From Paul, a slave of Jesus Messiah, called as an Emissary and set apart as a preacher of the Joyful News that God had announced earlier through his prophets in the holy writings, about his Son. A flesh and blood descendant of King David, he was installed in power as Son of God by God’s spirit through his resurrection from the dead. He is Jesus Messiah, our Lord. From him I have received kindness and the status of Emissary for his honour, to encourage trustful obedience amongst all peoples, amongst whom you are also called to belong to Jesus Messiah.
To all God’s loved ones in Rome, who are called to be holy, kindness to you and peace from God our father and the Lord Jesus Messiah!
First, I thank my God through Jesus Messiah for you all, because news of your trust has gone out to all the world; for God is my witness, to whom I give my spiritual service in the Joyful News of his Son, that at all times I remember you in my prayers, asking that by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, to give you some spiritual benefit that will strengthen you- I mean, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, yours and mine. I want you to know, my brothers and sisters, that I have often intended to come to you -but have been prevented until now- so that I could work fruitfully amongst you, as I have done amongst other peoples. To Greeks and barbarians, wise and unwise, I am under obligation, so for my part I am eager to announce the Joyful News to you in Rome as well.
I am shameless about the Joyful News, since it is the rescuing power of God for everyone who trusts in him, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For the saving justice of God is unveiled in it, from his trust to ours, as the scripture says, “The just will live by trust.” (Translated M Mair 2016)
Here is my own translation of Romans 1. I hope it reads like a human being writing to human beings, but I’m aware that my choice of vocabulary may raise questions with some readers, espeecially those who are familiar with other translations. So I’ll use this blog to defend my translation of keywords which will recurr in the letter.
Slave not servant: Even if a servant was highly educated, or skilled and well esteemed by his/ her master, he was legally a non- person, property of the owner. It seems right to translate it as slave unless there is reason to do otherwise.
Messiah not Christ. Originally Christ was recognised as the Greek translation of the Hebrew/ Aramaic term so keeping it in this form refuses to let it become Jesus’ surname. It insists on the Jewishness of Jesus and his significance as the prophesied leader of his people.
Emissary not apostle: We have apostle as solely a bible word, or with a meaning based in the bible usage. We have English words that specify its meaning, such as messenger and emissary. I prefer the latter is it gives a sense of the importance of this office and its connection with the Risen Jesus.
Joyful News not gospel or good news: The phrase comes from the Hebrew of the Old Testament, especially of Isaiah chapter 40, where the mebasheret is the herald of glad tidings (KJV), that is the one who brings news of victory in battle. The adoption of this concept and its application to the story of Jesus is the work of the first believers and would have had for Paul a real connection with Jesus as conqueror of evil and death.
Kindness not grace: the latter is a lovely word marred by its use as a tachnical term of theological warfare. It means an act of kindness and may have been known to Paul as a description of the sort of benefit conferred by a Greek “great man” on an inferior whom he wished to recruit. The origin of many of Paul’s terms in the Greek society of his time requires emphasis.
Trust/ trustful not faith/ faithful: In this case also, faith has become an almost technical term for religious belief and for what is believed. It does survive in the vocabulary of personal relationships, but I have chosen “trust”, as pointing to the primacy of personal confidence and allegiance in Paul’s usage, not only of human trust in God, but as in this passage, of God’s trust in human beings.
Saving justice not righteousness or uprightness: The word is used for both the personal quality of rightness , and for the declaration of rightness in a dispute. I think Paul uses it mainly in the second sense, following the description of God’s justice in the Hebrew bible as equity for those who have been deprived of it; a rescuing equity.
In context, the bible quotation, ” the just will live by trust” means that the just person will live by her trust in God which is a response to God’s trust in her.