The Book of Romans has a long and rich tradition in the history of the Church. Some of the best theologians and teachers of the Church have devoted their entire lives to mining the depths of Romans and have provided some of the best commentaries on this vital biblical book. Pastor Donald Barnhouse spent some fifteen years on the book of Romans. Dr. John Piper spent eight out of his thirty-three years in pastoral ministry working through Romans. Over the years I’ve read two dozen commentaries on the book of Romans. It’s one of my “favorite” books in the Bible along with Psalms and the Gospel of John.
The wealth of material on the book of Romans is seemingly unending. From the early church fathers, to Augustine, Calvin, Luther, Piper, Sproul, MacArthur, and Moo (who has written so many commentaries, books, and articles on Romans alone I’ve lost count!) the endless literature on Romans is truly impressive. What has been needed and is still needed are books on Romans that aren’t technical but accessible for the lay person who has no knowledge of Greek. The excellent series God’s Word For You which aims to be Bible-centered, Christ-glorifying, relevantly applied, and easily accessible has entered the conversation on Romans with their recent volume Romans 8-16 For You by Dr. Timothy Keller.
Romans 8-16 For You is a very good book. As we’ve come to expect from Dr. Keller he writes in an easy to understand style. His teaching in this book is excellent. At some point I’d like to go over this book again in future studies and look further at his explanation on Romans 9-11. The parts I read slowly, namely chapters 6-9, and chapter 12 were all excellent. In these sections, Dr. Keller rightly emphasizes in his discussion on Romans 6, our new identity and how we’re no longer under the dominion of sin, noting we are to live in the realm of our new identity in Christ. His quotes from John Owen among others add to the helpfulness of his discussion. His comments on Romans 7 are also noteworthy and much needed along with his teaching on Romans chapter 8.
Romans 8-16 is a book for you. It’s a book to read slowly along with your Bible. Keller’s effort along with the other excellent volumes in this series are all geared towards the lay person with no background in reading commentaries. This volume would be good for pastors, teachers, and Sunday school teachers looking for an easy and accessible guide to walk them through the passages of Romans at the most basic level. There is nothing wrong at all with technical commentaries of which there is a truckload of them on the book of Romans. What is special about this volume is it will help the reader gain valuable insight into the book of Romans with a view to help their reading of the text. Commentaries are not a replacement for reading the Bible, but rather an aid or tool to help Christians read the text rightly, as the Holy Spirit illuminates it to them. By doing this, they will be able to test their thoughts on the biblical text against biblical orthodoxy found in solid conservative commentaries like this one by Dr. Timothy Keller.
Whether you’re looking for help while you’re reading the book of Romans or you’re a Pastor, Bible-teacher, or small group leader, I highly recommend Romans 8-16. This guide will help you to understand at the “ground” level what the book of Romans is all about. It will also help you to learn how to engage in sound exegesis of the passage with a view towards application of the text. Whether you use Romans 8-16 in this way or in another way, I believe you’ll find this volume in the God’s Word For You series to be very helpful.