Vol. 14 New Series December, 1952 No. 6
TRUTHFULNESS AND MERCY

Scripture often explains and illuminates Scripture. A case in point is Rom. 15:8-9, which helps to explain Eph. 2:17.

In the latter passage, a good many versions shew the word "peace" only once, although the Greek has it twice. Thus, the British A.V. reads "He came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh." Moffatt is here deficient, while Young is weak—"he did proclaim good news—peace to you—the far-off and the nigh."

If I said, I shall give a hundred dollars to you, and a hundred dollars to your brother, you might naturally ask, Why not say, you will give a hundred dollars to each of us? In other words, why does Paul repeat the word "peace"? The gift to the two parties, the far ones and the near ones, is the same—peace. But for some reason Paul wishes to distinguish the giving.

Let us closely scrutinize the passage in Romans. The British A.V. reads as follows: "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises (made) unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for (his) mercy." Our objection is to the word "and," which ought to be "yet" (Greek de). The British and the American R.V. are both at fault here, and so are most versions. The Concordant Version correctly has "yet," but most unfortunately mars this by various errors. We quote, "For I am saying that Christ has become the Servant of the Circumcision, for the sake of the truth of God, to confirm the patriarchal promises. Yet the nations are to glorify God for His mercy. . .." The 1944 Concordant Version shews which words are not in the Greek—that, the (three times), are, His. By commencing verse 9 with a new sentence and therefore a new statement, the sense is ruined. The adversative force of the "yet" is not clearly seen. Nor is the correlation of the two infinitives expressed (to confirm; to glorify).

Here is a very literal rendering of the Greek: "For I am terming (legO plus accusative) Christ a servant (literally; deacon) to have become of circumcision on behalf of God's truth, unto the confirming the promises of the fathers, yet the Gentiles on behalf of mercy to glorify God. . . ." I have used the word "term" instead of "say" because we could not say "I am saying Christ to have become a deacon (or servant)." In Luke 18:19 it is best to render "Why are you terming ME good?" Paul, in Rom. 15:8, is describing or terming Christ in unusual language.

Most translators have apparently understood the last part of the statement as though Paul had meant to say, "And that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as well as the Jews." They thought the Gentiles were to share with the Jews in thanking God for one and the very same mercy. But this IS just what Paul did not mean.

Let us quote from Green's "Critical Notes on the New Testament." "The purport of the passage is, that Christ, in his position of a minister or servant in charge with a function, bore the badge of circumcision simply to evince truthfulness on the part of God in giving a covenant of which circumcision why the formal seal, and then realizing its promises in the person of a circumcised minister—not to perpetuate the badge—but that, as regards the Gentiles, glorification accrues from them to God not on the ground of the realization of a covenant, but on the score of free mercy."

Another says, "Peace is for the circumcision—(mark the word, which points more than the word 'Jew' would have done; to the ancient covenant)—in performance of an old promise of God, for the glorification of His Truth; peace is for the Gentiles, uncovenanted, in the splendid exercise of His Mercy."

Meyer explains much on the same lines, "for the sake of the truthfulness of God, in order to justify and to demonstrate it through the realization of the hallowed promise given to the fathers." But in the case of Gentiles, glory accrued to God because of His mercy to them, Meyer also stresses that "to glorify" is parallel to "to confirm," and renders "in order that He might ratify the promises of the fathers, but that the Gentiles, on behalf of mercy, might glorify God." The former statement shews "the proximate design of Christ's having become minister of the circumcised; and the more remote design, which was to be attained through the passing of salvation from the Jews to the Gentiles, consisted in this, that on the other hand the Gentiles should glorify God on account of mercy."

Dewes renders somewhat freely, "Christ, in order that God's Truthfulness might be shewn hath been made a minister of His covenanted people, whereas the Gentiles for His mercy have glorified God."

Reverting now to Eph. 2:17, we can understand clearly why Paul repeats the word peace. The peace was the same for both those near and, those far off. But in the case of the Gentiles, it came through the channel of Divine Mercy. Paul must have had this fact in mind when he wrote to the Ephesians, and indeed, in verse 12 he shews how destitute were the Gentiles of spiritual blessing or of Divine covenants; apart from Christ, and quite without God.

A.T. Last updated 5.3.2006