Luther and Romans
Five hundred and one years ago Martin Luther, then a professor at Wittenberg, began to explain to his students Paul’s letter to the Romans. It was Romans 1:17 that ignited Luther’s quest to reform Christianity, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed–a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” Luther’s commentary on Romans was the fruit of those lectures.
He begins his introduction with the following challenge. “This Epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament and the very purest Gospel, and is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”
At times I fear we are all a bit like Peter, who declared that Paul could be quite difficult to understand. See II Peter 3:16. For those of us who are not as brilliant as Paul, we might want to begin by concentrating on some of the more familiar passages in Romans and then expand out from them. The end of chapter 8 is a great passage. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
I know that is a very familiar text so that makes it a great place to start. That’s good pedagogy.