Romans 8:37-39 in the New Living Translation (NLT) vs. New International Version (NIV)

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A very interesting translation of this text in the New Living Translation:

“37No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. 38Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels can’t, and the demons can’t. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can’t keep God’s love away. 39Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Compare that to the NIV:

“37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So which is closer to the mark? Literally it reads something like this:

“37But, in all these things [we have] complete victory through the one having loved us. 38For I have been convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor present, nor future, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Verse 37 – The emphasis in 37 is on the victory that is won more than us being the conquerors (point NLT).
Verse 38 – The structure of this verse is a single sentence that carries on and on so much so that it almost leaves you breathless by the end…giving the effect that the list of powers that are unable to subvert us from God’s plan and power is quite a long and exhaustive list. The NLT breaks it up with lots of commas and periods that makes it more choppy and loses the effect that the NIV and Greek text creates. (Point NIV)
Verse 39 – NLT takes on much more dynamic equivalence here than the NIV does. That is not too uncommon for the NLT. In other words, it supplies many words that are not in the original text to get the point across of the intent of the author (Paul). That is not just true of the descriptive terms but also the word “ever.” I think Paul has that sense here in just how final and authoritative God’s love is about any other competing power in the universe. The NIV follows the Greek text much closer here than the NLT. (Point NIV).

Looks like the NIV wins. I do love the NLT’s take on the text and it gets you thinking about some components of this verse that fits the context of Romans 8 well but aren’t necessarily in the text itself. The ESV does a pretty good job on these verses as well. Link to ESV translation.

0 Responses

    1. Empretho,

      I am assuming you have compared the Textus Receptus or at least Stephanus’ Greek text and more recent attempts at reconstructing the text like the UBS-3 on these verses in particular before making a comment like that 😉

      If you compare UBS-3 to Stephanus’ 1550 Greek text, which was referenced in translating the New Testament, there is only one difference and that is just in word order.

      Stephanus has – ουτε δυναμεις ουτε ενεστωτα
      UBS-3 has – ουτε ενεστωτα ουτε δυναμεις

      So the text is irrelevant here. They are using essentially the same Greek to translate from the in the NIV, KJV, and NLT.

  1. I love the ESV, but the NLT is my second translation of choice. Thanks for pointed this out (and for the props to the ESV).

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