Paul's Letter to the Romans

A nose for Romans

By Colin G. Kruse
IVP. 656 pages. 32.99
ISBN 978 1 844 745 821

This is the latest in the Pillar New Testament Commentary series, and what an addition it is! Combining faithfulness, erudition and clarity, this commentary will be a welcome friend on any serious Bible student’s shelves.

‘Romans may well be the most influential book in Christian history’, says the jacket blurb. Well, if it is, Kruse does a masterful job in helping us grasp its tremendous message. Explaining the text, but also interacting throughout with modern scholarship, he proves himself to be a reliable guide in what can seem a minefield of ideas and viewpoints.

Solid and wise

There is a helpful introduction to setting, themes, etc., but the vast majority of the book is a commentary on the text. His touch is solid, wise and trustworthy. The sovereignty of God, the reality of the fall on Adam, the awful grip of sin, the nature of the law, the wonderful rescue plan in Christ, the crucial place of grace and faith in bringing us into a right relationship with God are faithfully explained. New life in Christ is set forth clearly.

Did I agree with everything? Well, I was slightly less persuaded by his views on the ‘wretched man’ of the latter half of Romans 7 — but there again he did make me think!

His interpretation of ‘All Israel shall be saved’ may not satisfy everyone, but he is always fair and gracious as he represents the various viewpoints, before opting and hinting at his own. Sanity is evident throughout — for example, his comments about Phoebe and her role as a deacon of the church in Cenchrea are measured and nuanced.

A very welcome feature are the numerous ‘Additional notes’ interspersed in the text. They cover contemporary theological themes, such as the debate concerning ‘The Works of the Law’ in chapter 3 or the nature of homosexual practice described in chapter 1. There is an important note on the nature of ‘death’ in chapter 5 (though I could have wished for more discussion on this significant theme), and a helpful comment about baptism in chapter 6. ‘Is predestination corporate or individual’ is one from chapter 9 — again very helpful. There is even one on ‘Hospitality’ from chapter 12 — a much neglected matter. Altogether I counted 43 — they will stir you to think more clearly and in depth without being overwhelmed by information. Invariably, I found them informative and ‘on the button’.

Must for preacher-teachers

Just occasionally I was hoping for a bit more development of an idea, and an interacting with theological and contemporary issues. For example, ‘faith credited as righteousness’ in chapter 4 was tantalising in terms of the debate around ‘imputed righteousness’. But he is careful to stay with the text, rather than speculate.

Altogether a superb new addition. Certainly a must for preacher-teachers. Very highly recommended.

Ray Evans,
on the leadership team of Grace Community Church, Bedford