The genuineness of the Epistle to the Romans is not questioned by serious scholarship. Most attest to the fact that we have a letter that was indeed written by Paul to a group of Christians in Rome. But while that is true there are those who question the genuineness of the text. Furthermore there are those who doubt whether we have the letter just as it left Paul’s hands. Some question whether the last two chapters are genuine or not. Paul seems to close his letter three times. Once at the end of Chapter 11, again at the end of Chapter 15 and then finally at end of Chapter 16. Are these extra bits additions from other letters of Paul or even other writers? Did Paul mean them to be there? This then gives you some homework to work out what is going on as you come to those portions.
The other matter that is worthy of comment and there are some who do – what about Romans 9-11? It seems misplaced and ill-fitted. Did Paul write this? It is hard to make sense of it, isn’t it? How does it all fit together or is this another portion of Romans that is out of order with the rest of the epistle? You will need to solve the problem or come to a conclusion of your own in order to understand the book. Just letting you know in advance.
Then we have a series of names (Rom 16:1-15), representing a large circle of personally known and loved friends of Paul, a much longer list than any other in the Epistles, and all presumably residents at Rome. Perhaps such a paragraph was included after the date, from another writing? Might it not be greetings to Philippian, Thessalonian or Ephesian friends, dwellers in places where Paul had already established many intimacies, have fallen out of its place and found its place by mistake at the close of this letter to Rome? There are some 300 manuscripts of Romans from antiquity, and not one of these, fails to complete the Epistle with all the chapters as we have them, and in the present order (with one exception, that of the final doxology). Isn’t there a difficulty as to how Paul could have known a large group of friends living at Rome? He had never been there. Ponder this issue as we move through Romans.
We need to pay attention to these issues firstly in order to understand the book we are studying and secondly to have an answer for those who would criticise the Word of God for whatever reason. But primarily paying attention to these matters will help you to understand Romans better. It is a little like the issue of the segment 7:53 – 8:11 we encountered in John’s Gospel. Not that we need to get bogged down in the textual debate but when we pay attention to the issues it helps us to know where we stand in the debate and helps us to understand the book better. Enough said, now go do your homework or at least be thinking about it as we move through the book.
There is another matter you have to address. Before you can adequately understand a book of the Bible you need to know its context. Knowing the context will always help you immensely to understand the book and the purpose of the author. Many have asked me in the last few weeks to give them an overview of a book, or the whole Bible as I was asked in one case. But that would be to deprive you of the pleasure of doing it yourself and knowing the book that much better because you are the one who has done the work. The difference between doing it ourselves and listening to someone else give us the benefit of their work is huge. You know what I am saying.
There are numbers of books that you can buy that give you an outline of the books of the Bible and tell you what they are about. But why buy them when you can get the information from E-Sword for free. Simply go to the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia in the Dictionary section of E-Sword at the bottom of your screen and type <Romans> in the slot at the top of the list on the right hand side. Choose “Romans, Epistle to The” and it will bring up all sorts of information for you.
The contents list is as follows:
Romans, Epistle to The
- Its Genuineness
- Its Integrity
- The Approximate Date
- The Place of Writing
- The Destination
- The Language
- The Occasion
- Some Characteristics
- Main Teachings of the Epistle
- Doctrine of Man
- Doctrine of God
- Doctrine of Son of God – Redemption; Justification
- Doctrine of the Spirit of God
- Doctrine of Duty
- Doctrine of Israel
This is helpful information for helping you to know beforehand what this letter is all about. But the best way to find a summary of Romans is to summarise it yourself after we have done this study together.
We will have a quick look at it tomorrow. It would help you to do the work first and look at the material beforehand or at least know where to find this information when you need it.
In a day when you don’t come across any problems you can be sure that you are travelling on the wrong path.Anon
If you worry about what might be, and wonder what might have been, you will ignore what is.Anon