Wednesday, June 05, 2013

All Things Do Not Automatically Work Themselves into a Pattern of Good.

Growing up at Central Baptist Church in the Fifties meant a lot of Scripture memorization.  It was not drudgery for a child.  In fact, because the adults took Scripture so seriously, a child quoting Scripture would become the center of admiring attention.  My mind filled up with Bible verses and even chapters, all King James Version.  The Scripture in that translation still inhabits me.  One fragment from Romans 8 is verse 28:

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

All things work together for good?

John Stott writes that

the familiar AV [KJV] rendering 'all things work together for good' is surely to be rejected, since all things do not automatically work themselves into a pattern of good.  The AV statement would be acceptable only if  'it is the sovereign guidance of God that is presumed as the undergirding and directing force behind all the events of life' [citation omitted].   An early copyist evidently felt the need to make this explicit by making 'God' as the subject of the verb.  But the manuscript for this reading, although 'both ancient and noteworthy' [citation omitted] is insufficient to secure its acceptance.  The addition is also unnecessary, for the order of the words permits the translation 'we know that for those who love God he is working .  .  . '.  He is ceaselessly, energetically, and purposefully working on their behalf.  Stott, The Message of Romans, p. 247.

The Revised English Bible (1989) gets it right:

[A]nd in everything, as we know, he [God] co-operates for good with those who love God and are called according to his purpose.

The NIV (1983) somewhat similar:

And we know in all things [even sad and desperate things] God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

When things work out, absent God's cooperation they tend not to work out.

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