Romans, Part 78

And do this because we know the time[1]  The words because we know are a way the NET translators translated the Greek word εἰδότες (a form of εἴδω; also, 2 Corinthians 5:11).  They translated it because youknow (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24; 1 Peter 5:9), when you didknow (Galatians 4:8), and we know (1 Thessalonians 1:4).  More often than not εἰδότες occurs in the New Testament as εἰδότες ὅτι; because is a legitimate translation of ὅτι.

Greek

NET

References

εἰδότες ὅτι because they knew that Luke 8:53
εἰδότες ὅτι because they knew John 21:12
εἰδότες ὅτι knowing that Romans 5:3; 1 Corinthians 15:58
εἰδότες ὅτι we know that Romans 6:9; 2 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 2:16
εἰδότες ὅτι because we know that 2 Corinthians 1:7
εἰδότες ὅτι because we know 2 Corinthians 4:14
εἰδότες ὅτι because you know that Ephesians 6:8; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:24; Colossians 4:1; James 3:1
εἰδότες ὅτι because they know that Philippians 1:16
εἰδότες ὅτι you know that 1 Peter 1:18

So I question the wisdom of translating εἰδότες “as a causal adverbial participle” (NET note 11), adding because when ὅτι is not present.  But I question even more the wisdom of translating nothing, no Greek word at all, as do (NET note 10).  That one word shifts the focus of the text from the phenomenal revelation that love is the fulfillment of the law[2] to a list of works that I must do.  The verse continues, [because (ὅτι)] it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep.[3]

The word translated us is ὑμᾶςyou.  So Paul was very direct:  And this, he wrote highlighting and accentuating that love is the fulfillment of the law, knowing the time, because it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep… and one extraneous word turned my attention from God reconciling the world to himself in Christ, from the power of his resurrection, from the fruit of his Holy Spirit to my own puny efforts to do rules, to love like God in my own strength.

I’m not angry with the NET translators, I’m grateful.  Their footnotes, revealing their thought processes, have disabused me of my notion that Bible translators are something more than human beings doing the best they can—given their beliefs.  I didn’t even read the NET back when I had most of my difficulties.  I read the NASB and then the NIV.

NASB

NIV

Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now [a] salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

Romans 13:11

And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

Romans 13:11

The NIV has no footnote here.  My NASB fell apart years ago, but it has the telltale italics.  Do in italics didn’t alert my Bible-believing heart to dig deeper, not like a footnote did (10): “Grk ‘and this,’ probably referring to the command to love (13:8-10); hence, ‘do’ is implied from the previous verses.”  Unless, of course, one believes that Paul and the Holy Spirit intended to accentuate the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise, as it pertains to the law, through faith rather than works (Matthew 5:17-20 NET):

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.  I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them.  I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.  So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.  For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, Paul wrote believers in Rome, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believedThe night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near.  So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light.  Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy.[4]

The Greek word translated darkness is σκότους (a form of σκότος).  Paul wrote believers in Ephesus, for you were at one time darkness (σκότος), but now you are light in the Lord.  Walk as children of the light – for the fruit (καρπὸς) of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth – trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Do not participate in the unfruitful (ἀκάρποις, a form of ἄκαρπος) deeds of darkness (σκότους, a form of σκότος), but rather expose them.  For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention.  But all things being exposed by the light are made evident.  For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says: “Awake, O sleeper!  Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”[5]

To the Romans Paul stressed carousing and drunkenness…sexual immorality and sensuality…discord and jealousy as works of darkness.  The list stressed in Ephesians included sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greedvulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting.[6]  But I don’t think I’m stretching his words at all to include 1) attempts to be righteous by obeying rules in one’s own strength, or 2) attempts to share credit for the fruit of the Spirit, among the unfruitful deeds of darkness.  For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness,[7] Paul summed up the righteousness of the Pharisees.  He wrote believers in Philippi, that I may gain Christ, and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness – a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.[8]

The Greek work translated light in the phrase weapons of light is φωτός (a form of φῶς).  Jesus is the light (John 1:6-9 NET):

A man came, sent from God, whose name was John.  He came as a witness to testify about the light (φωτός, a form of φῶς), so that everyone might believe through him.  He himself was not the light (φῶς), but he came to testify about the light (φωτός, a form of φῶς).  The true light (φῶς), who gives light (φωτίζει, a form of φωτίζω) to everyone, was coming into the world.

Instead, put on (ἐνδύσασθε, a form of ἐνδύω) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires,[9] Paul concluded.  Here the new human is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20, 21 NET):

I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.  So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

I’ll conclude this essay by quoting from four commentaries.  My purpose is to show the decline in enthusiasm for the power of God’s love as a function of time.  First, Matthew Henry (1662-1714):

Love intends and designs no ill to any body, is utterly against the doing of that which may turn to the prejudice, offence, or grief of any. It worketh no ill that is, it prohibits the working of any ill: more is implied than is expressed it not only worketh no ill, but it worketh all the good that may be, deviseth liberal things. For it is a sin not only to devise evil against thy neighbour, but to withhold good from those to whom it is due both are forbidden together, Proverbs 3:27-29. This proves that love is the fulfilling of the law, answers all the end of it for what else is that but to restrain us from evil-doing, and to constrain us to well-doing? Love is a living active principle of obedience to the whole law. The whole law is written in the heart, if the law of love be there.

Second, John Gill (1697-1771):

therefore love is the fulfilling of the law: so far as a man loves his neighbour, he acts agreeably to the law, and the particular precepts of it above mentioned: what the apostle says of love to the neighbour, the Jews frequently say of love to God; “he that loveth God (they sayF4) מקיים עשר אמירן, “hath fulfilled the decalogue”, both above and below.  And againF5, “there is no service like the love of God, R. Abba saith it is כללא דאורייתא, “the sum of the law”; for the ten words of the law הכא אתכלילו, “are herein comprehended”, or “fulfilled”:’ and elsewhereF6 they observe, “that כל התורה כלולה באהבה, “the whole law is comprehended”, or fulfilled “in love”.’

Third, Albert Barnes (1798-1870):

Therefore … – “Because” love does no harm to another, it is “therefore” the fulfilling of the Law, implying that all that the Law requires is to “love” others.

Is the fulfilling – Is the “completion,” or meets the requirements of the Law. The Law of God on this “head,” or in regard to our duty to our neighbor, requires us to do justice toward him, to observe truth, etc. “All” this will be met by “love;” and if people truly “loved” others, all the demands of the Law would be satisfied.

Of the law – Of the Law of Moses, but particularly the Ten Commandments.

Fourth, the Pulpit Commentary (1884):

From specific admonitions on this subject, the apostle passes naturally to the principle which, in these regards as well as others, should inspire all our dealings with our fellow-men. Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another (literally, the other, meaning the same as his neighbour) hath fulfilled law. νόμον here is anarthrous, denoting law in general, not the Mosaic Law in particular, though the instances of transgression that follow are from the Decalogue. The idea of the passage is but a carrying out of our Lord’s saying, Matthew 22:39, Matthew 22:40. We find it also in Galatians 5:14 more shortly expressed. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended (or, summed up) in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour; therefore love is the fulfilling of law.

No one mentioned the fruit of the Spirit directly, that this is God’s love rather than ours.  But from Matthew Henry’s “more is implied than is expressed [love] not only worketh no ill, but it worketh all the good that may be” to the Pulpit Commentary’s assessment that love is a “principle which…should inspire all our dealings with our fellow-men,” confidence in the love that God has in us took a nose dive in about two centuries.  Listen to John (1 John 4:16, 17 NET):

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has in (ἐν) us.  God is love, and the one who resides in love resides in God, and God resides in him.  By this [e.g., God’s residence, his possession of us through the Holy Spirit] love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment, because just as Jesus is, so also are we in this world.

Romans, Part 79

[1] Romans 13:11a (NET)

[2] Romans 13:10 (NET)

[3] Romans 13:11b (NET)

[4] Romans 13:11b-13 (NIV)

[5] Ephesians 5:8-14 (NET)

[6] Ephesians 5:3, 4 (NET)

[7] Romans 10:3 (NET)

[8] Philippians 3:8b, 9 (NET)

[9] Romans 13:14 (NET)

2 thoughts on “Romans, Part 78

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