So in my journey through Romans these past few weeks, reading big chunks of it at a time, the following has struck me:
- the core of Romans, what it is all about, is the power of sin and the power of Christ and the Spirit to overcome it. This is the chief concern of Romans 1-8.
- Romans 1-2 lays out the effect of sin in the world, among both Jews and Gentiles, bleakly proposing the prospect of God's terrifying judgment against humanity.
- Romans 3-5 lays out the joyous news that through death and resurrection Jesus Christ save us from that judgement ("justification by faith") and the power to do that is Christ's alone. Sin so besets us, its power so permeates our every effort to live a righteous life that we fail (see also Romans 7). Neither Jew with the law nor Gentile without the law can do a single thing to overcome the power of sin.
- Romans 6 begins to chart what is developed further in Romans 8: the power of Christ is not only to cancel the effects of sin with respect to God's just judgment but also to begin to lead us to live a righteous life. But this life is possible only through the new law of the Spirit. The old law of the flesh has been found wanting (with a hint that even God has been surprised that the law given so graciously to the Jews has not enabled them to live righteously.
- So Romans 8 could be the joyous, hopeful, encouraging ending to Paul's letter (with concluding greetings in Romans 16). But ...
- Paul wants to make two further points:
- Romans 9-11 is Appendix 1: if Romans 1-8 is the case, that the power of Christ is for all, Gentiles and Jews, what about the Jews? This appendix deals with that question.
- Romans 12-15 is Appendix 2 and answers the question what does the law of the Spirit mean in the practicalities of living in the Roman Empire.
What do you think?