Monday, September 27, 2010

Romans 5:1-8:17 (Outline Issues)

In reading and studying Scripture, one of the most helpful practices is to step back and take in the big picture. This is where it is recommendable to read an entire book through in one sitting a couple of times before digging into specific passages. It is also helpful to look at how different people outline the thought and flow of the book. Of course, sometimes a passage of Scripture is so complex and rich that this practice reveals just how much there is to grasp. Romans is one such portion of the Bible.

For example, Romans 5:1-8:17 has many ways in which it can be read. Some people include chapter 5 in with what precedes it, the part where Paul is talking about justification. Others (including our reading here) group it more in with what follows as a part of the discussion of sanctification. Dunn points out that the two parts of chapter 5 (1-11 and 12-21) deal respectively with individuals and then humanity as a whole. He then goes on to say that the next section of the letter does the same thing. Chapters 6 through part of 8 deal with individual issues and 9 through 11 deals with larger issues of humanity at large.

Another interesting reading that Dunn gives us of Romans is in chapters 6 through 8. Each of these passages has an “already, not yet” aspect to them. Paul is showing us how our salvation has already given us some qualities but for others we must wait for glorification to occur. In 6:1-11, we are already dead to sin in Christ. However, in 6:12-23 we are reminded to not let sin rule in our mortal bodies. In 7:1-6, we are no longer bound to the law, but in 7:7-25 we see how sin still uses the law to be active in our lives. In 8:1-9, we have the Spirit of life and are free from the power of the flesh and death. In 8:10-17, though, we are told that we must live in the Spirit and not in the old ways of the flesh.

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