Rev. Fr. Joseph Koterski, S.J.
Reading St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans - III
3rd Part: The Christology of Romans
The middle section of this letter (chs. 5-11) provides a detailed account of Jesus Christ as the one who enacts the new and eternal covenant. Beyond the promissory character of previous covenants this covenant brings about the justification of believers, for the death of Jesus in time (“at the right time Christ died for the ungodly,” 5:6) is the redemption of believers of all times. What is required of us is faith in Him, and this faith is what justifies us – that is, it restores right relationship to God after the damage done by sin. “We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:1) because while we were still God’s enemies “we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (5:10).
The inexhaustible richness of the mystery of Christ enables Paul to explore different facets in each of his letters. Where Ephesians stresses the headship of Christ over all creation and where Philippians concentrates on the way He pours himself out in complete humility for our sakes, Romans again and again stresses the Christ as making a definitive covenant that sets aright the relationship of humanity to God and permits each individual to be justified by placing faith in Him. From the obedience of such faith will come the works of charity that are the new commandments of this new covenant (chapters 12-16).