The Jesus That Paul Preached -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 128:510 (Apr 1971)
Article: The Jesus That Paul Preached
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


The Jesus That Paul Preached

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

[S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

“The Epistle to the Romans,” C. H. Dodd said in the opening sentence of his commentary on the book, “is the first great work of Christian theology.”1 For this reason alone the letter is worthy of the most serious examination. More than this, however, can be said. It is the only part of Scripture in which there is found a detailed and systematic presentation of the main features of Christian doctrine. And since the Apostle’s thought is founded upon and drawn from the Old Testament primarily, Romans is also an excellent introduction to the theology of the Old Testament. Here is a book, then, which is calculated to provide its reader with an incisive insight into the riches of the Old Testament and with a sterling handbook to the theology by which Christian believers are to live. Talk about a multum in parvo!

Probably overshadowing all of this in the minds of many is the immense practical value of the letter, a value that has been demonstrated time and again through the centuries. It has made Romans the most widely influential letter ever written. In countless instances it has been the means of arousing individuals and churches out of lethargy and setting them on fire for the Lord Jesus Christ. And among the ones touched are some of the greatest figures in the history of Christianity. There is Augustine, the learned municipal teacher of rhetoric in the city of Milan. Troubled and disturbed over the condition of his soul, a “mighty rain of tears” pouring from his eyes, he threw himself upon the ground under a fig tree in the

garden of the house he shared with his friend Alypius. Amid the rivers of tears he kept crying out, “And Thou, O Lord, how long? How long, O Lord, wilt Thou be angry unto the end? Remember not our former iniquities.” There, while weeping and praying, he heard from a neighboring residence the voice of a child chanting repetitiously, Tolle, lege! Tolle, lege! What “Take it, read it! Take it, read it!” meant to the child, Augustine does not say. To him, however, it meant that he should open a book and read the first passage that he found. Pacing hurriedly to the place in the garden where be had left his friend Alypius, he took up a copy of Romans he had left there. Snatching it up, he opened it and read the first passage upon which his eyes fell, “Not in revelry and drunkenness, not in debauchery and wantonness, not in strife and jealousy; but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and as for the flesh, take no thought for its lusts.” With t...

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