Lectionary Year B
June 15, 2003
Trinity Sunday
Romans 8:12-17

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - Rita Halteman Finger says, in Reading Romans Anew, "In Romans 8 it is the Spirit who is stronger than both the law and sin, and who triumphs in, through, and for us all." Verses 1-11 proclaim that sin and the law are rendered ineffective by our being in Christ, that God sent Jesus to deal with the flesh which no mortals could do sufficiently. Living according to and/or setting minds on the flesh issue in death while living in and/or setting minds on Christ bring life and peace. Fleshly mindedness is hostile to God for it fails to submit to God's law and it displeases God, as well. Christ's indwelling brings eternal life as does God's Spirit's indwelling.

Post - The last 21 verses of Romans 8 tell of the groaning of all the world waiting for adoption, waiting patiently for and with hope for things unseen. God's Spirit aids in our weaknesses and especially helps us to pray, which is beyond our knowing how to do aright. Then we get the classical verses 28-30, concerning what we do know about - all things Godly result in good outcomes. That's the paragraph where predestination is mentioned. It follows God's foreknowing, calling, justifying, glorifying and our conforming to the image of Christ. Next comes the "God is with/for us = no one can do us in" and nothing can separate us from God, in whom "we are more than conquerors".

B. Organization of Compositional Whole

(JFC) As these pages have previously noted, many commentators find the overall subject of Romans is in 1:16f. Yet, Paul Achtemeier's Interpretation Commentary says these verses' emphasis on righteousness by faith seems to him to be secondarily important to the main theme which is, for him, God's plan to extend divine Lordship to all people by the grace demonstrated in Jesus Christ. And, Franz J. Leenhardt's The Epistle to the Romans has divisions quite neatly named, if over simplified, beginning with 1:1-17's "theme; the gospel of justification preached by the apostle as far as Spain; its theological aspect (1:18-5:11); its anthropological aspect (5:12-8:39); its historical aspect (9:1-11:36); its ethical aspect (12:1-15:33). To this are added the greetings and exordium of the beginning and finally the final salutations of ch. 16." So, then, we might divide the whole of this Epistle, by themes, into four parts: chapters 1-4 are about God's saving righteousness and/or 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 closing remarks. And, Karl Barth's Shorter Commentary on Romans, says 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 these studies have indicated in the past, virtually every commentary consulted says the Apostle Paul wrote Romans and that he did so between 54 and 60 or so. 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 (15:24). 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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