Is Romans Really The Greatest Letter Ever Written? -- By: Benjamin L. Merkle

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:3 (Fall 2007)
Article: Is Romans Really The Greatest Letter Ever Written?
Author: Benjamin L. Merkle


Is Romans Really The Greatest Letter Ever Written?

Benjamin L. Merkle

Benjamin L. Merkle received his Ph.D. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is currently teaching in Southeast Asia. He is the author of The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church (Peter Lang,2003) and 40 Questions about Elders and Deacons (Kregel, forthcoming). He has also published articles in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Trinity Journal, The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, and the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary.

Introduction

The Apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome has recently been called, “The Greatest Letter Ever Written.” N. T. Wright has a 6-part video series with this title, and John Piper, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, also gave his verse-by-verse expository sermon series the same title. Is Romans really the greatest letter ever written or is this merely a rhetorical devise used by preachers and teachers? Wright and Piper are not alone in their assessment of Romans, however. Listen to the testimony of others before them who have greatly valued this epistle.

Martin Luther: This epistle is in truth the most important document in the New Testament, the gospel in its purest expression. Not only is it well worth a Christian’s while to know it word for word by heart, but also to meditate on it day by day. It is the soul’s daily bread, and can never be read too often, or studied too much. The more you probe into it the more precious it becomes, and the better its flavour.1

John Calvin: When any one gains a knowledge of this Epistle, he has an entrance opened to him to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture.2

William Tyndale: [T]his epistle is the principal and most excellent part of the new Testament and most pure evangelion, that is to say, glad tidings, and that we call gospel, and also is a light and a way unto the whole scripture; I think it meet that every christian man not only know it, by rote and without the book, but also exercise himself therein evermore continually, as with the daily bread of the soul. No man verily can read it too oft, or study it too well; for the more it is studied, the easier it is; the more it is chewed, the pleasanter it is; and the more groundly it is searched, the preciouser things are found in it, so great treasure of spiritual things lieth hid therein.3

Samuel Coleridge: I think that the Epistle to the Romans is the most profound work in exi...

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