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Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey The Letter to the Romans

Alternate Lecture on: NT 600 New Testament Survey

The Letter to the Romans

by Timothy Kenney, PhD

St. Paul's Letter to the Romans begins the Pauline corpus of the New Testament of the Bible. The letter to the Romans was written by St. Paul from Corinth sometime at the end of the fifties of the first century. It is one of the most formal and detailed expositions of the doctrinal teaching of St. Paul that we have. It is not one of the easier parts of the scripture to understand without careful study.

Saul of Tarsus was a Pharisee who first persecuted Christians, until a bright light struck him from his horse on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9). A voice asked him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" When Saul asked who it was, Jesus identified himself with his Church - "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." His Conversion is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. Saul began to be named Paul on his first missionary journey in Cyprus (Acts 13:9).

St. Paul then became just as passionate spreading Christianity as he was persecuting Christians prior to his conversion. Unlike the Twelve Apostles, he knew only the risen Christ. In contrast to Matthew, who traced the lineage of Jesus through the Old Testament and saw Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah, Paul sees Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all humanity.

In this letter, the apostle writes about the relationship of the Christian faith to the unbelievers, particularly the unbelieving Jews. The apostle upholds the validity and holiness of the Mosaic law while passionately defending the doctrine that salvation comes only in Christ, by faith and by grace. He discourses powerfully about the meaning of union -with Christ through baptism and the gift of the Holy Spirit. He urges great humility on the part of the gentile Christians toward Israel, and calls with great pathos and love for the regrafting of the unbelieving Jews to the genuine community of God which is in Christ Who is Himself from Israel "according to the flesh" (9:5) for the sake of its salvation and that of all the world.

The end of the letter is a long exhortation concerning the proper behavior of Christians, finally closing with a long list of personal greetings from the apostle and his co-workers, including one Tertius, the actual writer of the letter, to many members of the Roman Church, urging, once more, steadfastness of faith.

The letter to the Romans is read in the Church's liturgical lectionary during the first weeks following the feast of Pentecost. Selections from it are also read on various other liturgical occasions, one of which, for example, is the sacramental liturgy of baptism and chrismation. (6:3-11)

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A general outline is provided below:

1:1-1:7 -------------- Salutation
1:8-1:15 -------------- Prayer of Thanksgiving
1:16-1:17 -------------- The Power of the Gospel
1:18-1:32 -------------- The Guilt of Humankind

2:1-2:16 -------------- The Righteous Judgment of God
2:17-2:29 -------------- The Jews and the Law

3:1-3:8 -------------- The Jews and the Law
3:9-3:20 -------------- None Is Righteous
3:21-3:31 -------------- Righteousness through Faith

4:1-4:12 -------------- The Example of Abraham
4:13-4:25 -------------- God's Promise Realized through Faith

5:1-5:11 -------------- Results of Justification
5:12-5:21 -------------- Adam and Christ

6:1-6:14 -------------- Dying and Rising with Christ
6:15-6:23 -------------- Slaves of Righteousness

7:1-7:6 -------------- An analogy from Marriage
7:7-7:13 -------------- The Law and Sin
7:14-7:25 -------------- The Inner Conflict

8:1-8:17 -------------- Life in the Spirit
8:18-8:30 -------------- Future Glory
8:31-8:39 -------------- God's Love in Christ Jesus

9:1-9:18 -------------- God's Election of Israel
9:19-9:29 -------------- God's Wrath and Mercy
9:30-9:33 -------------- Israel's Unbelief

10:1-10:4 -------------- Israel's Unbelief
10:5-10:21 -------------- Salvation Is for All

11:1-11:10 -------------- Israel's Rejection Is Not Final
11:11-11:24 -------------- The Salvation of the Gentiles
11:25-11:36 -------------- All Israel Will Be Saved

12:1-12:8 -------------- The New Life in Christ
12:9-12:21 -------------- Marks of the True Christian

13:1-13:7 -------------- Being Subject to Authorities
13:8-13:10 -------------- Love for One Another
13:11-13:14 -------------- An Urgent Appeal

14:1-14:12 -------------- Do Not Judge Another
14:13-14:23 -------------- Do Not Make Another Stumble

15:1-15:6 -------------- Please Others, Not Yourselves
15:7-15:13 -------------- The Gospel for Jews and Gentiles Alike
15:14-15:21 -------------- Paul's Reason for Writing So Boldly
15:22-15:33 -------------- Paul's Plan to Visit Rome

16:1-16:16 -------------- Personal Greetings
16:17-16:24 -------------- Final Instructions
16:25-16:27 -------------- Final Doxology

St. Paul's Feast Day is commemorated on June 29th in the Orthodox Church.

We now turn our attention to St. Paul's two letters to the Corinthians in our next article.

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