At the end of yesterday’s Daily Reader, I challenged you to pay attention to the flow of logic: terms such as “since,” “therefore,” and “but now” form a bridge – either positively or negatively – between ideas. This is paramount to understanding Paul’s individual points: each one is part of a whole thread. You cannot discard any single conclusion without dealing with how its successors flow from it.
If in the narratives context and flow are critical, in the epistles, they’re essential. When we get to some of the big “Therefores” in these letters, like the one at the beginning of chapter 8, their conclusion rests on the entirety of what came before. Unlike in narrative, where themes hide in the background and are teased out of the story, for these epistles, the theme is the outline. Lean in and let yourself get swallowed up in it.
After yesterday’s assertion that righteousness is granted by faith, chapter 4 opens with a digression: “What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh?” Again, you’ll have to follow the trail of logic, as Paul makes a chronological argument, based on the sequence of events.
Abraham’s story grants Paul a historical analogue to illustrate his larger point, which opens chapter 5: that “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Another “type” from history forms the center of chapter 5, as Paul contrasts the condition of sin and death against that of grace and life.
Now before you jump into Romans, it might be helpful to recount a key passage that Paul references today. From Genesis 15:
After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram said, “O LORD God, what will you give me, for I continue childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “Behold, you have given me no offspring, and a member of my household will be my heir.” And behold, the word of the LORD came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” And He brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then He said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.
Our verse for this week is Revelation 22:5: And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
Romans 4 and 5. Now let’s read it!
And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.