Introduction: Letter to the Romans

Overview

  • Author: Paul
  • Date: AD 55-57
  • Provenance: Corinth
  • Recipients: Christians in Rome

Significance

Romans is the longest extant Pauline epistle and the most complete exposition of the Pauline gospel.

The expository argument . . . of Romans has played an immeasurable role in the centuries since, most especially in two ways: first, in helping to shape the Christians community’s understanding of its relationship to the Hebrew Scriptures and to Judaism, both its debt and its distinctiveness; and second, in restoring and clarifying a sense of direction and identity in Christian reflection in times of great contention and change, such as the Pelagian controversy in the fifth century, the emergence of Protestantism in the sixteenth, and the breakdown of liberal optimism in the twentieth. These two ways in which Romans has functioned are intimately connected and are, one might say, but two sides of its significance.1

Augustine of Hippo converted to Christianity after reading Romans 13:13 (Confessions 8.12) and went on to become one of the most influential theologians in Christianity. His idea of original sin comes from Romans 5. Martin Luther’s struggles to understand this epistle resulted in the Protestant Reformation, which impacted both the Christian church and Western civilization. “He formulated his understanding of sin, law and gospel, faith, salvation, and the righteousness of God by conducting an intensive exegesis of this letter.”2 John Calvin’s doctrine of double predestination is derived from Romans 9-11. John Wesley’s teaching on sanctification comes from Romans 6 and 8. The importance Karl Barth gave to the righteousness of God comes from Romans 1-2.

Unity, Text, and Integrity

The major text critical issues in Romans concern chapters 15-16. The benediction is traditionally placed at 16:24 and the doxology is traditionally placed at 16:25-27. As the following list shows, the arrangement of the last two chapters, the benediction, and the doxology differ in our manuscripts:3

  • (a) 1:1-16:23, 16:25-27: P61vid, א, B, C, D, 81, 1739, itd, 61, vg, syrp, copsa, bo, eth.
  • (b) 1:1-14:23, 16:25-27, 15:1-16:23, 16:25–27: A, P, 5, 33, 104, arm.
  • (c) 1:1-14:23, 16:25-27, 15:1-16:24: L, Ψ, 0209vid, 181, 326, 330, 614, 1175, Byz, syrh, mssacc. to Origenlat.
  • (d) 1:1-16:24: Fgr, G (perhaps the archetype to D), 629, mssacc. to Jerome.
  • (e) 1:1-15:33, 16:25-27, 16:1-23: P46.
  • (f) 1:1-14:23, 16:24, 16:25-27: vg1648, 1792, 2089, Old Latinacc. to capitula.

The manuscript evidence raises a number of questions: Were chapters 15 and 16 part of the original letter? Was the benediction part of the original letter? Was the doxology part of the original letter and, if so, where was it located?

Starting with (f), we have a 14-chapter version of Romans followed by the benediction and doxology. According to Origen (comm. in Rom. 7, 453), Marcion used a 14-chapter version of Romans in the second century. The placement of the doxology after 14:23 in some manuscripts (c) is indirect testimony to a 14-chapter version of Romans. Nonetheless, Romans was not originally a 14-chapter letter. The sequence in (f) “appears to be peculiar to the transmission of the epistle in Latin.”4 The “intimate connection between chaps. 14 and 15 makes it impossible to think that Paul’s original letter was without chap. 15.”5

How, then, did the 14-chapter form of the letter originate? Lightfoot thought that Paul himself may have abbreviated his letter to the Romans, omitting the references to Rome in 1:7 and 1:15 at the same time, in order to universalize the epistle. But it is unlikely that, had this been Paul’s purpose, he would have cut off his epistle in the middle of his argument. The same objection applies to Gamble’s theory that the text of Romans was shortened after Paul’s time in order to make the letter more universally applicable. The earliest explanation for the shortened form is given by Origen, who claims that Marcion cut off (dissecuit) the last two chapters. Since this explanation offers the best rationale for breaking off the letter at 15:1 (for there is much from 15:1 onward that would have offended Marcion’s anti-Jewish sentiments), I tentatively adopt it as the most likely explanation for the 14-chapter form of the letter.6

Moving on to (e), we have chapter 15 followed by the doxology and chapter 16. The benediction is not present. The fact that the doxology follows chapter 15 suggests to some scholars that a 15-chapter version of Romans was once in circulation. A few scholars even argue that the 15-chapter version is original. They note that Paul greets twenty-six persons by name in 16:3-15 even though he had never visited Rome (1:10; 15:22). They find it unlikely Paul would know so many people in a place he had never visited. They also point out that Paul normally gives a general and collective greeting instead of greeting addressees by name.

The arguments for a 15-chapter original are weak relative to the arguments for a 16-chapter original. First, not a single manuscript omits chapter 16. Second, chapter 15 lacks Paul’s normal epistolary conclusion. Paul usually follows the phrase “the God of peace be with all of you” (15:33) with requests to pass on greetings — like those in chapter 16. Third, the style and structure of the epistolary conclusion in chapter 16 is typical of Paul’s conclusions in other letters. Fourth, the “last-minute warning about false teachers in vv. 17-20 has some parallel with Paul’s procedure in other letters; and the special circumstances of Romans explain why it occurs only here.”7 Fifth, “the expulsion of the Jews and Jewish Christians from Rome would have given Paul opportunity to meet a number of these people (like Priscilla and Aquila) during the time of their exile in the east.”8 “Travel in the Greco-Roman world was remarkably common.”9 “Because Paul had not visited Rome, it was to his advantage to mention the names of those Roman believers who he knew from churches elsewhere. Moreover, Paul describes these persons in laudatory terms, which enhances their position in the community and reflects positively on Paul’s status in the church. In this way, Paul presents himself as one who was not unknown to the church at Rome.”10

Concerning the benediction, in some manuscripts it is omitted (a, b, e), in some manuscripts it is at the end of chapter 16 (c, d), and in some manuscripts it is at the end of chapter 14 (f). Since the earliest and best witnesses omit the benediction it is quite unlikely to be original.11

Concerning the doxology, in some manuscripts it is at the end of the letter (a), in some manuscripts it is both at the end of chapter 14 and at the end of the letter (b), in some manuscripts it is at the end of chapter 14 (c, f), in some manuscripts it is omitted (d), and in one manuscript it is after chapter 15 (e). Sequence (b) can be explained by a scribe who found the doxology in more than one place in his sources and did not wish to leave anything out and therefore conflated the readings in his copy.12 Sequence (c) is not original because the doxology in this location destroys the continuity between chapters 14 and 15. Sequence (e) is unlikely to be original since it is found in only one manuscript. Since chapters 15 and 16 are part of the original, sequence (f), which lacks chapter 15 and 16, cannot be original. This leaves us with two possibilities: the doxology was not originally part of the letter (d) or the doxology was originally at the end of the letter (a). It is uncertain which alternative is correct.

Genre

Romans exhibits an obvious epistolary form. First comes the salutation (1:1-7) that identifies both the author (1:1-6) and the recipients of the letter (1:7a) and includes the apostle’s characteristic greeting (“Grace . . . and peace . . .” [1:7b]). Then, after the thanksgiving (1:8-15) comes the body of the letter (1:16-11:36), which is followed by the paraenetic or hortatory section (12:1-15:13). Finally, Paul relates his travel plans (15:14-33), then he closes with greetings (16:1-16) and a benediction (16:20).13

The body of the letter is not particularly focused on local issues. It is a treatise which presents a theological argument (or series of arguments).

It addresses key theological issues against the backdrop of middle first-century Christianity rather than within the context of specific local problems. Nevertheless, Romans is no timeless treatise. We must not forget that Romans as a whole is a letter, written on a specific occasion, to a specific community. As we have seen, these specifics have not played a large role in Paul’s presentation, but they have undoubtedly determined the agenda of theological and practical issues with which Paul deals. In this regard, we must note that Romans is far from being a comprehensive summary of Paul’s theology. Many issues near and dear to him are absent, or only allusively mentioned: the church as the “body of Christ,” the parousia, and Christology (in the “formal” sense). Moreover, the issues that Paul does treat are oriented to a specific, though broad, theological topic: the relationship between Jew and Gentile, law and gospel.14

Authorship, Date, and Provenance

The author identifies himself as the apostle Paul (1:1).

Although a few persons in past centuries have questioned the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to the Romans, no one in recent years has successfully challenged the epistle’s authenticity. Not only do all agree that the apostle Paul was the actual author of this magnificent letter that bears his name, but this epistle is used as the standard against which the authenticity of other epistles attributed to Paul is measured.15

Paul used a scribe, Tertius, to write the letter (16:22).

How much freedom was he given in the composition of the letter? Three different possibilities have been suggested: (1) Paul communicated the general themes of the letter to Tertius, who wrote the letter according to Paul’s instructions but was responsible for its composition. In this scenario the specific features of the letter should be attributed to Tertius, while the general themes derive from Paul. (2) Tertius took down Paul’s dictation in shorthand and later wrote it out in longhand. (3) Paul dictated the letter word for word, and Tertius wrote it out in longhand. If one of the last two options is judged most probable, it is impossible to know for certain which course was taken. A decision between them is not crucial because in the final analysis they amount to the same thing: the letter represents word for word what Paul dictated. The first option is the least likely of the three. There is evidence that secretaries wrote both in longhand and shorthand in Paul’s time. It is intrinsically unlikely that Paul would surrender the specific contents of Romans to Tertius. The letter was of great import to Paul, and its careful structure suggests that he fussed over the details. Indeed, the ever present γάρ (gar, for) suggests a dictated text. The style of Romans fits with Paul’s other letters that are accepted as authentic, and there is no evidence that Tertius composed those. In conclusion, Romans should be accepted as the product of Paul’s dictation to Tertius, and the question whether it was first composed in shorthand or longhand should be left open.16

At the time of writing, Paul had finished his missionary activities in the east (15:19-23), received contributions for the poor from Macedonia and Achaia (15:26-27), was about to visit Jerusalem with aid for the poor (15:25), and intended to go to Spain after stopping in Rome (15:24, 28).

Since the contributions for Jerusalem had been collected, we know Romans was written after Galatians, 1 Corinthians, and 2 Corinthians. In Gal 2:10 Paul says he agreed to remember the poor in Jerusalem. In 1 Cor 16:1-4 he tells the Corinthians how to collect money and in 2 Cor 8-9 he urges them to complete what they have begun.

In Acts 19:21-22 we read that Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia, and then on to Rome. He stayed in Greece for three months (Acts 20:2-3) before continuing on towards Jerusalem. It was during this three month stay that Paul most likely wrote Romans.

We can go further and infer that he wrote from Corinth. In 2 Cor 1:16 Paul tells the Corinthians he intends to depart from Corinth for Judea. In Rom 15:25-26 he says he is going to Jerusalem with a contribution from the Roman province of Achaia, whose capital is Corinth. In Rom 16:1-2 he commends Phoebe from Cenchrea, the eastern seaport of Corinth. The Gaius with whom Paul is staying (Rom 16:23) is likely the same Gaius whom Paul baptized at Corinth (1 Cor 1:14). Erastus, the city treasurer mentioned in Rom 16:23 and who was in Corinth at least once (2 Tim 4:20), may have been the city commissioner (aedile) of Corinth mentioned in an inscription “discovered in 1929 east of the stage building of the theatre in Corinth.”17 “Later manuscripts of Romans include a subscription stating it was written from Corinth and delivered by Phoebe.”18

During his visit to Jerusalem Paul was taken into custody (Acts 21:27-23:30) and then transferred to Caesarea, where he remained for at least two years (Acts 23:31-26:32). After appealing to Caesar (Acts 25:11) he was taken to Rome (Acts 27:1-28:16), where he remained in custody for another two years (Acts 28:17-31). The end of Acts takes us to ca. AD 62 so Romans must have been written before ca. AD 58.

A date of writing between AD 55 and 57 makes the best sense of the above data. Paul’s exhortation to the church to pay taxes (13:6-7) fits the controversy concerning taxes in Rome in the mid-50s (Tacitus, Annals 13.50-51). Paul’s comments on being subject to governing authorities (13:1-7) make sense on this date because “Paul had no reason to suspect that Christians, particularly the Gentile Christians he was mainly writing to, were likely to be abused by Nero or other officials. After all, it was Nero who allowed Jews and Jewish Christians to come back to Rome when he took the throne.”19

Recipients

Founding of the Church in Rome

The letter was written to Christians in Rome (1:7, 15). It is unclear how this church was founded. Out of a population of approximately one million, an estimated 40,000-50,000 Jews lived in first-century Rome and some of these may have been the first converts to Christianity. Roman Jews heard Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5, 10) and may have brought the gospel back to Rome. Around AD 375, the church father Ambrosiaster, living in Rome, says the Romans “have embraced the faith of Christ, albeit according to the Jewish rite, without seeing any sign of mighty works or any of the apostles.”20

Suetonius says Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome (Claudius 25.4) because of the instigation of Chrestus (an alternate Latin spelling for Christus). This apparently refers to disturbances in the Roman Jewish community over the messiahship of Jesus.21 Acts 18:2 attests to this expulsion and says it caused Priscilla and Aquila to move to Corinth. The expulsion probably occurred ca. AD 49. By the time Paul wrote this letter, after Claudius’s death in AD 54, the couple had returned to Rome (16:3).

Around AD 180 Irenaeus wrote that Peter and Paul preached in Rome and laid the foundations of the church (Haer. 3.1.1; 3.3.2). If Irenaeus is claiming that Paul founded the church then he is incorrect because Paul himself says he had not visited Rome (Rom 1:10, 13; 15:22). He also says he would not build on the foundation of another (15:20) and so it seems unlikely Peter founded the church either. But Irenaeus is probably saying that, because Peter and Paul were apostles, they were foundational to the church (cf. Eph 2:20). In fact, both Peter and Paul did minister to the Romans (Acts 28:13-16, 30-31).

By AD 64 there were enough Christians in Rome for Nero to focus his persecution upon them.

Ethnic Composition: Jew and Gentile

Paul addresses both Jews (2:17; 3:9; 4:1; 7:1, 4) and Gentiles (1:5-6, 13; 11:13, 23-31; 15:14-21). He greets Priscilla and Aquila (16:3), who are Jewish (Acts 18:2). Andronicus, Junia, and Herodian are called Paul’s kinsmen (16:7-11). Fifty percent of the names mentioned in chapter 16 are Jewish.22 The letter addresses issues of interest to Jews: their sin and presumption of divine favor (2:1-3:8), the failure of the law (3:19-20, 27-31; 4:12-15; 5:13-14, 20; 6:14; 7; 8:2-4; 9:30-10:8), the significance of Abraham (ch. 4), and their place in God’s plan (chs. 9-11).

It may be that the Roman church started with a Jewish majority. When the Jews were expelled under Claudius the remaining Gentile church continued to grow. After Claudius’s death in AD 54 the ban was lifted and Jewish Christians could return to Rome, where they were probably now outnumbered by Gentile Christians. The return of the Jewish Christians may have caused some friction between the “strong” and the “weak” that is reflected in 14:1-15:13.

The defense of Jews and Jewish Christians in chs. 9-11 to Gentile Christians needs to be given the weight it deserves. Paul wishes to make clear that Jews and Gentiles alike have the same responsibilities before God (cf. 1.16; 2.9ff., 25ff.; 3.29; 10.12) and that God is impartial when it comes to matters of both justice and mercy. God is the God of both Jews and Gentiles. Thus, just to reiterate, Paul is focusing on Gentile Christians in Rome, though his audience probably contains some Jewish Christians, as well as former God-fearers (in all likelihood).23

And the knowledge of the LXX required to make sense of some of Paul’s arguments, for example in chs. 1-4 and 9-11, suggests that there were in the audience some Jewish Christians and some Gentile Christians who had been among the God-fearers, that is, Gentiles who had attended synagogue services but had not fully converted to Judaism.24

Social Level and Structure

Paul may have known of at least five house churches in Rome: (1) one that met in the house of Priscilla and Aquila (16:5); (2) one that met in the house of Aristobulus (16:10); (3) one that met in the house of Narcissus (16:11); (4) one that included Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, and Hermas (16:14); and (5) one that included Philologus, Julia, Nereus, and Olympas (16:15).

This means that there had to have been some early Christians in Rome of significant enough social status to have more than just a room in an insula (in modern terms, an apartment house). A patron was a wealthy person who acted as a benefactor and protector of another person. There have to have been some patron-like Christians who hosted church meetings in their homes.25

The more sophisticated and more erudite style of Romans, in comparison to the other Pauline epistles, suggests that the community which Paul addresses is unlike his own congregations. Therefore, Paul wrote this epistle in a manner that he thought would enlighten and also persuade believers in Rome.26

Purpose

Paul wrote to the Romans because he was called by God to be a minister to the Gentiles and he wanted to ensure that the Gentiles would be an offering acceptable to God (15:15-16). Much of the letter is a statement and defense of his gospel intended to do just that (1:11-12, 15). Consistent with this aim are his attempts to deal with divisions in the community (11:13-32; 14:1-15:13; 16:17-18) and answer objections to his gospel (3:1, 9; 4:1; 6:1, 15; 7:7, 13; 9:6, 14, 30; 11:1, 11).

Paul also wrote to tell the Romans of his travel plans. He was about to travel to Jerusalem with the collection (15:25-27) and asked for prayer support (15:30-31). He then intended to go to Rome on his way to Spain (15:23-24).

A church-planting enterprise so far from Paul’s home base in Antioch would create all kinds of logistical problems. It would be natural for Paul to try to enlist the help of the vital and centrally located Roman community for this mission. In fact, Paul alludes to his hopes for such support in 15:24, using the verb propempō, which connotes “help on the way with material support.” We may, then, view Romans as Paul’s “letter of introduction” to a church that he hopes to add to his list of “sponsors.” This would explain the general theological focus of the letter, for Paul would want to assure the Romans that they would be sponsoring a missionary whose orthodoxy was without question.27

Literary Structure and Content

  • The Letter Opening (1:1-15)
    • Salutation (1:1-7)
    • Thanksgiving and Occasion (1:8-15)
  • Exposition and Defense of the Gospel (1:16-11:36)
    • The Theme of the Letter: The Gospel of God’s Righteousness (1:16-17)
    • God’s Wrath Against Sinners (1:18-3:20)
      • The Unrighteousness of the Gentiles (1:18-32)
        • Their Rejection of God (1:18-23)
        • The Consequences of Their Rejection of God (1:24-32)
      • The Unrighteousness of the Jews (2:1-3:8)
        • Critique of Jewish Presumption (2:1-5)
        • The Impartiality of Judgment (2:6-11)
        • Judgment and the Law (2:12-16)
        • The Limitations of the Covenant (2:17-29)
        • God’s Faithfulness and the Judgment of Jews (3:1-8)
      • The Unrighteousness of All People (3:9-20)
    • God’s Saving Righteousness (3:21-4:25)
      • God’s Righteousness in the Death of Jesus (3:21-26)
      • Righteousness is by Faith for Jews and Gentiles (3:27-31)
      • Abraham Justified by Faith (4:1-25)
        • God Justifies Abraham Apart from Works (4:1-8)
        • Abraham, the Father of All Peoples (4:9-16)
        • The Nature of Abraham’s Faith (4:17-22)
        • The Faith of Abraham and the Faith of the Christian (4:23-25)
    • Justification Brings Freedom and Hope (5:1-8:39)
      • Justified by Faith (5:1-11)
        • The Benefits of Justification (5:1-2)
        • Rejoicing Even in Suffering (5:3-5)
        • God’s Love Demonstrated in Christ’s Death for Us (5:6-11)
      • Christ’s Triumph over Adam’s Sin (5:12-21)
      • The Triumph of Grace over the Power of Sin (6:1-23)
        • Freedom from Sin’s Tyranny (6:1-14)
        • Freedom from Sin’s Slavery (6:15-23)
      • The Triumph of Grace over the Power of the Law (7:1-8:17)
        • Freedom from the Law’s Tyranny (7:1-6)
        • The Goodness and Impotence of the Law (7:7-25)
        • Fulfillment of the Law by the Spirit (8:1-17)
      • Present Suffering and Future Glory (8:18-39)
        • Hope of a New Creation (8:18-25)
        • Hope in Prayer (8:26-27)
        • Hope of Glorification (8:28-30)
        • Certainty of Hope in Suffering (8:31-39)
    • Israel and the Purposes of God (9:1-11:36)
      • Israel’s Election (9:1-29)
        • Israel’s Separation from Christ (9:1-5)
        • God’s Promise to Israel (9:6-13)
        • God’s Sovereign Righteousness (9:14-29)
      • Israel’s Rejection of God’s Saving Righteousness (9:30-11:10)
        • Israel’s Failure to Obtain Righteousness (9:30-10:4)
        • The Testimony of the Law to Faith (10:5-13)
        • Israel’s Oppurtunity to Believe (10:14-21)
        • The Remnant from Israel (11:1-10)
      • God’s Righteousness in His Plan for Jews and Gentiles (11:11-32)
        • Israel’s Hardening Means Salvation for the Gentiles (11:11-16)
        • Warning Against Gentile Boasting (11:17-24)
        • The Promise of Israel’s Salvation (11:25-32)
      • Doxology (11:33-36)
  • Christian Conduct (12:1-15:13)
    • The Basis of Paul’s Ethical Appeal (12:1-2)
    • The Exercise of Spiritual Gifts (12:3-8)
    • Devotion to Love and Goodness (12:9-16)
    • Non-retaliation Toward Enemies (12:17-21)
    • Submission to Governing Authorities (13:1-7)
    • Love Fulfills the Law (13:8-10)
    • Living in the Light of the Day (13:11-14)
    • Mutual Acceptance Between the Weak and the Strong (14:1-15:13)
      • Accept Those Who Are Weak in Faith (14:1-12)
      • Do Not Cause a Brother or Sister to Stumble (14:13-23)
      • Help the Weak (15:1-6)
      • Accept One Another (15:7-13)
  • Paul’s Ministry and Future Plans (15:14-33)
    • Paul’s Ministry in the East (15:14-21)
    • Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome En Route to Spain (15:22-24)
    • Paul’s Collection Visit to Jerusalem Prior to His Trip to Rome (15:25-29)
    • A Prayer Request (15:30-33)
  • The Letter Closing (16:1-27)
    • Commendation of Phoebe (16:1-2)
    • Greetings to Roman Christians (16:3-16)
    • Warning, Exhortation, and Affirmation (16:17-20)
    • Greetings from Paul’s Companions (16:21-23)
    • Doxology (16:25-27)

Bibliography

Brown, Raymond E. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997.

Brown, Raymond E., Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy, eds. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1990.

Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. Second Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

Dunn, J. D. G. “Romans, Letter to the.” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Kruse, Colin G. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.

Locatell, C. S. “Romans, Letter to the.” The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014.

Mays, James L., ed. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary. Revised Edition. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2000.

Metzger, Bruce M., ed. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. Second Edition. Hendrickson Pub, 2005.

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

Myers Jr., Charles D. “Epistle to the Romans.” Anchor Bible Dictionary. New York: Doubleday, 1992.

Reasoner, M. “Rome and Roman Christianity.” Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Schreiner, Thomas R. Romans. Kindle Edition. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Publishing Group, 1998.

Witherington III, Ben, and Darlene Hyatt. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2004.


  1. Mays 2000, 1041 
  2. Schreiner 1998, loc. 465-466 
  3. Metzger 2005, 471; Moo 1996, 6 
  4. Metzger 2005, 473 
  5. Moo 1996, 8 
  6. Moo 1996, 8 
  7. Moo 1996, 8 
  8. Moo 1996, 8 
  9. Schreiner 1998, loc. 614-615 
  10. Myers Jr. 1992, 5.819 
  11. Metzger 2005, 476 
  12. Witherington III 2004, 4 
  13. Myers Jr. 1992, 5.819-820 
  14. Moo 1996, 14 
  15. Myers Jr. 1992, 5.816 
  16. Schreiner 1998, loc. 487-499 
  17. Kruse 2014, 13 
  18. Locatell 2014, “Place” 
  19. Witherington 2004, 16 
  20. PL 17, col. 46 in Moo 1996, 4 
  21. Mays 2000, 1039 
  22. Kruse 2012, 2 
  23. Witherington III 2004, 8 
  24. Witherington III 2004, 8 
  25. Witherington III 2004, 8-9 
  26. Myers Jr. 1992, 5.826 
  27. Moo 1996, 17 

Always Care, Never Kill

Always Care, Never Kill: How Physician-Assisted Suicide Endangers the Weak, Corrupts Medicine, Compromises the Family, and Violates Human Dignity and Equality by Ryan T. Anderson, Ph.D.

Allowing physician-assisted suicide would be a grave mistake for four reasons. First, it would endanger the weak and vulnerable. Second, it would corrupt the practice of medicine and the doctor–patient relationship. Third, it would compromise the family and intergenerational commitments. And fourth, it would betray human dignity and equality before the law. Instead of helping people to kill themselves, we should offer them appropriate medical care and human presence. We should respond to suffering with true compassion and solidarity. Doctors should help their patients to die a dignified death of natural causes, not assist in killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill.

With PAS, a doctor prescribes the deadly drug, but the patient self-administers it. While most activists in the United States publicly call only for PAS, they have historically advocated not only PAS, but also euthanasia: the intentional killing of the patient by a doctor.

Although the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in two unanimous decisions that there is no constitutional right to PAS, three states permit it by statute: Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are allowed in three European countries—the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg—and Switzerland allows assisted suicide.

The evidence from these jurisdictions, particularly the Netherlands, which has over 30 years of experience, suggests that safeguards to ensure effective control have proved inadequate. In the Netherlands, several official, government-sponsored surveys have disclosed both that in thousands of cases, doctors have intentionally administered lethal injections to patients without a request and that in thousands of cases, they have failed to report cases to the authorities.

In sum, a family member or friend who might benefit financially from the death of a patient may act as a witness that the patient is voluntarily requesting the lethal prescription, and doctors who support the ideology of death and have never before met the patient (or the patient’s family) can judge the patient to be “qualified” under the law. Finally, at the time of administering the deadly drug, there are no safeguards to ensure voluntariness or competence or to guard against coercion. Such a measure woefully fails to protect autonomy.

Keown confirms that “the undisputed empirical evidence from the Netherlands and Belgium shows widespread breach of the safeguards, not least the sizeable incidence of non-voluntary euthanasia and of non-reporting.” In October of 2013, three judges of the High Court of Ireland voiced the same concern: “[T]he incidence of legally assisted death without explicit request in the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland is strikingly high.” And the numbers of those assisted in committed suicide keep growing.

Part of the reason for these troubling statistics is that any purported legal safeguards can be and have been abused, and over time the logic of a “right to die” is extended to ever-wider groups of patients, including the incompetent.

The heart of medicine is healing. Doctors cannot heal by assisting patients to kill themselves or by killing them. They rightly seek to eliminate disease and alleviate pain and suffering. They may not, however, seek to eliminate the patient. Allowing doctors to assist in killing threatens to fundamentally corrupt the defining goal of the profession of medicine.

Disability groups note that “numerous studies have demonstrated that physicians underestimate the quality of life of people with disabilities compared to our own assessments.”

These stories are not isolated incidents. Dr. Hendin reports that a study of Dutch hospitals found that “doctors and nurses reported that more requests for euthanasia came from families than from patients themselves. The investigator concluded that the families, the doctors, and the nurses were involved in pressuring patients to request euthanasia.” The same pressure is evident in the limited places where physician-assisted suicide is legal in the United States. Oregon Health Authority research found that 40 percent of those who were assisted with suicide cited being a burden on family or friends and caregivers as their motivation to end their lives.

The D.C. assisted suicide bill, like most, attempts to define which lives are unworthy of legal protection and thus eligible for physician assistance in killing. That definition is unavoidably a statement of who is unworthy of legal protection. There is no way around it. While the evidence discussed in the first section of this paper indicates that its proposed safeguards would fail to ensure effective control, even the attempt to define which lives are eligible for suicide is a grave injustice: It violates human dignity and equality before the law. It declares that some lives matter less than others.

As the joint amicus brief notes, “Assisted suicide singles out some people with disabilities, those labeled ‘terminal’ or very severely impaired, for different treatment than other suicidal people receive.” Government policy should seek to respect the innate dignity of the disabled by eliminating every form of unjust discrimination against them, not by expressly approving the worst form of discrimination of all.

Doctors should help their patients die a dignified natural death, but doctors should not assist in killing or self-killing. Physicians are always to care, never to kill.

Physician-assisted suicide endangers the weak and marginalized in society. Where PAS has been allowed, safeguards that were put in place to minimize this risk have proved inadequate and over time have been weakened or eliminated altogether.

Introducing PAS changes the culture in which medicine is practiced. It corrupts the profession of medicine by permitting the tools of healing to be used as techniques for killing. It also distorts the doctor–patient relationship by reducing patients’ trust of doctors and doctors’ undivided commitment to the healing of their patients. Physician-assisted suicide also creates perverse incentives for insurance providers and the financing of health care.

Worse yet, PAS negatively affects our entire culture. The temptation to view elderly or disabled family members as burdens will increase, as will the temptation for elderly and disabled family members to view themselves as burdens. Instead of solidarity through civil society and true compassion, PAS creates quick-fix, discriminatory, and lethal solutions.

The most profound injustice of PAS is that it violates human dignity and denies equality before the law. Every human being has intrinsic dignity and is the subject of immeasurable worth. No natural right to PAS exists, and arguments for such a right are incoherent. A legal system that sought to vindicate a right to assisted suicide would jeopardize the real natural right to life for all of its citizens.

For all of these reasons, citizens and policymakers need to resist the push for physician-assisted suicide.

Re: Teaching Doubt

Some comments on the article “Teaching Doubt” by new atheist scientist Lawrence Krauss:

As a scientist who also spends a fair amount of time in the public arena, if I am asked if our understanding of the Big Bang conflicts with the idea of a six-thousand-year-old universe, I face a choice: I can betray my scientific values, or encourage that person to doubt his or her own beliefs. More often than you might think, teaching science is inseparable from teaching doubt.

Doubt about one’s most cherished beliefs is, of course, central to science: the physicist Richard Feynman stressed that the easiest person to fool is oneself. But doubt is also important to non-scientists.

I get the sense that for many new atheist types the terms “doubt” and “skepticism” are little more than signals to others that they are part of a group that denies the existence of God, the supernatural, and the paranormal. It is often also a signal that they see themselves as pro-science. But this same group is often intolerant of those who, from their perspective, doubt the wrong things.

Note the tension in how Krauss wants the public to doubt religious claims but is upset when it doubts scientific claims. He foolishly thinks that by promoting doubt the reader will end up doubting the “right” things but not the “wrong” things. This touches on a problem with many new atheists, namely, the tendency to tear things down but not to build things up. A positive epistemology of some kind needs to be promoted.

It’s good to be skeptical, especially about ideas you learn from perceived authority figures.

On the one hand, scientists are authority figures regarding science so you’d think we should be especially skeptical of them. On the other hand, Krauss is disappointed when the public is skeptical of claims made by scientists.

One conclusion we might draw [from studies suggesting ideology can hinder the evaluation of evidence] is that we ought to resist ideology in the first place. If we want to raise citizens who are better at making evidence-based judgments, we need to start early, making skepticism and doubt part of the experience that shapes their identities from a young age.

Skepticism and doubt are only good to the extant that they prevent one from holding false beliefs. They become a hindrance when they prevent one from holding true beliefs. Someone interested in the truth has to think about his epistemology carefully. There are no easy answers of the kind Krauss is peddling.

Meanwhile, earlier this year, an AP-GfK poll revealed that less than a third of Americans are willing to express confidence in the reality of human-induced climate change, evolution, the age of the Earth, and the existence of the Big Bang. Among those surveyed, there was a direct correlation between religious conviction and an unwillingness to accept the results of empirical scientific investigation. Religious beliefs vary widely, of course — not all faiths, or all faithful people, are the same. But it seems fair to say that, on average, religious faith appears to be an obstacle to understanding the world.

Surprise! The man who promotes skepticism and doubt is upset that Americans doubt certain scientific claims he believes to be true.1 And how scientific is it to reach such a broad conclusion about religious faith on the basis of a poll of Americans on four scientific claims? Is someone’s ideology hindering his evaluation of the evidence?

Consider Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, famous for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall: in a recent speech, he declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians.

If you follow the link to MSNBC and watch the video you’ll see that Moore does not claim the First Amendment only applies to Christians. But how could anyone doubt a scientist?

A new generation is always more comfortable dispensing with old ideas than are its predecessors; in this sense, we are never more than a generation away from altering long-held beliefs. The battle for gay marriage, for instance, has already been won because it is simply a non-issue for young people. Is it naive to imagine that we can overcome centuries of religious intransigence in a single generation through education?

Earlier in the piece Krauss wrote: “A provocative novel that presents a completely foreign world view, or a history lesson exploring the vastly different mores of the past, can push you to skeptically reassess your inherited view of the universe.” I have to wonder what percentage of young people hold their view on gay marriage because it is a view they “inherited” from the culture around them.

We need to equip our children with tools to avoid the mistakes of the past while constructing a better, and more sustainable, world for themselves and future generations. We won’t do that by dodging inevitable and important questions about facts and faith. Instead of punting on those questions, we owe it to the next generation to plant the seeds of doubt.

The problem being that skepticism and doubt, by themselves, are tools of destruction. What we ought to do for future generations, what is good, and what is evil are moral questions. Doubt and skepticism alone are not up to the task of constructing a better future.


  1. For the record, I accept the view of mainstream scientists on evolution, the age of the earth, and the big bang. The “reality of human-induced climate change” is vague enough to drive a bus through, so, whether I accept that depends on what, exactly, is meant. 

Psalm 31

Notes (NET Translation)

For the music director; a psalm of David.

1 In you, O LORD, I have taken shelter! Never let me be humiliated! Vindicate me by rescuing me!

2 Listen to me! Quickly deliver me! Be my protector and refuge, a stronghold where I can be safe!

3 For you are my high ridge and my stronghold; for the sake of your own reputation you lead me and guide me.

4 You will free me from the net they hid for me, for you are my place of refuge.

5 Into your hand I entrust my life; you will rescue me, O LORD, the faithful God.

Jesus uses v 5a in Luke 23:46 before dying. This is not a resignation to fate but rather a statement of trust in God’s ability to deliver and protect.

The psalmist sought (v 18) and received deliverance from death and trusted in the coming of such deliverance; Jesus, on the other hand, gave expression to the same statement of trust as he died. He anticipated not deliverance from death, but trusted God even in dying and death (a trust that was later fulfilled in resurrection). It is in the light of the use of the psalm in the words of Jesus that its transformation for contemporary faith becomes clear. The psalmist prayed for life, for deliverance from death, and that is the psalm’s fundamental and legitimate sense. But in the context of resurrection faith, the psalm may also be used as a prayer in death, expressing trust and commitment to the life lying beyond the grave. It was a perspective denied to the psalmist, but follows naturally from the use of his words in the mouth of Jesus.1

6 I hate those who serve worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD.

7 I will be happy and rejoice in your faithfulness, because you notice my pain and you are aware of how distressed I am.

8 You do not deliver me over to the power of the enemy; you enable me to stand in a wide open place.

9 Have mercy on me, for I am in distress! My eyes grow dim from suffering. I have lost my strength.

10 For my life nears its end in pain; my years draw to a close as I groan. My strength fails me because of my sin, and my bones become brittle.

The LXX and Sym read “because of my weakness” instead of “because of my sin.”

If people are inclined to assume that trouble always links with sin or that no one can ever truly claim to be committed to God, LXX reminds them that the former is not so and that the latter can be. If people are inclined to exclude or forget the possibility that all our lives are affected by our wrongdoing and that our trouble can be increased by it, MT reminds them of that.2

11 Because of all my enemies, people disdain me; my neighbors are appalled by my suffering — those who know me are horrified by my condition; those who see me in the street run away from me.

12 I am forgotten, like a dead man no one thinks about; I am regarded as worthless, like a broken jar.

13 For I hear what so many are saying, the terrifying news that comes from every direction. When they plot together against me, they figure out how they can take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O LORD! I declare, “You are my God!”

15 You determine my destiny! Rescue me from the power of my enemies and those who chase me.

16 Smile on your servant! Deliver me because of your faithfulness!

17 O LORD, do not let me be humiliated, for I call out to you! May evil men be humiliated! May they go wailing to the grave!

The situation is one in which there has to be shame somewhere: either the suppliant or the enemies are faithless people. Thus the converse of a plea not to be shamed is a plea that the enemies may have that experience as their accusations are shown to be false.3

18 May lying lips be silenced — lips that speak defiantly against the innocent with arrogance and contempt!

19 How great is your favor, which you store up for your loyal followers! In plain sight of everyone you bestow it on those who take shelter in you.

20 You hide them with you, where they are safe from the attacks of men; you conceal them in a shelter, where they are safe from slanderous attacks.

21 The LORD deserves praise for he demonstrated his amazing faithfulness to me when I was besieged by enemies.

22 I jumped to conclusions and said, “I am cut off from your presence!” But you heard my plea for mercy when I cried out to you for help.

23 Love the LORD, all you faithful followers of his! The LORD protects those who have integrity, but he pays back in full the one who acts arrogantly.

24 Be strong and confident, all you who wait on the LORD!

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Craigie 2004, p. 263 
  2. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8879-8881 
  3. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8944-8946 

Psalm 30

Notes (NET Translation)

A psalm – a song used at the dedication of the temple; by David.

The Hebrew translated “temple” literally means “house.” It could refer to God’s house or David’s house (palace, dynasty).

1 I will praise you, O LORD, for you lifted me up, and did not allow my enemies to gloat over me.

2 O LORD my God, I cried out to you and you healed me.

3 O LORD, you pulled me up from Sheol; you rescued me from among those descending into the grave.

4 Sing to the LORD, you faithful followers of his; give thanks to his holy name.

5 For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life. One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning.

6 In my self-confidence I said, “I will never be upended.”

[T]he suppliant looks back to when things were fine, literally, “in my ease/prosperity” (bĕšalwî). I follow LXX and Jerome in taking this as an objective statement about how things actually were (cf. Rashi). Modern translators and commentators understand it to suggest complacency, but there is no basis for that in the usage of related words (this particular form is a hapax). There seemed no reason why that state of God-given well-being should not continue forever. “I could not imagine anything tripping me up.” While fall down (môṭ) can imply the false confidence of a faithless person (10:6), or the commitment of the faithful person (15:5), it most often refers to the security of the person who belongs to Yhwh (16:8; 21:7 [8]; 46:5 [6]; 62:2, 6 [3, 7]; 125:1). Again, there is thus no reason to take the verb to suggest that the suppliant had lapsed into false self-confidence.1

7 O LORD, in your good favor you made me secure. Then you rejected me and I was terrified.

That God put the psalmist in a secure position further indicates that he was not in a state of false self-confidence. The Hebrew translated “you rejected me” literally means “you hid your face”. God had withdrawn his blessing and protection.

8 To you, O LORD, I cried out; I begged the Lord for mercy:

9 “What profit is there in taking my life, in my descending into the Pit? Can the dust of the grave praise you? Can it declare your loyalty?

10 Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me! O LORD, deliver me!”

11 Then you turned my lament into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and covered me with joy.

12 So now my heart will sing to you and not be silent; O LORD my God, I will always give thanks to you.

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8591-8598 

Psalm 29

Notes (NET Translation)

A psalm of David.

The LXX adds an additional comment in the superscription associating the psalm with the Feast of Tabernacles. In rabbinic tradition, it belonged to the Feast of Weeks instead.1

1 Acknowledge the LORD, you heavenly beings, acknowledge the LORD’s majesty and power!

The Hebrew translated “heavenly beings” literally means “sons of gods”.

The use of the word corresponds to that in other Middle Eastern languages. There it can connote “not only major deities but also a wide variety of other phenomena: monstrous cosmic enemies; demons; some living kings; dead kings or the dead more generally; deities’ images and standards as well as standing stones; and other cultic items and places” — in fact, anything that is not regular humanity. We therefore need to distinguish between English use of the word “god” and Middle Eastern use of terms such as these. The OT does not tell us how these divine beings came into existence and in what sense they are “children of gods/children of God,” though Ps. 82:7 does assert that despite this status they can “die like human beings.” Hence, as well as being subordinate to Yhwh, they are metaphysically different from Yhwh, who is the sole God with no possible beginning and no possible end.

Although Ps. 29 formally addresses these divine beings, its real audience may rather be Israelites inclined to worship other deities, as most Israelites were for much of OT times. In urging the divine beings to give honor to Yhwh, it is placing this exhortation before such Israelites.2

2 Acknowledge the majesty of the LORD’s reputation! Worship the LORD in holy attire!

The Hebrew translated “reputation” literally means “name”. It may be that the heavenly beings are to dress in holy attire.

3 The LORD’s shout is heard over the water; the majestic God thunders, the LORD appears over the surging water.

Baal, the Canaanite weather god, was associated with the storm and his voice (shout) was identified with thunder. The psalmist adopts this language in his description of the true God. The forces of nature commonly attributed to Baal really belong to Yahweh.

4 The LORD’s shout is powerful, the LORD’s shout is majestic.

In stories told by Israel’s contemporaries, the divine beings often had trouble asserting authority over such primordial entities [such as the sea]. The psalm urges the divine beings to recognize Yhwh’s authority because Yhwh had no such difficulty. Like an authoritative teacher entering an unruly classroom, Yhwh spoke, and the forces that were so brave and outspoken hushed.3

5 The LORD’s shout breaks the cedars, the LORD shatters the cedars of Lebanon.

6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf and Sirion like a young ox.

Sirion is Mt. Hermon (Deut 3:9). Relative to the psalmist, Lebanon and Sirion are located to the north.

[The psalmist] has taken two symbols of power and strength — “cedars” (v 5) and the mountainous area of “Lebanon/Sirion” — and illustrated in his poetry the weakness of those great symbols of strength in relationship to the Lord’s strength (cf. עז, “strength,” v 1). The famous cedars of Lebanon are easily broken by the Lord’s voice; the immobile mountains of Lebanon skip like calves frightened at the sound of a voice. The language here is not drawn from Canaanite (Phoenician or Ugaritic) texts, but takes Canaanite symbols of stability and mocks them through a demonstration of their instability in the context of the Lord’s thundering voice.4

7 The LORD’s shout strikes with flaming fire.

This verse alludes to lightning.5

8 The LORD’s shout shakes the wilderness, the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.

Relative to the psalmist, Kadesh in Sinai is located to the south. But this might be a reference to Kadesh on the Orontes to the north.

9 The LORD’s shout bends the large trees and strips the leaves from the forests. Everyone in his temple says, “Majestic!”

In this psalm the preceding images point to God’s majesty more than to his judgment. None of this activity is directed towards human sinners. The “everyone” of this verse would seem to be the heavenly beings of v 1.

10 The LORD sits enthroned over the engulfing waters, the LORD sits enthroned as the eternal king.

The only other biblical usage of the Hebrew term mabbuwl (“engulfing waters”) is in the story of Noah’s flood.

The allusion to the Genesis narrative is a part of the transformation of mythological language in Ps 29:10; the deified flood or sea of Canaanite tradition has become merely the inanimate tool of the Lord. Nevertheless, the enthronement of the Lord, expressed in the powerful imagery of v 10, conveys clearly the concept of the Lord as victorious, not only over chaotic forces in general, but over Baal, the conqueror of chaos, in particular; God’s power is greater than the greatest power known to the Canaanite foes.6

11 The LORD gives his people strength; the LORD grants his people security.

“There is quietness within the storm for those who belong to the people of God.”7

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. VanGemeren 2008, p. 292 
  2. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8321-8330 
  3. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8359-8361 
  4. Craigie 2004, p. 247 
  5. Kidner 2008, p. 143 
  6. Craigie 2004, p. 249 
  7. VanGemeren 2008, p. 296 

Psalm 28

Notes (NET Translation)

By David.

1 To you, O LORD, I cry out! My protector, do not ignore me! If you do not respond to me, I will join those who are descending into the grave.

2 Hear my plea for mercy when I cry out to you for help, when I lift my hands toward your holy temple!

The word for the innermost sanctuary is debir (mistranslated as ‘oracle’ in AV, RV), a name which first appears, apart from here, in accounts of Solomon’s Temple. This need not mean that the psalm is later than David; only that the word had become the standard term for the ark’s abode by Solomon’s time, which suggests that it was in use well before this.1

3 Do not drag me away with evil men, with those who behave wickedly, who talk so friendly to their neighbors, while they plan to harm them!

The suppliant never quite complains about being under attack, and it may be that this plea simply concerns the possibility of being somehow caught up undeservedly in the fate that comes to faithless people deservedly, or it may imply the experience of being accused of wrongdoing, which brings that danger.2

4 Pay them back for their evil deeds! Pay them back for what they do! Punish them!

5 For they do not understand the LORD’s actions, or the way he carries out justice. The LORD will permanently demolish them.

In principle, when there has been tearing down, there can be building up, as Yhwh affirms to Jeremiah, but these people deserve to be finally put down. A paronomasia brackets the verse: because they will not consider (lōʾ yābînû), Yhwh will not build up (lōʾ yibnēm). Another paronomasia recalls the opening plea and brackets vv. 1-5 as a whole: Yhwh’s tearing down (hāras) means Yhwh has not been deaf (ḥāraš, v. 1).3

6 The LORD deserves praise, for he has heard my plea for mercy!

7 The LORD strengthens and protects me; I trust in him with all my heart. I am rescued and my heart is full of joy; I will sing to him in gratitude.

8 The LORD strengthens his people; he protects and delivers his chosen king.

9 Deliver your people! Empower the nation that belongs to you! Care for them like a shepherd and carry them in your arms at all times!

In truly theocratic fashion, the psalmist prays not only for himself but also for the people. People and king, nation and individual, belong together. He closes his prayer of lament and thanksgiving with a prayer for deliverance from oppression, for the Lord’s blessing on his own people, and for God’s royal kingship over his own. The psalmist knows that kingship belongs to the Lord and that, ultimately, the Davidic king is representative of the kingship of God. Therefore he calls on the Great King to be true to his people. They are his chosen “inheritance” (Dt 4:20; 1Ki 8:51). He is the King-Shepherd of his people (Ps 23:1; Mic 5:4; 7:14). His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom. He cares for his sheep in a tender way so as to “carry them” in his arms. This imagery is reminiscent of Isaiah’s language (40:11; 46:3-4; 63:9; cf. Ex 19:4) and, of course, of the words of Jesus (Jn 10:1-18).4

Bibliography

Craigie, Peter C., and Marvin E. Tate. Psalms 1-50. Nashville: Nelson Reference & Electronic, 2004.

Goldingay, John. Psalms: Volume 1: Psalms 1-41. Kindle Edition. Baker Academic, 2006.

Kidner, Derek. Psalms 1-72: An Introduction and Commentary. Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 2008.

VanGemeren, Willem. Psalms. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2008.


  1. Kidner 2008, p. 140 
  2. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8138-8140 
  3. Goldingay 2006, loc. 8177-8182 
  4. VanGemeren, 2008, p. 291