An Examination of
Romans 9:5

A Suggested Method for Evaluating
Bible Translations


How can we properly evaluate the multitudinous versions of the Bible? How can we determine whether a modern translation is trustworthy and reliable? Is it possible to examine a version and definitely discover a bias against the Person and work of Christ? These are important questions for those who are deeply concerned that the Bible they hold in their hand and recommend to others best reflects the original God-breathed text.

In recent decades, the King James Bible and the Textus Receptus (the Greek text upon which its New Testament is believed to be based) has been made the standard for many Fundamentalists by which all other English versions are measured and rejected. Almost all of the modern versions or modern translations are based upon a minority of ancient manuscripts which KJV defenders consider to be corrupt manuscripts. This “corruption,” they claim, can be detected in passages such as Colossians 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16; Luke 2:33,43, when the King James Bible is compared with some of the modern versions. Representative of such KJV defenders are Edward Hills, Terence Brown, David Fuller, Peter Ruckman (holding to a very extreme position), Jack Hyles, Donald Waite, David Cloud, and Pensacola Christian College.  Some of these men are convinced that the King James Bible is a perfect and flawless translation which cannot be improved upon, although the King James translators themselves would have strongly objected to this characterization (see the preface to the KJV entitled "The Translators to the Reader" which shows that the KJV translators did not deem their work to be perfect or infallible).

Regarded as a "close cousin" to the Textus Receptus, the Majority Text (also designated as the Byzantine family of manuscripts) has been presented by a small group of scholars as preserving the original text of the New Testament even better than the Textus Receptus. Some representatives of this line of thinking are John William Burgon, Arthur Farstad, Zane Hodges, Alfred Martin, and Wilbur Pickering.

On the other side of the debate, there are many Bible-believing, conservative scholars who do not believe the Textus Receptus should be made the absolute standard for determining the trustworthiness of a translation. We could think of Benjamin Warfield, Charles Hodge, A.T. Robertson1, Henry Alford, C.I. Scofield2,  just to name a few. Thus, an evaluation of versions on the basis of the underlying Greek text can become a very divisive issue, even among those who strongly hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of the Word of God.3   [Note:  For a helpful article on what the historic, fundamentalist position is on Bible translations, see Robert L. Sumner's booklet, "Bible Translations," published by Biblical Evangelism.]

I would like to suggest another possible method for evaluating translations and one which should find all Bible-believers in hearty agreement. This is by no means a new method. After the Revised Standard Version was published nearly 30 years ago, conservative, Bible-believers were almost unanimous in their opposition to this translation. Why was this so? Their united opposition, for the most part, was not due to the underlying Greek text. Rather, it was because of certain key verses (such as Isaiah 7:14) where the translation clearly revealed the liberal bias and unbelief of the translators. Let us now consider one such verse and see if it really serves as a good test for evaluating versions.

Romans 9:5 is one of the clearest affirmations of the deity of Christ found in the Bible. In no uncertain terms Paul declares that Christ, who came out of Israel according to the flesh, is none other than the One who is OVER ALL, GOD BLESSED FOREVER!

Modern scholarship, however, has made every effort to circumvent the obvious implications of such a statement, and to do so they have played an ingenious game of repunctuation.4 They have cleverly placed a period after "Christ" (...Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever!) or after "over all" (...Christ, who is over all. God be blessed forever!), but in either case they have made the doxology refer not to Christ, but to God the Father. If we allow such punctuation, then the King James rendering becomes dubious and Romans 9:5 can no longer be used as a proof-text for the deity of Christ.

Is the punctuation of this verse dependent on the whim of the translator? Is there any sure way of knowing which rendering is correct? Indeed, when Romans 9:5 is objectively examined in light of the rules of context, language, usage and grammar, the reverent interpreter can safely arrive at only one conclusion. Consider the following facts:

1) As any interlinear Greek-English Testament would reveal, the Greek text could literally be translated as follows:  "and out of whom the Christ (came) according to the flesh the One who is over all God blessed forever Amen."   How would you punctuate this sentence (I have deliberately omitted any punctuation)?

2) According to a parallel passage in Romans 1:3-4, we would expect Paul to say something about the deity of Christ in Romans 9:5. In Romans 1:3-4 Paul said (permit me to paraphrase), "As to His humanity He is of the seed of David, but as to His deity, He is the unique Son of God!"  Likewise in Romans 9:5, "As to His humanity He came out of Israel, but as to His deity, He is over all, God blessed forever!" Or, as Hodge has written, "Christ, according to the flesh, was an Israelite, but, according to His higher nature, the supreme God."5  We would expect such an antithesis.

3) There are two other places where the expression "blessed forever" is used by Paul:

i.  Romans 1:25: ". . . the Creator, who is blessed forever"

Who is "blessed forever"?  THE CREATOR!

ii. 2 Corinthians 11:31: "The God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, which is blessed forever"


Thus, if we follow the same pattern:

   Romans 9:5: ". . .Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever"

Who is "God blessed forever"? CHRIST WHO IS OVER ALL!

Thus according to Pauline usage, the doxology would have to refer to Christ!

4) The liberal translators have no real precedent for making “God be blessed” an independent doxology. The standard form for doxologies in both the Old and New Testaments (and in other ancient literature) is almost always “Blessed be God” not “God be blessed.” Compare 1 Kings 8:15,56; Ephesians 1:3; 2 Corinthians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3; etc.

5) “The interpretation that refers the passage to Christ suits the structure of the sentence, whereas the interpretation that takes the words as an asyndetic (disconnected, independent) doxology to God the Father is awkward and unnatural.”6    A. T. Robertson, the distinguished grammarian, agrees: “To start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward.”7

6) The church Fathers were almost unanimous in understanding the passage as referring to Christ.8

7) Finally, if the evidence is so overwhelmingly in favor of referring the words “God blessed” to Christ, why do so many modern scholars want to translate it differently? Their principal argument is a real shocker! They say that nowhere else in his “genuine” epistles does Paul ever designate Christ as God: “It seems tantamount to impossible that Paul would have expressed Christ's greatness by calling him God blessed for ever.”9  Do you discern somewhat of a bias here? Apparently such unbelieving critics have never read what Paul said about Christ in Titus. 2:1310  or Colossians 2:9 or Philippians 2:6 (“equal with God”)!

In conclusion, let me cite the words of Charles Hodge and Henry Alford who both affirm that the expression “God blessed” can only refer to Christ: “There is but one interpretation of this important passage which can, with the least regard to the rules of construction, be maintained.”11  “The rendering given above (pointing to the deity of Christ) is then not only that most agreeable to the usage of the Apostle, but the only one admissible by the rules of grammar and arrangement” (emphasis his).12

Now that we have determined the correct rendering of Romans 9:5, let's use this key verse as a criterion by which we can evaluate various Bible translations:



"God" refers to Christ


"God" refers to God the Father

Christ's Deity Declared!

"...Christ who is over all, God blessed forever!"

Incorrect Variation #1

"...Christ who is over all. God be blessed forever!"

Incorrect Variation #2

"...Christ. God who is over all be blessed forever!"

King James Bible-1611
(Authorized Version)



New American Standard Bible



The Amplified Bible



An Expanded Translation
(Kenneth Wuest)



The Christian Counselor's New Testament (Jay Adams)



The Jerusalem Bible-1966



The New King James Bible



Revised Version-1881

Revised Version Footnote13

Revised Version Footnote13

New International Version

New International Version Footnote

New International Version Footnote


The Living Bible
(Ken Taylor's Paraphrase)


Revised Standard Version


Revised Standard Version

New English Bible Footnote


New English Bible

Today's English Version Footnote


Today's English Version (Good News For Modern Man or Good News Bible)

New Living Translation-1996
(new revision of The Living Bible)--poor translation of this verse even though it points to Christ's deity.


New Living Translation

Holman Christian Standard Bible--1999   Holman Christian Standard Bible Footnote
Net Bible The Net Bible recognizes these other possibilities in the footnote, but argues strongly that it is best to take this as an affirmation of Christ’s deity.
English Standard Version (ESV)    
    New World Translation
(Jehovah's Witnesses)


1) Beware of an orthodox translation accompanied by an heretical or unorthodox footnote in small print.

2) The versions which resulted from liberal scholarship all seem to recognize in their footnotes the possibility and even the validity of the correct rendering.

3) The New World Translation can serve as a “control” since we already know that the Jehovah’s Witnesses have a strong bias against the deity of Christ.

Obviously, one verse is not a sufficient criterion with which to condemn or condone an entire translation. It would also be helpful to use other key verses which, together with Romans 9:5, could serve as “test verses” to very quickly examine a new translation and discover the absence or presence of a liberal bias. I would suggest Isaiah 7:14 (“the virgin”); Psalm 2:12 (“kiss the Son”),  Titus 2:13 (anyone who discounts the Granville Sharp rule, which links "the great God" with "our Saviour Jesus Christ," does so for strictly theological reasons),  2 Timothy 3:16 (placement of the supplied "is"), and Psalm 22:16 (see the absurd rendering of the NEB).

Perhaps you could suggest others. Our desire in all of this is to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). Only then can we please the Christ who died for us, the One who is over all, God blessed forever!

George Zeller (originally published in the Voice Magazine, IFCA, July/August 1979 and has since been revised and updated)


For Further Study on Romans 9:5


1Authored a textbook on textual criticism.

2Read Scofield’s “Introduction” in the original Scofield Reference Bible.

3This is not to say that the issue of the underlying Greek text is unimportant. “Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”

4Erasmus may have been one of the first to play this game. See Charles Hodge, Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, see on Romans 9:5.


6Bruce M. Metzger, editor, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, see on Romans 9:5.

7A.T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, see on Romans 9:5.

8Metzger, see on Romans 9:5.

9Ibid. This amazing statement is made even after giving five conclusive reasons as to why the minority of the Committee preferred to understand the expression as referring to Christ. See also James Denny, “St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans” in the Expositor’s Greek Testament on Romans 9:5 where a similar heretical statement is made.

10See Metzger on Romans 9:5 where we read in the footnote, “Titus 2:13 is generally regarded as deutero-Pauline."

11Hodge, see on Romans 9:5.

12Alford’s Greek Testament, see on Romans 9:5.

13The footnote is prefaced by "some modern interpreters . . ."  This is one place where the Revisers did not appeal to the "ancient authorities"!


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