Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Understanding the Book of Romans

Climbing gigantic mountains, absailing steep cliff faces and surviving a ship wreck are the kind of daunting pictures we get when we attempt to understand the Book of Romans. This is the Apostle Paul's final letter that he wrote to the churches. This particular letter - you guessed it - was written to the church at Rome. This final letter, written in Paul's latter days, is like a composium of theological thought, that baffles most readers. So can we understand the Book of Romans?

Now, let me qualify. I don't intend at this point to offer great theological insight from what I have learnt from the book of Romans. I am very young into the journey of understanding much of Paul's writings. Though, here are some words from James Dunn from the Word Biblical Commentary in relation to the Book of Romans:
In the Book of Romans, "...we see the emergence of Christianity from Judaism actually taking place; we see Paul the Pharisee, Paul the apostle, caught in the tension between his Jewishness and the impact of the risen Christ, between his inability to escape from the Jewish conviction of God's special choice of and revelation to Israel and the impact of a gospel that came to him independently of his Jewishness and despite his Pharisaic zeal for the law. We see Paul the Jew wrestling with the implications of his own and his converts' experience of grace and Paul the Christian wrestling with the implications of his Jewish heritage..." (WBC, Romans 9-16: xvi).

Without delving into the special place that the Israelite people have before God, we can note the passion that Paul expresses about the good news of Jesus reaching everyone (Israelites and Gentiles). Paul writes in Romans:

Rom 10:12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him.
Rom 10:13 For, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Rom 10:14 But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?
Rom 10:15 And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" 

Here Paul speaks of people 'going' with the message of the good news of Jesus. Paul also speaks of law and grace. He speaks of Adam sinning and so all have sinned (Romans 5). He highlights some great characteristics of a spirit filled life (Romans 12). He gives some encouraging words to people within the church at Rome (Romans 16).

In the days ahead, try and understand the Book of Romans. What is Paul saying in this letter?

Go deeper in Christ today!

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