Lectionary Year A
June 16, 2002
Romans 5:1-8


Epistles customarily begin with salutations. Romans is no exception. It 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.


Romans is well known as Paul's doctrinal magnum opus. It is hardly a systematic 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.


Paul, the Apostle, wrote the Epistle to the Romans. I have found no one to dispute 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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