Bible Review 12:3, June 1996

Paul, Christian Community and the Jews

As a 14-year-old boy in Nazi Germany, I had to choose a verse from the Bible for my confirmation. My choice was Romans 1:16.

By Helmut Koester

Bible Review

For those Christian churches that follow the Common Lectionary, throughout the summer and fall of this year lessons from Paul’s Epistle to the Romans will accompany the readings from the Gospel of Matthew. Preachers will likely choose the Gospel readings as their texts for their Sunday sermon. Paul’s letter to Rome had once been the cornerstone of the Protestant Reformation, and its thesis of justification by faith rather than by works of the law (Romans 3:28) had moved millions of believers into a fresh understanding of the essence of Christian religion and piety. From Martin Luther’s lectures on this New Testament letter, to Karl Barth’s commentary (published just after the First World War), Paul’s writing had been the primary inspiration for Protestant theologians. Why is it discussed so little today, and why would many preachers today be so hesitant to take a chapter from this letter as the text for their homily?

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