CIU Seminary dean publishes commentary on Romans

April 15, 2019

A new commentary on Romans written by the dean of the CIU Seminary & School of Ministry offers up-to-date scholarship and concrete application for preachers and lay teachers.  

The commentary by Dr. John Harvey is the latest volume in the Kregel Exegetical Library, providing a thorough explanation of every verse of Romans followed by theological insights and hands-on takeaways.

Harvey discusses his latest publication in this Q&A exchange:

What is the theological and foundational importance of Romans to biblical Christianity?

Romans is the most systematic presentation we have of the gospel Paul preached. He sets out his thesis in Romans 1:16-17 (NASB): “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘But the righteous shall live by faith’.” That thesis statement includes four major themes that Paul develops in the letter: the revelation of God’s righteousness (chapters 1-4), the demonstration of God’s power (chapters 5-8), the fulfillment of God’s plan (chapters 9-11), and the transformation of God’s people (chapters 12-16). Each of those four themes sets out a major aspect of Paul’s theology. The gospel is not about simply “being saved.” It tells us who God is, how we relate to him, how we fit into what he is doing redemptively, and how he expects us to live out our relationship with him.

Describe the three-question approach you take to your commentary.

It is easy for commentaries to get lost in the details. Details are important, and they can fascinate us. Sometimes, however, those details can distract us from focusing on the primary purpose of Scripture: how to know God and how to live in relationship with him. In Romans, Paul was seeking to communicate what his original readers needed to know for a reason that was pertinent to them. He was not writing abstract doctrine; he was applying doctrine to life. The task of exegesis is to understand (a) the truth the author was trying to communicate, and (b) why his original readers needed to know that truth. The task of exposition is to identify (c) ways in which contemporary readers share similar needs, and (d) how best to communicate the truth effectively to meet those needs. For the preacher and teacher, three questions capture those tasks: What did the author say? Why did he say it? What should I do with it? For each text section (e.g., Romans 3:21-26), the commentary seeks to explain the meaning of what Paul has written, identify the need contemporary readers share with Paul’s original readers, and suggest an objective for communicating that message in a way that meets the need.

In what ways will Sunday school teachers and other lay leaders in the church benefit from your commentary?

Hopefully, the commentary (a) will provide pastors, Sunday School teachers, and lay leaders with a model for interpreting, applying, and communicating the text of Romans, (b) will contribute to their understanding of the letter, (c) will help them understand how each passage fits into Paul’s theology, and (d) will provide suggestions on how they might organize and develop sermons or lessons for their own congregational contexts.

Describe your favorite verses in Romans or your favorite section of Romans.

I face the same challenge with this question that I do with the question “What is your favorite course?” The answer is “Whatever I happen to be studying at the moment.” I love Romans 1-4 because in those chapters Paul tells us that, despite our total lack of righteousness, God declares us righteous by grace through faith apart from works, religious ritual, or keeping the law. I love Romans 5-8 because in those chapters Paul tells us that the gospel delivers us from condemnation, sin, death, the law, the flesh, and all possible opposition. I love Romans 9-11 because in those chapters Paul tells us that God keeps his word and shows mercy to all. I love Romans 12-16 because in those chapters Paul tells us that we can live our lives and exercise our liberty as we renew our minds with the truth of the gospel. I love the letter’s opening (1:1-17) and closing (15:14-16:27) because in those sections, Paul shares his heart about his own ministry and challenges to Romans to be involved in the task of getting the gospel to those who have never heard. I came to love that long list of names in Romans 16 because they remind us of other extensive and inclusive impact of the gospel.

More on Dr. John Harvey’s Romans commentary is available at Kregel Publications.

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