Romans - Entire Letter

Jun 21, 2008

Romans Chiastic Structure.pdf

The entire letter of Paul to the Romans is crafted in chiastic form.  After the introduction, Paul used the first half of the chiasm as a seven-point "short-hand checklist” revealing his rhetorical strategy for the main body of the letter that follows (as the second half of the chiastic structure).. 

Note that the so-called practical section (12:1-15:16) was not included in that original checklist.  Its omission does not mean this section was an unimportant afterthought.  In fact, it probably indicates quite the opposite.  He didn’t need a checklist for this material because it was central to his concerns.  The practical section is marked off by inclusio (12:1-2 & 15:15-16).  The apostle sees his ministry as an administration of the priestly service of the gospel such that he is like a priest with a Gentile offering.  Regarding the Promotion of the Gospel (v 16a), note that Paul’s use of the figure of speech “Tapeinosis” (Humility) is confirmed by 15:17-19 in which Paul boasts in Christ about his service to God.  His mention of Rome during his prayer times (1:9-10) is reciprocated by a petition for prayers on Rome’s part (for Paul’s visit) in 15:30-33. Paul’s extended greeting in ch 16 is echoed at the very beginning of the letter in the form of praise to God for Rome’s faith (1:8).  Note also, that the traditional placement of the doxology section at the conclusion of the letter is confirmed by the parallel structure (contra some textual variants).  As a side note, it may be that Paul’s idiomatic use of “(beginning) from faith (leading) to faith” (communicating how the gospel reveals God’s righteousness as completely by faith), corresponds to the probable two-fold division of the corresponding Provision section of the letter (3:21-5:11 & 5:12-8:39).  Each of these sections has an introduction (3:21-31 & 5:12-21).  Each has an argument (3:27-4:25 & 6:1-7:25) and then a conclusion (5:1-11 & 8:1-39).  Both conclusions focus on the triad of gospel graces: faith, hope, and love.  For a few more notes regarding this structure, see the blog entry for Romans 1:8-18.