This one of the best known of the 10 verses which are presented as possible proofs for Christ being called God in the New Testament.

Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (KJV Romans 9:5)

The problem is that the Greek does not set it out as clearly as the English versions represent.

 

Of Whom

Firstly “who being above all” (ho oon epi panton) does not have to refer to Christ in “of WHOM as concerning the flesh Christ came”, but could equally refer to “of WHOM” – who obviously is “WHO IS OVER ALL”, as God who is also over Christ according to repeated references in Paul’s writings where Paul subordinates Christ under his Father. (“head of Christ is God” 1 Corinthians 11:13, and so on).

 

Doxology

Secondly, despite the comma in the KJV, the statement “God blessed for ever, Amen!” is not part of the of main sentence here and comes out of nowhere. It could be read as referring to Jesus, yes,  but the issue is context. What relevance would Paul suddenly making the unique statement that Christ is God – a statement with nothing like it found anywhere in Paul’s writings – have to the subject of Romans 9 which is about Israel? Why would Paul suddenly throw in here of all places that Jesus is God over all, when talking about Old Testament history?

An alternative is that Paul is simply inserting a doxology, or praise statement, that shows Christ coming to the fathers of Israel in fulfillment of Old Testament models. Paul’s expression is parallel with similar “God blessed for ever, Amen!” statements from the Psalms.

Psalm 41:13 Blessed be the LORD God of Israel from everlasting, and to everlasting. Amen, and Amen.

 

Conclusion

To a Christian reader today it might very well seem that Paul is calling Jesus God over all blessed for ever. But a Jewish reader would more naturally read Paul’s statement as being about the “OF WHOM”, and not about the one who came, Christ.

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