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Topic 11 Romans. Church in Rome Not founded by Paul (1:13) – unknown who did. Christianity present by c. 49. Claudius expelled the Jews (and Jewish Christians). Suetonius: disturbances in Jewish quarter instigated “by Chrestus” (as if “Christ” were actually in Rome).

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topic 11 romans
Topic 11 Romans
  • Church in Rome
    • Not founded by Paul (1:13) – unknown who did.
    • Christianity present by c. 49.
      • Claudius expelled the Jews (and Jewish Christians).
      • Suetonius: disturbances in Jewish quarter instigated “by Chrestus” (as if “Christ” were actually in Rome).
      • Priscilla and Aquila also expelled (Acts 18:2).
    • After Claudius’ death in 54, order was rescinded.
      • Jewish Christians have now returned.
      • Probably created leadership tensions between Jewish and Gentile Christians.
  • Authenticity
    • Unquestioned.
    • Except isolated verses (cf. 16:25-27).
C. Integrity (unity)
  • Ch. 16 sometimes regarded as separate letter to Ephesus.
    • Greets 26 people by name in church he has not visited.
    • Textual evidence of early circulation without ch. 16.
      • Marcion knew only ch. 1-14.
      • Some mss. have only ch. 1-15.
  • Doxology (16:25-27) is widely regarded as non-Pauline addition.
    • Contains language uncharacteristic of Paul.
    • Found in various locations or omitted in various mss.

D. Date and place of writing

  • Corinth; end of 3rd Journey; just before heading to Jerusalem with collection; c. 55-56 (15:25-27).
  • Beyond Jerusalem, plans to visit Rome and Spain (15:17-32).
  • May be latest undisputed letter; certainly last as free man.
    • Announces plans to visit Rome (1:10-12; 15:22-24, 28-29).
    • Enlists support for mission to Spain (15:24, 28-29).
      • Can’t assume favorable opinion – many opposed Paul.
      • Explains, clarifies, defends law-free gospel to win support.

(Common agreement on # 1-2. Is there more?)

    • “Roman conflict” theory (Marxsen; Roetzel).
      • Responds to leadership struggles between Gentile Christians and returning Jewish Christians.
      • Seen esp. in dispute of “weak” vs. “strong” (ch. 14-15).
    • “Preoccupation with Jerusalem” theory (Bornkamm).
      • Fears Jewish/Jewish Christian rejection in Jerusalem (15:25-27, 30-31).
      • Rehearsing defense of gospel he will make in Jerusalem.
    • Conclusion
      • Paul writes out of multiple purposes.
      • Writes at significant turning point in ministry; reflects theologically on work in East as he heads West.
Character of Romans
    • Appears to stand apart among Paul’s letters.
      • Little indication of responding to conditions/problems in Rome.
      • Longest, most sustained treatment of Paul’s theology.
    • Long regarded as “Paul’s systematic theology” – neutral presentation of his gospel uncolored by occasion.
    • No longer seen that way – argument is shaped by specific occasion.
    • No other letter has been more influential on Christian theology – or more difficult to interpret!
Outline of Romans

1:1-7 Salutation

    • Pre-Pauline formula establishes common ground (v. 3-4).
    • “Two-stage” Christology:
      • Descended from David according to the flesh.
      • Designated Son of God by resurrection.
    • Note “obedience of faith” (v. 5).

1:8-15 Thanksgiving – note longstanding desire to visit Rome.

1:16-17 Thesis statement (“heart of Romans”)

    • Gospel is God’s power for salvation of all who have faith.
      • Open to Jews and Gentiles alike – key is faith (trust).
      • Evenhandedness throughout Romans – inclusion of one does not mean exclusion of other.
    • Gospel reveals “righteousness of God.”
      • Terminology:
        • dikaiosunē = righteousness; justice; justification.
        • dikaios = righteous; just; being in right relationship.
        • dikaioō = to justify; rectify; declare/make righteous.
      • “Righteousness of God” can mean:
        • God’s own righteous character, his covenant faithfulness.
        • God’s saving activity/power by which he redeems/vindicates his people, sets things right, brings into right relationship.
        • Right relationship with God which comes as gift from God.
1:16-17 Thesis statement (“heart of Romans”)

2) Gospel reveals “righteousness of God” – cont.

  • Bultmann-Käsemann debate on “righteousness of God”:

i) Bultmann (fol. Luther): forensic-eschatological view.

      • Righteousness/justification as judicial image.
      • God’s verdict by which he pronounces sinners righteous; = acquittal; pardon.
      • In Christ, final judgment is pronounced already in advance; not on basis of works, but of faith.
      • Thereby restored to right relationship with God.
    • Käsemann: cosmic-apocalyptic view.
      • God’s “righteousness” is his saving power, redeeming world from hostile powers (Sin, Death).
      • Cosmic dimension: whole world is redeemed and transformed into a New Creation.
1:18-3:20 The Human Predicament (apart from Christ)
  • Jews and Gentiles alike are sinners subject to God’s wrath on Day of Judgment.
    • Sin = hamartia – missing the mark; falling short (archery term).
    • Root of Sin is rebellion; failure to acknowledge God as God.
    • “Sin” becomes cosmic power which enslaves and kills.
    • Wages of Sin is Death – separation from God.
  • Gentiles are guilty without the Law (1:18-32).
    • Argues from “natural revelation” that Gentiles are accountable (v. 19-20).
    • Fundamental sin of Gentiles is idolatry, worshipping creation rather than Creator (v. 21-25).
    • From that sprang all manner of wickedness (v. 24-31).
      • Immorality of Gentiles is “symptom” of underlying “disease” (rejection of God).
      • Includes “perverted sexuality” but also “everyday nastiness and petty selfishness” (Dunn).
1:18-3:20 The Human Predicament (apart from Christ)
  • Jews are guilty with the Law (2:1-3:8).
    • Those who judge will be judged (2:1-11).
    • Jews boasted their superiority because they had Law; looked down on pagans (v. 17).
    • Possessing Law without keeping it makes them no better off (v. 12-13).
    • True circumcision is of the heart – better a good pagan than a bad Jew (v. 25-29).
    • Jews did have advantage (Scripture) but did not take advantage of it (3:1-8).
    • What Paul says about Judaism is equally true for all religions.
  • Conclusion (3:9-20)
    • “All (Jews and Gentiles alike) are under the power of Sin” (v. 9).
    • Quotes a catena of Scripture to that effect.
    • Cannot be “justified” by works of Law; Law functions only to give knowledge of Sin (v. 20).
3:21-4:25 God’s Solution: Justification by Faith
  • “But now…” (v. 21-22) – in Christ God has revealed a righteousness through faith, apart from Law.
  • Summary of gospel (3:21-26) – full of key terms:
    • Justification – closely related to “righteousness” language; act of being declared righteous; acquitted; pardoned.
      • “Imputed” righteousness – “declared” righteous (legal fiction – treated “as if” righteous).
      • “Imparted” righteousness – “made” righteous; infused with new righteous nature (zapped into moral perfection).
      • Sinner actually “becomes” righteous in sense of right relationship with God; beginning of total transformation.
    • Grace – God’s merciful, undeserved favor; act of granting salvation as free gift.
    • Redemption – act of “buying back” a slave or captive through payment of ransom; liberation from bondage to powers of Sin and Death
    • Expiation/sacrifice of atonement – death of Christ is sacrifice by which God wipes away effects of Sin.
    • Faith – human response of receiving God’s gift.
      • Primarily trust – not just “believing,” but depending on God.
      • Bultmann – also: Confession, Obedience, Fear, Hope.
  • Justification by faith excludes all boasting (3:27-31).
3:21-4:25 God’s Solution: Justification by Faith
  • Abraham as example of one justified by faith (ch. 4).
    • In Judaism, Abraham was prime example of one “counted righteous” because of obedience to Law.
    • Paul uses Gen. 15:6 to show it wasn’t his works of Law but his faith/trust in God which was credited as righteousness (v. 3-5).
    • He was reckoned righteous even before his circumcision (v. 9-10).
    • He is ancestor of all who have faith – Jews and Gentiles (v. 9-12).
    • Parallels between Abraham’s faith and Christian faith (v. 16-25) – trusting the God who brings life out of death.
5:1-8:39 New Life in Christ: Liberation from Victimizing Powers (Wrath; Sin; Law; Death)

1) Freedom from Wrath (ch. 5)

  • Peace with God (v. 1-11)
    • Justification brings peace (shalom; wholeness) – note textual issue in v. 1.
    • Death of Christ demonstrates God’s love (v. 6-8).
    • Assurance of salvation from Wrath at final judgment (v. 9-10).
    • “Reconciliation” (KJV, “atonement”) = restoration of broken relationship; change from enmity to friendship (v. 11).
  • Adam-Christ “typology” (v. 12-21)
    • Christ reverses the “curse” of Adam’s “Fall”:
      • Adam’s disobedience brought Sin and Death to all.
      • Christ’s obedience brings Righteousness and Life to all.
    • Key text for Augustine’s “original sin” – misread v.12 as “in whom all sinned” instead of “because all sinned.”
5:1-8:39 New Life in Christ: Liberation from Victimizing Powers (Wrath; Sin; Law; Death)

2) Freedom from Sin (ch. 6)

  • “Diatribe” style (v. 1-2)
    • Objector: Should we sin more so that grace may abound?
    • Answer: By no means!
  • Dying and rising with Christ (v. 2-11)
    • Baptism symbolizes death and resurrection (v. 3-5).
    • Believer dies with Christ; old, sinful nature is crucified; freed from power of Sin (v. 6-8).
    • Note Paul’s care to avoid saying we have already been raised with Christ (believer’s resurrection is future).
  • Freed from Sin to serve Righteousness (v. 12-23)
    • Shifts from indicative to imperative (v. 12).
      • Indicative: you are freed from Sin’s power.
      • Imperative: therefore, don’t sin.
    • Be slaves of Righteousness (v. 16-18).
    • Key text for doctrine of “sanctification” (v. 19, 22) – on-going process of “becoming holy” in righteous living.
    • Bultmann: “become what you are!”
5:1-8:39 New Life in Christ: Liberation from Victimizing Powers (Wrath; Sin; Law; Death)

3) Freedom from Law (ch. 7)

  • Discharged from the Law, which led to Death (v. 1-6)
    • Analogy of marriage: binding only while spouse is alive.
    • We are dead to Law and belong to Christ.
  • The Law’s strange alliance with Sin (v. 7-13)
    • Law itself is good – given by God; contains his will (v. 12).
    • Sin misuses Law to provoke sinfulness. How?
      • Existence of commandment provokes defiance (v. 7-8).
      • Law’s promise of “life” tempts one to achieve own righteousness (v. 9-11; cf. 4:4; 10:3).
    • Law then condemns Sin and brings Death (v. 11, 13).
  • Struggling with the “Flesh” (v. 14-25)
    • Law states what is right but gives no power to do it.
    • “Flesh” is human frailty, weakness, sinful nature.
    • “I” try to do the good, but do evil instead.
    • Who is the “I” in this section?

Paul as a Jew? Paul as a Christian? Christian understanding of himself as a Jew? Generic human experience?

4) Freedom from Death (ch. 8)
  • Freedom from Death and new life in the Spirit (v. 1-17)
    • “Death” is a spiritual power which invades life; alienation from God; powerlessness to do his will (cf. 7:24).
    • Christian is delivered from “body of Death” and given a new life filled by the Spirit of God (7:25; 8:1-2).
    • Spirit does what Law (weakened by Flesh) could not do – gives power to do God’s will (v. 3-4).
    • No longer dominated by Flesh but by Spirit (v. 5-6).
    • In-dwelling Spirit enables righteous living (v. 7-11).
    • This is not automatic – one must choose whether to “live according to the flesh” or “be led by the Spirit” (v. 12-13).
    • Spirit is evidence of adoption as children of God (v. 14-17).
  • Present suffering and future glory (v. 18-39)
    • Freedom from Death is not yet complete – in present we suffer and wait for final “glorification” (v. 18-27).
    • Note “cosmic” dimension of redemption (v. 19-23).
    • Spirit is “first fruits” of future salvation (v.23; cf. “first installment” / “down payment” in 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5).
    • In midst of suffering, God works in all things toward his redemptive purpose (v. 28-30).
    • Nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ (v. 31-39).
9:1-11:36 Question of Israel: Jews and Gentiles in God’s Plan 1) Problem: Gentiles believe; Jews don’t.
    • Does inclusion of Gentiles mean God has rejected Jews?
    • Does Paul’s Gentile mission imply that God is unfaithful to his covenant with Israel?
  • Paul’s personal anguish over Israel (9:1-5).
    • He could wish himself “accursed” for their sake (9:3).
    • His “heart’s desire” is for their salvation (10:1).
    • Two main arguments defending God’s integrity.
  • Divine election: God chooses whom he will (9:6-29).
    • “True Israel” never was a matter of physical descent.
    • Children of promise are those chosen by God (Isaac, not Ishmael; Jacob, not Esau).
    • Election is based not on human works, but on God’s mercy (v. 11, 16).
    • Is God, then, unjust when he still finds fault (v. 14, 19)?
    • No – potter is sovereign over the clay (v. 20-21).
    • This argument is highly “predestinarian.”
9:1-11:36 Question of Israel: Jews and Gentiles in God’s Plan 4) Human response: faith is required (9:30-10:21).
  • Gentiles did not strive for righteousness but attained it through faith (v. 30).
  • Israel did strive for it but missed it – pursued it not on basis of faith but as if based on works/law (v. 31-32).
    • Tripped over Law – thought it demanded works rather than faith (v. 32-33).
    • Their “zeal” is unenlightened – rejected God’s righteousness, tried to establish their own (v. 2-3).
  • Christ is the “end” of the Law so that righteousness might be by faith (v.4) – termination? goal? both?
  • Salvation is open to all who have faith in Christ – Jews and Gentiles alike (v. 9-13).
  • For that to happen, the gospel must be preached – so Paul’s mission is justified (v.14-15)!
  • This argument presupposes human “free will.”
9:1-11:36 Question of Israel: Jews and Gentiles in God’s Plan 5) God’s plan for Jews and Gentiles (11:1-36).
  • Existence of a faithful remnant of Israel (including Paul) proves God has not rejected Israel (v. 1-10).
  • Stubbornness of the Jews makes possible salvation of the Gentiles (v. 11-12).
  • Inclusion of Gentiles, in turn, should make Jews jealous, provoking their conversion (v. 13-16).
  • Allegory of the olive tree (v. 17-24)
    • Olive tree = “Israel,” God’s people.
    • Branches broken off = unbelieving Jews – can be restored.
    • Wild olive shoot grafted in = believing Gentiles – can be removed.
    • Warns Gentiles not to be arrogant about their place in God’s people – “remember the root”!
  • God has not written off any group of people – ultimate aim is salvation of all (v. 25-36).
    • Comes very close to statement of Universalism (v. 25-26, 32).
    • Closes with doxology of God’s “inscrutable” ways (v. 33-36).
12:1-15:13 Paraenesis: Ethical implications of gospel
  • Transformed living as response to God’s mercy (12:1-2).
  • Conduct in the body of Christ (12:3-21).
    • Exercise of spiritual gifts.
    • Love for one another.
    • Love for enemies.
  • The Christian and the state (13:1-7).
    • Respect for authority as ordained by God.
    • Pay your taxes.
  • Love as fulfillment of Law (13:8-10).
  • Imminence of the end gives urgency to transformed living (13:11-14).
  • Problem of “weak” and “strong” (14:1-15:13).
    • Tensions between those who have “scruples” about food laws and holy days and those who do not.
    • Agrees in principle with “strong” (those without scruples).
    • Neither group should pass judgment on the other.
    • Neither should act in a way to make the other stumble.
15:14-16:27 Closing
  • Personal word and travel plans (15:14-33).
  • Personal greetings (16:1-23).
    • Greets 26 individuals by name.
      • Would Paul have known so many people in Rome?
      • Is this chapter from a separate letter to Ephesus?
    • Commends several women as co-workers.
    • Phoebe (v. 1-2) – commended on her mission to Rome.
      • “Deacon” of church in Cenchreae (not “deaconess”).
      • “Benefactor” = “one who stands before,” leader.”
    • Prisca and Aquila (v. 3-4) – greeted as Paul’s co-workers in Christ, who risked their lives for Paul.
      • Fellow tentmakers Paul met in Corinth (Acts 18)
      • Gave theological instruction to the learned Apollos.
      • Her name listed first 4 out of 6 times.
    • Andronicus and Junia (v. 7) – Christian couple, commended as “outstanding among the apostles.”
      • “Junias” (RSV; NIV) is unattested as male name.
      • “Junia” (KJV; NRSV) is common female name.
  • Doxology (16:25-27) – textually questionable.