Literary Context Of The Book Of Romans

The book of Romans is one that is filled with an incredible depth of theological thought.  The great Apostle wrote to the Romans though he had yet to visit them in person.  Within the literary context, Romans 3:21-26 fits within the larger context of the book’s primary themes.  Overall, the book has the following three primary themes:  Salvation in Christ, Restoration of Israel, and an exhortation of Christian living. 

Like most of Paul’s letters, Romans starts with a salutation but quickly proceeds to the proclamation of the Gospel.  In 1:16 Paul says that he is unashamed, and that the Gospel will change those who have faith.  This is extremely important because Paul then describes the wickedness of man before God.  Paul then describes the righteousness of God in Chapter three and in chapter three explains that every person has fallen short of God’s righteous standard. 

Chapters four and five coincide perfectly with the rest of the epistle.  Paul has already explained how none are righteous before a righteous God.  Now he goes into a didactic theme in teaching the faith of Abraham.  Abraham was made righteous because he believed, not because of something that he did (4:3).  Paul utilized the Old Testament patriarch to show that the law cannot save because man is unable to live up to the law.  Abraham realized God’s promise because of his faith.  He was justified by faith and this justification brings peace (5:1).

Paul then moves from the individual to Israel.  He exhorts the Romans and does so with a sense of anguish.  He describes how Israel pursued righteousness through the law and not through faith (9:30).  Israel sought their own righteousness and one can sense the anguish that Paul feels.  After all this is something that he lived firsthand and he understands firsthand that without faith, works are futile.  Paul teaches that because Christ was rejected by Israel, we gentiles can now be saved.  He also reiterates that Israel will eventually recognize their error.

From there Paul engages in a noticeable break to teach and exhort about what faith in Christ does.  Faith in Christ produces a new life.  A life that loves, hates evil, and produces good works.  A Christian will follow the laws of the land (Ch. 13), look to the good of others and not himself (13:8), the strong look out for the weak (15:1), and the Gospel is for the Jews and the Gentiles (15:7).

Paul then ends with a person greeting and exhortation.  He implores them to take the letter seriously and apply the teachings.  Of all of Paul’s letters, Romans is the longest.  In it Paul exhorts and teaches justification by faith.  It is an eternal message that we all need to be reminded of.


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