Wright on Rom 8.28

NT Wright now argues that Romans 8.28 should be read, “God works together with those who love him for good in all things.”

(Cf the RSV, “in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose.”)

This verse then completes the idea of 8.26-27, that the Spirit helps us in our weakness and uncertainty, working with us in our prayers and efforts to do God’s will. As we who love God work, he is doing the real work around and under and beyond us, so that his good plans result.

The verse is usually translated “All things work together for good …”, because (Wright says) Protestant translators want to avoid any suggestion that we by our work contribute something to our salvation. But that’s not Wright’s point, of course.

His argument is that SUNERGEW refers to parties working together, rather than a single party working multiple things together.  That’s the way Paul uses the word (2 Cor 6.1).

Further, “those who love him” is in dative, and SUNERGEW takes its object in the dative.  So “works together with those who love him” is the natural translation if THEOS is the subject.

More evidence is the textual problem.  The earliest manuscripts, including p46, supply “God” as the subject.  The great uncials omit the subject, leaving the more ambiguous reading.

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