Romans 16:25-26: evaluating accuracy

Read the following translations of Romans 16:25, 26. Pay special attention to the last few words of the verses. Then comment on which wordings of the end of the verses you consider to communicate the biblical meaning most accurately and which you consider to do so less accurately. Feel free to explain your choices.

1. Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith

2. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith

3. Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith

4. Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith

5. Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith

6. Now to Him who has power to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the sacred secret kept silent for long ages, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic Scriptures, according to the command of the eternal God, to advance the obedience of faith among all nations

7. To him who has power to make you stand firm, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of that divine secret kept in silence for long ages but now disclosed, and by the eternal God’s command made known to all nations through prophetic scriptures, to bring them to faith and obedience

8. Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him

9. Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to faith and obedience

10. And now to him who can make you strong in accordance with the gospel that I preach and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, in accordance with that mystery  which for endless ages was kept secret but now (as the prophets wrote) is revealed, as the eternal God commanded, to be made known to all the nations, so that they obey in faith

11. Now to the one who is able to strengthen you with my gospel and the message that I preach about Jesus, the Messiah, by revealing the secret that was kept hidden from long ago but now has been made known through the prophets to all the gentiles, in keeping with the decree of the eternal God to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith

12. Let us give glory to God! He is able to make you stand firm in your faith, according to the Good News I preach about Jesus Christ and according to the revelation of the secret truth which was hidden for long ages in the past. Now, however, that truth has been brought out into the open through the writings of the prophets; and by the command of the eternal God it is made known to all nations, so that all may believe and obey.

13. Praise God! He can make you strong by means of my good news, which is the message about Jesus Christ. For ages and ages this message was kept secret, but now at last it has been told. The eternal God commanded his prophets to write about the good news, so that all nations would obey and have faith.

14. God can strengthen you by the Good News and the message I tell about Jesus Christ. He can strengthen you by revealing the mystery that was kept in silence for a very long time but now is publicly known. The everlasting God ordered that what the prophets wrote must be shown to the people of every nation to bring them to the obedience that is associated with faith.

15. Now all glory to God, who is able to make you strong, just as my Good News says. This message about Jesus Christ has revealed his plan for you Gentiles, a plan kept secret from the beginning of time. But now as the prophets foretold and as the eternal God has commanded, this message is made known to all Gentiles everywhere, so that they too might believe and obey him.

16. Now to him who is able to make you strong in agreement with the good news which I gave you and the preaching of Jesus Christ, in the light of the revelation of that secret which has been kept through times eternal, But is now made clear; and by the writings of the prophets, by the order of the eternal God, the knowledge of it has been given to all the nations, so that they may come under the rule of the faith

17. All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter.

7 thoughts on “Romans 16:25-26: evaluating accuracy

  1. J. K. Gayle says:

    Wayne,
    When you say “the biblical meaning most accurately” – are you speaking about “accuracy”

    with respect to Paul’s Greek (among Jews and Greeks and Romans of the 1st century Mediterranean)

    or to a majority’s “normal” English somewhere today (i.e., the UK or the USA / Canada or Australia / New Zealand or India)?

  2. Wayne Leman says:

    Hi Kurk,

    Here’s the relevant part of instruction for this exercise:

    “Then comment on which wordings of the end of the verses you consider to communicate the biblical meaning most accurately and which you consider to do so less accurately.”

    As far as I can understand your question, my intended (perhaps not accurately communicated!) answer, based on that instruction, would be “yes” to both parts of your question:

    1. authorial intent: the meaning Paul intended when he (through his secretary) wrote what he did in the dialect of Greek which he spoke and assume his audience to understand as he did

    2. target audience understanding of the English used to translate that original biblical text meaning; meaning, as you well know, does not exist in a vacuum. Words have no meanings unless they are assigned meaning by speakers of a language. If speakers of a language get a different meaning from a wording in a translation from the meaning intended by the translators and the original author, then that translation has not accurately *communicated* the original meaning to that audience.

  3. Ammie says:

    i have found the series on bible translations by gail riplinger to be very helpful in helping myself choose which bible better suits me. there are many ways to say the same thing, and you can say the same thing with many other meanings. so i could not focus on the end of the verses with out also focusing on the beginning of each of the verses. here’s how i read it:
    1. Now to him …
    …made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.
    2. Now to Him …
    …for obedience to the faith.
    3. Now to him …
    … to bring about the obedience of faith.
    4. Now to Him …
    … leading to obedience of faith.
    5. Now to Him …
    … to bring about the obedience of faith.
    6. Now to Him…
    … to advance the obedience of faith among all nations.
    7. To him …
    … to bring them to faith and obedience.
    8. Now to him …
    … so that all nations might believe and obey him.
    9. Now to him …
    … so that all the Gentiles might come to faith and obedience.
    10. And now to him …
    …so that they obey in faith.
    11. Now to the one …
    …in keeping with the decree of the eternal God to bring them to the obedience that springs from faith.
    12. Let us give glory to God!…
    … so that all may believe and obey.
    13. Praise God! …
    … so that all nations would obey and have faith.
    14. God can strengthen you …
    … The everlasting God ordered that what the prophets wrote must be shown to the people of every nation to bring them to the obedience that is associated with faith.
    15. Now all glory to God…
    … so that they too might believe and obey him.
    16. Now to him …
    … so that they may come under the rule of the faith.
    17. All of our praise rises …
    … down to the very last letter.

    after reading the intro to the first scripture and the ending to the last scripture… i would stick with the first set of verses. i noticed that some of them had “him” with a capitol h (Him) that is giving the man who is preaching the gospel the same recognition or respect as one would give to God. Him in the bible is only capitalized when speaking of God, as well as well as the beginning of a sentence which is only proper grammer.

  4. Bob MacDonald says:

    Wayne – both these posts are interesting – though my eye gets tired after 7 recurrences!

    Romans is critical to understanding and to understand. If I pick up just two three-word phrases – first one that is in my biased heart – ‘hearing over explanation’ and then Paul’s ‘obedience of faith’.

    Whatever the translator did with this closing bracket – if it failed to match the opening bracket – it failed. (The opening bracket is in Romans 1:5 of course.)

    Understanding is good – but if it comes without hearing it too fails. So a better Bible must seek to stimulate hearing first – then understanding will follow – for to hear is to do. (cf Moses – we will do it and then we will understand – Exodus 24:7 – curiously this faulty memory of mine is corrected by the two word phrase in Hebrew נַעֲשֶׂה וְנִשְׁמָע n`aseh venishemah we will do it and we will hear = obey)

    Of course I love of – so I prefer the ambiguous genitive – it prods.

  5. Nathan Smith says:

    First off, a suggestion: it would be helpful to post the Greek text as well for easy reference.

    With respect to the Greek text, I would agree with those translations in which “all the nations” is the indirect object of the revelation, though it may also be the subject of “obedience of faith” as in #10. As for English style, “obedience of faith” is delightfully ambiguous, but it makes little sense in English, so I prefer those translations which qualify the genitive more explicitly (e.g. 2 and 16). 14 is pretty bad, IMO. It is interesting that 7-9, 12, 13, and 15 all take faith and obedience separately – “obedience and faith.”

  6. Richie says:

    I also think that “obedience of faith” is “delightfully ambiguous”. However, after studying commentaries on Romans for the last 20 years on this phrase in both Rom. 1:5 and 16:26 it seems that it is better left as being ambiguous. There is little agreement amongst the most knowledgeable NT scholars as to what the precise meaning is in these particular verses. There are at least three equally good options. An argument can be made that it is better to choose one of them so as to produce clearer English but it seems to me that ambiguity is sometimes the best option when certainty of meaning cannot be attained.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s