Romans 1:1-17 – A Paraphrase

Romans 1:1-17 – A Paraphrase April 11, 2013

Here is my attempt at a paraphrase of Romans 1:1-17. Does it make people cringe any where? NB: Before people rag on paraphrases, remember this, for me, paraphrases are not substitutes for translation. They are, rather, more like interpretive triage; paraphrases are like the first line of interpretation that we can undertake.

Paul Introduces Himself to the Romans (Rom 1:1-7)

Paul, a slave of Messiah Jesus, called to be his emissary, and specially commissioned for purpose of announcing the gospel that is both from God and about God.

This gospel, God had already promised to the people long ago through his prophets in the sacred writings. A gospel which focuses on God’s Son, who in his human existence was born in the line of David, and who was declared to be the powerful Son of God by the Holy Spirit in virtue of the advent of the age of resurrection which was ushered in through him: Jesus the Messiah, our Lord.

It is through Jesus that we have received the gracious office of being a divine emissary. Our aim is to bring about a faithful obedience among all of the Gentiles for the benefit and the betterment of the name of Jesus in our world. What is more, you participate in Messiah Jesus because you were called by him.

So to all of the believers in Rome who are embraced by God’s love and called to a life of holiness, grace and peace to you from God our Father and from Lord Jesus the Messiah.

 Paul Explains Why He Hasn’t Visited and the Purpose of His Ministry (Rom 1:8-15)

 First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus the Messiah for all of you Roman believers because the news about your faith has been reported all over the world. The God, whom I serve with all my spiritual ability in the proclamation of the gospel, is my witness, and he knows how I never fail to mention you in my prayers.  And I pray that now, someway, God willing, that I might finally succeed in coming to visit you. For I earnestly desire to see you face to face so that I, as an apostle, can share with you some spiritual grace that will strengthen you all. That way we might work to build each other up in our common bond of faith.

Brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be gullible or look stupid over this. That is because – despite what some might think – on several occasions I genuinely tried to come and visit you, but I have been hindered until the present time. I’ve always wanted to visit so that I could hopefully have a fruitful ministry among you just as I have had in the other Gentile cities where I have worked. You see, as part of my ministry, I’m under certain obligations, to minister to the civilized Greeks as much as to the uncivilized Barbarians, to the wise as to the unlearned. That is why I am as eager as a monkey at a fruit-market to come and preach the gospel to you folks in Rome.

 Paul’s Central Thesis (Rom 1:16-17)

 I am not embarrassed by the gospel, in fact, I am rather proud of it and I’ll tell you why. It is because the gospel is the power of God for the rescue of everyone who believes, first for the Jews, and second for the Greeks. For in the gospel, God’s plan to put the world to right is decisively revealed, and it is all by way of faith and only faith, just as someone wrote: “The righteous one’s who will escape alive from the Babylonian crisis are those who are distinguished by their faith.”

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  • Allen Browne

    Good thoughts and emphases, Michael. Thanks.

    Personally I would prefer the final quote as, “Even in the face of the Babylonian crisis, the righteous will survive because of their faith.” To me that reflects Habakkuk’s concern about God’s project dying out (Hab 1:12), and his own journey to trusting that God will revive what seems doomed (3:2), in quiet confidence (3:16).

    Of course, Habakkuk’s contrast in 2:4 between the “righteous” and the “puffed-up
    non-upright” is not merely ethnic. Some Jews won’t be righteous/faithful (i.e.
    they capitulate to the empire), and some in the empire see through its evil and are
    invited into monotheistic worship (Hab 2:6-20). God’s project is much larger
    than Habakkuk imagined (1:5), and that’s how Paul read Hab (Acts 13:4)—precisely
    the point he has just made here (Rom 1:16).

  • John Byron


    In general I like it. I am glad you refer to Paul as a “slave” rather than servant since I think it brings in the double connotations of being God’s slave in the new exodus (cf 6:23) and the social situation of Rome, in particular those in Caesars house.

    I am a bit uncomfortable with your rendering of 1:13, however. I am not sure that “agnoein” should be translated as “gullible or look stupid.” I think “misinformed” would be a better translation esp. when taken into consideration with your next line “despite what some may think.” As you have it now it seems Paul is being a bit insulting, but as you know this is a common expression in Paul’s letters. This expression seems to be Paul’s way of emphasizing how important the topic about to be covered is to him, to his readers, and their need to be aware of it.

  • bill victor

    I loved most of it. Not a fan of “monkey-fruit market” phrase and I’m not sure Paul particularly cared about the Babylonian crisis when he cited that verse. But those are quibbles. I enjoyed reading your paraphrase.

  • Jean

    I liked it, but I’m also not a fan of the “monkey at a fruit-market” phrase. Keep the focus on Paul and not on the paraphraser.

  • Timothy

    Is the apostrophe in the last sentence intended and if so what does the sentence mean?

  • Brad

    The addition of the word “only” in verse 17 is not based on the Greek text, and in my judgment, way to free for even a paraphrase. Paul’s point seems to be that pleasing God requires a life of faith. Faith is how this life begins, how it is to be maintained, and how it is to end.