N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Chapter 7 Retranslated

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

A Re-translation

In most of the previous posts, I’ve offered a revised or annotated translation of the text. I thought it would be interesting — and perhaps even helpful — to accumulate these into a single text.

Unlike the earlier translations, I’ll not show the changes in brackets except where I’m not just translating but also explaining outside the text.

And I hasten to add that this is my own translation, based on my understanding of Wright but not at all the same as his own translation The Kingdom New Testament (which can be bought at Amazon).

Romans chapter 7, modified from the NET Bible translation

1 Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the Torah), that the Torah is the master over a person as long as he lives?  2 For a married woman is bound by Torah to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage.  3 So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress.  4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the Torah through the body of Christ by joining in his death through baptism, so that you could be joined to another, that is, Jesus, the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.

5 For when we were in the flesh, that is, our sinful nature, the sinful desires, aroused by the Torah, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for Death, the loss of the hope of immortality.  6 But now we have been released from the Torah, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve as a bond-servant or slave in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code, the Torah.

7 What shall we say then? Is the Torah Sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the Torah. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the Torah had not said, “Do not covet.”  8 But Sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the Torah, Sin is dead.

[Verses 9 -11 likely have a double meaning, one speaking to Jews and one speaking to Gentiles. I offer two translations making both sets of parallel points]

9 And mankind, in the form of Adam and Eve, was once alive apart from God’s command not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, but with the coming of the commandment Sin became alive  10 and mankind lost hope of immortality. So mankind found that the very commandment that was intended to bring immortal life brought Death, that is, the loss of hope of immortality!  11 For Sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived mankind, in the form of Adam and Eve, and through it mankind lost immortality.

9 And Israel was once alive apart from the Torah, but with the coming of the Torah commandments Sin became alive 10 and Israel was Exiled and so lost hope of immortality. So Israel found that the very commandment that was intended to bring immortal life brought Death, that is, the loss of hope of immortality!  11 For Sin, seizing the opportunity through the Torah, deceived Israel and through it Israel lost immortality.

12 So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.  13 Did that which is good, then, become Death to mankind/Israel? Absolutely not! But Sin, so that it would be shown to be Sin, produced Death in mankind/Israel through what is good, so that through the commandment Sin would become utterly sinful.

14 For we know that the Torah is spiritual – but mankind/Israel is unspiritual, sold into slavery to Sin.  15 For mankind/Israel don’t understand what they are doing. For they do not do what they want – instead, they do what they hate.  16 But if they do what they don’t want, they agree that the Torah is good.  17 But now it is no longer mankind/Israel doing it, but Sin that lives in them.

18 For we know that nothing good lives in us, that is, in our flesh, that is, our sinful natures. For we want to do the good, but we cannot do it.  19 For we do not do the good we want, but we do the very evil we do not want!  20 Now if we do what we do not want, it is no longer us doing it but Sin that lives in us.

21 So, we find the law that when we want to do good, evil is present with us.  22 For we delight in the law of God in our inner being.  23 But we see a different law in our body parts waging war against the law of our minds and making us captive to the law of Sin that is in our members.  24 Wretched men that we are! Who will rescue us from this body of Death?  25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, we serve the law of God with our minds, but with my flesh we serve the law of Sin.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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3 Responses to N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Chapter 7 Retranslated

  1. I prefer “human nature” to “sinful nature.” The emphasis of the word SARX in the New Testament is with the Spirit more than with holiness. It seems that SARX is the natural part of us, the part driven by instincts and drives rather than God’s Spirit. “Human nature” seems clearer to me.

  2. Rats… “emphasis” should have been “contrast”

  3. Dwight says:

    The text makes it clear that the Law or Torah was Holy, after all it was the word and will of God, so how could it not be. When the NT came along the Law didn’t suddenly become unHoly or evil, but fulfilled in Christ. Just so, the things of the law didn’t suddenly become evil…animal sacrifice, although not needed, is still sacrifice to God. God wants sacrifice in what ever form we can offer it through our life.
    In vs.5 “:For when we were in the flesh, that is, our sinful nature, the sinful desires, aroused by the Torah, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for Death, the loss of the hope of immortality.” the sinful nature is explained by “flesh”. But I agree, since the flesh is a part of us, we will sin due to the fleshly desires. Now can we defeat these, yes, just as Jesus did, but only with Jesus can we do it.

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