Lectionary Year A
February 24, 2002
Romans 4:1-5,13-17

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - The third chapter of Romans tells how the Jews are still to be considered God's chosen people even though they failed to keep their ends of the covenant. All humans are guilty of such disobedience the third chapter asserts. Then it emphasizes how faith in Christ's fulfilling God's promises for redemption brings true righteousness for salvation. Finally that preceding chapter warns against boasting in such redemption.

Interlude - Verses 6-12 of Romans 4 begin by referring to David's (Psalm 32) view that blessedness is not dependent on works earning it. Then, it illustrates the point with circumcision's being a seal of rather than a requirement for blessedness. It cites how Abraham was blessed before he was circumcised.

Post - Verses 18-25 of Romans 4 begins by citing Genesis 15:5 where God promises Abraham multitudes of offspring. Next, it brings up Abraham's age and Sarah's barrenness, after which it indicates Abraham's unwavering belief in God's outlandish promises. That chapter concludes by explaining what the term "it was reckoned to him" means. It says it means that God raised Jesus from death for sin and for justification for people reading/hearing/sending this Epistle.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(JFC) Several commentators find the overall subject of Romans to be stated in the first chapter, verses 16f. We might divide the entirety of this Epistle, thematically, into four parts: chapters 1-4 are about God's saving righteousness/justification by faith as shown through the Old Testament, especially; chapters 5-8 express the significance of living life in Christ; chapters 9-11 present Paul's attempt to deal with the large matter of salvation for the Jews; chapters 12-16 convey Paul's ethics and personal concluding remarks.

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) Virtually every commentary consulted says the Apostle Paul wrote Romans and that he did so between 54 and 60 or so of the Common Era. Some say it was written from Corinth when Paul visited there in 57 or 58. He went to Jerusalem in 57 or 58 and from there planned (Romans 15:22-32, Acts 19:21 and 20:3 and I Corinthians 16:3-6) to go, for his first time, to Rome on his intended way to Spain.

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