Teaching Romans, Vol. 2

The second volume of Teaching Romans, by Christopher Ash, begins with a repeat of the first section of Volume 1 (pages 9-46). Frankly, this seems a very considerate nod toward those preachers, teachers, and small group facilitators who might wish to purchase only one volume at a time, as well as those who might wish to loan a copy to someone else. That might seem a relatively small concern, but seems in keeping with the general ethos of Ash’s work. It’s very practical and empathetic toward everyday preachers, teachers, and Bible study facilitators.

The second, third, and fourth sections consider “The Overflow of Grace,” “A Church Shaped by Grace,” and the conclusion of Romans by looking at Romans 9-11, Romans 12:1-15:3, and Romans 15:14-16:27, respectively. As in the first volume, Ash first offers commentary on various pericopes within these sections, and then follows with “pointers to application,” “suggestions for preaching and teaching the text,” and suggestions for “leading a Bible study” on the same. The former remains thorough yet applicable; it avoids theological abstraction and minutiae. The latter remains consistently practical.

My only admittedly small quibble with Ash, and this is most certainly offered in a charitable spirit, pertains to some of the suggested sermon teaching points. These do not always reflect an overt grounding of imperatives in gospel indicatives. For instance, a suggested sermon on Romans 12:9-21 asks how a church with genuine love will minister, and then lists several marks of such a church rooted in the text. These are not wrong; in fact, they are very helpful descriptors of the imperatives within the text. Nevertheless, there is no clear mention of the indicatives upon which they rest, and in whose truth believers find the power to realize those things urged and described.

That said, I want to be fair. I saw nothing in Ash’s work to erode confidence in his understanding of the indicative-imperative relationship. This seems more the product of considering texts seriatim, building sermons on subjects previously addressed and assumed. However, even so, users of these volumes should bear this in mind and modify their own preaching and teaching accordingly if necessary.

Even so, this is again a very minor quibble (especially in view of the understanding just noted). Ash’s work is excellent. I’m very glad to add this to my collection, and would encourage others to do the same.

ReviewsKevin Labby