Full Text for Romans- Volume 8 - Main Themes of Romans (Video)

No. 8. >> I don't mean to shortcut your introductory comments. But I'm very eager to get into the meat of Romans. What is the main theme of the book? And how does Paul develop this theme? >>PROFESSOR DAVID I. M. LEWIS: Well, David, it's no trouble to try to cut to the chase at this point. I think we've presented a lot of the introductory material that you and the other students will need to read Romans in the right way. And I'm thankful for your suggestion that we actually now look at what Paul is actually doing in the book of Romans. Now, again, I mentioned, Paul is writing a letter of introduction to a group of congregations and a group of Christians, most of whom he does not know personally. And who live in a city that Paul has not yet visited. And so because this is Paul's letter of introduction, what he gives us in the epistle to the Romans is the most systematic presentation of his theology and the most ordered and well organized presentation of the Gospel that Paul preached. In other words, Paul has been a missionary for some time now. And so in this epistle, he's kind of encapsulating the basic message that he has been preaching all of these years and then giving this to the Romans for them to read, review, and respond to. And so because of this, I personally like to refer to the epistle to the Romans as the Gospel according to Paul. Because if you want to know what Paul, the apostle, believed about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Romans is a good place to do it. Because here he's not so much responding to problems in a church as he is in the Corinthian epistles. Here he's presenting the Gospel he preaches in a letter of introduction from him to the Romans. And now in this then, we can look at how Paul writes Romans and see how he develops this -- how he develops his purpose and what his theme is. Now, if you recall, I mentioned the classical six-part rhetorical outline to a Greek speech. Well, if you were to look at Romans and analyze it in terms of those six parts, the exordium or the introduction would include Romans 1 Verses 8 through 17. Now, in the exordium, the author would mention the purpose for which he's writing the letter. And here Paul very clearly mention s his purpose that he intends to come to Rome and conduct missionary work in Rome. And also to minister to the Christians there so that he might encourage them. And that they might encourage him. Now, in the exordium the statement of the purpose then should lead us into the main theme of the letter. We find this in Romans 1 Verses 16 through 17. Paul writes: For I am not ashamed of the Gospel. For it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. To the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it, in the Gospel, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith. As it is written the righteous shall live by faith. Now, if like me you believe that Paul is actually following that rhetorical outline, then you would recognize Verses 16 and 17 as Paul stating the main theme of his letter. And in fact even scholars who don't necessarily agree with rhetorical criticism have almost universally recognized that the theme of Romans is stated concisely in those two verses. The theme being: Paul is not ashamed of the Gospel. Why? Because the Gospel is the power of God for the salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. And there's the theme. Paul preaches the Gospel. He's under obligation to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. And he's not ashamed to do this. Why? Because the Gospel is God's power for saving everyone who believes. Jews first and also Greeks. And this now is the main theme of this letter. As we look at this letter, we should then expect Paul to talk about the Gospel and what it is. We should expect Paul to talk about God saving people. And then we should expect Paul to talk about this salvation coming to those who believe. And then we should expect Paul to talk about how this is universally true of everybody. Jews but also Gentiles. That both Jews and Gentiles are saved through the Gospel when they believe. And of course we know believe in Jesus Christ. So how does Paul develop this theme in his epistle? Well, if we follow the classical six-part rhetorical outline, the next part should be the ***narratio or the narration. And sure enough in 1 Verse 18, Paul begins to narrate the history of sin. So if the Gospel is the power of God for saving those who believe, he needs to make the case that we need to be saved. And so he makes the case in Romans 1 Verse 18 through Romans 3 Verse 20. That everyone, Jew and Gentile alike, have fallen short of God's standards. And are condemned righteously by God because of their sin and their failure to keep the law of God. Paul makes this case in his ***narratio, which includes this section. Then at the end of Romans Chapter 3 Verses 21 through 31, Paul states his proposition. The ***propositio. And here the proposition is that: Well, salvation does not come through obeying the law. But now a righteousness of God apart from the law has been revealed. And it is a righteousness that is received in faith to those who believe. Then Romans 4 actually all the way through Chapter 11 would entail that part which would be the confirmation. Where Paul proves his proposition. And actually it's a very long argumentation that Paul gives us in Chapters 4 through 11. But in Chapter 4 he begins right away by making the case that Abraham, the forefather of the Jewish people, that he, too, was considered righteous by God not on the basis of works, not on the basis of circumcision but on the basis of faith. He believed God's promises and that actually this believing God's promises and this declaring righteous that happened to Abraham took place before Abraham was circumcised and thus before the law was given to Israel. And if this is the way it was with Abraham, then this is the way that God works. Then this leads us into a large long argumentation in Romans Chapters 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 about how this relates to the Christians' life, to the believers' life today. After Jesus has come and died and risen again. And then Romans Chapters 9, 10 and 11 Paul treats the unique subject of why some Jews have rejected this Gospel. And what that means about God's plan. And then in Romans 12 through 15 Verse 13, Paul talks about the implications of what it means to be one of those who has been saved by the Gospel through faith in Jesus. And this would match up to the fifth part of the letter, the exhortation, the ***exhortatio section where Paul now exhorts his readers to live a certain way in response to who they are as a people that God has saved. And then Romans 15 Verse 14 we come to the closing, the conclusion of the letter where Paul mentions once again that he plans to come to Rome. Minister there. And eventually also minister in Spain. In all of this, I would like you to keep in mind that Romans 1 Verse 16 is Paul's theme. And this should be the common thread that unites all of Paul's arguments as he writes the epistle to the Romans. His main theme is that it is about the Gospel. And what is the Gospel? It is the power of God, the power of God, for the salvation -- for salvation to everyone who believes. And so in the Gospel what we see is that God himself is acting to bring salvation. And that this salvation comes through Jesus Christ. And that it is received by those who believe in Jesus Christ. And now there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile in Jesus Christ any longer. Jew and Gentile alike are all equally sinners under God's wrath. But are also equally saved and justified when they believe in Jesus Christ. This is the universal theme, the universal thread that unites all of Paul's arguments in the book of Romans. And so as you read the epistle to the Romans, David, and you others, too, I would like you to keep in mind this theme and see this theme as the common thread that unites all of Paul's arguments throughout the entire epistle. And then ask as you read: How does this relate to the theme of the Gospel which is the power of God for saving those who believe in Jesus.