14. The parts of the Epistle are three: I. The Exordium (Romans 1:1-15). II. A Treatment of the argument concerning the righteousness of the Gospel, and precepts for life (Romans 1:16-15:13. III. An Epilogue (Romans 15:14-16:27). Interpreters of all or most of the Paul Epistles, and of the Epistle to the Romans in particular, Ancient, Reformed, Lutheran, Roman Catholic; and also a Synoptic Table.
Roughly three great divisions of this Epistle are able to be established. For, first, is written an exordium, whereby the Apostle captures the benevolence and attention of the Romans, Chapter 1:1-15. Second, the ἐργασία/business of the same, wherein are treated both the doctrine concerning the righteousness of the Gospel, and the precepts of life showing Evangelical righteousness, Chapters 1:16-15:14. (Of course, this is the consistent method of Moses, the Prophets, Christ, and the Apostles, that from doctrine, which they deliver in the first place, they derive admonitions, exhortations, threats, consolations, etc.) Third, an Epilogue, Chapters 15:15-16:27.
I. The Exodium of the Epistle, Chapter 1:1-15.
In which Saint Paul inscribes his Epistle to the Romans, with his own name, and his office of Apostolic dignity, with its author and end, set down before (verses 1-7), and seizes their benevolence and attention, partly giving thanks to God on account of their faith; partly indicating his intention of coming to them (verses 8-15): chapter 1:1-15.
II. The Business of the Epistle, explaining the doctrine of Evangelical justification, and also precepts for life, Chapters 1:16-15:14. See:
1. His thesis, that the Gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes, to the Jew first, and to the Greek, since in it righteousness is revealed from faith to faith: chapter 1:16, 17.
2. The demonstration of the thesis: chapters 1:18-11:36. Now, two things are demonstrated:
a. That the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, which is demonstrated:
α. Κατ᾽ ἄρσιν, by way of negation, with respect to:
א. The Gentiles, whom he denies to be justified by the works of nature, because of their impiety in worship, on account of which God has given them over to their passions (verses 18-28), and unto a life of manifold unrighteousness, on account of which the righteousness of God held to be worthy of death (verses 29-32): chapter 1:18-32.
ב. The Jews, whom he proves to be liable to the condemnation of the law, from the hypocrisy, whereby they, judging others, are themselves found to be guilty and inexcusable (verses 1-7), to be judged first, and in association with those gentiles also, both sinning with or without the law (verses 8-16), with their objections refuted, sought from their prerogatives (verses 17-24), circumcision (verses 25-29): chapter 2: and from the advantage of Judaism and circumcision (verses 1-8): chapter 3:1-8.
ג. Both Jews and Gentiles, whose passive corruption he proves from testimonies of Scripture (verses 9-20): chapter 3:9-20.
β. Κατὰ θέσιν, by way of affirmation. Where the Apostles teaches:
א. That Justification is granted by faith alone upon Christ, whom God has established as a propitiation, without the works of the law (verses 21-31): chapter 3:21-31.
ב. That Justification has such a testimony in the law and the Prophets; as in the justification of Abraham (verses 1-5), and of David (verses 6-8), and also in the promise made to Abraham, which is ἀσύστατος/ incompatible with the inheritance of the law (verses 9-25): chapter 4.
ג. That Justification through faith in Christ is true, solid, and perfect: chapters 5-8.
אא. Both because it furnishes, not only peace with God, but also especially this, that in the midst of afflictions we are able to glory in the Lord (verses 1-11); and because, just as it was a true condemnation through the first Adam, drawing death after itself, so it is a true justification through the second Adam, drawing righteousness and life after itself (verses 12-19); and because the scope of the law, introduced after the promise, teaches that very thing, consisting in this, that, with sin abounding, grace abounds more (verses 20, 21): chapter 5.
בב. Because justification draws after itself newness of life, liberating from the dominion of sin and concupiscence (verses 1-11), and sweetly enticing and powerfully moving to the study of sanctification (verses 12-23): chapter 6.
גג. Because through the righteousness of Christ we, being dead to, and emancipated from, the law, the old Lord, live to a new Lord (verses 1-6), where is compared the effect of the law, both without grace, namely, that sin might be known, and latent concupiscence excited (verses 7-12); and with grace, that a man might know the relics of the flesh in himself (verses 13-16), regeneration, through which it happens that sin is imputed to the old man, not to the new (verses 17-20), and even his distress in a state of grace (verses 21-23), whence, panting for liberation for this body of death, he believingly gives thanks to God (verses 24, 25): chapter 7.
דד. Because it furnishes immunity from condemnation (verses 1-4), confirms the liberty of boasting, since those justified perceive themselves to work, not with the flesh, but with the spirit (verse 5), to be free from death, because to work with the spirit is life and peace, and makes it so that we might please God (verses 6-9), and draw after it the resurrection of the body (verses 10-13): and finally, because the justified have a certain hope of glory; which the Apostle proves, both because they are adopted as the sons of God (verses 14-16), and because they, suffering with Christ, are to be glorified with Him (verses 17, 18), and because the rest of the creatures also pant after the glory of the sons of God (verses 19-22), and because believers has the firstfruits of the Spirit (verses 23-25), and because their groans prove that very thing (verses 26, 27), and because the decree and foreknowledge of God, and the things following that, prove that the glory of grace has been prepared for them (verses 28-30), and, finally, because God faithfully loves those justified, and nothing is able to hinder that love (verses 31-39): chapter 8.
b. That the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, first to the Jew, then also to the Greek, or Gentiles: chapter 9-11. In which Saint Paul:
α. Speaking beforehand of his affection for the Jews, and the prerogatives of the Jews (verses 1-5), teaches that the promises of God made to the Jews are not void, although not all Israelites are adopted children, because not the children of the flesh, but of the promise, are counted as the seed (verses 6-8); which he proves from the types of Isaac and Ishmael (verse 9), and of Jacob and Esau (verses 10-13), where the charge of injustice is cleared from God, because He freely has mercy on whom He wills, and hardens whom He wills (verses 14-18), and to those objecting that God ought not thus to be angry with the disobedient (verse 19) he responds that the fullness of power belongs to the potter over his vessel (verses 20-23): chapter 9:1-23.
β. That vocation through the preaching of the Gospel is to be directed, not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles (verses 24-26), especially because most of the Jews rebelled (verses 27-29), stumbling over the rock of offence, puffed up with their own righteousness, not attaining to the righteousness of the law (verses 30-33): chapter 9:24-33.
γ. That the Jews, burning with zeal indeed, but not according to knowledge, following the righteousness of the law through the merits of works, have strayed far from Christ, who is the scope/end/goal of the law (verses 1-10); that hence all now believing, without distinction, whether they be Jews or Greeks, are saved (verses 11-13); and that the gentiles are indeed saved, not through the law of Moses, but through the new preaching of the Gospel, the necessity of which is proven from Sacred Scripture (verses 14-22): chapter 10.
δ. That at the same time the Jewish people were not completely cast away. For, the elect attain, which by the example of the time of Elijah is proven, and it is shown that a remnant of Israel remains according to the grace of election (verses 1-6); and that a hardening had to happen (verses 7-10); and that they did not thus stumble, so that they might completely fall, because their fall is the fullness of the gentiles, their holy Fathers, and they are as easily able to be engrafted again in the natural olive-tree, as the gentiles, a wild olive-tree, were able to be engrafted on it (verses 11-24); indeed, that hardening has happened to the Jews for a time, and then all Israel is going to be saved, which is proven by testimonies of Scripture, and the immutability of Divine election and calling, and the example of the gentiles (verses 25-32): chapter 11:1-32.
ε. That this entire arrangement concerning the calling of the Jews and the gentiles is worthy of admiration, and makes for the illustration of the glory of the riches, wisdom, judgments, and ways of God (verse 33), and, as no one knows the mind of the Lord, God Himself is a debtor to no one (verses 34-36): chapter 11:33-36.
3. Precepts for a life befitting the grace of calling: chapters 12:1-15:14.
a. Moral, that is, duties owed both to God by all (verses 1, 2), and to one’s neighbor, partly in Ecclesiastical function, where Paul also prohibits anyone, transgressing the limits of modesty, from exalting himself above others (verses 3-5), and commands each to discharge his office according to the gifts received (verses 6-8); partly in common, where he commends charity, and shows its exercise in love and honor of the brethren (verses 9, 10); in zeal, spirit, harmonious society, hope (verses 11, 12), hospitality (verse 13), love of persecutors, and of all to be served without pride (verses 14-16), and without thought of vengeance upon any (verses 17-21): chapter 12.
b. Political, where also he commends the obedience due to King and Magistrates (verses 1-7), and the mutual duties of citizens, so that no one might be a debtor to another in anything except love (verses 8-10), and the study of temperance and an honest conversation, because the night is far spent, and the day is at hand (verses 11-14): chapter 13.
c. Ceremonial, where:
α. Partly in matters of indifference he commands that the weak be supported, and forbids them to be judged, because God is gracious even to such (verses 1-4); the action of the weak is not inconsistent with piety (verses 5, 6); no one ought to live to himself, but to Christ (verses 7-9), and Christ alone is the judge of all (verses 10-13): partly he, prohibiting a stumblingblock to be placed before the weak, rather commands the same to be edified (verses 14-19), and presents reasons against scandal (verses 20-23): chapter 14.
β. From the example of Christ he proves it is necessary to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please the self, since He humbled Himself (verses 1-4); He has received us unto the glory of God (verses 5-7); He appeared as a minister of grace both to the Jews and to the Gentiles (verses 8-14): chapter 15:1-14.
III. The Epilogue of the Epistle, Chapters 15:15-16:27. In which:
1. He, commending this Epistle, render his reason for his τόλμης/boldness or audacity in writing these things, namely, the faith and knowledge of the Romans (verse 15), the grace of God given to him, so that he might be a minister of all the gentiles, where he glories in the success and model of his Apostolate (verses 16-21), and also the occasion of the same, impelling him to write, that hitherto he was not able to come to them, although he desire it (verses 22-29); whence he asks them to commend to God in prayer the success of his journey to them (verses 30-32), and implores peace for them (verse 33): chapter 15:15-33.
2. He, commending Phebe the Deaconess (verses 1, 2), salutes the faithful by name (verses 3-16), commands those that excite schism and scandals to be watched (verses 17-20), greets the Roman Church in the name of his Apostolic companions (verses 21-24), and conclude in the glorification of God (verses 25-27).