Lectionary Year A
August 4, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - Romans 8, 'nough said, since that chapter is so well known.
Nevertheless, we find in it an assurance of freedom from sin's and death's dominion when we/the readers and/or hearers of this Epistle are in Christ, walk/live according with the Spirit. Such a life-style brings life (maybe Life, or even LIFE?) and peace. Since God's Spirit dwells in them/us, we are in the Spirit and God adopts us from a life of fear into becoming God's children, heirs with Christ. Suffering happens throughout all creation, yet it can hardly compare to the glory about to be revealed, called, salvation in verse 24. Loving God and being called according to Divine purposes works together for good. Next, it says God foreknows, calls, predestines, justifies and glorifies. Then, the profound, "nothing can separate us from Christ's love", also called God's love.
Post - The rest of Romans 9 declares God's ways of showing mercy as divine rather
than human, graceful rather than earned, etc. It uses several people figures to explicate what is meant. It quotes Hosea and Isaiah citing the contradictions of salvation by grace versus works righteousness.
B. Organization of Compositional Whole
(JFC) As these pages have noted formerly, 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. And, Karl Barth's Shorter Commentary on Romans, writes of this Epistle, "It has often been compared to a catechism, or even to a handbook of dogmatics, and for that reason the first systematic theologian of the Evangelical Church, Melanchthon, did in fact use it as a pattern for a work of this kind."
C. Issues of Authorship
(JFC) As previously stated, 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.
Barth and Dodd (The Moffett NT Commentary) both recognize Paul's apprehension at going to Rome where he expected some hostility among the residents there, Barth identifying them as "disobedient Jews", disobedient of the covenant(s) God had made with their forefathers. Dodd calls them "Jewish-Christian opponents".
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