Romans 6.12-18; Psalm 123; Luke 12.29-48
Singularly among St Paul’s writings, the Epistle to the Romans was written to a community he had not yet visited [15.22-24], though the enormous list of greetings he sent to Roman Christians [16.3-16] serves as a reminder that Paul had been nonetheless instrumental in the formation of this Christian community, as scores of men and women who had heard Paul preach in other parts of the Empire came to Rome and brought his teachings with them.
Romans is a kind of calling card, a self-written letter of introduction, for Paul. [1.11-15] It is the most systematic of Paul’s writings since it doesn’t concern itself with answering particular questions or with dealing with problems that have arisen in a particular place. Rather, here Paul sets forth the fundamental tenet of his preaching, that in Christ God had acted decisively to reconcile the whole world, both the chosen Jews and the unclean Gentiles, to himself.
Romans stands first in the New Testament collection of Paul’s writings because it is the longest letter (the letters of Paul, that is, are arranged in the Bible in decreasing order of length). But it is appropriately placed at the head of this collection because in it we find the clearest exposition of Paul’s theology: the relentless call of God to those he created [1.20] to leave darkness, slavery and death and enter into light, freedom and life worthy of the name; together with God’s concomitant commitment to enlighten, free and enliven a world rendered impotent by its own submission to the dominion of evil.