Lectionary Year A
March 17, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - The first five verses of Romans 8 tell of God's dealing with the (Old
Testament) Law and death via Jesus, who came "in the likeness of sinful flesh". These verses conclude by stating that those living/walking according to the Spirit rather than according to the flesh set their minds on such things.
Post - The last 27 verses of Romans 8 tell of being led by the Spirit of God to be God's children and receive a spirit of adoption rather than remain in a spirit of slavery that falls back into fear. Believers who suffer with Christ also thereby turn out to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ and get glorified with Christ, too. Next, he repeats that hope with the image of creation which ends in glorification after struggling with some decay. Then, he comments on praying with the Spirit's help, who helps us pray "with sighs too deep for words". Following that, we read those favorite poetic words in verses 28-30, of "things working together for good" and of "those predestined . . . called . . . justified . . . glorified." The next paragraph is on not being separated from God via hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or sword. Through Christ we are "more than conquerors" which "neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
B. Organization of Compositional Whole
(JFC) As noted previously in these pages, several commentators find the overall
subject of Romans 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 discerned, 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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