Romans

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Romans

Romans, letter of the New Testament, written by St. Paul, probably from Corinth before his last trip to Jerusalem, c.AD 58. It is a treatise addressed to the Christian church at Rome, apparently to introduce himself and his teaching before his expected visit. The subject treated is central to Paul's teaching, justification by faith, i.e., the doctrine that believers achieve salvation through faith. The same matter is the subject of the more polemical letter to the Galatians. Romans opens with a solemn introduction, in which the doctrine is summarized. Paul then argues that faith in Jesus is the only means of salvation for both Gentiles and Jews, explaining for the latter that reliance on the Mosaic Law is not enough; a chapter on Abraham's faith closes the section. Next, Paul treats the state of the justified, listing the fruits of the redemption while stressing the new dynamic of law and grace, the freedom to choose obedience, and freedom from the Law; then an eloquent passage deals with the future glory of the just. Finally, Paul discusses God's apparent rejection of Israel. He argues that God has not broken the promise to His chosen people, rather He is working toward universal redemption. The remainder of the epistle is mainly exhortation, beginning with a general admonition to Christian virtue. The letter closes with remarks of Paul about his life, greetings to various individuals, and a doxology.

See studies by E. Käsemann (1980), F. F. Bruce (rev. ed. 1985), P. Achtemeier (1986), J. D. G. Dunn (1988), and K. P. Donfried (rev. ed. 1991).

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