Dear <<First Name>>

I hope you found the reflections we’ve read over the last week from ministers who’ve come to work with the URC from other countries stimulating.  We now turn to the letter to the Romans – written by another stranger in a strange land – which has been a key text for Christians since the earliest days of the Church.

Romans is the longest of Paul’s letters; scholars agree that it was written by the apostle himself.  Its underlying theme is to show how the good news of Jesus Christ brings salvation to both Jew and Gentile.  It is thought that the letter was written as early as 55-57 AD. 

Christians in Rome would have been of both Jewish and Gentile background and it is possible that the church suffered from internal strife between these two groups.  Paul ensures his arguments appeal to both Jew and Gentile.  The 16th Century debates on whether salvation was by faith alone or whether faith was, also, a work (something we do) were influenced by differing readings of Romans.  Luther, in his German translation of Romans controversially added the word ‘alone’ to 3:28 so it read: “thus, we hold, then, that man is justified without doing the works of the law, alone through faith” which is not in the Greek.   

Romans still inspires energetic debate in those who read and seek to interpret it.  What Paul might have meant in chapter 1 is fiercely debated by either side of the debates on lgbt people and the Church.  Some use Paul’s words about the Jewish people to imply that God’s covenant with them has finished despite Paul’s words to the contrary.  Romans is a document we have to deal with carefully and thoughtfully and I hope that, over the next few weeks, you will find your thinking stimulated as we read the book afresh.

With every good wish


The Rev’d Andy Braunston
Minister for Digital Worship

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