Do the words “to be” belong in Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2?

DO THE WORDS “TO BE” BELONG IN ROMANS 1:7 AND 1 CORINTHIANS 1:2?

by Shawn Brasseaux

God’s Holy Word says in Romans 1:7: “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.” And, 1 Corinthians 1:2: “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” In the King James Bible, the words “to be” are italicized in both verses. This means they are not in the underlying Greek text, but our 1611 translators supplied them in English to complete the thought.

One commentator, representing the common position on this matter, wrote: “This salutation to those ‘called saints’ at Corinth (the words ‘to be’ are not in the original) makes it clear that all who ‘in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord’ are the saints of God.” Notice that the people who complain about the King James Bible’s italicized words justify their claims by pointing out, for example, the “unnecessary” words “to be” in Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2. (A troubled woman asked me about this many years back after a minister told her that very thing.) Most suggest we eliminate those two little words—two common “proof texts” used to show we can toss out the italicized words in the King James Bible without damaging the text. Is that so, friends? Or, could we actually be robbing ourselves of so much by omitting so little? Let us see!

People want the Bible’s “called to be saints” to read “called saints.” They attempt to make “saints” serve as a title or name in the verses. However, this is problematic. I am certainly no Greek scholar, but I have no doubt that our 50 King James Bible translators were. If, after all their dozen-plus reviews, they deemed it necessary to insert “to be” to complete the thought in English, I will trust their judgment over any preacher today in this world of “itching ears” and rampant apostasy! While King James Bible critics often use these two verses and two words to attack the italicized words, it can be easily demonstrated that the italicized words are necessary if the English Bible is to make sense. Scores of examples can be provided, but, in this study, we limit ourselves to these two.

The teaching of Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2 is not (as some suppose) merely a title or name “saints” but rather a function (appointed or invited to act a certain way—behaving as a “sanctified one,” walking as a “set apart one”). As the King James Bible shows with its italicized words, the emphasis is not on the name but rather the appointment to a specific behavior. A verse list will be provided later in this study to show the instances when the word “saints” serves as a title. Instead of making verses say what we want them to say, we need to leave all the words—including the italicized words—in the verses. The Bible is the authority and we are not!

“Called to be saints” is found only in Romans and 1 Corinthians because these are two of the most basic Christian living books. It is not so much that they are Christians but rather they should pursue Christian/grace living because their calling is Christian/grace living. They need to be acting like saints—God has appointed them to behave a certain way, to operate in a defined manner, and they need to be reminded of that. Romans is the introductory Book to grace living, Christian living in the Dispensation of Grace. We are to conduct our lives as saints, and Romans educates us how to do that. First Corinthians addresses believers who are not living in their Christian identity. They are not following the Book of Romans by faith. They must be reminded of the task God has called, invited, appointed them to fulfill.

WHEN PAUL BEGAN EPISTLES WITH “SAINTS” AS A TITLE/NAME

Notice these Pauline salutations that employ “saints” as a title rather than an appointment or invitation to service:

  • 2 Corinthians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:….”
  • Ephesians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:….”
  • Philippians 1:1: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:….”
  • Colossians 1:2: “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Did you see that, dear friend? When the Holy Spirit wanted to open a Pauline epistle with the word “saints” serving as a title, the above verses show us that He did not write “called saints.” He simply said “the saints.” Therefore, we should not try to make Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2 “called to be saints” (function) into “called saints” (title)—we have no authority to remove ANY words from the Bible! The word “called” implies an appointment/invitation to something rather than a title or name bestowed. Again, I am no Greek scholar, but I can read English. When “called” is used, “saints” is an invitation or appointment. When “called” is not used, “saints” is a title. Removing “to be” will only obscure this nuance, this subtle shade of meaning.

“CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE”

Romans 1:1: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,….” And, 1 Corinthians 1:1: “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,….”

While King James critics complain about the “called to be saints” phrase, I have never once heard them ever gripe about “called to be an apostle” (same grammatical structure—same word “called,” and same italicized words “to be”). Unlike with Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2, they leave those words “to be” there! Why? (Ask them, not me. I am completely puzzled by them! Perhaps they are more interested in bashing God’s precious words than believing them?)

With the case of the Christians in Rome and Corinth, they are to be functioning as saints rather than merely holding a title/name “saints.” Notice how “apostle” is not a title in Romans 1:1 and 1 Corinthians 1:7—it is a function. Father God, through the Lord Jesus Christ, invited or appointed Paul to be His spokesman, His “sent-one” to the Gentiles:

  • Romans 1:1: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,….”
  • 1 Corinthians 1:1: “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,….”

Now, watch “apostle” function as a title/name (no word “calling” attached, please note):

  • Galatians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead; )….”
  • Ephesians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:….”
  • Colossians 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,….”
  • 1 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;….”
  • 2 Timothy 1:1: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,….”
  • Titus 1:1: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness;….”

CONCLUSION

When God the Holy Spirit wanted the word to function as a title/name (whether “apostle” or “saint”), there was no “calling” involved. When He preferred to use the word as an invitation/appointment, “called” was attached. Therefore, we see that the italicized words “to be” belong in Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2 in the King James Bible! Leave them there!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving. You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! 🙂

Also see:
» Is the King James word “borrow” a mistranslation in Exodus 3:22?
» What does the King James Bible mean—“my reins?”
» “From his shoulders and upward he was higher?”

One response to “Do the words “to be” belong in Romans 1:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:2?

  1. Pingback: A Grace Study Bible – 333 Words of Grace

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