Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment: Romans: An Empire of Dust and an Epistle for the Ages -- By: Scott Lanser
Beneath The Surface, An Editorial Comment:
Romans: An Empire of Dust and an Epistle for the Ages
In November 2012 the Society for Biblical Literature met in Chicago at their annual conference and listened intently as Nick Zola and Grant Edwards1 presented papers on a newly- discovered fragment from the book of Romans. This significant discovery was dated to the early third century, joining a small group of only five fragments from the book of Romans thought to have been written prior to the fourth century.2 The text is from Romans 9:18–21 and portions of chapter 10. The discovery of this manuscript has captured the imagination of many and will captivate the attention of textual scholars for years to come. More importantly, it reminds us of how grateful we should be that God has preserved the entire text of the epistle to the Romans and that it is found in the corpus of our New Testament....to be read, studied, and embraced by all disciples of our Lord Jesus.
Indeed, may we join that auspicious list of individuals whose lives were transformed from the study of Romans:
- Augustine, in 386, picked up the scroll of Romans where he read the words: “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.” Later he wrote about that transformational moment: “No further would I read, nor had I any need; instantly at the end of this sentence, a clear light flooded my heart and all the darkness of doubt vanished away.”
- Luther, in 1515, began studying and teaching his students on the book of Romans. He relates, “I grasped the truth that the righteousness of God is that righteousness whereby, through grace and sheer mercy, he justifies us by faith... thereupon I felt myself to be reborn and to have gone through open doors into paradise.”
- Wesley, in 1738, relates the powerful transformation in his life after listening to the reading of Luther’s preface to the book of Romans: “While he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for my salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken my sins away, even mine; and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Luther once said about the book of Romans, “The more thoroughly it is treated, the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.” And Calvin observed, “If a man understands it, he has a sure road opened for him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.”
This issue of Bible and Spade began as a simple concept...
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