Contemporary English Version
The Example of Abraham
4 Well then, what can we say about our ancestor Abraham? 2 If he became acceptable to God because of what he did, then he would have something to brag about. But he would never be able to brag about it to God. 3 The Scriptures say, “God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith in him.”
4 Money paid to workers isn’t a gift. It is something they earn by working. 5 But you cannot make God accept you because of something you do. God accepts sinners only because they have faith in him. 6 In the Scriptures David talks about the blessings that come to people who are acceptable to God, even though they don’t do anything to deserve these blessings. David says,
7 “God blesses people
whose sins are forgiven
and whose evil deeds
8 The Lord blesses people
whose sins are erased
from his book.”
9 Are these blessings meant for circumcised people or for those who are not circumcised? Well, the Scriptures say that God accepted Abraham because Abraham had faith in him. 10 But when did this happen? Was it before or after Abraham was circumcised? Of course, it was before.
11 Abraham let himself be circumcised to show that he had been accepted because of his faith even before he was circumcised. This makes Abraham the father of all who are acceptable to God because of their faith, even though they are not circumcised. 12 This also makes Abraham the father of everyone who is circumcised and has faith in God, as Abraham did before he was circumcised.
The Promise Is for All Who Have Faith
13 God promised Abraham and his descendants that he would give them the world. This promise wasn’t made because Abraham had obeyed a law, but because his faith in God made him acceptable. 14 If Abraham and his descendants were given this promise because they had obeyed a law, then faith would mean nothing, and the promise would be worthless.
15 God becomes angry when his Law is broken. But where there isn’t a law, it cannot be broken. 16 Everything depends on having faith in God, so that God’s promise is assured by his great kindness. This promise isn’t only for Abraham’s descendants who have the Law. It is for all who are Abraham’s descendants because they have faith, just as he did. Abraham is the ancestor of us all. 17 The Scriptures say that Abraham would become the ancestor of many nations. This promise was made to Abraham because he had faith in God, who raises the dead to life and creates new things.
18 God promised Abraham a lot of descendants. And when it all seemed hopeless, Abraham still had faith in God and became the ancestor of many nations. 19 Abraham’s faith never became weak, not even when he was nearly a hundred years old. He knew that he was almost dead and that his wife Sarah could not have children. 20 But Abraham never doubted or questioned God’s promise. His faith made him strong, and he gave all the credit to God.
21 Abraham was certain that God could do what he had promised. 22 So God accepted him, 23 just as we read in the Scriptures. But these words were not written only for Abraham. 24 They were written for us, since we will also be accepted because of our faith in God, who raised our Lord Jesus to life. 25 God gave Jesus to die for our sins, and he raised him to life, so that we would be made acceptable to God.
What It Means To Be Acceptable to God
5 By faith we have been made acceptable to God. And now, because of our Lord Jesus Christ, we live at peace[a] with God. 2 Christ has also introduced us[b] to God’s undeserved kindness on which we take our stand. So we are happy, as we look forward to sharing in the glory of God. 3 But that’s not all! We gladly suffer,[c] because we know that suffering helps us to endure. 4 And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope 5 that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love.
6 Christ died for us at a time when we were helpless and sinful. 7 No one is really willing to die for an honest person, though someone might be willing to die for a truly good person. 8 But God showed how much he loved us by having Christ die for us, even though we were sinful.
9 But there is more! Now that God has accepted us because Christ sacrificed his life’s blood, we will also be kept safe from God’s anger. 10 Even when we were God’s enemies, he made peace with us, because his Son died for us. Yet something even greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, we will be saved by his Son’s life. 11 And in addition to everything else, we are happy because God sent our Lord Jesus Christ to make peace with us.
Adam and Christ
12 Adam sinned, and that sin brought death into the world. Now everyone has sinned, and so everyone must die. 13 Sin was in the world before the Law came. But no record of sin was kept, because there was no Law. 14 Yet death still had power over all who lived from the time of Adam to the time of Moses. This happened, though not everyone disobeyed a direct command from God, as Adam did.
In some ways Adam is like Christ who came later. 15 But the gift that God was kind enough to give was very different from Adam’s sin. That one sin brought death to many others. Yet in an even greater way, Jesus Christ alone brought God’s gift of kindness to many people.
16 There is a lot of difference between Adam’s sin and God’s gift. That one sin led to punishment. But God’s gift made it possible for us to be acceptable to him, even though we have sinned many times. 17 Death ruled like a king because Adam had sinned. But that cannot compare with what Jesus Christ has done. God has been so kind to us, and he has accepted us because of Jesus. And so we will live and rule like kings.
18 Everyone was going to be punished because Adam sinned. But because of the good thing that Christ has done, God accepts us and gives us the gift of life. 19 Adam disobeyed God and caused many others to be sinners. But Jesus obeyed him and will make many people acceptable to God.
20 The Law came, so that the full power of sin could be seen. Yet where sin was powerful, God’s kindness was even more powerful. 21 Sin ruled by means of death. But God’s kindness now rules, and God has accepted us because of Jesus Christ our Lord. This means that we will have eternal life.
Dead to Sin but Alive because of Christ
6 What should we say? Should we keep on sinning, so that God’s wonderful kindness will show up even better? 2 No, we should not! If we are dead to sin, how can we go on sinning? 3 Don’t you know that all who share in Christ Jesus by being baptized also share in his death? 4 When we were baptized, we died and were buried with Christ. We were baptized, so that we would live a new life, as Christ was raised to life by the glory of God the Father.
5 If we shared in Jesus' death by being baptized, we will be raised to life with him. 6 We know that the persons we used to be were nailed to the cross with Jesus. This was done, so that our sinful bodies would no longer be the slaves of sin. 7 We know that sin doesn’t have power over dead people.
8 As surely as we died with Christ, we believe we will also live with him. 9 We know that death no longer has any power over Christ. He died and was raised to life, never again to die. 10 When Christ died, he died for sin once and for all. But now he is alive, and he lives only for God. 11 In the same way, you must think of yourselves as dead to the power of sin. But Christ Jesus has given life to you, and you live for God.
12 Don’t let sin rule your body. After all, your body is bound to die, so don’t obey its desires 13 or let any part of it become a slave of evil. Give yourselves to God, as people who have been raised from death to life. Make every part of your body a slave that pleases God. 14 Don’t let sin keep ruling your lives. You are ruled by God’s kindness and not by the Law.
Slaves Who Do What Pleases God
15 What does all this mean? Does it mean we are free to sin, because we are ruled by God’s wonderful kindness and not by the Law? Certainly not! 16 Don’t you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die, or you can be obedient slaves of God and be acceptable to him. 17 You used to be slaves of sin. But I thank God that with all your heart you obeyed the teaching you received from me. 18 Now you are set free from sin and are slaves who please God.
19 I am using these everyday examples, because in some ways you are still weak. You used to let the different parts of your body be slaves of your evil thoughts. But now you must make every part of your body serve God, so that you will belong completely to him.
20 When you were slaves of sin, you didn’t have to please God. 21 But what good did you receive from the things you did? All you have to show for them is your shame, and they lead to death. 22 Now you have been set free from sin, and you are God’s slaves. This will make you holy and will lead you to eternal life. 23 Sin pays off with death. But God’s gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord.
An Example from Marriage
7 My friends, you surely understand enough about law to know that laws only have power over people who are alive. 2 For example, the Law says that a man’s wife must remain his wife as long as he lives. But once her husband is dead, she is free 3 to marry someone else. However, if she goes off with another man while her husband is still alive, she is said to be unfaithful.
4 That is how it is with you, my friends. You are now part of the body of Christ and are dead to the power of the Law. You are free to belong to Christ, who was raised to life so that we could serve God. 5 When we thought only of ourselves, the Law made us have sinful desires. It made every part of our bodies into slaves who are doomed to die. 6 But the Law no longer rules over us. We are like dead people, and it cannot have any power over us. Now we can serve God in a new way by obeying his Spirit, and not in the old way by obeying the written Law.
The Battle with Sin
7 Does this mean that the Law is sinful? Certainly not! But if it had not been for the Law, I would not have known what sin is really like. For example, I would not have known what it means to want something that belongs to someone else, unless the Law had told me not to do that. 8 It was sin that used this command as a way of making me have all kinds of desires. But without the Law, sin is dead.
9 Before I knew about the Law, I was alive. But as soon as I heard that command, sin came to life, 10 and I died. The very command that was supposed to bring life to me, instead brought death. 11 Sin used this command to trick me, and because of it I died. 12 Still, the Law and its commands are holy and correct and good.
13 Am I saying that something good caused my death? Certainly not! It was sin that killed me by using something good. Now we can see how terrible and evil sin really is. 14 We know that the Law is spiritual. But I am merely a human, and I have been sold as a slave to sin. 15 In fact, I don’t understand why I act the way I do. I don’t do what I know is right. I do the things I hate. 16 Although I don’t do what I know is right, I agree that the Law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them.
18 I know that my selfish desires won’t let me do anything that is good. Even when I want to do right, I cannot. 19 Instead of doing what I know is right, I do wrong. 20 And so, if I don’t do what I know is right, I am no longer the one doing these evil things. The sin that lives in me is what does them.
21 The Law has shown me that something in me keeps me from doing what I know is right. 22 With my whole heart I agree with the Law of God. 23 But in every part of me I discover something fighting against my mind, and it makes me a prisoner of sin that controls everything I do. 24 What a miserable person I am. Who will rescue me from this body that is doomed to die? 25 Thank God! Jesus Christ will rescue me.
So with my mind I serve the Law of God, although my selfish desires make me serve the law of sin.