Lectionary Year A
September 8, 2002
Romans 13:8-14

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - The first seven verses of Romans 13, like the end of chapter 12, I Peter 2:13-17 and 3:13, assure readers/hearers that God has appointed/instituted all governing authorities and as such they should be obeyed, respected, paid taxes to and other revenues that are due them. They do not terrorize to be feared but they do what is good since they are God's servants. That's what Paul writes/dictates. Would that it were so today, huh? We, on the other hand, "Question authority" as a popular bumper sticker suggests. And, well we should, should we not?
Post - Romans chapter 14 continues with its preceding one's theme of love and emphasizes the objects of Christians' love be even and perhaps especially those with whom we differ as regards religious traditions and practices. Paul forbids prejudices, despising differences and making judgments of those who differ. He calls us to do all in honoring God and let those who do nothing or differently to do so for they do so in honor of their god(s). He says that Christ died for all, that God's Kingdom is more than rituals, food and drink and that divine love, joy and peace bring tolerance and high regard for others and their practices. He favors up-building, as with those who prophesy.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(JFC) As these pages have stated repeatedly, 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 outlines, 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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