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Understanding Romans 8:1 with missing last clause in some translations

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Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (ESV)

When reading this passage using different translations of the Bible, you will notice an extra clause at the end of this passage in many translations. 

For example:

New International Version
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,

New Living Translation
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.

English Standard Version
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

King James Bible
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

New King James Version
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Many scholars consider the cause a scribal error. The earliest manuscripts and citations in early church writings reflect the shorter reading without the words “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The more extended versions only arise after this, so many translators have used the shorter version. Note, the missing clause in Romans 8:1 is still captured in Romans 8:4. 

The difference has caused some to misuse and misrepresent this verse. In other words, they are dwelling so much on the grace of God that some never take time to acknowledge their sin because there is no condemnation in Christ. Some Christians may even admit their sin, but when a fellow believer affirms that God loves them and only sees them as righteous, they are stopping well short of encouraging them to overcome those sinful obstacles in their life. 1 Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

So, how can we accurately apply Romans 8:1? Passages in the Bible must be studied and expanded based on their context. Reading what comes before it, after it, and in alignment with the rest of the theme of the Bible. The Apostle Paul in Romans 7:21-25 describes his struggle against sinful nature, just like every other believer will have. In this struggle against sin, Paul encourages the believer to understand that they are free from condemnation. Condemnation from what? Condemnation from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:2 says, “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” 

You see, the law condemns when its demands are not met, but it cannot overcome sin. The law could not help us overcome sin, which meant the only way was for God to intervene. He sent His own Son, coming in the likeness of sinful man, in the flesh (and without sin) to deal effectively with sin. Romans 8:3 says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,”

The life, death, and resurrection of Christ allow us to walk in the law of the Spirit of life. Amen! The Spirit of life in Christ frees us from law and sin, being full of power and authority, transforming, renewing our minds, sanctifying us, putting to death our fleshly desires and freeing us from the law of sin and death. Praise God! Romans 6:22 says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Now when we read Romans 8:4 (the same text as the missing last clause of Romans 8:1), it says, “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit“. This is God’s plan for His children, and He has sealed us with His Holy Spirit to sanctify us (1 Peter 1:2). Christians must set their minds on the things of God and not fleshly desires. Yes, there is a battle with sin in our lives every day but now we have the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome. Romans 8:5-8 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”

In conclusion, even though some translations of Romans 8:1 do not have the words “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.”; the passage should never be used to minimise sinful activities, citing the grace of God and no condemnation in Christ. Instead, Romans 8:1 must be used in the context of surrounding passages to guide fellow believers to examine if they are walking in the Spirit. All who are in Christ have been justified in Him, and there is no condemnation. Philippians 3:9 says, “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—” It does not mean we can do whatever sinful activity we wish. Instead, the true sign of being in Christ will be your love for God, the desire to set your mind on the things of the Spirit, submitting to God’s law and being transformed every day with the fruits of the Spirit, bringing glory to God. Amen!

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