This post is part of our ongoing series examining Romans, Predestination, and Freewill.
In The New Interpreter’s Bible, N.T. Wright begins by writing that, “Romans is neither a systematic theology nor a summary of Paul’s lifework, but it is by common consent his masterpiece.” Wright describes the main theme of the letter as “God’s gospel unveiling God’s righteousness,” which describes “Paul’s own summary in 1:16-17, and the letter does, indeed, unpack this dense statement…. The phrase ‘the righteousness of God’ summed up sharply and conveniently, for a first century Jew such as Paul, the expectations that the God of Israel… would be faithful to the promises made to the patriarchs.” With this understanding of Romans, Wright argues that, “The flow of thought through the letter as a whole makes far more sense if we understand the statement of the theme in 1:17 as being about God and God’s covenant faithfulness and justice, rather than simply about ‘justification.’ It brings into focus chapters 9-11, not as an appendix to a more general treatment of sin and salvation, but as the intended major climax of the whole letter….” For Wright, much like Dunn, there remains room within the larger theme of covenant faithfulness for other readings of major subjects, especially the salvation of humans. However, “Paul’s [overarching] aim, it seems, is to explain to the Roman church what God has been up to and where they might belong on the map of these purposes.” Continue reading