Lectionary Year A
September 15, 2002
Step III: Composition
A. Immediate Context
(JFC) Pre - Part of chapter 13 was studied last week. It is about subjection to secular
governors because they are appointed, in Paul's opinion here, by God. Then it refers to the Ten Commandments' being fulfilled by love, which does no wrong in Paul's view. Finally, it calls for honorable living in response to God's gift of salvation, which is near.
Post - Verses 13-23 of Romans 14 continue to forbid judging others and/or putting "stumbling blocks or hindrances" in their paths. Then they claim "nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks (logizomevnw, reckon, calculate, count, evaluate, estimate, look upon as, consider, think, believe, be of the opinion that [as here], according to Bauer's Arndt and Gingrich) it is unclean." Next, they prohibit offending anyone else by eating and/or drinking, because God's Kingdom is more than that sort of activity, it is made up of "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit". Paul then calls for "peace making and mutual up-building". Faith is the motivation of doing what is good, right and proper, according to this Apostle's Epistle.
B. Organization of Compositional Whole
(JFC) As these pages have stated for over a month, now, 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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