I selected the second possibility; the one with the comma after good.
The first possibility is out of the KJV. Stating positively that all things work together for good to them that love God, it then goes on to add ‘to those who are called according to His purpose’. It makes it sound as if only those who love God are called according to His purpose. Wasn’t pharaoh called, raised up, set apart, to fulfill a purpose of God? Did he love God? Not according to the Scriptures! I jumped to the conclusion that called and raised up are basically synonymous in relating the idea that one is being set apart, used according to the purpose of God. Does Strong’s bear out my conclusion? Strong’s #2822 called, Kletos is appointment. Who makes the appointment? Strong’s #5975 Raised, amad, is translated 15 times in Scripture as appointed. Again, Who does the appointing? God! And He says all things work together for good.
The third possibility is from Holman’s and is definite: All things work together only for the good of those who love God! And who might they be? ONLY those who are called according to His purpose! I used pharaoh in the example above. What about Jacob and Esau? God said that before they were formed in the womb, before they had done anything good or bad, Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated, that the purpose of God might be fulfilled! I submit that both were called according to His purpose, and as such this translation written so that it is to be understood that all things work together for good only to those who love God shows how biased a translation can be. The same denomination that initiated this translation insists that God is Good, God is Love, God loves everyone, God is all-powerful, and that it is up to us to ask forgiveness BEFORE WE CAN BE SAVED.
Second Timothy 2:15 says ‘Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’
My studies have led me to believe that the second possibility is the most correct. Indeed God does work all things together for Good! That is the whole purpose of this Creation! HIS creation! We are HIS creatures! In Romans 9:21 Paul asks ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?’ He asks that question to force us to face the FACTS of a Creator GOD! He planned and created this entire universe. Should we not face the fact that it is HIS to do with as HE pleases? Should we not face the fact that all of it is created to serve HIS purpose and is called to do so? Should we not face the fact that every vessel is made for a purpose either to honor or dishonor? That being the case, all things work together for good because that is the ultimate purpose of God for His Creation! Then we can understand that all things work together for good BOTH to those who love God AND to those who are called according to His purpose!
We can believe that in spite of the perceived evil around us, because the evil in this realm was banished from the eternity we are destined to share with Jesus Christ!
And one little comma is the difference. God uses the small things to help us know Him if we are willing to look. It is not our job to decide who is lost and who is not. It is our job to live according to Micah 6:8.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee,but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?