Probing Questions

Author: Michael, Whitney

Version: 1.0

Orig. Date: Nov 24,2007

File: RomansProbe.htm

Modern readers of Romans ought to consider probing questions in order to move away from misconceptions occurring partly from the gulf of time and cultural differences. Some questions below represent good general questions and others indicate questions based on a certain conclusions about Romans.

In addition to the questions there also are some answers to some questions with deference given to the certain conclusions on Romans.

The word audience may be used often instead of the word reader. In reality the original audience would be expected to be listening to the reading of the letter. Sometimes reader will be used for simplicity.

For now, mainly the first 3 chapters and chapter 10 have been presented with probing questions.

Chapter 1

Question: Whom is the audience as revealed in the opening verses?

A thought: The original audience likely listened to the reading of the letter rather than sitting down and quietly reading the letter individually. How does this change the dynamics involved among the audience?

A judgmental passage begins in verse 18.

Question: Does the judgment seem to speak against the audience or against another group?

The target of judgment focuses on an external group as revealed by the third person references.

Probing Question: Why does verse 18 burst into a judgment?

a) To provide a contrast for righteousness

b) To explain an unknown judgment and wrath

c) To create a certain mood among the listener's

The answer actually can be shown to be item “c” by the chapter 2 content. Item “b” can be excluded since chapter 2 mentions how the readers understood the judgment of God, as seen in part by Rom 2:3. And item “a” would be a typical selection and deserves further explanation.

Question: Do the Romans appear to have understood about righteousness without having to read the letter to them?

Question: What knowledge about righteousness were the readers assumed to have – as demonstrated by the issues brought up in the letter?

First note that the writing actually does offer the wrath in contrast to righteousness or in juxtaposition to righteousness. And ideas about or in contrast to righteousness are brought up.

Now of course the believers can be excited about a discussion of righteousness anytime. In many ways the knowledge about salvation held by believers in Rome should be similar to those today, not in all details, not in specific doctrines, but in the generalities of the nature of Christ and salvation. So the Roman believers would have a knowledge about righteousness. Paul even mentions it without describing the meaning.

Note, in the English, that “righteous” appears four times as an adjective, noun or base word (for unrighteous) in the first two chapters. So, the word could have more presence in English than in the Greek. And such increased presence then would overemphasize righteousness as the topic.

[ righteousness 1343 appears in 1:17 3:5,21,22,25,26 4:3,5,6,9,11,13,22, 5:17,21

6:13,16,18,19,20, 8:10, 9:28,30,31 10:3,4,5,10, 14:17

righteousness judgment 1341 in 2:5

righteous 1342 in 1:17 (just) 2:13 3:10,26 5:7,19 7:12

unrighteous 94 3:5

unrighteousness 93 1:18,29 2:8 3:5 6:13 9:14


Chapter 2

Question: How is the target of the judgmental passage of chapter 1 now identified?

The target is shown by verse 2:1 saying “You who judge” and then those are the gentile believers in Rome. Though the target is narrower by the same words especially in light of the use of singular you (as found in the Greek). So only speaking to the one, or each one, who judges is guilty – not the whole audience.

Question: Why did Paul accuse the Romans of judging?

Answer: Cause the Romans were judgmental. And the Roman audience joined in Paul in the judging attitude of Rom 1:18-32

Question: Is there much doctrine in the first 16 verses that is stated affirmatively rather than as a question?

No. At least most ideas are presented as questions “do you think” rather than as God saying “thou shalt.”

Question: Why did Paul elaborate on the issues of judgment?

Answer: So that the audience would dwell on the implications and feel the pressure of judgment.

Question: In verse 17 passage, who is targeted?

a) believers among Jews?

b) Jewish population that is unsaved?

c) hypothetical stereotyped Jews?

What is the purpose of the verse 17 passage judgment?

a) To condemn people

b) To show all people under sin

c) to Balance out judgments of chapter 1 and of first 16 verses of chapter 2

d) to lead gentile audience into accusation that Paul would soon correct them for

If the purpose is to condemn people, how does Romans show the answer to this condemnation – to show that this was Paul's intent – an intent to condemn everyone?

Question: Was Paul teaching or correcting the audience?

Answer: Maybe both. But he was accusing them of judging, or targeting any who were judging. Then later Paul recognizes his harsh approach – Rom 15:14- 15

And it can be seen where Paul wrote “I am convinced you are full of goodness” that it may have started to be perceived that Paul thought the Romans were, instead, seen as totally and irreparably away from Christ.

Chapter 3

Question: Why did Paul need to elaborate on the idea that all are under sin? (Rom 3:9-20)

a) did the Romans think that people there would not be under sin?

b) did the Romans think that not all people were under sin?

c) was there a belief toward universal salvation?

d) was there racial bias of the Romans against another race/ethnicity?

There was no indication in Romans to make one expect the first three answers. There is indication at the beginning ( in Rom 3:9) that there is a pitting of Jew and Gentile, which would point to item d.

Note that support occurs for the idea that all are under sin -- vs 19 that the whole world may be guilty. Vs 19 also shows that there was first a guiltiness under the law, and then at the end Paul extended it to include the whole world. And this is the tendency of the letter to Romans, namely to extend the reach first from the Jews then to the Gentiles.

Question: Where was the proof that all are under sin of verse 9?

Answer: It would seem to be shown by this verse that Rom 1:18-32, and chapter 2 showed that all were under sin. This gives some credence to the characterization of other analyses of Romans that highlight the different judgments as being gentile then Jewish. Yet the full statement of a charge or proof (more of a charge though) was in 2:9-12 which therefore required no more to make the charge or proof.

A bit of the problem in seeing righteousness as the topic of Paul's lecture is that there seems to be a goal of asking the question “where then is boasting?” of Rom 3:27.

The question should be asked: Why did Paul mention this issue of boasting? Was it just to explain righteousness as is apparently assumed by many people? Or was it to address a real problem? The flow of chapters 3 and 4 seem to make more sense as fixing a problem of boasting.

Question: If boasting isn't actually a problem, then what logic was there to ask about boasting at verse 27?

The reason shows to be based on a true problem of boasting.


boaster -G213 –Rom 1:30

proud –G5244 –Rom 1:30

boasting,glorying – G2744 – Rom 3:27,15:17

to boast, to glory – G2745 – Rom 4:2

boast – G2620 – Rom 11:18

highly, vainly – G5252 – Rom 12:3


Verse 14:1-2 introduces another dispute on food that seem to arise by the boastful against the timid members.

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

The description of the Jews was a bit like the Pathetique Sonata having the Ups and Downs effect on the emotions. Was this the effect Paul was seeking?

Question: Why did Paul express his prayer about Israel?

Answer: to draw compassion for Israel.

Question: Why was Paul writing on righteousness?

Answer: Largely to introduce Deut 30:14 “the word is near you...” passage and to discuss God's actions in accord with the prophecies to bring the message to the Jews.

Chapter 11

Other Outlines

>>Charles Burke

>>Douglas Moos – derived from his

>>Corey Keating Outline of Romans.pdf


Common Law Copyright 2007 by Michael, Whitney.