The Letter to the Romans and Justification

If we want to understand Paul’s theology of justification, it helps to understand the logic and structure of Romans 2 to 5. Note that Paul first addresses the division between Gentile and Jew, especially on the question as to whether the law of the Torah (on circumcision) should be obeyed by all Christian members of the community. Paul concludes in chapter 5 with common or universalist language. This is key to understanding Paul’s theology:

I. God judges both Jew and Gentile alike, without favor to one over the other. Romans 2: 1-11
II. Sinners who ‘adhere’ to the law are worse off than saints for
whom the law “is in their hearts,” but do not know the law. Romans 2:12-16
III. Those under the Law of the Torah must practice the law
that is preached. True circumcision is of the heart. Romans 2: 17-29
IV. Those under the law of the Torah should not discard the law, for God’s words are true. Romans 3: 1-8
V. Jew and gentile alike are subject to sin. The law only makes us conscious of our sin. Romans 3: 9-20
VI. If Jew and gentile are subject to sin, redemption must come from somewhere other than the law. All are justified “freely by the grace of Jesus Christ.” Romans 3: 21-31
VII. Abraham, from whom all Jews descend, was justified because of his faith, not because he did something meritorious or obeyed a particular precept. Romans 4: 1-12
VIII. The descendants of Abraham inherit God’s promise not through “the law” but through Abraham’s faith. Romans 4: 13-25
IX. Paul states we are all justified by faith, we are all reconciled to God by the death of Jesus, and we are all saved by his life. Paul introduces the supernatural virtues of faith, hope and charity together. Romans 5: 1-11
X. Sin and death came to all through one man, Adam. Through one righteous act, “acquittal and life came to all.” As sin reigned in death, “grace might also reign through justification for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5: 12-21

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s