Lectionary Year A
June 16, 2002
(JFC) A. IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
Epistles customarily begin with salutations. Romans is no exception.
thanks God for all blessings common to author and recipients of this letter.
The majority of the first two chapters describes humans' need for salvation,
spiritual gifts and strengthening. Chapters 4 and 5 describe the plan of
salvation as God engages it from Adam through Abraham and Moses to Christ.
Then, we read of Christ's saving and what that salvation means. Thereafter,
today's text begins with a conditional, "oun".
The rest of chapter 5 restates how God saves sinners. Thereafter,
Paul presents a new ethic of behavior and writes how the justified servants
of God are to live lives in the Spirit of God/Spirit of Christ.
(JFC) B. COMPOSITIONAL WHOLE
Romans is well known as Paul's doctrinal magnum opus. It is hardly a
theology. Still it is as thorough an apologetic as we have in Scripture.
Paul gets so enthusiastic about the subjects he addresses, he begins to
sound right dogmatic in insisting on the truths he proclaims. Examples of
this verve come as early as 1:3f and 16f. The declarative statements in all
but verses 4 and 7 in this pericope expound and illustrate Paul's determination
to proclaim Gospel here.
Someone notes that Paul's words in the Romans
Epistle read as "on the cutting edge". Perhaps Paul seems forcefully
bordering on dogmatic to exaggerate in order to make his case in the
environs of Rome's domination throughout Italy and much more of the
Mediterranean world. With the noticeable exception of chapters 9-11,
Romans describes the how's and why's of faith changing lives. Lives changed
by faith and justification (here and at 3:24 and 8:5-30 emphasized) are to be
lived in Christ and for Christ. Romans describes how to do so.
Some of the
sentences are long, run-on and rapid fire. We can imagine Paul's dictating
in a thinking out loud and/or an on his feet style, possibly pacing as
concentrating, likely trying to cover too many topics in one
correspondence. His ardor is infectious.
(JFC) C. ISSUES OF AUTHORSHIP
Paul, the Apostle, wrote the Epistle to the Romans. I have found no one to
it. Oh, sure, chapter 16 might come from another author. Otherwise, Paul
the apostle. He had abiding interest in addressing the significant
populace of believers in Rome. He knew they lived in the center of the
governmental, cultural and trade/economic center of the north central
Mediterranean world. He wanted to get the content of the Gospel to those
in that strategic location. Probably never having visited Rome, Paul
certainly must have known of its importance in the then known world. He
addresses believers there with conviction and insistence that they live the
life of Christ with devotion and dedication. Response almost equals Gospel
in this epistle.
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