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"and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord,". Romans 1:4 All from ESV:

Luke 22:22 horismenon/determined.

Acts 2:23 horismene/"definite" plan.

Acts 17:26 horisas/determined.

Here we see "horizo" translated in various ways. Often the word is to do with the extent of something being fixed before it occurs.

However in Romans 1:4 it is translated "declared". [Other versions do this as well]. Why would the ESV choose "declared" as opposed to "determined/predestinated"?

"Who was predestinated the Son of God in power, according to the spirit of sanctification...". Romans 1:4 Douay-Rheims.

3 Answers 3

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τοῦ ὁρισθέντος is the aorist passive participle genitive masculine singular of ὁρίζω with the article.

Figure 1. Senses of ὁρίζω in the New Testament (generated with Logos Bible Software)

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Terns like this can be difficult to translate when applied to God. Remember when it comes to the mind of God:

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are my ways higher than your ways 
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isa. 55:9, ESV)

God doesn't wait until a point in time and say, "Now I've finally decided." For God everything is predestined. However, while predestined might give a better understanding of the theology, as Dottard mentioned predestined doesn't fit the meaning of ὁρίζω. Thus, it is interpreting rather than translating.

Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37), but "it is impossible for God to lie, (Heb. 6:18, ESV) because God limits himself by his chosen attributes. In the same way the Trinity is the way God defined himself including the Son.

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ESV Romans 1:

4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord

was declared
ὁρισθέντος (horisthentos)
Verb - Aorist Participle Passive - Genitive Masculine Singular
Strong's 3724: From horion; to mark out or bound, i.e. to appoint, decree, specify.

G3724 appears only 8 times, NASB Translation:

appointed (2), declared (1), determined (3), fixes (1), predetermined (1).

HELPS Word-studies:

3724 horízō (from horos, "boundary, limit") – properly, to set boundaries (limits) – literally, "determine horizons" (boundaries).

Thayer's Greek Lexicon:

from (Aeschylus and) Herodotus down; to define;

The general sense of the word is to define.

  1. to mark out the boundaries or limits (of any place or thing) ...
  2. to determine, appoint: ... that which hath been determined, according to appointment, decree, ..., to ordain, determine, appoint, Acts 10:42; followed by an infinitive Acts 11:29 (Sophocles from 19 d. (i. e. Aegeus (539), viii., p. 8, Brunck edition)).

The word has a range of meanings centered on the general sense to define.

Let's see the context:

Berean Study Bible

3 regarding His Son, who was a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.

This particular definition/declaration was demonstrated by Jesus' resurrection. It was a public and powerful event.

Why does the ESV translate "horizo" "declared" in Romans 1:4?

To emphasize that it was a public and powerful declaration and not just a quiet definition.

Why would the ESV choose "declared" as opposed to "determined/predestinated"?

According to this interpretation, the resurrection of Jesus was the proof that he was the Son of God. The proof emphasizes the end and not the beginning.

There is another interpretation, Douay-Rheims Bible Romans 1:

1 PAUL, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, 2Which he had promised before, by his prophets, in the holy scriptures,

This interpretation emphasizes what happened before.

3 Concerning his Son, who was made to him of the seed of David, according to the flesh, 4Who was predestinated the Son of God in power,

God ordained this vertically beforehand. Now, we are not so concerned about proving it horizontally.

according to the spirit of sanctification, by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead;

Depending on your interpretations, both make sense. To me, ESV makes more sense because of the immediate context while Douay-Rheims stretches the sense of ὁρισθέντος a bit.

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  • Does 'foreordained' 1 Peter 1:20 fit with 'predestinated" and strengthen vertical view?
    – C. Stroud
    Nov 10, 2021 at 19:00
  • Yes, but προγινώσκω is a different word, not the same Greek word here :)
    – user35953
    Nov 10, 2021 at 19:23
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ὁρίζω (horizo) has the basic meaning to mark out or delineate. BDAG gives two basic meanings:

  1. from the basic meaning, 'to separate entities and so establish a boundary', derives the sense, 'to define ideas or concepts': set limits, define, explain ... eg, Ps 1:3 (LXX)
  2. to make a determination about an entity, determine, appoint, fix, set, (a) of things, eg, Heb 4:7, Acts 17:26, 2:23, 11:29, Luke 22:22, etc. (b) of persons, appoint, designate, declare, Acts 17:31, 10:42, Rom 1:4, etc.

Thus, the translation of "determine" (as used by most versions) is entirely consistent with the basic meaning of ὁρίζω.

Note: There is nothing in the basic meaning to suggest that "predestinate" could be the meaning; however, that idea is presented in other places in the NT such as Acts 4:28, Eph 1:11, 1 Cor 2:7, etc. "Predestinate" means to decide beforehand, while "determine or declare" means to do so at the event and not previously. DRB is isolated in this regard.

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  • .Perry Webb's diagram links "determine" with "plan". Plans come before not "at".
    – C. Stroud
    Nov 12, 2021 at 14:02
  • @C.Stroud - "plan" is very different from "predestine".
    – Dottard
    Nov 12, 2021 at 20:07

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