“Reckoned” in Romans (how the ESV–and probably every other translation–lets us down)

“Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Romans 2.3)

“So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision?” (Romans 2.26; footnote acknowledges “counted”)

“For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3.28).

For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well (Romans 4.3-11).

“That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’ But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord” (Romans 4.22-24).

“sin is not counted where there is no law” (Romans 5.13).

“So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6.11).

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8.18).

“This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring” (Romans 9.8).

“I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean” (Romans 14.14).

Same word every time.

“Reckon” would work just fine.

6 thoughts on ““Reckoned” in Romans (how the ESV–and probably every other translation–lets us down)

  1. Daniel


    Do think that this is an indication that in Romans 4 the word means “to consider” and that the banking analysis of the term is an over-reading of the text?

  2. Nick

    The way I see it, the term “reckon” is not used for two reasons: first of all, it’s not always the best linguistically; second, it would undermine the doctrine of imputation of Christ’s righteousness if people saw how Logizomai (‘reckon’) was used throughout the Epistle (i.e. none of the other examples support the idea of ‘reckon’ meaning ‘credit an alien righteousness to another’).

  3. mark Post author

    The second reason is bogus. Basing the document doctrine on the alleged transitive nature of the word was never necessary nor right.

  4. Nick

    Hi Mark,

    What do you mean by “Basing the document on the alleged transitive nature of the word was never necessary nor right”?

    I’m trying to see how Logizomai can mean X all throughout Romans, but in Romans 4 all of the sudden Logizomai can only mean Y.

  5. mark Post author

    The doctrine (not “document,” sorry) does not require a different meaning. It is all well within the semantic range.


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