Notes from Wednesday, January 12th study in Romans (Introduction part of the teaching):
I. About Romans
A. Introduction: Its Impact on the Church (Historically and
1. It’s impact on Augustine: Augustine (A.D. 354-430) is considered one of the most important theologians and church leaders of the Patristic Period (app. the first 500 years of the church). His most celebrated works include The City of God and Confessions. Thomas Schreiner (a top Pauline scholar) states: “Even though Augustine never wrote a full-length commentary on Romans, his theology—which has probably exerted more influence on the church worldwide than any theologian in the history of the church—was significantly indebted to Romans.”
2. It’s impact on Martin Luther: Martin Luther (1483-1546) is recognized as the Father of the Reformation (or the Protestant Reformation), as well as the recognized founder of Lutheranism. He was a Roman Catholic priest, Augustinian friar (monk), theologian, and author. The impact of Romans on Martin Luther’s theology is significant. He formulated his understanding of the gospel, especially the righteousness of God, by conducting an intensive exegesis/study of Romans. In the preface of his Romans commentary, he says, “This epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and is truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul” (Luther 1972: 365).
3. Its impact on John Calvin (1509-1564): John Calvin was a pastor, theologian, reformer, and lawyer. and the chief expositor of
the Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Concerning the significance of Romans, he says, “if we have gained a true understanding of this Epistle, we have an open door to all the most profound treasures of Scripture.”
4. It’s impact on John Wesley: John Wesley (1703-1791) was a British cleric, theologian, and evangelist, who was a leader of a revival movement within the Church of England known as Methodism. The societies he founded became the dominant form of the independent Methodist movement that continues to this day. Wesley, while attending an evening service at Aldersgate, heard some of Luther’s commentary being read aloud. His response goes as follows: “I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine; and saved me from the law of sin and death’ (Wesley [Works] 1872, vol. 1, 28.) Credit to Rebecca Reed for this addition.
5. It’s impact on Karl Barth: Karl Barth 1886-1968) is considered one of the most influential theologians, if not most influential theologian, of the twentieth century. His Epistle to the Romans is a classic and is considered one of the most profound theological works of the twentieth century.
B. Authorship and Date
1. Authorship and Date: The author of Romans is Paul the apostle (there is no discrepancy on this matter). It is (safely) dated sometime between A.D. 55 and 58 (roughly 22 years after Jesus’s death on the cross).
2. The Pauline Epistles: There are fourteen epistles that are generally categorized or attributed to Paul: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus,
Philemon, and Hebrews. Worth noting: the Pauline epistles, combined, make up about 51% of the New Testament.
C. Main Themes and Thesis
1. Maine Theme of Romans: The main theme of Romans is the Gospel of grace and the revealing of the Righteousness of God (δικαιοσύνη Θεοῦ)—that is, “the just (the righteous/justified) shall live by faith, not works.”
Note: There are four major movements in Romans:
1. Righteousness needed (Rom. 1:18––3:20)
2. Righteousness provided (Rom. 3:21––8:39)
3. Righteousness vindicated (Rom. 9:1––11:36)
4. Righteousness practiced (Rom. 12:1––15:13)
2. Sub-themes in Romans: There are several sub-themes in Romans: The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Salvation, Righteousness (i.e., Imputed Righteousness vs. works-based Righteousness), The Wrath of God, Judgment, Justification by Faith (and faith alone), Propitiation, Freedom from the Law, The Law of Grace, Grace vs. Law, Slaveship to Sonship, the Restoration of Israel.
3. Thesis (Paul’s main argument) of Romans: The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek, for in it—that is, in the gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17 NKJV).