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Chapters 1 - 4 develop in greater detail the theme of justification by faith, which appears in polemical form in Galatians. Chapters 5 - 8 show the effect of salvation on humans. In chapters 9 - 11, Paul tries to fathom God's plan for the Jews, his chosen people, who have not followed Jesus. The implications for Christian life of Jesus, faith, and salvation are drawn out in chapters 12 - 15. Chapter 16 is a letter of introduction for the deaconess Phoebe and is thought by many to have been originally a separate letter.
The exact nature and purpose of Romans is controversial, and it is difficult to determine whether it is a theological letter - essay, a last testament, an introduction of Paul to the Roman Christians, or a response to particular problems in Rome that Paul had heard about. Romans is a particularly rich and complex epistle; its teachings on justification, the Jews, and attitudes toward civil government have been debated from the Reformation to the present.
Anthony J Saldarini
C K Barrett, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1957); K Barth, The Epistle to the Romans (1933); P S Milner, The Obedience of Faith (1971).
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