The book of Romans holds a place of honor in the history of Christian exposition and theology. Paul’s longest letter sets forth the basic message of the Christian Gospel from beginning to end, showing both its power to save and its ability to change the lives of those who believe on this side of glory. Few bookshelves could hold all the scholarly literature written on Romans, but few resources combine exposition of the text with timely application to the life of Christians.
Tim Keller writes on Romans in the “God’s Word for You Series” and helps to fill this noticeable gap in Romans literature in Romans 8-16 for You. In this volume, Keller explains the biblical text and theology while mixing in thoughts on how the text should shape the life of the Christian.
His handling of Romans 12:1 provides a small sample of how Keller works through the text of Romans. He explains that the main point of this passage is to give the reason why Christians obey God and present their lives as sacrifices to him. He briefly unfolds the meaning of the text by focusing on several phrases such as “therefore” and “in view of God’s mercy.” These phrases remind Christians of the good news of the Gospel and provide the motivation for why we should obey God. Moving into the text’s application, he contrasts fear-based obedience with obedience motivated by the Gospel. The main point in this section is to show why fear provides an inferior motive for obedience and why the Gospel provides the motivation and power to obey God for the long haul.
After showing the motive for obedience in the beginning of the verse he transitions to the second half of the verse to show what this obedience looks like in real life. He does this by walking word by word though the rest of the verse. He explains the meaning of the words and theology behind the text. Throughout the explanation he mixes in relevant application with illustrations to illuminate the text.
Christians need to give greater attention to the book of Romans in their personal lives. The book’s rich theological vision mixed with its in depth practical application form a deep foundation on which Christians can build their lives. Tim Keller’s Romans 8-16 for You serves as an able guide for the Christian’s study. Someone working through Romans in their personal devotions could read a section from the text and follow along using Keller.
(I received a complimentary copy of Romans 8-16 for You through the Cross Focused Review program in exchange for an honest review.)