What is the “good news” of Jesus Christ? Why do people need to hear it? How can they experience it? What will it mean for their future? And what does the good news have to do with everyday life? These large and basic questions form Paul’s agenda in Romans—an agenda dictated by a combination of audiences, circumstances and purposes.
The salvation issue, with all its various facets, was at the center of the early Christian movement as it sought to defend itself over against both Judaism and paganism. Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in Rome had very different opinions on these matters. So Paul uses his rhetorical skill to tackle such fundamental theological issues with such a deft touch that it the letter to the Romans it has left an enduring and vital contribution to Christians’ understanding of who they are and what they believe.
As Luther therefore said:
[Romans] is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.
To do justice to the scale of Romans we will be spreading it out over the next few years.
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