Lectionary Year A
March 3, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - Romans 4 uses Abraham as an example of God's justification. It refers to David's (Psalm 32) view that blessedness as 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. Next, it cites God's promises to Abraham for multitudes of offspring. Thereafter, it brings up that Patriarch's advanced age and Sarah's barrenness, after which it indicates Abraham's unwavering belief in God's very generous promises. That chapter next explains 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.
Post - The remainder of chapter five begins with another, "Therefore". It reminds us of sin's origin (Adam) and God's ridding the world of death's claim to deal with sin. It then describes God's justification of sinners' being the victory over one man's (Adam's) sin. It is in Jesus Christ, it says. Another, "Therefore" next states that Christ's "act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all." The Law is described twice in this part of the chapter as it was in chapter four, as necessary for finding disobedience of God's will. It closes by telling that as sin grows all the more-so does God's grace thrive.
B. Organization of the Compositional Whole
(JFC) As noted previously, 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 and/or justification by faith as shown through the Old Testament, especially; chapters 5-8 express the significance of living life in Christ, which Paul W. Meyer notes in Harper's Bible Commentary, is addressed mostly to the Christian community instead of to individuals; 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. Paul Achtemeier's Interpretation Commentary gets more specific, re: actual verses' dividing some of the topics in chapters. He divides the Epistle into four parts, one to 4:22, the second to 8:39, the third through chapter eleven and the fourth part finishes it. And, Frederick Grant's A Historical Introduction to the New Testament subdivides some of the earlier chapters as well. His outline begins by separating the first seventeen verses of chapter one, 1:18-3:20, 3:21-31, and each chapter 4-8 are separated as are chapters 9-11 and 12:1-15:13 and 15:14-16:23 conclude his plan.
C. Issues of Authorship
(JFC) As previously discovered, 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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