ROMANS as a Literary Work

Believed by many scholars, authors and poets to be the most profound literary work that exists in the history of literature is the Book of Romans from the Bible. It was written in AD 57 by Paul of Tarsus (St. Paul). He was commissioned by Christ to carry the truth of salvation throughout the world to Jews and Gentiles alike in the first century. Much of the New Testament is written by Paul. He made three great missionary journeys to establish churches. His letters written to the churches in his absence are mostly instructional letters to guide the members in what was expected as proper teaching, conduct and service and to answer to the divisions which arose in the early churches.

However Romans, which is placed first among his 13 books of the New Testament, is not simply a letter. It is an Epistle (a formal correspondence to a community). Paul was a master Greek rhetorician who has structured Romans as a scholastic diatribe. It is a formal argument arguing perspectives.

His thesis in Romans is the dynamic of salvation: GRACE THROUGH FAITH.

He structured Romans into 9 parts of formal literature:

I. Introduction: Chapter 1: 1-15.

II. The Thesis Statement: Chapter 1: 16-17.

III. Demonstration by Antithesis: Chapter 1: 18 through Chapter 3:20.

IV. Thesis restated: Chapter 3: 21-38.

V. Demonstration of Thesis by Example: Chapter 4: 1-25.

VI. Exposition of Thesis: Chapter 5: 1-21.

VII. Anticipation of Objection to the Thesis: Chapter 6: 1 through Chapter 11:36.

VIII. Practical Implications of the Thesis: Chapter 12: 1 through Chapter 15: 13.

IX. Conclusion: Chapter 16: 1-27.

In his thesis statement (part II) he starts at Chapter 1: 16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes; first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” He knows this will elicit condemnation from the Jews.

In his demonstration by antithesis (part III), he explains in Chapter 1: 19-20 “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them  20- For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that men are without excuse.” This is an explanation of God’s wrath against mankind. He follows that in Chapter 2 with God’s Righteous Judgment which discusses man judging man. He states in Chapter 2: 9-11 “there will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 10- but glory honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Hew, then for the Gentile. 11-For God does not show favoritism.” He continues with the topics: The Jews and the Law; God’s Faithfulness; No One is Righteous; Righteousness Through Faith; and Abraham Justified by Faith.

In his exposition of thesis (Part VI) he states in Chapter 5: 1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus 2- through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” He goes on to explain we rejoice even in our trials because “suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint.” (vs. 3-5). He concludes the exposition with the subject: Death Through Adam, Life Through Christ.

In his anticipation of objection to the thesis (part VII), he starts in Chapter 6:1 ” What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” He goes on to answer this first objection thoroughly. The second objection he anticipates starts at Chapter 6: 15 ” What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?” His answer to this is a discussion of being slaves to sin or righteousness.  Verse 18 states “You have been set free from sin, and have become slaves to righteousness. He finishes his answer to the second objection via the subject An Illustration From Marriage in which he explains we live a relationship with Christ so as to honor him. The third objection he addresses is Chapter 7: 7- “What shall we say, then? Is the law sin?” He answers this in the subject Struggling with Sin.  In verse 13 of Chapter 7 we find objection 4: “Did that which is good, then become death to me?” His answer lies most beautifully put (I believe) in verse 14-15 of the same chapter. “We know that the law is spiritual, but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15- I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” And he explains we are rescued from our impossible condition in verse 24-25 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25- Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Objection 5 is a question of whether the obedience to the law saves and his answer is demonstrated in Chapter 8:1 “therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” He continues with the subject Future Glory and More than Conquerors. The final objection comes in Chapter 9, with the question, what about the Jews? He covers this in Chapter 9, 10, and 11 with the subjects: God’s Sovereign Choice; Israel’s Unbelief; The Remnant of Israel; and All Israel Will Be Saved.

Practical implications of the thesis (part VIII) is covered in Chapter 12:1 through Chapter 15:13. The subjects covered are: Living Sacrifices; Submission to Authorities; Love, for the Day is Near; and The Weak and the Strong.

He starts his conclusion (part IX) at Chapter 15:14 “I myself an convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. The subjects covered through to the end of Romans are Paul and the Minister to the Gentiles; Paul’s Plan to Visit Rome; and Personal Greetings.

References: The teaching of Dr. Bill Creasey and the NIV Bible.

© Phyllis Weeks Rogers 2/16/18








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