Wallce on Romans 8:28

From My Bookshelf Oct 26, 2010

Wallace has some interesting observations on Romans 8:28. The first paragraph is pretty technical, but the second paragraph is insightful. The text in question:

NASB: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
GRK: οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι τοῖς ἀγαπῶσιν τὸν θεὸν πάντα συνεργεῖ [ὁ θεὸς] εἰς ἀγαθον, τοῖς κατὰ πρόθεσιν κλητοῖς οὖσιν.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell whether a particular sentence even has a direct object. In this instance, such doubt is due to textual uncertainty and the syntactical range of the verb. συνεργέω is one of the verbs that can be either transitive or intransitive. if ὁ θεός is original, the verb is transitive here (and πάντα is the acc. direct object). But since ὁ θεός is textually suspect, it is better to read the text without it. This leaves two probably options: either “he works all things together for good’ or “all things work together for good.” In the first instance the subject is embedded in the verb and “God is clearly implied (as in v 29). In the second instance, πἀντα becomes the subject of an intransitive verb. In either case, “What is expressed as a truly biblical confidence in the sovereignty of God.”

It is difficult to pass over a verse such as this without noting two additional items: (1) the good that is accomplished is specifically for believers; and (2) that good is in connection with conformity to Christ through suffering (so vv 17-30). Thus to say (as is frequently done nowadays, even in non-0Christian circles), “Everything will work together for the good, “ as if things work out by themselves and the good is human comfort, is hardly Pauline and hardly biblical, Such a worldview C. H. Dodd rightly derides as “evolutionary optimism.”

Danial Wallace, Greek Grammar: Beyond the Basics, p p 180-81

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