It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that if you understand Paul’s letter to the Romans you understand the Bible. Said otherwise, the person with no knowledge of the rich truths of Romans will necessarily have a weak understanding of the Christian faith. Conversely, the person with extensive knowledge of it will have a much enhanced understanding of the Christian faith. It truly has that central a place in the Scriptures.
Thankfully, we are well resourced when it comes to Romans. Some of the greatest books and richest commentaries are meant to guide Christians in their understanding of it. And new to the field is an especially helpful resource by Andy Naselli. Romans: A Concise Guide to the Greatest Letter Ever Written provides verse-by-verse commentary that is especially intended to help the reader trace the argument Paul is making throughout it—an argument Naselli summarizes as “the gospel reveals how God is righteously righteousing (i.e., justifying) unrighteous individuals—both Jews and Gentiles—at this stage in the history of salvation.”
Though it’s not my custom to copy and paste a book’s table of contents, in this case I think it is helpful as it shows how Naselli divides the book thematically around the theme of God’s righteousness.
- Introduction (1:1–17)
- The Universal Need for God’s Righteousness (1:18–3:20)
- The Means of Obtaining God’s Righteousness (3:21–4:25)
- Benefits of Obtaining God’s Righteousness (5:1–8:39)
- The Vindication of God’s Righteousness (9:1–11:36)
- Living in Light of God’s Righteousness (12:1–15:13)
- Conclusion (15:14–16:27)
As he goes he provides concise verse-by-verse (or perhaps, better, several-verse-by-several-verse) commentary. He often pauses to offer expanded explanations of key concepts and disputed texts. He also provides thorough and often extended annotations. At the end he suggests introductory and advanced resources to study Romans in greater depth and offers a fairly extensive study guide. (Additionally, his phrase diagram of Romans is published by Logos and available on their platform.)
This book is meant to be read alongside Romans and can be used for individual or group study. It can nicely complement traditional and more in-depth commentaries, whether for lay-persons, students, or pastors. It will prove especially valuable, I think, in its concision and in the way it avoids much of the nitty-gritty to maintain its focus on the central themes and argument.
If you wish to know Romans better, and especially to understand it as a cohesive and coherent work of literature, you will benefit tremendously from this book. Andy Naselli is a skilled and trustworthy guide who will lead you deep into the greatest letter ever written. Through it, the Lord will inform your mind, shape your heart, and change your life.
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