Recently, I linked to a blog post by Jonathan Brown where he outlines why he thinks Paul wrote the Epistle to the Romans. It inspired me to do the same, but in less space. I thought it would be a useful to do an exercise where I condense my answer into two paragraphs or less. This is my answer and I’d like to hear yours as well:
The Jewish-Gentile division in the church of Rome threatened the stability of Paul’s mission to Spain. In order to secure support from the Roman Christians he had to realign their allegiances. He decides to approach the problem by reshaping their self-identities around their Christ-identity. In order to do this he must convince his readers that all–Jew and Gentile–were once part of the old, Adamic humanity but now those who are Christians–Jew and Gentile–are part of the new, Messianic humanity.
This epistle addresses the Adamic problem including Jews and Gentiles. Paul uses this problem to show the glory of the salvation found in those who have followed Abraham’s model of faith which is now encapsulated in those who call Christ “Lord”. This leads to an exhortation to live as people who are part of the new humanity which includes everything from not being a slave to sin to obeying the government that God currently has in power. The goal is to make sure that the readers walk away seeing themselves as this new people in order to relieve the tensions between their old Jewish-Gentile identities.
Is a bit vague, sure? I still think it is a useful exercise. What would you say differently?