Re: Romans 4:17: KALOUNTOS TA MH ONTA hWS ONTA (for tomorrow's sermon...)

Carl W. Conrad (
Tue, 24 Sep 1996 18:23:16 -0500 (EST)

At 12:42 PM -0500 9/21/96, Jonathan Robie wrote:
>I'm preparing a sermon on "Faith" for tomorrow, and I think that I should
>address Romans 4:17, which is used by many "name it and claim it" ministers.
>The KJV translates this phrase as "calleth those things which be not as though
>they were." NASB translates the same phrase as "calls into being that which does
>not exist."
>There seem to be three possible interpretations of this verse:
>1. God called non-existent things into being. This interpretation assumes
>KALOUNTOS refers to God, that it is being used in the sense of "summoned", and
>that WS is being used in the sense of "with the result that", as in Mt. 12:12 'a
>great storm took place on the lake SO THAT (WS) the boat was covered with the
>2. God spoke of things not in existence as though they already existed. Can
>"" mean "speaks of as though?
>3. Abraham spoke of things not in existence as though they already existed. Can
>KALOUNTOS refer to Abraham in this context?
>Here's the Greek:
>Roma 4:17 (GNT) kaqws gegraptai oti Patera pollwn eqnwn teqeika se katenanti ou
>episteusen qeou tou zwopoiountos tous nekrous kai kalountos ta mh onta ws onta

I'm not sending this reply to the list as it is essentially an exchange including my response to a very similar question posed to the list almost a year ago.Perhaps it will be helpful to you i you haven't already completed your preparations (as for me, I often do preparation after the fact!).

Date: Fri, 3 Nov 1995 15:39:43 -0500
Subject: Romans 4:17



1. "...calling things which do not exist as existing."
2. "...calling things which do not exist into being."


1. Dunn states that KALEW has the strong sense of summons
and that WS expresses a consequence. So, his translation runs:
"...who calls things that have no existence into existence." (p. 218.)

2. Max G. indicates that WS ONTA is "not speaking of non-existent
things as if they existed, but 'calling' them 'into existence'" (p. 468).


1. Is it acceptable to translate this as follows: "...calling the
non-existent things 'as if' existing"?

2. Is there any difference between the "non-existent" and the "existent"
when faith, in effect, equals reality?

3. This is important for me because the very definition of faith hinges
on the difference between the "seen" and the "unseen." Or, perhaps
it's more accurate to say that the two, in the final analysis, are
From: "Carl W. Conrad" <>
Subject: Re: Romans 4:17

At 2:39 PM 11/3/95, wrote:

I'm not sure whether this gets to the heart of the question you are asking
about this text, but it seems to me that, whichever of these alternative
versions one prefers, this part of the verse is concerned not with the
nature of the faith but rather with the nature of the God in whom one puts
one's trust (and as a matter of interpretation here, I don't think that the
faith here is a matter of cognitive assent to a proposition so much as it
is personal trust in God to keep his promises. Now it also seems to me that
this part of the verse is emphasizing that the God in whom Abraham puts his
trust is both Creator and Redeemer: he is the God who makes what is dead
come alive whether that be Abraham's own SWMA NENEKRWMENON or the NEKRWSIN
THS MHTRAS SARRAS. This God makes the dead come alive and summons things
that are unreal into reality or that are not into being. I think that the
parallelism between the two participial phrases qualifying TOU QEOU is
ONTA; it is the God who raises the dead and who calls into being. I think
that what Paul is trying to underscore here is that Abraham's trust is in
the God who raises Jesus from the dead and who brings to life the
generative seed in Abraham himself and the generative womb in Sarah. As I
see it, the emphasis is on the proposition that trust in God the Creator is
at the same time trust in God the Redeemer.

Carl W. Conrad

>(Is Graeculus Esuriens anything like Anorexia Nervosa?)

Sowas unverschaemt, du frecher Kerl!