Lectionary Year A
September 1, 2002
Romans 12:9-21

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - The first eight verses of Romans were considered last week. There Paul urges behavior as the various and multi-gifted members of the Body of Christ who they/we are in point of fact, according to the Apostle.

Post - Romans 13 finds Paul optimistically claiming that God calls and enables secular leaders to occupy their positions of authority and that therefore they are to be obeyed. If they misbehave, he states, they will be punished. If their subjects do well, those in authoritative positions will reward them/us. He dreams further that they/we are to obey the rulers of the state because it is right and they know it and recognize it in us when we are obedient, regardless of God's approving of our doing the right. He advises paying taxes as a right thing to do. Next, he exclaims that Love is all the Law commands and that if we love, all will be well. He even quotes some of the Ten Commandments in these paragraphs. Then, he observes that the Return of Christ is at hand and that that is a reason for proper behavior. Christ's closeness should motivate decency and orderliness.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(JFC) As these pages have stated before, 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 noted in these studies, 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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