It is right and good to finish reading Romans with chapters 5 through 8, because these chapters are not only the high point of the letter but the solution to the problems vexing the Weak and Strong relations in Rome’s house churches.
To summarize Scot McKnight’s impressive approach to reading Romans, I offer the following outline:
Romans - Paul - Overview - God - Grace
Then, we read Romans 9-11 to see how Paul gives them a sweeping overview of God’s surprising grace that both chose and blessed Israel and is now incorporating the Gentiles into the people of God. It contains important lessons for both the Weak and the Strong, showing them that neither has the right to become arrogant and look down on the other.
Third, we read Romans 1-4, which Paul addresses primarily to the Weak. He argues against their condemnatory attitudes toward the Strong and instructs them that God’s redemption of everyone depends not upon keeping the boundary-marking practices of Torah, but by faith in Christ.
Romans - Passages - Groups - Paul - Vision
Finally, we read Romans 5-8, which includes passages addressed to both groups and encompassing “all.” This is Paul’s comprehensive vision of God’s redemptive grace in Christ through the Spirit that will transform individuals and, ultimately, all creation. In pastoral terms, Paul calls them back to the gospel — to Christ and the vivifying, renewing power of the Spirit (rather than Torah) — which is God’s way of making them and their relationships new. If they take the gospel seriously, both Weak and Strong will seek peace.
I will not attempt to detail Scot’s analysis of the dense and profound gospel teaching of Romans 5-8. I encourage you to read Reading Romans Backwards for that. But let me give an overview of the way he sees these chapters addressing various groups with gospel truth.
There are “all” sections (5:12-21, 8:1-8) that...
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