Wednesday, 30 December 2015

St Paul's Letter to the Romans

Codex Alexandrinus

From January 1 the readings in the Office to turn to the letter of St Paul to the Romans, so I thought I'd provide a few short notes here to aid reading on it.

The Office, of course, only provides a few extracts from selected chapters; in a monastery the rest is traditionally read either over a meal and/or individually as lectio divina.

The basics

Romans is the sixth book of the New Testament, coming immediately after Acts, and is widely regarded as the most important of St Paul's letters.   It consists of sixteen chapters in total.

The epistle was probably written between 55 and 57 AD, and internal references suggest that it was written while St Paul resided in Corinth.  St Paul was planning to visit Rome, and the letter is in effect a self-recommendation in preparation for that visit by way of doctrine.

Theologically the letter is very dense, and dealing with justification as it does, has spawned many heresies.  Accordingly, it is a good idea to read it with the help of a sound commentary.  Some useful online resources include:


The following outline is a shortened version of that provided in Fr Kenneth Baker's Inside the Bible:

I Introduction 1:1-18

II There is no salvation apart from Christ 1:18-3:20

III Salvation found only in Christ 3:21-4:25

IV Salvation described and defined 5:1-8:39
Doctrine - Judaism

V Jew and Gentile in God’s plan 9:1-11:36

VI Moral demands of God’s justice 12:1-15:13

VII Final words and greetings 14:13-16:27

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