“Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ …” ( Romans 5:1 from Romans 5:1-21 )
Many times when I read the epistles from Paul I remember back to classes when I was in seminary – in one particular class we studied the epistles of Paul, or at least one of his writings. I remember the professor talking about the cues and clues in Paul’s writing that helps the reader understand the format and intent of the letters, and how Paul constructed his letters.
I have incorporated into my studying of Pauline letters the approach he taught such that it is no longer a conscious reminder of how to read the letters of Paul, but an automatic method. For example, the word “therefore” means that Paul is concluded one unit of thought and is ready to move on to the next unit, so look for a shift. Also, the phrase after “therefore” will probably in a very shorthanded way sum up the much larger point Paul was trying to make. In chapter five Paul uses the Greek word that means “therefore” in English three times, and since it is a short chapter you can correctly conclude that Paul is seeking to say much in a short amount of space.
There are other things about Paul’s letters I learned, some specific to certain letters and other things more generally speaking. But it was not my intention to give a lesson on Paul. Nor, actually, a lesson on Romans – we only spend seven days looking at verses from Romans.
It is surprising to me though, how much of Christian faith is derived from Paul’s writings. Take the notion of being “justified by faith” – which is actually a pretty large and complicated notion. So much so that I would be hard pressed in a short amount of time to cover all of it. Even Paul’s explanation in chapter four of Romans has been expanded upon over the years. Paul is not afraid to tackle the tough issues – I have said in the past that I have not always agreed with Paul, but I admire his chutzpah!
Knowing Paul’s faith story, you can understand why being justified by faith is very important to him, and why he recommends and exhorts it to others. It would be fair to say that if Paul had not advanced that theory and theology, Christianity would have had a hard time getting off the ground.
May you gentle reader find security and comfort in your faith, knowing that the depth of your faith in our Lord has granted you justification, and may you have peace with God. Selah! And shalom for your day!