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Miracles Do Happen - Mondays with Mounce

Who Condemns? (Romans 8:34)

There is a peculiar change in the 2011 NIV. The 1984 says, “Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” The 2011 edition begins the verse, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one.” Where does the “no one” come from? Not the Greek.

I have not come across many places like this in the NIV where a whole phrase is added without any Greek warrant, but as always, there must be a reason.

As written, Paul’s question is open-ended and rhetorically powerful. There is no question that Paul expects the reader to answer, “no one.” Let’s follow the flow of thought, starting three verses earlier.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (8:31–33).

God is for us. He gave his Son. He justifies us. There is no one who can counter who He is and what He has done.

In the two verses following ours, Paul continues with the rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Notice that in v 37, almost all translations translate the initial ἀλλ᾽ in v 37 as “No,” answering the question. But why then add “no one” in v 34 (as does the NLT)?

Note that it does not change the meaning of the Greek in the least. It clearly is the answer that Paul is expecting on the lips of his readers, and one that he makes explicit in v 37. I can only assume that the committee was concerned that the open-ended question might be confusing. Perhaps someone who read “Who then is the one who condemns?” and assume that there is in fact someone who can condemn. Translation committees are notoriously paranoid about miscommunication. These are the words of God, and we never want our choice of words to give people the wrong impression.

Thankfully, there is no one. (1) Christ Jesus died, and our sin is forgiven. (2) Jesus was raised to life, proving his victory. (3) He is at the right hand of God, the hand of power. (4) Jesus is also interceding for us. There is no one who can condemn us, and no one who can separate us from his love.

No one!

Photo by Matt Duncan on http://www.unsplash.com

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