ESV Romans 11:35. "Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?".

Of the 28 versions on Bible Hub 21 of them put the word "first" when translating proedoken. e.g. "Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to Him". NKJV. The other 7, e.g. the ESV, leave out the word "first".

Commenting on this verse Barnes says: "Thus Paul contrary to the prevailing doctrine of the Jews, shows that no one could plead his own merits, or advance with a claim on God. All the favours of salvation must be bestowed by mercy or grace".

Gill's Exposition: "See Job 41:11. No man can give to God anything, which he has not first given him".

My comment: What we give to God is not more or less than an outworking of what He has first given us. "For from him and through him and to him are all things", Romans 11:36.

What reason[s] might the ESV have for putting "has given" and not "has first given"?

1 Answer 1


Romans 11:35 Berean Study Bible

“Who has first given to God, that God should repay him?”

has first given
προέδωκεν (proedōken)
Verb - Aorist Indicative Active - 3rd Person Singular
Strong's Greek 4272: To give before, give forth, betray. From pro and didomi; to give before the other party has given.

This Greek word occurs exactly once in the Bible. The προ part clearly indicates a first giving. The overwhelming majority of the versions translate it as "first given". There is no doubt about it.

Moreover, this verse alludes to Job 41:11 which ESV translates it as

Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

ESV is just not being consistent here. I'd mark this up as an ESV translator error.

  • Good answer. +1
    – Dottard
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 21:26

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