Soteriology And Eschatology In Romans -- By: Robert E. Longacre

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 41:3 (Sep 1998)
Article: Soteriology And Eschatology In Romans
Author: Robert E. Longacre

Soteriology And Eschatology In Romans

Robert E. Longacre

And Wilber B. Wallis*

* Robert Longacre is professor emeritus at the University of Texas at Arlington, 701 South Nedderman, Arlington, TX 76013, and Wilber Wallis is professor emeritus at Covenant Theological Seminary, 12330 Conway Road, St. Louis, MO 63141.

What type of discourse1 is Paul’s epistle to the Romans? The grand presentation of justification by faith that occupies chaps. 1–5 is not simply exposition but is clearly meant to be persuasive. Chapters 9–11 resemble exposition, but even here Paul is trying not merely to work through a problem. He urges onto Gentile believers the right attitude toward unbelieving Jews. Above all, this section contains elements that lead us to classify it as a predictive discourse. Further sections of the book are clearly hortatory. While persuasive discourse tries to influence our beliefs and values, and while expository discourse is a kind of problem solving, hortatory discourse sets out to modify conduct.2 Working our way through the various discourse types that are embraced in Romans reveals the purpose and structure of the book, where the various discourse types systematically relate to each other and are not simply a mélange. Finally, it is tempting to compare our emergent analysis to narrative. At all events we approach this epistle not simply as an object of analysis but as a book meant to exercise a regulative and inspirational effect upon us.

I. The Overall Thrust Of The Epistle

In Romans, then, granting the presence of embedded discourses of varying types, certain questions come to the fore: What is the main line of development? And what is embedded? These in turn tie into other questions: What is the fundamental thrust and purpose of the book? What are the developmental sidelines? We believe that the primary purpose and thrust of the book are best seen in 15:14–16. Paul starts out the passage by affirming that he is convinced that the Roman church, the recipients of the letter, are “full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct each other.” Then comes an epistolary aorist, “I have written you,” in a clause stating that there are counterconsiderations that led him to write to them quite boldly on some points, reminding them again of the importance of these matters. This is followed by a causal construction, “because of the grace given to me by God,” which is immediately followed by a purpose construction,

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