Just how important is Romans? Let me try to express it with a few choice theologians whose lives and thinking were deeply shaped by Romans. This will set the stage for a series this summer on Romans where I will especially focus on working through N.T. Wright’s commentary on “Romans” in The Interpreter’s Bible Commentary.
Augustine: “Take up and read, take up read” he heard from the chanting of a small boy or girl. And so he did — and it was to Romans he turned, specifically to Romans 13:13-14. And his conversion stuck.
Luther: as Professor at Wittenberg Luther expounded Romans in 1515-1516 and discovered, as if he were the first to learn it, the doctrine of justification by faith alone. He found himself reborn when discovering the joy of the “righteousness of God.”
John Wesley: when he was passing by on the Aldersgate Street in London, John Wesley’s heart was “strangely warmed” when hearing someone read the introduction to Luther’s commentary on Romans.
Cornilescu: Dimitri was studying at the Orthodox seminary in Bucharest, Romania, and determined to translate the Bible, but it was the translation of Romans that he learned that God, through Christ, had done it all for him. His translation was published in 1921.
Barth: Karl Barth rocked the European theological establishment with a commentary on Romans. Maybe one of my readers will be similarly blessed. Here Barth began to work out the “Godness of God” that was at work in the gospel of Paul over against the sinfulness of humans.
These comments come from a lecture I give at NPU to my 1850 students, when time permits this introduction, but I believe I originally gleaned this stuff from John Stott’s exposition of Romans.
Please join me for a summer of pondering Romans.
The theme of my summer reflections on Romans will be “Grace on top of Grace: The Graces of Romans.”