I’m teaching Romans again this semester, so I’m going to gradually read through the second edition of Douglas Moo’s The Letter to the Romans, second edition (2018) every Monday as preparation. So far I can say that this is a great update to an already terrific volume!
What emerges as especially significant from this sketch of Paul’s own situation is that he writes his letter to the Romans at an important transition point in his missionary career. For almost twenty-five years, Paul has planted churches in the eastern Mediterranean. Now he prepares to bring to Jerusalem a practical fruit of that work, one that he hopes will heal the most serious social-theological rift in the early church – the relationship between Jew and Gentile in the people of God. Beyond Jerusalem, Spain, with its ‘fields ripe for the harvesting,’ beckons. On the way is Rome. (p. 3).The issue, as it pertains to the theme of Romans, is whether this ‘people’ question is at the center; or whether, as I contend, the ‘individual’ question is at the centre. While, therefore, the focus on Gentile inclusion is a welcomed correction to a tendency in some forms of the Reformation tradition to submerge it too deeply below Paul’s concern with individual salvation, we think the tendency in much recent scholarship to elevate it to the level of the central theme of Romans is an overcorrection” (26-27).
For me, I think one must wrestle with the tension of how Romans deals with two questions: how sinful human beings attain God’s mercy and the question of who are God’s people?
I think Moo is basically right to say that the “righteousness of God” refers to “both God’s activity and, more remotely, the status of those who experience God’s righteousness” (77).