Interpretive Process: Romans 7:14-25 (1)

I thought that it might be fun to integrate the process of writing my ‘Interpretation of Romans 7:14-25’ paper on the blog, first and foremost to help me enhance and expand the capacity of my mind to explain and comprehend, and secondly, hopefully help propel some needed discussions from anyone that might be interested.

Maybe slightly on the side, to let readers catch a glimpse of what a pastor might go through in preparing a sermon or teaching for his/her congregation. Believe me, it is not a menial task where one simply picks a text and somehow create a message out of the text. My hope is that it might convince you that preparing sermons is work in it self.

Romans is one of the most revered, as to put it on the pedestal of the most systematic treatment of Paul’s understanding of gospel as some might understand it. It is also one of the most least understood of Paul’s letters.

It is least understood because the meaning of the letter has been somewhat obscured by preconceived ideas that people have regarding how one reads this beloved epistle. Without getting the preliminaries right, it is highly probable that any attempt of interpreting any passage in Romans (7:14-25 would be another example) would be deemed hazardous.

Below are some quotes that I got from David A. DeSilva’s book, “An Introduction to the New Testament: Context, Method and Ministry Formation”:

“…Romans has been read primarily as an essay in propositional theology, and interpreters have often lost sight of the concrete and specific set of circumstances and interests that called this letter into existence.” (598)

“A tragic irony emerges as when we consider that in Romans, Paul provides his fullest treatment of the way God had brought together people of diverse heritage and practice into one body of the church, and he also gives several chapters of advice for preserving unity in the midst of this diversity.” (598)

To stress Romans as strictly a letter stating Paul’s systematic treatment of doctrine and devoid of any pressing issues or addressing certain practices or misunderstandings would deem a the letter as a lifeless piece of document. As with many of Paul’s letters there was a specific issue that he was addressing and we can rightly assume that it is same for the case of when he wrote Romans. But more on this in the next post.

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