We have spent several posts looking at Gen 1-3 and at Paul’s understanding of Genesis and its role in his atonement theology in Romans 5. In the course of this discussion several different people have brought up Romans 8, especially […]
Romans seems to have two kinds of responses today: either it is the book of all books, the book that brought Luther back to life and therefore the book for us, or it is the book to end all books […]
Ever since I was in college and took a line-by-line course on Romans with Dr. John Wilson — from whom I learned how to diagram sentences and who has shaped my life ever since — I have loved Romans. Whenever […]
Nearly 125 posts later we come to the end of this series on Romans and the commentary by NT Wright on Romans. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, nor did I really care. (Our next series will be […]
In Romans 16:21-24, Paul trots out his companions who wish to offer their greetings to the Roman Christians.
Wright has impressed me with the need to see the divisive nature of the threat to the Roman church, and that a passage like Romans 16:17-20 is not just a final idea to raise while Paul thinks of closing his […]
NT Wright, who admits up front that we should exercise caution, suggests that the list of names in Romans 16:1-16 points to the social make-up and to the number of house groups in Rome. He sees five or six house […]
Paul gives a long list of greetings in Romans 16:1-16. Wright suggests the reasons for such a list is because Paul doesn’t want to create new divisions — so he mentions all the house churches he knows.
Before Paul heads to Spain, Romans 15:25-29 tells us, he will return to Jerusalem with a bundle of money and gifts for the saints in Jerusalem. Wright sees the theology of Paul, as expressed in Romans (esp 14–15), in this […]
Paul says his task is to go to unreached peoples — to go to new areas — to spread the good news to people who have not heard — to avoid treading on the turf of othes and simply begin […]
Paul has undoubtedly heard of what God is doing through the gospel in other places, but his priestly offering that he can take pride in is the work he has done: “I have reason to boast of my work for […]
We can now see the landing field from our window as Paul banks to the side. Romans is about over. (By the way, we’ll do Psalm 119 next.) In the rest of Romans 15 (vv. 14-33), Paul explains his “apostolic […]
As NT Wright goes to great pains to show, Romans is about including both Jews and Gentiles in the one people of God. Paul urges the Romans, in 15:7, to welcome one another for, and here is a significant perspective […]
I like the prayers of the Bible that begin with “May the God of …”. Paul’s prayer of this sort at Romans 15:5-6 is about God creating unity and together praise Jesus Christ. Here are some more prayers like this […]
Paul doesn’t often appeal to the teachings of Jesus. Sometimes Paul simply takes a big global snapshot of Jesus — like one of those pictures from the space rockets of planet earth. In Romans 15:3, Paul says “For Christ did […]
One of the most interesting features of reading Paul is that it is like listening to one end of a phone conversation. And, all we have is a taped recording of the conversation. And we are listening almost 2000 years […]
I was reared in the kind of Christian faith that made this category of “stumbling blocks” a big issue. There were lots of things we were told — mild way of saying it — not to do because it could […]
Here’s the singular principle of Paul that enables Christians to dwell together in unity is to live “to the Lord.” The alternative is to live to the flesh, or as Paul puts it in Rom 14:7-9, “to ourselves.” It is […]
If food laws can be a source of disruption in a local church, so can holy days — and it is not clear (according to Wright) if the holy days are Christians wondering if they should participate in Roman holy […]
“Welcome,” Paul starts chp 14 of Romans, “those who are weak in faith.” As NT Wright shows, we can’t be sure who the “weak” and the “strong” are — Paul thinks he is one of the strong — but the […]
Eschatology is cast through the prism of light in Romans 13:11-14: it’s all about living in the light: “the night is far gone, the day is near.”
Paul argues that to love your neighbor as yourself, from Leviticus 19:18, is (1) our only debt to one another and (2) is the fulfillment of the law because it sums up the whole law.
Last Friday we observed that Jesus himself knew that the sons of the kingdom were free from the Temple tax (Matt. 17:24-27), but to avoid scandal his followers were to pay the tax. Paul goes one step further: he thinks […]
Romans 13:5 is a near echo of a saying of Jesus: “Therefore, it is necessary to submit [live within the order] to the authorities … because of conscience.” Here’s what Jesus said in Matthew 17:26-27: “Then the sons are exempt […]
Rebelling against authorities is rebellion against God — so Paul at Romans 13:2-4. Tom Wright contends that Paul is looking at the authorities as part of “God’s intended order” and “not its corruputions.” Paul, of course, would learn the rough […]
How, Tom Wright asks, can Paul ask his readers to submit to the authorities if the authorities have now been defeated by Christ’s death and resurrection? A few points:
In our two-day introduction to Romans 13:1-7, we now turn to Wright’s taxonomy of how folks read this passage. The questions are easy, if doubly hard to answer: Which is your view? Why?
Wright’s introductory comments about Romans 13:1-7 are so suggestive, I want to take two days to ponder them. I begin today by quoting the passage and then offering an introductory point by Wright that I think we simply have to […]
Wright agrees with the majority: Romans 12:14-21 shifts to a concern with outsiders, and evidently to a kind of outsider that has an impact inside. He now addresses how the community of faith should respond to its opponents and persecutors.
In Romans 12:9-13 Paul provides what NT Wright calls a “more general list of ways in which individual Christians and groups or churches are to behave” (711). He observes they are connected to building one another up.
I have a question for you today about the various lists of spiritual gifts in the NT. I will give here the list in Romans, but we can then look to 1 Cor 12, Eph 4 and 1 Peter, and […]
Romans 12:3 “stresses,” according to N.T. Wright, “the role of disciplined thinking as being at the very root of basic Christian living.” I can’t detail it here, but it would not be hard for us to think of how many […]
According to N.T. Wright, Romans 12:2 “stands alongside [12:1] as the head of the whole section [12-15].” Paul’s point: those who are in Christ are to live in this world as if they were in the New World.Â Just as […]
At least once a semester, often more than that, I am asked if the earliest Christians continued to sacrifice animals at the Temple. I guess that probably some did, but the “redemptive trend” (if I might borrow from a book […]
Paul knows God’s ways are unsearchable and inscrutable, and it behooves each one of us to bow before the ways of God in this world. About the time we think we’ve got God’s ways figured out, we discover that there […]
God’s promise to Israel — that covenant promise that begins at Genesis 12 — is, according to Paul, “irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). What is now will not be the way things always will be. As Gentiles have now been moved into […]
Who is Israel in the “all Israel” will be saved (Rom. 11:26)? There are three basic options: 1. Spiritual Israel: the Church and all (elected) Jews who believe in Jesus as Messiah. 2. Ethnic Jews: either those at the time […]
“And so all Israel will be saved.” Romans 11:26 has created more than its share of debates, so let’s just solve it today and tomorrow! 8)
Paul has a concern that his Gentile readers will become proud of their inclusion in the family of God, in the covenant God made with Israel — as he said of Jews/Israel, and he is also concerned that this arrogance […]
Paul’s missionary strategy amazes us at this juncture: his mission to the Gentiles is designed to provoke jealousy among Israel so that it, too, will turn to faith in the Messiah. And his theology shapes it all: his Gentile readers […]
Paul interprets Israel’s “stumbling” as not completely permanent. Israel’s present stumbling over the stumbling-stone (Christ) benefits the Gentiles. Thus: “through their stumbling salvation has now come to the Gentiles” (Rom. 11:11).
Wright explains what Paul means by “hardening” in Romans 11:7: “What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was seeking. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened…” citing then Deut 29:4; Isa 29:10 and then Psalm 69:22-23. What […]
“Has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite…” (Rom. 11:1). The fundamental question driving Rom 9–11 is the faithfulness of God as expressed in Israel remaining within the covenant promise.
Then we need preachers of the gospel! That’s how I read Romans 10:11-17. What is more, in the context of 10:18-21, this gospel preaching about Jesus Christ is to designed to provoke “Israel” — who is Israel? — to faith. […]
You just have to be impressed by the number of times in Romans Paul pulls things together with this idea: therefore, “all” who believe (anyone/everyone) in the Messiah will be saved/justified. At times we emphasize the “saved/justified” part, but Wright […]
What does “If you confess with your lips Jesus Christ as Lord…” mean? Here Paul defines what a Christian is.
The Law comes to its goal in the Messiah; one is place “in” the Messiah by “believing”. In the Messiah one finds “righteousness.” Thus Rom 10:1-4. In 10:5 Paul sets those verses in context with Moses, who said that “the […]
What does Paul mean when he says in Romans 10:4 that Christ is the “end of the Law”? Without getting into a massive hornet’s nest of stinging-bee theologians, I want to narrow the discussion to what Wright says about it […]
Paul’s heart is for “Israel” (not specifically named in Rom. 10:1-4 but implicit); his prayer is for their “salvation.” Beyond the Exile, if we follow the motion of Paul, there will be Covenant Renewal, and that will occur in Christ.
Paul’s logic is patently clear: Israel did not obtain righteousness (as a status before God) while the non-covenant people, the Gentiles, did obtain righteousness. Paul clarifies why “Israel” did not get it and why the Gentiles did:
The judgment of Exile, when “My people” became “Not my people” is undone when God acts to restore Israel to the Land. Paul, in Romans 9:25-29, quotes from Hosea to evoke God’s covenant faithfulness beyond the judgment of Exile. Paul […]
No one could dispute the force of Paul’s heavy hand in Romans 9:19-24. After advocating that God’s elective grace has been at work from the time of Abraham on, it is only natural (in Paul’s sense of the term) for […]
Let us just say that a friend of mine gently reminded me (on the phone last Friday) that this might be a good opportunity to ask a much-neglected question in Romans study: Who is “Israel” in Romans? I’m willing to […]
If this does breathe the air that eventually became Calvinism, I don’t know what does: “So then he [God] has mercy on whomever he chooses, and he [God] hardens the heart of whomever he chooses” (Romans 9:18).
Paul begins exploring his major issue — God’s faithfulness and the place of Israel in God’s plan — by saying this: If you look at it, it has never really been just “flesh” that makes a person part of “Israel.” […]
Paul’s anguish over Israel, though not stated until 10:1 and 11:11 and 11:23, is that they do not believe in Jesus as Messiah. Paul worries over Israel’s salvation and he worries the Gentiles in Rome will be glad to have […]
“Everything,” Tom Wright says in his intro to Romans 9–11, “about Romans 9-11 is controversial…. CH Dodd, notoriously, regarded it as an old sermon that Paul happened to have by him” (620). Many today, including Wright, think these three chps […]
The 6th and 7th questions of Romans 8:31-39 is this: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ?” “Will hardship…?” The answer to the sixth question, again, is “Nobody!” The answer to the seventh one is “No!” The context […]
Question #5: “Who is to condemn?” That’s a good question. Who might Paul have in mind?
Romans 8:31-39 is a series of seven questions about the logic of love, the logic of God’s grace in Christ, and the assurance that comes to those in Christ. The deep structure is this: God’s promise leads to the believer’s […]
At the very center of the world’s redemption is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The intention of God is to call others into the “ambit” of his Son, or to call humans to be “in Christ.” When all is […]
This verse, the “God works all things together…” verse, needs nothing other than its verse as the title for today’s post. Favorite verses are neither easy to preach or write about. A few comments can be made:
A genuine Christian experience in prayer is to come to the edge of the road and to recognize uncharted territory and not know the way — but, instead of turning back, cutting our way through the thickets and dense grasses […]
Three voices are groaning at the same time, and if you listen you will hear each. If you listen, you will hear not just a groaning but the groaning pains of a woman in labor trying to give birth. Who […]
Within the emerging movement there has been a much-needed shift from emphasizing future redemption to present redemption. It is mistaken to speak of this as a shift from “heaven” to “kingdom,” and by the latter think one can equate kingdom […]
Paul is willing to let the penny drop and one place he does is that the indicator that a person is God’s is if they have the Spirit — and one knows if one has the Spirit by the “witness […]
Christian existence in the Spirit of God, Paul says in Romans 8:12-17, is learning to anticipate death by dying to the “flesh” in the here and now. Here’s a fine quotation from Tom Wright:
NT Wright has a lengthy, ten-point summary of Romans 7:1–8:11. Here are this theses:
Christians, according to Romans 8:9-11, are not in the flesh. They are in the Spirit. That, Paul would argue, is the difference between those in Christ and those not in Christ. What does having the Spirit mean?
The indicator that a mind is set on the things of the Spirit, according to Romans 8:5-8, is to submit to “God’s law”. Here are the kinds of things Paul says:
“… what the Torah, weakened by the flesh, could not do.” So Romans 8:3. What could the Torah not do?
For NT Wright, everything pertaining to redemption occurs in Christ — Christ does it all and those who are “in” Christ get it all. What those in Christ get is the Spirit. Those in the Spirit are released from the […]
Paul is fond of jumping ahead in his argument, and sometimes it makes us feel like we haven’t figured out the previous section. Though not as prominent as it might have been, lurking (like some of you readers) around chp […]
“So then, with my mind I am a slave to the law of God, but with my flesh I am a slave to the law of sin” (Rom 7:25). Earlier the “mind” was the “inmost self” (7:22), so when speaking […]
Here are Paul’s central theses in 7:14-20: (1) the Torah is spiritual, but (2) the “I” is fleshly. When the “I” tries to do what it wants and can’t, that proves that the “I” is under the control of “sin” […]
Romans 7:12 ends with the Torah being holy and just and good. So, Paul now has to ask, Did that which is good become that which is sinful? Nope. That misunderstands things, Paul argues. The problem is the abounding reality […]
That’s the question Paul asks in Romans 7:7-12. “That the law is sin?” N.T. Wright: this text “tells the story of the law’s arrival on Sinai and Israel’s recapitulation of the sin of Adam” (562). Some complex stuff here, but […]
This is not bad grammar, but a potent question: “Who is the ‘I’ of Romans 7?” There are several possibilities and we’ll do well to get these in mind before we look at his chapter.
Until Christ. That’s the short answer. The Torah was added to the Covenant promises of Genesis 12 and 15 in order to put into bold relief for Israel its sinfulness. And Paul makes it clear in Romans 7:1 that he […]
Tom Wright says “no.” Grace, he says, does reach down to us where we are but that same grace, because of the death and resurrection of Christ, is transformative; God’s grace doesn’t accept but transform. But, he does come back […]
I’m struck once again by Paul’s comment in Romans 6:18: “You have been set from sin and have become slaves to righteousness [justice].” We naturally think of New World Slavery when we think of the word “slave,” but in Paul’s […]
“It is now technically impossible,” NT Wright says, “for the Christian to present his own or her own self to sin, since the self has died with Christ and been raised ‘ini order to live to God’.” But, Wright is […]
Here are Tom Wright’s words at the end of Romans 6:11: “If someone challenged him [Paul] and said that sin and death were just as powerful to them as they had been before their coming to faith, he would reply […]
Nearly every human being with a taste for mischief explores what Paul says in Romans 5. If sin’s forgiveness magnifies grace, why not just sin? Paul’s answer might surprise some of us.
In Paul’s mind the more sin we can demonstrate the more grace can be discovered. If sin marched into the room after Torah, grace chased sin (and Torah?) out the backdoor!
Romans 5:20 would have shocked the observant Jew of the 1st Century. “The law was added so that the trespass might increase.” Oh, really. That is why God gave the Torah? Here is where it becomes clear that the New […]
There is a translation issue here in Romans 5:18, but the translation issue is not the real issue. A woodenly literal translation is offered by Wright: “so also through the righteous act of the one unto all people unto acquittal […]
“But the gift is not like the trespass.” So Paul says in Romans 5:15. Paul can’t find enough things to compare between Adam and Christ, and the ideas are just tumbling from his tongue. Here’s a brief list:
It is sometimes that the simple-minded reduce the world to two groups — those who care and those who are apathetic, those who love and those who are selfish, etc. The rabbis often reduced the world to three elements: Torah, […]
The title of my post could get some of you riled up, and maybe you need to be. For Paul teaches both at Romans 4:25 and here in Romans 5:9-11 that justification — that act whereby God makes us right […]
God is not like us — and we tend to forget it. We tend to measure things by fairness and what another person deserves or has earned. We, for instance, can understand why (even if very rare) someone would sacrifice […]
Suffering, Paul says (so does James), unfolds like an origami: Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, […]
One of the most famous lines of Paul’s letter to the Romans comes from Romans 5:1: Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access […]
If Abraham’s faith was a concrete, real-life faith that God could and would enliven his and Sarah’s bodies so they could have children, so NT faith is a concrete, real-life faith that God raised Jesus from the dead. Now Paul […]
God, Paul said in Romans 4:17, brought life out of the dead. What does this look like in real life? While the focus of 4:17 seems to be on Gentiles, that life-giving-faith is at the heart of the Jewish family […]
Paul ties words together, and the bundle of words he creates exclude others. The words in his bundle are promise, faith, grace, and “all” and these words are tied together by “God” and “family.” God’s promise to Abraham, to make […]
Romans 4:9-12 showed that circumcision came along after faith. Now Paul equates the circumcision of those verses with the “Law” (4:13). Law creates its own world as can be seen in this:
Sorry, the title to this post is some old humor about circumcision. While 4:4-8 could be seen as the show-stopper for the New Perspective, 4:9 actually turns the lights on for its show. How so? Because, after positing a “faith” […]
Paul speaks in Romans 4:4-8 theoretically about “works” and he does so in such a way that “faith” becomes theoretically opposed to “works.” This is important for understanding the New Perspective, and what Paul does here is compare a “reckoning” […]
More often than we may realize, the argument Paul had with others was about how to read the Bible best. Where to start?, was a major question. It sure seems to me that Paul faced many who thought the Bible […]
“Where, then, is boasting?” N.T. Wright is forthright in this section of his commentary on the value of letting Paul be Paul (to use an expression from Jimmy Dunn). In particular, here are the things Wright thinks Paul denies: that […]
Romans 3:21-26 is the most significant text in the history of Christian theology, for it shaped Augustine, Luther and Calvin, Barth, and nearly every major theologian in history. It is true that today there is a significant questioning going on […]
Here’s an expression that has the Pauline scholarly world in a stir: “works of the Law.” Let me break the options into two groups, with all sorts of variations overlooked, and suggest that how you understand this expression shapes how […]
Paul returns to his previous question: “Do we [Jews] have any advantage?” Previously, in 3:2, he said “Much in every way!” Now Paul says, “Not at all!” The advantage is that the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. […]
Anyone who hears with the ears of a 1st Century Jew, regardless of what that person thought of Paul, would ask the question that opens up Romans 3: “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value […]
So, if Paul contends that it is not about possessing the Torah but doing the Torah, who then is the “true Jew”? Paul’s words in Romans 2:25-29, so I think, would have been heard as nothing short of shocking:
Paul has words for fellow Jews — and strong words they are. Romans 2:17-29 is hard-hitting moral indictment against Jews who (1) have the Torah, (2) know the privilege of having that Torah, but (3) who do not live the […]
One of Paul’s goals, as we know if we’ve spent much time in Romans, is to contend that everyone, whether Jew or Gentile, falls short, comes up empty, is sinful. But Romans 2:12-16 goes beyond that to argue that the […]
You can’t find one final judgment scene in the Bible that is not a judgment by works. Salvation, we are told often, is not by works, but final judgment sure is. Here are Paul’s words, and we could back them […]
God’s judgment, Paul says in Romans 2:2, is based on truth, and that truth is God’s standard for judgment. Those who do not respond to that truth, Paul says, are storing up for themselves wrath. But, these two points sandwich […]
I don’t know how many of you felt fairly comfortable reading Romans 1 last week, but at times I confess I did. I’d like to think I don’t suppress the truth and worship idols; I’d like to think that nasty […]
One of the saddest descriptions of Eikons can be found in Romans 1:28-32. Make sure you read it. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that […]
Well, we are back to a text that gave rise to a 14-part series I did some time back on homosexuality. We need today to pause to look at the context for this text: it has to do with those […]
As Tom Wright observes, natural theology has attached itself to Romans 1:19-21 and gotten all it can out of these verses. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 […]
In college I read Francis Schaeffer, about everything he had written. I remember his talking about “suppressing the truth” from Romans 1:18, and I remember grieving over such a condition on the part of fellow Eikons. What does it mean, […]
Romans 1:18-32 is a long section on the wrath of God. What is the wrath of God? There are two views, and I’d like to propose that the two views are not as “two-fold” as a lot of folks think.
Paul wants to preach the gospel in Rome; his calling to do that makes him a debtor both to Jews and to Gentiles. But, he knows what is there awaiting him: he knows the might of Rome. Still, Paul says, […]
Paul yearns to get to Rome — probably because he knew how important Rome was. His yearning manifests itself in his unceasing, constant prayers for the church at Rome.
In 1:1 of Romans Paul tells us he is devoted to, or set apart unto, the “gospel of God.” What is the gospel? It might be good today for us to look at this term in Romans. We’ll look at […]
It is ordinary for academic types to begin anything they are discussing with a lengthy introduction. I am reminded of a theology that is three volumes with the first volume entirely prolegomena. I’ll avoid that here except to put on […]
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 […]