfectly reasonable action within the EOx notion of infallible transmission responsibility), the whole set tends to be treated as one witness.

One upshot is that today there are three main sets of Greek textual compilations: the Nestle-Aland/UBS (which in effect compiles Westcott-Hort and some other older projects, with updates every once in a while); the Textus Receptus (behind the King James/Authorized Version, which I’m not sure gets updated much, maybe a little, and which due to the lateness of some of its Greek sources has affinities with the Majority); and the Majority Text (the officially sanctioned source for Eastern Orthodox Bibles).

The differences between them aren’t terribly important, fortunately. :slight_smile: Partly because the N-A/UBS does include the M set as a critical source in its own right.

I don’t understand. We have an Eastern Orthodox Bible. The Old Testament was translated from the Septuagint, and the New Testament is simply the NKJV.

By the way, what do you think of the Greek New Testament edited by Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger, and Allen Wikgren?

Haven’t seen it yet, but it isn’t one of the three big “source” NTs.

An M critical edition, of which there have been several since the very early 1900s, would use a more widespread sample of the late Byzantine text form, compared to the Textus Receptus, from long after Constantinople and (later) the See of Antioch began standardization efforts. Poking around a bit, there are studies indicating 1800+ differences (almost entirely trivial as you might guess) between the TR and a critically reconstructed post-standardization Majority text – the EOx still don’t use a critical reconstruction because the printing press helped lock in their standardizations to the point of minimizing future variants. [Edited to correct: actually the Constantinople Patriarch did authorize, in 1904, a standard Greek NT text from over 110 late pre-press Majority text editions in influential usage. This compilation counts 2000 variations compared to the Textus Receptus. Thanks to Geoffrey below.]

In practice, the way this works out in the N-A/USB is that early “Byzantine” form texts get referenced individually as witnesses in the apparatus for various readings, as do highly distinct copies (for whatever reason) dating into the period of the standardization effort, while the vast majority of late Byzantine texts, which feature a high uniformity, are represented by “Byz” or fancy-B or fancy-K (for Koine, in this case referring to the common standardization efforts not to an informal trading or street Greek of the New Testament era) or fancy-M.

However, the UBS / Nestle-Aland editions, don’t take a position on which theory (or theories) best explain the increasing uniform quality of the copies through what we might call the early and high Middle Ages. So technically fancy-M refers to all-known-Greek-texts-other-than-the-ones-we-happen-to-be-mentioning-right-now-otherwise. :wink: But that happens to be standardizing Byzantine texts from the 1000s (11th century) onward. (There is evidence the standardization efforts go back to Constantine himself, but the effects don’t become so solidly noticeable in surviving copies until around then.) But not all Byzantine texts, just those really (when fancy-M is mentioned), because earlier texts are so relatively rare they count as distinct witnesses.

However (again)(inhale!), when M or Byz (I notice the N-A seems to have gone back to Byz again in the 28th edition) isn’t mentioned, then it is supposed to really stand for all-known-Greek-copies-even-early-ones-other-than-ones-we’re-currently-mentioning-as-examples-whether-or-not-the-form-is-Byzantine. Thus the attempt at shifting over to “Majority” instead of “Byzantine” to avoid confusion with necessary reference to a particular broad type.

If we’re back to “Byz” now (or fancy-B… apparently not fancy-K?), my guess is because in practice even the early Greek texts witnessing among the majority turn out to be in the large Byzantine family instead of Alexandrian or Caesarian or whatever. And after all, it still happens that in practice if the editors think the majority witness has to be mentioned, that’s going to overwhelmingly represent the standardization project materials, since earlier and idiosyncratic-late Byz texts are so singly important they’re likely to be mentioned as individual support for a variant.

Anyway. :slight_smile: To be fair, there’s another quite different theory for the increasing uniformity of the Majority/Byzantine textform, though it isn’t exclusive to the standardization efforts: the Byzantine represents an earlier less corrupted text form which due to geographical issues (including climate) couldn’t and didn’t survive to the present day in early centuries as well as the Alexandrian and other less important text forms. But when the first steps at standardization started with Constantine, and even down to more aggressive preservation operations in the face of the first major Muslim invasions, a significantly large swatch of those early texts did still exist and could be used as exemplars in pre-modern text critical project. From there the purified text was kept largely standardized until the proliferation of printing presses made that mechanically much easier.

This, as you might expect, is a relatively popular theory among people expecting God to preserve a least-problematical text form (and who know better than to go looking to the TR for that feature!), although the theory doesn’t rely on that as an expectation.

I’ll tag [tag]Geoffrey[/tag] if I can (maybe [tag]akimel[/tag], too?) and see if they or other of our EOx members can shed more light on how the Orthodox use the Majority text today.

I note in passing that the NKJV (if we’re talking about the one from the late 70s early 80s?) does rely on the Textus Receptus for its New Testament material with some editions showing variations from the Nestle-Aland/UBS (noted as NU) and/or the Majority text in sidenotes or footnotes. Why an Eastern Orthodox Bible would be using the TR (with its history of Latin supplementation) instead of a Byzantine text edition, I have no clear idea, though obviously the types are going to usually be similar. Maybe because the Executive Editor actually does prefer the Majority text and says that the intention of the editors was not to promote one of the three main-source-compilation readings as superior (though naturally the main translation follows only one for consistency, the traditional TR) but to allow readers to make up their own minds. An EOx archbishop could say, okay, in that case, check the margins and where it provides an alternate M reading go with that, boom you have a Majority text translation. :mrgreen: :ugeek: But that’s purely a wild-ass guess.

Caveat: God alone knows what’s actually going on in each individual Orthodox parish in regards to the versions/translations of Scriptural texts they read aloud during liturgy. I can only imagine.

That said, here is the Greek text published by the Patriarch of New Rome in 1904 that is supposed to be used (either in the original Greek for those fortunate enough to be Greek speakers, or as the text to be translated for those of us who speak another language):

Here is a short English summary of the preface to the 1904 text of the New Testament of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of New Rome (Constantinople):

The summary basically says that the 1904 text was assembled from the texts used in 116 different Orthodox churches and monasteries. These aren’t ancient texts, but rather texts less than 1,000 years old. We Orthodox believe that it doesn’t take too much faith to suppose that the Orthodox Greek world has over the centuries preserved accurate Greek texts. We do not think one will find more accurate readings elsewhere.

As for the Old Testament, we use the Septuagint.

I hope that helps. If not, let me know, and I’ll try to do better. :slight_smile:

I find these posts fascinating even if I can only understand half of what is being said.
The following particularly struck me as interesting:

If I might ask, when a situation such as the “και επι παντας” is discovered, then a scribe has either mistakenly omitted or an added to the text. Assuming this was a genuine error, which is seen to be more likely?

Assuming genuine error, it is far more likely to accidentally omit something than to add something. One can experience this in day-to-day life. For example, when writing down a business’s contact information (name, address, email, web address, phone, fax, etc.), isn’t it rather common to forget to copy down part of it? (“Blast! I didn’t get the fax number!”) But it is vanishingly rare to add something. (‘Hey! Look at this. I wrote “the Queen of England” in the middle of the contact information for Barnes & Noble.’)

You’ve confirmed what I thought Geoffrey. Neither am I sure that our most accurate text must be the oldest. We do not have the original autographs and it seems to me quite possible that some later (more recent) manuscripts may be more accurate because they were copied from a far earlier source no-longer extant.