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Romans 8:29-30—This “golden chain” begins with love and ends with glory
(September 06 2017)

Definition of Reckoning

The verb “to reckon” is a translation of the Greek word λογίζομαι, which transliterates as logizomai. The term has to do with mathematics and accounting, and it describes what a bookkeeper would do when adding up a column of numbers, calculating the sum, and entering the sum into the correct account. In a general sense, therefore, reckoning is thinking that uses sound reasoning and logic to draw conclusions from known facts.

For example, Charles Cranfield gives this definition of the word in his comment on Romans 8:18: “a firm conviction reached by rational thought on the basis of the gospel.”

This understanding of the term’s basic meaning shows why Bible authors use it both of God, who reckons on the basis of a human’s faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and of a human, who reckons on the basis of something God has said or done.

Depending on the context, logizomai has a range of meanings related to thinking:
to reason, value, esteem, conclude, decide, hold (as in the mind), calculate, count, take into account, regard, deem, consider, credit, and impute.

Theological significance
It is in the sense of placing into one’s account or crediting or imputing that the word reckoning has significant theological importance for understanding God’s gift of salvation by faith. See Bible Verses on Reckoning for texts that demonstrate primarily these imputational meanings of logizomai. Also see my exposition of Romans 4.

When God sees a person’s faith, an exchange takes place in that person’s account with God. God places the believer’s guilt on Jesus, whose death paid the penalty for the believer’s sin and allowed God to cancel the believer’s debt of guilt. On the basis of these facts, God reckons the believer free of sin’s penalty and mastery. The believer does not end up with a zero balance, however, because God reckons the individual righteous by transferring Jesus’ righteousness to the believer’s account. Jesus earned righteousness from his obedience. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21, Romans 5:18–19, Colossians 2:13–14.)

Conversely, in response to a person’s unbelief or rebellion, God may reckon guilt to his or her account. For example, Romans 5:13 says, “sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law” (ESV, NRSV has “reckoned,” NASB has “imputed”). The Greek verb here is ἐλλογέω (transliteration ellogeó) and has the same root as logizomai. Like the latter term, ellogeó has to do with the accurate rendering of accounts necessary in bookkeeping. Its meaning here is that God imputes or reckons guilt to people’s accounts only when they violate a God-given law. See my exposition of this verse.

God is the actor in the majority of Bible verses using this term, but believers in turn may reckon themselves to possess what God has reckoned to them. Romans 6:11 is the primary example of reckoning by believers on the basis of God’s imputation to them of blessings resulting from their union with Christ.

Readers can better understand their Bibles by knowing about logizomai and its Hebrew equivalent ḥāšaḇ, which is translated as logizomai in the Septuagint (the Greek OT).

Varieties of translation
Where “reckon” could be used to translate logizomai, most Bible translations instead use “account,” “count,” “impute,” “consider,” or “credit.” Although these words convey important aspects of the Greek word, I would like to see wider use of “reckon” in modern Bible translations.

These varying translations can be seen, for example, in a very significant verse, Genesis 15:6. There we read that Abraham believed in Yahweh “and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.” That is the NASB translation, whereas ESV uses “counted,” NKJ uses “accounted,” and NIV uses “credited.” Sometimes translations even differ within themselves. Where Paul quotes this Genesis verse in Romans 4:3, NASB replaces “reckoned” with “credited,” but then it uses “reckoned” in Paul’s quote of the same verse in Galatians 3:6 and in James’s quote in 2:23.

In these and related passages a uniform use of “reckoned” would help Bible readers, in my opinion, because this English word better conveys the Greek word’s meaning, and it is suitable in more contexts than any other single English word. Knowledgeable Bible readers, upon seeing “reckon,” would more likely realize that they are encountering this important Greek word logizomai.

Reasoning founded on facts
The NAS New Testament Greek Lexicon makes this observation:
This word deals with reality. If I “logizomai” or reckon that my bank book has $25 in it, it has $25 in it. Otherwise I am deceiving myself. This word refers to facts not suppositions.

This Greek term refers to a type of thinking based on facts, sound reasoning, and logic:
Its root log-, put together, collect, harvest, suggests a regulated perception and an acceptance of given facts. Hence, logizomai means: (a) reckon, credit, rank with, calculate; (b) consider, deliberate, grasp, draw a logical conclusion, decide. Accordingly logismos means: (a) counting, calculation; (b) reflection, argument, thought, plan; (c) the ability to draw a logical conclusion. The concept implies an activity of the reason which, starting with ascertainable facts, draws a conclusion, especially a mathematical one or one appertaining to business, where calculations are essential.
Source: Eichler, J. λογίζομαι. New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, edited by L. Coenen, E. Beyreuther, and H. Bietenhard. Vol. 3, pp. 822–823. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986.

Logizomai is present indicative, middle or passive voice, first-person singular. The aorist (past tense) indicative passive, third-person singular is elogisthē. The noun form is logismos. For additional definitions and other background information on logizomai, you can consult studylight.org or biblehub.com.

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