Unlike some people I know, Romans is not one of my favorite books of the Bible. In fact, I don’t really like it. At times, the book feels like Paul is showing off. At other times, it reads like a boring legal document. “The party of the first part, being God, holds the party of the second part, us sinners, to be solely culpable for all transgressions done by the party of the second part against the party of the first part.” Sorry, but that is what it reads like to me.
As I’ve been reading through the New Testament, one chapter a day, I was quite enjoying the gospels and Acts. Romans, however, loomed large. I was rather dreading it. The first seven chapters were as I remembered them. Then, I hit chapter 8. It was like someone put beautiful poetry on the 8th page of a 16-page legal document!
After detailing all of the wretchedness and sin of mankind in the proceeding chapters, chapter 8 starts out with Paul’s bold proclamation, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.”
Midway through the chapter (verse 15) Paul says, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’” Put that in your legal document!
The chapter concludes in verse 38 with one of the first (and sadly, few) passages I memorized, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is Christ Jesus our Lord.” Amen!
Wow. I am not a fan of poetry. I am even less of a fan of legal documents. Paul’s words in Romans, however, put the two in an amazing juxtaposition.
In the future, I don’t think I will dread reading Romans so much, though I think I will always look forward to getting to Chapter 8.