Rediscovery of the Epistle to the Romans

282 rediscovery of the letter of meritThe apostle Paul wrote the letter to the congregation in Rome about 2000 years ago. The letter is only a few pages long, less than 10.000 words, but its effect was profound. At least three times in the history of the Christian Church, this letter has led to a turmoil that has forever changed the church for the better.

Martin Luther

It was at the beginning of the 15. Century, when an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther tried to calm his conscience by a life that he called life without blame. But though he followed all the rituals and prescribed statutes of his priestly order, Luther still felt estranged from God. Then, studying as a university lecturer on Romans, Luther found himself attracted to Paul's statement in Romans 1,17: For therein is revealed in the gospel the righteousness that is before God, which comes from faith in faith; as it is written, The righteous shall live by faith. The truth of this powerful passage touched Luther's heart. He wrote:

There I began to understand that the righteousness of God is the one through whom the righteous live by a gift of God, the passive justice by which the merciful God justifies us by faith. At that point, I felt that I was born anew and had entered Paradise through open doors. I think you know what happened next. Luther could not remain silent about this rediscovery of the pure and simple gospel. The result was the Protestant Reformation.

John Wesley

Another uproar caused by the letter to the Romans took place in England around 1730. The Church of England went through hard times. London was a hotbed of alcohol abuse and easy living. Corruption was widespread, even in the churches. A devout young Anglican pastor named John Wesley preached remorse, but his efforts had little effect. Then, after being touched by the faith of a group of German Christians on a stormy Atlantic sea voyage, Wesley was drawn to a meeting house of the Moravian Brothers. Wesley described it this way: In the evening, I reluctantly went to a party on Aldersgate Street, where someone read Luther's foreword to the Letter to the Romans. At about a quarter to nine, while describing the transformation that God has in his heart through faith in Christ, I felt that my heart was warming strangely. I felt that I trusted my salvation to Christ, Christ alone. And it was given to me a certainty that he had taken away my sins, even my sins, and freed me from the law of sin and death.

Karl Barth

Once again, the Epistle to the Romans was of instrumental importance in bringing the Church back to the faith, while initiating the evangelical revival. Another uproar that took place not so long ago brings us to Europe in the year 1916. In the midst of the blood bath of the 1. During World War II, a young Swiss pastor states that his optimistic, liberal views on a Christian world approaching moral and spiritual perfection were shattered by the imaginative power of a slaughter on the Western Front. Karl Barth realized that the message of the Gospel needed a new and realistic perspective in the face of such a revolutionary crisis. In his commentary on Romans, 1918 appeared in Germany, Barth was worried that Paul's original voice would be lost and buried under centuries of scholarship and criticism.

In his comments on Roman 1, Barth said that the Gospel is not a thing among other things, but a word that is the source of all things, a word that is always new, a message from God that requires faith and that and that if it is read correctly, it will bring forth the faith it presupposes. The gospel, said Barth, requires participation and cooperation. In this way, Barth showed that the Word of God was relevant to a world that was battered and disillusioned by a global war. Once again, the Epistle to the Romans was the shining star that showed the way out of a dark cage of broken hope. Barth's commentary on the Epistle to the Romans was appropriately described as a bomb dropped on the field of philosophers and theologians. Once again the church was transformed by the message of the Epistle to the Romans, which had captivated a devout reader.

This message transformed Luther. She turned Wesley. She turned Barth. And it still changes many people today. Through them the Holy Spirit transforms his readers with faith and certainty. If you do not know this certainty, then I urge you to read and believe the Letter to the Romans.

by Joseph Tkach


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