Structure of Romans 5-8

This is part of a series of posts on Romans. Click here for the contents page.

After considering the structure of Romans as a whole, we will now consider the internal structure of Romans 5-8 (the central D section).

Many scholars consider Romans 5-8 to be one section, so that part of the structure should not come as much of a surprise. Chiastic internal structures for this section have been proposed, but the ones I have seen are different from the one that I will put forward. Whichever is correct, the main point is to see these chapters as forming one section. This position will be reinforced after considering the structure of the adjacent C sections.

Here is my proposed structure for the central D section of Romans 5-8. To show that this is a structure within the D section of Romans, each section is labelled as “D-…”.

structure-of-romans-5-8

The key to determining the structure is the marker “Jesus Christ our Lord” (or the same words in a different order). These words mark the end of each section, as well as the beginning of the first section. The word “Lord” doesn’t appear anywhere else in these chapters. These are the only parts of these chapters in which this full title is given to Jesus. In all other cases he is referred to more briefly as, e.g. “Christ” or “Christ Jesus”. The phrase “Jesus Christ our Lord” (in any word order) does not appear in either of the B or C sections of Romans, but does appear in each of the A sections.

Now we’ll take a look at the internal structure of each of these sections. The presence of internal structure within these sections is further evidence in support of the structure set out above. We’ll start with a structure of the D-A1 section (5:1-11):

structure-of-romans-5v1-11

The reference to having peace with God in the D-A1-A1 section may match with the reference in the D-A1-A2 section to being saved from the wrath of God.

Here is a structure of the D-B1 section (5:12-21):

structure-of-romans-5v12-21

Each of the D-B1-B sections includes four “one/many” contrasts. The central D-B1-C section has one of these. Each of the D-B1-B sections mentions “condemnation” and “justification”. On the outside, the D-B1-A sections focus on sin, death and the law (first on the situation before the law came, and then on the situation after the law came). The law is not mentioned between the D-B1-A sections.

Here is a structure of the central D-C section (chapter 6):

structure-of-romans-6

Within this section, the central D-C-B section of 6:12-14 has a structure of its own too:

structure-of-romans-6v12-14

This, the very centre of Romans, has echoes of the beginning of the B2 section of the letter (12:1): present your bodies as a living sacrifice’. Just after this central section are three references to ‘obedience’ (6:16-17), which remind us of the references to the ‘obedience of faith’ from the beginning (1:5) and end (16:26) of the letter.

Here is a structure of the D-B2 section (chapter 7):

Structure of Romans 7.PNG

7:7a is “What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law.”

7:7b is “For I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “You shall not covet.””

“Flesh” isn’t mentioned between the D-B2-A sections. “Members” also are not mentioned between these sections.

“Commandment” appears five times in the central D-B2-C section and only once outside this section, in the following verse (7:13).

The central D-B2-C section refers to “when the commandment came”, i.e. the effect the law had on Paul’s life. “I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died” (7:9). This concept is also discussed in the D-B1-A1 (5:12-13) and D-B1-A2 (5:20-21) sections. So the main link between the matching D-B1 (5:12-21) and D-B2 (7:1-25) sections is at the beginning and end of the D-B1 section and the centre of the D-B2 section.

There is structure within the central D-B2-C section (7:7b-12): the two references to “sin, taking opportunity through the commandment” (7:8, 7:11) surround verses 9 and 10, which form the centre.

The “law” is referred to throughout chapter 7, about 23 times.

Here is a structure of the D-A2 section (chapter 8):

Structure of Romans 8.PNG

“Condemnation” is not mentioned outside the D-A2-A sections. The phrase “in Christ” or “Christ Jesus” does not appear outside the D-A2-A sections.

“Adoption”, “children”, “sons” and “slavery” are not mentioned outside the D-A2-B sections. “Suffering” and “glory” are mentioned only in the D-A2-B and D-A2-C sections. Both D-A2-B sections end with “glorified” and feature similarly structured lists in the last verse of the section (8:17 and 8:30).

The central D-A2-C section of verse 18 transitions from a focus on the present in the previous sections to a focus on the future in the following sections. In the D-A2-A1 and D-A2-B1 sections, the future in only introduced at the end in verse 17. In the D-A2-A2 and D-A2-B2 sections, the future is much more in focus, for example with the emphasis on the future “hope”. In the central verse 18, Paul compares the present to the future, with future glory being the clear winner over present suffering.

In the next post, we will look at the structure of the B1 section of Romans (1:16-2:29).

This was first published at the Predestination Station, where comments can be made.

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6 thoughts on “Structure of Romans 5-8

  1. Pingback: Romans blog series – Contents | The Predestination Station

  2. Pingback: Structure of Romans – the whole letter | The Predestination Station

  3. Pingback: Structure of Romans 1:16-4:25 | The Predestination Station

  4. Pingback: Background to Romans 9-11: key teaching from Romans 1:16-4:25 | The Predestination Station

  5. Pingback: Romans 8:28-30 and its relevance to Romans 9 | The Predestination Station

  6. Pingback: Structure of Romans 1:16-2:29 | The Predestination Station

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