Moo’s Commentary on Romans (NICNT)

Moo, Douglas J. The Epistle to the Romans. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1996.

This is a near-perfect commentary in every way. It is a model of judicious, analytical reasoning yet always with an eye to the church. To better serve the theology student, this won’t be a standard book review. I am going to highlight many of the key exegetical moves Moo makes, so that you will know what to look for.

1:16. “Paul’s ministry to the Gentles derives from his understanding that the Gospel itself as eschatological revelation that fulfills the OT promises about the universal reign of Yahweh” (68).

Per the “righteousness of God,” I will deal with Moo’s position in his comments on the New Perspective. Justification, of course, is the verdict of a judge, not a moral transformation.

Works of the Law

If Jews were not insisting on works as a means of salvation, it’s not clear then why Paul brings up the contrast between faith and works (217).

3:25. Defends propitiation as a legitimate translation given the background of God’s wrath. The connotations involved with expiation, however, should not be dismissed. Cleansing from guilt is an important part.

4:18. Abraham’s faith is not an existentialist leap in the dark, but a leap from “the evidence of his senses into the security of God’s word and promise” (283).

6:4, passim. Paul makes baptism the means (dia) by which we are buried with Christ, not the place (361). Baptism mediates such a union. It does not contain it.

Romans 7. Moo deviates slightly from the traditional view that Paul is talking about the current struggles of a Christian. Moo sees the text as making more sense in light of Israel and Torah. Of course, he denies the Christian can be sinless in this life.

“Israel stands in redemptive history as kind of a ‘test case'” (417).

Romans 9. Moo adopts the standard Calvinist reading, but notes that we shouldn’t abstract it from the history of Israel. It’s important to notice that “spiritual Israel” means the remnant of God’s people. It is a group within ethnic Israel (574).

Romans 11. Key problem: How will “All Israel be saved”? Israel’s hardening will be removed when a numerical completion of the gentiles happens (719).

26a. Does the toutos mean “in this way” or “and thus?” Grammatically, it seems to be the former. Moo notes, however, that it also has a temporal reference (720). Of course, it can’t mean the church in this passage, and Moo marshals a number of arguments against such a view: Israel has meant “ethnic Israel” at least ten times in this pericope. Paul wouldn’t suddenly shift to the church without warning. It would also imply a partial hardening on the church.

Romans 13. The simplest reading requires obedience to authorities, even if they are bad. Civil disobedience, understood properly, is allowed but not so much in taking up arms against the government.


Romans 2:6-11

A. God will judge everyone equitably (6)
B. Those who do good will attain eternal life (7)
C. Those who do evil will suffer wrath (8)
C’ Wrath for those who do evil (9)
B’ Glory for those who do good (10)
A’ God judges impartially (11).


Working through this commentary will teach you how to think analytically.


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