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Romans a short commentary Introduction

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Introduction to the letter to the Romans

First page Romans 1
The letter to the Romans -Introduction

The epistle to the Romans can be a life changing study and has lead to many a salvation or revival over the centuries. Romans has changed the lives of a number great saints like Augustine, it took Martin Luther off his knees when climbing the stairs in penance to the Pope and the Spirit whispered to him ‘the just shall live by faith’ thus inspiring Luther to begin to launch the reformation. John Wesley was converted by reading Luther’s preface to Romans saying that his heart was ‘strangely warmed’.

The epistle to the Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament and was written by the Apostle Paul about AD56. Paul most likely wrote the letter from Corinth. Paul intended to visit the church in Rome once he had delivered the money collected for the church in Jerusalem. The letter was probably delivered to Rome by the deaconess Phoebe. The congregation was a mixture of Gentiles and Jews.This letter is considered by many to be the finest exposition of Christian doctrine in the NT. Although addressed to the church in Rome the themes of Romans are general and can be applied by all the churches both then and now.

Martin Luther’s summary of Romans translated from the German

We find in this letter, then, the richest possible teaching about what a Christian should know: the meaning of law, Gospel, sin, punishment, grace, faith, justice, Christ, God, good works, love, hope and the cross. We learn how we are to act toward everyone, toward the virtuous and sinful, toward the strong and the weak, friend and foe, and toward ourselves. Paul bases everything firmly on Scripture and proves his points with examples from his own experience and from the Prophets, so that nothing more could be desired. Therefore it seems that St. Paul, in writing this letter, wanted to compose a summary of the whole of Christian and evangelical teaching which would also be an introduction to the whole Old Testament. Without doubt, whoever takes this letter to heart possesses the light and power of the Old Testament. Therefore each and every Christian should make this letter the habitual and constant object of his study. God grant us his grace to do so. Amen [1].

I am unable to compete with Martin Luther’s summary above but in today’s terms I think that the most useful modern summaries of Romans include the idea that the epistle to the Romans is a systematic explanation of how the Gospel works!

May our hearts be ‘strangely warmed ‘as the Holy Spirit teaches us through this letter!

The translation I have chosen for this study is the Today’s New International Version (TNIV).

[1] Preface to the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans by Martin Luther, 1483-1546 Translated by Bro. Andrew Thornton, OSB

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Added Hebraic notes

These were mainly sourced from the Torah Class- Lessons-Romans by Tom Bradford.

Theologians such as James D G Dunn and E P Saunders have championed a New Perspective of the book of Romans which is moving into mainstream Christianity.

The New Perspective asserts that Paul was fully fledged Jew before and after he turned to Christ. This is a new concept for mainline churches and poses a number of challenges to our previously accepted dogma.

It seems that how we view Paul greatly affects our interpretation of the Book of Romans.

A good interpretation of Paul's writing of Romans will uphold Christ's words and the words of the Old Testament prophets as being divinely inspired.

Paul did not quit his Hebrew faith (as a Pharisee who trained under Gamaliel) to start a new Gentile religion. Tom Bradford asserts that Paul's writings ought to be viewed through the lens of a first century Rabbi.

Almost all bible scholars agree that the Book of Romans was written by Paul around 57-58 AD, and probably was written in Corinth.

Theologian Douglas J Moo has challenged the accepted Christian dogma that the book of Romans was a new Christian systematic Theology but sees the book as a letter dealing with various issues arising from the merging of the Gentile and Jewish believers.

Paul was not the founder of the Christian church in Rome but was called by God to provide an apostolic authority to the church in Rome. This was quite a challenge as the Christians in Rome would probably identify more with the Apostle Peter in Jerusalem rather than Paul.

However, Paul was uniquely qualified to be God's Apostle to the Gentiles.

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1 Comment

BK Paul
BK Paul
Apr 14, 2021

Praise God for the Book of Romans , your lessions will be useful in our bible school , thank you for all the lessions .

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