One massive sentence kicks off the letter-book of Romans. It's power-packed. There is enough in the first sentence to support a lifetime of life-change. I'm tempted to spend 1 post per phrase… but I feel like I'd lose most of you in the process… and I'd never get through studying Romans this summer.
The first sentence is seven verses long. Remember that Paul didn't write with superscripted numbers in front of "verses"… Paul simply wrote a well-thought-out letter. (Verses were a later addition to help us find things easier… a technique that perhaps has inadvertantly helped us not actually read the Bible! This is one reason Eugene Peterson avoided using "verses" in his original Message translations.)
So our English translations don't quite know what to do with this first sentence. Most translations usually divide them into several sentences (e.g. NLT = 7 verses; NIV = 4; NKJV = only 2 but with numerous colons and semi-colons). Here's what it looks like in Greek – with spaces between the words and commas added:
Παῦλος δοῦλος Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ, κλητὸς ἀπόστολος, ἀφωρισμένος εἰς εὐαγγέλιον θεοῦ, ὃ προεπηγγείλατο διὰ τῶν προφητῶν αὐτοῦ ἐν γραφαῖς ἁγίαις, περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ κατὰ σάρκα, τοῦ ὁρισθέντος υἱοῦ θεοῦ ἐν δυνάμει κατὰ πνεῦμα ἁγιωσύνης ἐξ ἀναστάσεως νεκρῶν, Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν, δι' οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσιν τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ, ἐν οἷς ἐστε καὶ ὑμεῖς κλητοὶ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ, κλητοῖς ἁγίοις: χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.
The NASB actually restrains itself and translates this in only 1 sentence, but the result is a very clunky reading in English. We need a diagram or something to help our feeble minds keep track of the incredible comments of Romans 1:1-7 ~ Perhaps this will help walk us through it a bit…
So, have a look at this first sentence of Romans… Imagine you've never read it before… and think about starting a journal to take notes as we go through this study this summer:
- What stands out to you?
- How does Paul describe himself?
- Who is he writing to?
- What themes is Paul introducing? Any common words or ideas?
- How does Paul summarize the "gospel"?