Re: Rom 12 19

From: Steven R. Lo Vullo (
Date: Sat May 06 2000 - 22:47:35 EDT

Hi B-Greekers,

What many people seem to miss when discussing this passage is that the theme
of revenge/wrath is carried into chapter 13. I think the chapter division in
this case prevents people from making the connection between what Paul
discusses at the end of chapter 12, and the continuation of that theme in
chapter 13.

GEGRAPTAI GAR: EMOI EKDIKHSIS.... This sets the stage for Paul's discussion
of the role of civil authority in meting out vengeance in God's behalf. The
verbal parallels are unmistakable. Note the words EKDIKEW, ORGHi, and
EKDIKHSIS in 12:19, compared with EKDIKOS and ORGHN in 13:4 and ORGHN again
in 13:5. Here Paul says that the civil authority that exists does so as a
DIAKONOS (servant) of God, an EKDIKOS (avenger; cf. EKDIKEW and EKDIKHSIS in
12:19) to execute ORGHN (wrath; cf. ORGHi in 12:19) on evildoers (TWi TO
KAKON PRASSONTI; cf. 12:17, 21). Paul's point in all this (though obviously
not his only point) is that Christians should not take their own revenge,
but should yield (DOTE TOPON) to God, trusting that he will take appropriate
action by dealing out vengeful wrath to the wicked. He goes on in chapter 13
to explain further that one of the ways God deals out wrath to the wicked is
by the agency of civil servants whom he in his providence has authorized to
wreak vengeance on evildoers. The fact that this passage follows on the
heels of the comments made at the end of chapter 12 and illustrates one of
the ways God executes wrath on evildoers suggests very strongly that what is
in view in 12:19 is not the withholding of wrath on the part of Christians
(although that is obviously true), but the execution of wrath God deals out
in avenging his people.

Further evidence for this view can be found in similar commands found in the
book of Sirach. In 19:17 the writer says, "Question your neighbor before you
threaten him, and defer (DOS TOPON) to the Law of the Most High." Here the
idea seems to be much the same as that of Rom 12:19: Don't take matters into
your own hands, but defer to God and his duly instituted authority for
redress." In 38:12 we read, "And give place (DOS TOPON) to the physician,
for the Lord created him." Here again the idea seems to be to yield to those
whom the Lord by his providence has established to take care of certain
maladies. The first example is obviously closer to the matter of Rom 12:19,
but the second carries much the same idea, which is yielding to other
authorities for a solution to the problem, rather than taking matters into
one's own hands. The idea is not to acquiesce to the abuse or malady
(although for a Christian this may be necessary at times with regard to
persecution), but to yield to God and those established by him for redress
of the problem.

Steve Lo Vullo

----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: "Biblical Greek" <>
Sent: Saturday, May 06, 2000 8:33 PM
Subject: Re: Rom 12 19

> In a message dated 5/6/2000 5:15:51 PM Central Standard Time,
> writes:
> <<
> I can understand how you reach your translation, but we seem to be
> with an idiom.
> >>
> But not one involving the necessity of supplying QEOU to complete the
> thought. In fact, I would say that it is not God's wrath that is
> but rather that of those who would do ill to Paul's readers (most
> the Roman Christians). Without having analyzed too thoroughly the
> of the passage, it appears that we have here a parallelismus membrorum
> gfsomsel
> ---
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