Tom Wright devotes no less than 70 pages to Romans in Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision, and… well … it is hard to sum up the denseness of this stuff without doing disservice to you, our readers, and to Tom, our author.
Tell me, what is the hang-up over Tom Wright’s understanding of the “righteousness of God” as God’s covenant faithfulness? How does that understanding undermine Reformed views?
So, let’s have some short posts that sum all the sections of Romans in this study… Today we look at Romans 1:16-17:
am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the
salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the
Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
And immediately an issue comes up that distinguishes Wright’s view: what does “the righteousness of God” mean? It means something about God: “God’s faithfulness to his covenant with Israel to redeem the world through Israel.”
This Wright says makes sense best of a number of issues in Romans, including:
1. In my view, the entire theodicy-like sweep of Romans 9-11 that, if seen as central to Romans instead of a some kind of “why does Paul bring this up?” approach, reorients our entire reading of the book into something that “justifies God’s way with Israel and the world.” Anyway, that’s my take.
2. Wright sees Rom 9-11 through this lens and thinks it makes best sense of Rom 9-11; also Rom 2:1-16 and 2:17-29 and esp 3:27-31 and 4:16-17 and 10:6-13 and the climactic verses of chp 11.
3. Also, the “gospel” is declared in 1:3-5 — it’s about Jesus being the risen Lord of the world — but 1:16-17 is about the impact of the gospel — salvation. The gospel in this text focuses on its inclusion of Jews and Gentiles and the reason Paul refers to Hab 2:4 is to evoke the national crisis Israel was in and the need to remain faithful during that crisis.