HERE WE GO. A test. I’m going to let you take a look at an unproofed, fresh off the keyboard look at the toughest Bible paraphrase I’ve had to tackle so far.
I’ve been working on paraphrasing the Bible for the Casual English Bible. I have finished all the letters of Paul except for Romans, which is the toughest and most abstract of his letters. I saved it for last.
I just finished a draft of Romans 1. See what you think about it. If you catch any mistakes or have a reaction to any of the paraphrasing, let me know. I’m just beginning to work with this letter.
Paul has material in this first chapter of Romans that has split churches in two. And it will do it again in days to come.
Hello people of Rome
1:2. God said the News was coming. His prophets delivered that promise, and the Holy Bible preserves it.
1:3. This Good News is about God’s Son, a descendant of King David.
1:4. The Holy Spirit made it clear that our leader, Jesus Christ, is God’s Son. The Spirit did that through the power that rose Jesus from the dead.
1:5. Jesus was kind enough to appoint me as his messenger. He told me to help people of all nations put their faith in him and obey him.
1:6. You, too, are invited to become the people of Jesus.
1:7. To: Everyone who lives in Rome. God loves you and invites you to become his people, devoted to him. May God our Father and our leader Jesus, the Messiah, send peace and kindness your way.
I’m hoping to visit you soon
1:8. Before I say anything else, let me say this on behalf of Jesus the Messiah. Thank God for every one of you. People all over the world are talking about your faith.
1:9. I never stop praying for you. God can back me up on that. He’s the one I serve with all my spirit, as I tell others the Good News of his Son.
1:10. I’m praying, too, that perhaps now God will let me come and see you.
1:11. I want to bring you a spiritual gift that will make you even stronger in the faith.
1:12. Actually, we can encourage each other. You can help me in my faith. I can do the same for you.
1:13. Dear friends, I’ve made plans many times to visit you. I’ve wanted to introduce some of your fellow Romans to Jesus, as I’ve done for non-Jews elsewhere. Sadly, every trip until now got roadblocked.
1:14. I have a responsibility to people of all kinds. From high society to countryfolk, and from educated to clueless.
1:15. So I want you to know I’m eager to bring the Good News to those of you in Rome, too.
1:16. I’m not the least bit ashamed of the Good News. It’s the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. This power came to the Jews first. But it spread. Now it’s available to everyone.
Sinners in the hands of an angry God
1:18. God’s anger is pouring out of heaven, drenching terrible and unjust people—those who are so corrupt that they cover up the truth.
1:19. Well you can be sure they know the truth about God. He made himself pretty doggone conspicuous.
1:20. His invisible, divine power has been on display since Creation. People can get to know him and understand who he is by looking at what he made. They don’t have any excuse for ignoring him.
1:21. So let’s be clear, they knew God. But they didn’t honor him. They didn’t thank him. Instead, they came up with ridiculous theories about who he is or what he’s like. Their hearts went dark and their minds went blank.
1:22. They told everyone they were smart. But they were morons.
1:23. They were so stupid that they traded in the glorious, immortal God so they could buy into idols handcrafted to look like mortal humans, birds, four-footed critters, and creepy crawlers.
1:24. So God let them have it their way. Whatever their hearts desired—lusts and sin. They did shameful things with their bodies.
1:25. They traded in the truth about God so they could buy into a lie. Instead of worshiping the Creator who deserves praise forever, they worshiped the creature.
1:26. So God let them have it their way with their self-destructive passions. Women stopped having sex the natural way. The sex they started having is unnatural.
1:27. Men did the same thing. They stopped having sex with women. Other men lit the fire for them, flaming them with passion. Men on men did shameful things to each other. They’ll be getting what they deserve.
1:28. These people didn’t even bother to acknowledge the existence of God. So he let them run wild, and do mindless things that no one should ever do.
1:29. They are full of it.
1:30. Fuller still.
- Haters of god
- Bad in new, creative ways
- Disobedience to parents
1:31. The list goes on.
1:32. These people know the kind of behavior God expects of us. They know that anyone committing the sins I’ve just listed deserves to die. Yet these folks not only continue to do them, they encourage others to do them, too.
 1:1. The more literal term is “apostle,” a messenger such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples hand-picked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus and to Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
 1:1. The Greek word for “Good News” is euangelion, from which we get words such as evangelize and evangelical.
 1:7. “Kindness” is often translated “grace.”
 1:17. “Goodness” comes from the Greek word dikaiosynē, often translated “righteousness.” Bible experts debate what Paul meant when he talked about the “righteousness of God.” Righteousness can refer to integrity, purity, and justice. Some scholars say it also describes God as someone we can trust to do what he said he would do. In this case, righteous might be “God’s way of righting wrong” (New English Bible). Or it might be described as his divine gift of power, which saves us. Whatever Paul had in mind, context clues suggest it was Good News.
 1:17. Paul is paraphrasing Habakkuk 2:4. Bible experts debate what Paul meant by this cryptic phrase. German scholar Martin Luther (1483-1546), a Roman Catholic monk, eventually got himself excommunicated from the church partly because of what he read into this phrase. He saw an idea that inspired a Christian protest movement that became known as the Protestant Reformation. Luther, the father of Protestant churches, said Paul seemed to be teaching that we are saved through our faith, not through obeying religious laws or by observing rituals, such as confessing sins to a priest or taking communion in a church service. Another way some read the phrase: Good (righteous) people show their faith by the way they live. Another: Good people will live because of God’s faithfulness—meaning that we can trust God to save us as he promised to do.
 1:27. Christians are so divided over how to understand what Paul says about homosexuality that church denominations have split over this very topic. Some say they believe Paul is speaking for God when Paul writes this letter and others like it. Other Christians say they doubt that God would want blamed for what Paul wrote, and that Paul was expressing his personal opinion rather than revealing something God told him to say. These Christians argue that Paul would have been surprised that his letters ended up in the Holy Bible, and that if he had known it would turn out that way, he might have made some changes in his letters.