Last Updated on May 24, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 600
Context: Romans is a letter which Paul wrote to his fellow-Christians in Rome; it is a letter to strangers, because he had never been to Rome and had no part in founding the church there. For this reason his epistle is more a treatise on the principles and practice of Christianity than a letter. It is evident that he wishes to offer his readers encouragement and reassurance in their faith; at the same time, he is anxious to furnish as many arguments as possible which can be used by them in gaining converts to Christianity. His principal concern is for the Jews; most of his work has been done among these people, and it has been his habit as a missionary to go to the synagogue whenever he arrives in a community. There he begins his effort by arguing scripture and preaching. He has found the Jews very resistant to conversion. In the first eight chapters of this epistle he draws upon his long experience and enumerates all the objections to Christianity that members of the Jewish faith are likely to raise. For each of the objections he provides an answer. Paul begins the epistle with a statement of his qualifications; he then blesses his readers and states his gospel for them, reminding them that God offers salvation through it to all men regardless of their origin. He adds that all men are sinners and that to satisfy the outward requirements of faith is useless unless one's belief is genuine. To observe the law is good, but its observance without faith is vain: belief in man's redemption through Christ transcends the law. At this point Paul turns to a discussion of sin and its nature, adding the reassurance that ancient sins are wiped out by baptism. He then returns to his discussion of the law; no earthly law has power over us after death. The true Christian is dead to sin because his law is Christ. In Chapter 8 Paul goes back to an earlier point, that to be one with Christ is to be pure and free from condemnation. He elaborates his theme of the transcendency of spiritual things over material:
For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?
But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.
Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
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