Thursday, July 14, 2011

Romans

Romans. The Holy Bible. New King James Version. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1982.


Paul wrote this letter to the church at Rome around A.D. 57 and expressed his desire to visit them. In the meantime, he gave them much to consider.

I think Romans is a very important book of the Bible, one that Christians would do well to read carefully. This is because Paul lays out the fullness of Christ’s atoning work and what it means for the way Christians can and should live more thoroughly than possibly any other single book. He also argues that Christ fulfilled the plan of God to reconcile with man that had been in the works from the beginning, drawing heavily on the Old Testament.

Paul may have been uniquely prepared to write this book. He was Jewish, a Pharisee, a zealot and, prior to his conversion, a persecutor of the church. (Paul talked and wrote about his early life and conversion regularly. A nice summary form his address to Agrippa in appears in the 26th chapter of Acts, though it is addressed elsewhere in Acts and his epistles.) Later, the leaders of the church appointed him to serve as a missionary to the Gentiles. Paul came to this letter steeped in the Jewish scripture and tradition, longing to see them experience salvation in Christ and he had, and committed to his calling to carry the Gospel to the Gentiles.

After the introductory matters, Paul lays out the foundations of Christianity going back to the Old Testament. A summary of the major points follow.

-The Universality of Sin. We’ve all sinned, done wrong, and deserve the judgment of God against us. Whether we’re a Jew, a Gentile, or anything else, we’re all in the same boat.

-The Primacy of Faith. From the start, or at least as early as Abraham, God has chosen to have mercy on people who have faith in Him, forgive their sins, and impart to them a righteousness (right standing, merit, or goodness) that wasn’t their own. This began before the law was given to Moses (in the example of Abraham), continued during the law’s seeming primacy (from the words of David), and was completed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, who bore the punishment of our sins and gives us a new life.

-Christ Enables Us to Live in a New Way. As Christians, we can and should live in new way that is characterized by honoring God, doing good, and eschewing sin. However, God doesn’t transform us in an instant; we struggle with sinful habits and new temptations and sometimes we lose. Even so, we can have confidence through our faith in the One who saved us. God chose to love us and adopt us as His own children. We are indwelled by the Holy Spirit, i.e. God lives in us, and He step-by-step quickens us in our new life. Chapter 8 digs into this issue and many believers can read this chapter repeatedly.

Paul them moves on to other issues. One is the unbelief of the Jewish people of his day. He had hoped that his people would respond to the Gospel.

As he approaches the end of his letter, Paul touches on many practical matters of the Christian life. The include service, character, citizenship, getting along, loving and helping each other.

If you’re interested in this book, you may also be interested in
Acts
Genesis
The Gospels