So Adam is very quick - VERY quick, I couldn't believe he responded so quickly to my last blog. Very impressed.
And incidentally, that there are three blogs up in one night is to be blamed on the fact that once I got going, I couldn't seem to stop ... and so my apologies that I wrote so much on varying topics, but I had to get it out, lest I forget what I was thinking (I have the memory of a fish).
Anyway, I was interested to notice that I missed something, and he caught it - thanks. I still stand by what I said though, because though I missed that Jesus is to be the firstborn ... ok, let me back up and explain what's going on here.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
So if you read the syntax, it makes sense that "his Son" is to be the firstborn among many brothers. I was mistaken when I said that I thought each of "those he predestined" were to be the firstborn among many. However, the point remains that there are many brothers, and Jesus is the catalyst in history for them to emerge. The translations are all accurate, I'm fairly certain - each passage you quoted from various versions said the same thing (mine was NIV, if that helps).
So now I'm not so sure what to say, because in light of the fact that Jesus came for us all, the "predestination" Paul talks about in Romans 8 makes no sense to me.
And so I go back to the words of Jesus:
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)
He definitely says "all nations" here - make disciples out of every nation. Not "some nations" or "some people from each nation", but simply "every nation". "Go tell everyone you know, everyone you can find, about me and tell them that they should obey me," He said - not "I've chosen a bunch of you to be saved, find them."
In light of this, Romans 8 is going to mean something else, and frankly, I don't know what - unless C.S. Lewis is right and predestination and free will are the same thing. Which sounds a lot like how God always works anyway, in ways that make no sense to the ordinary human being (and how in the world Lewis was able to grasp it is beyond me, but he was very smart); God's always working in paradoxes.