How to study the book of Romans
Romans is one of the most well-known books of the Bible.
You’ve probably heard a hundred sermons from the book of Romans. You might list Romans 8 as one of your favorite passages. You might be aware that Romans contains some of the key passages on predestination, the doctrine of justification, the doctrine of sanctification, and other core doctrines of the church. And you probably know the role a verse from Romans played in Martin Luther’s articulation of the 95 theses that launched the Reformation.
Romans has had a life-changing impact on the lives of millions of people. It’s not hard to argue that this short letter written to a group of Christians two thousand years ago has changed world history.
So whether you know it or not, you have probably been influenced by the book of Romans.
What the Bible says about predestination
In any conversation about predestination, election, and God’s will in the act of salvation, two verses from Romans 8 are usually cited:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29–30)
These two verses are some of the most scrutinized in the Bible, so let’s take a moment to unpack them in more detail to see what they tell us about predestination.
See what Douglas Moo says about Paul’s understanding of predestination:
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Advice on studying Romans from Douglas Moo
We recently sat down with Douglas Moo to talk about some challenges students face when studying Romans. Take a look at what he says.
And be sure to check out his new online course, The Book of Romans: History, Meaning, and Application.
I’ve talked to Christians over the years who say, “Oh, I’m not ready to study Romans yet, that’s too heavy for me.”
You’ve probably heard it taught maybe from the pulpit, maybe you’ve taken a Sunday school class on it. You’ve read it. You’ve studied it perhaps even in Bible study.
Romans is a book that addresses many of those fundamental worldview issues. What does it mean to be a Christian? What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How is it relevant to me and to my church?
I think some of the reasons we therefore…
What is justification?
In Romans 1:17, Paul writes: “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”
This does not refer, in so many words, to “justification by faith.” However, the idea is clearly expressed: God’s righteousness is “by faith from first to last.” It is the one who is “righteous by faith” who will gain spiritual life.
What does this mean? Douglas Moo explains:
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Who Wrote the Book of Hebrews?
When you consider the wide agreement among biblical scholars about who wrote every other book of the New Testament, it’s a little mysterious that we don’t know who wrote Hebrews.
There are a handful of contenders. Let’s take a look at the reasons each of them might be the author.
Did Paul write Hebrews?
It is possible Paul wrote the book of Hebrews. There are…
Did Jesus Really Descend into Hell?
It is sometimes argued that Christ descended into hell after he died.
The widely used Apostles’ Creed reads, “was crucified, dead, and buried, he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead.”
But the phrase “he descended into hell” does not occur in the Bible.
Where did the phrase come from?
Did Jesus Know When He Was Going to Die?
Did Jesus expect to die? Did he intend to? If so, how did he view his death?
According to the Synoptic Gospels, from Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi onward, Jesus warned his disciples of his impending fate.
Historical evidence for the passion predictions
Some have argued that these passion predictions are prophecies created after the fact by the church, since Jesus could not have predicted his own death. Yet there is good evidence for their historicity:
Jesus uses the title Son of Man, which…
Who Killed Jesus? The Historical Context of Jesus’ Crucifixion
Much of the scholarly discussion about the circumstances of Jesus’ death relates to the question of who was responsible for his arrest and crucifixion.
Who was responsible? The Jews or the Romans?
Historically, the primary responsibility has been placed on the Jewish leadership and the Jews in Jerusalem. Throughout the centuries, this has sometimes had tragic consequences, resulting in anti-Semitism and violence against Jews.
More recent trends in scholarship have shifted the blame to the Romans.
The tendency to blame the Jews, it is said, arose in the decades after the crucifixion with the church’s growing conflict with the synagogue and its desire to convince Rome that Christianity was no threat to the empire.
Most contemporary scholars recognize that there is not an either-or solution to this question, but that both…
Why People are Reluctant to Talk about Their Christian Convictions
We recently sat down with Greg Koukl to talk about what prevents people from articulating their faith to non-believers. Take a look at what he said:
The best way to start
In the Tactics online course, Gregory Koukl offers practical strategies to help you stay in the driver’s seat as you maneuver comfortably and graciously in any conversation about your Christian convictions.
In fact, we think this is so important that we’re giving away free access to the first lesson.
Tremper Longman III Reflects on the Challenges of Studying Genesis
Genesis, like the rest of the Old Testament is a difficult book for us as twenty-first Christians to understand.
After all, we’re distant from this book in many ways. For one thing, it’s an ancient book. This is a book that was written three thousand five hundred years ago and has many strange and ancient customs.
The book of Genesis is also distant from us in terms of culture. It was written in an Ancient Near Eastern culture,…
Zondervan Academic Online Courses to Offer Academic Credit from Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School
We’re thrilled to announce a new relationship with Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary & Graduate School that lets you get academic credit when you take a course online from Zondervan Academic.
This is a great option to receive academic credit while working through an online course on your own—whether you’ve already begun a course, or you’re thinking about doing so.
With Zondervan Academic Online Courses, you can now earn up to 12 credits of advanced standing toward the following certificates/degrees at LBC | Capital:
a certificate an undergraduate degree an M.A. an M.Div.
You can also transfer LBC | Capital credit toward another accepting institution of your choice.
How it works
To get 12 credits of advanced standing:
Complete a defined track of 10 online courses from Zondervan…
How to Read the Old Testament Prophets
J. Daniel Hays recently sat down with us to talk about why the prophets are difficult to interpret, about Jesus’ use of the prophets, and about the prophets’ importance for understanding the whole Bible. His Message of the Prophets online course is now available for everyone. Learn more >
When people first read them, they think, wow, I just don’t have any idea what exactly what these guys are talking about.
The prophets are using poetry and figures of speech. They have this scathing critique and criticism against the kings and the people of their day.
The other critical thing about the prophets that makes them difficult is they are very much embedded in a specific historical timeframe, and the geo-political events around them are influencing what they’re saying and what’s taking place. It’s important to place…