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[Rom 1:7 KJV] (7) To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.

[Rom 1:7 MGNT] (7) πᾶσιν τοῖς οὖσιν ἐν Ῥώμῃ ἀγαπητοῖς θεοῦ κλητοῖς ἁγίοις χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη ἀπὸ θεοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Why did two Greek adjectives in the Greek in Romans 1:7 get translated as "called to be saints" in the KJV?

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In Rom 1:7 we have a classic Greek construction using the dative declension. The dative is a kind of secondary object and this verse contains a short parade of them. The only way to convey the sense in English is to insert a "helper" word such a "by", "for", "to" before the dative noun or adjective. [Compare the genitive which usually requires the addition of "of" before the noun.] Thus we have:

  • Πᾶσιν (Pasin) [Adjective - Dative Masculine Plural] = "to all"
  • Ῥώμῃ (Rhōmē) [Noun - Dative Feminine Singular] = "in Rome" (in this case the "in" is explicit)
  • ἀγαπητοῖς (agapētois) [Adjective - Dative Masculine Plural] = "to the beloved"
  • κλητοῖς (klētois) [Adjective - Dative Masculine Plural] = "to the called"
  • ἁγίοις (hagiois) [Adjective - Dative Masculine Plural] = "to the saints"

How does one translate all this parade of datives? There have been numerous correct attempts:

  • ESV: To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints
  • NASB: to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints
  • CSB: To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints
  • HCSB: To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints
  • ASV: To all that are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints
  • etc.

This is consistent with the use of the word κλητός (klétos) as elsewhere it refers to those called to the Christian community as saints: Matt 20:16, 22:14, Rom 1:1, 6, 8:28, 1 Cor 1:24, Jude 1, Rev 17:14. It is also consistent with the Greek word, ἐκκλησίαν (ekklēsian), usually translated "church" but actually means "called out ones" and would be better translated as "community" or "congregation".

  • This is a fantastic answer! Thank you so much! An additional question related to your answer, the "called" part of the construction makes so much sense now, but I don't think I fully understand why the Greek adjective translated saints wasn't translated holy as it is elsewhere. Would you give a little on that as well? Thanks so much! – Elem-Teach-w-Bach-n-Math-Ed Mar 18 '19 at 0:07
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    The word saints comes from the Lantin "sanctus" meaning "holy" - same meaning! – user25930 Mar 18 '19 at 0:12
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    Merely a personal preference that varies a bit between translators. Saints are holy ones, etc. All the same meaning. – user25930 Mar 18 '19 at 1:42
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    The literal translation will be "to the called saints" for the "called" defines here the "saints", like in "chosen vessels" the "chosen" defines "vessels". However, the "to those called to be saints" is an interpretative take, because it signifies that sainthood is not a givenness but an effort-based process, and unless this effort is put, one will cease to be a saint. Again, the literal way will be "to the called saints", like Vulgate does it - "vocatis sanctis". – Levan Gigineishvili Mar 18 '19 at 6:38
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    Quite right. Both "called" and "saints" are adjectives so even more literally it might be, "to the called holies", or perhaps, "to the called holy [ones]"; but that is splitting hairs. – user25930 Mar 18 '19 at 8:04

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