Romans 8-16 for You by Timothy Keller
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Curiously, the "For You" series split its two volumes on Romans at the end chapter 7 instead of Romans 8. Undoubtedly it did so in the interest of sharing space rather than trying to follow Paul’s literary structure. However, as Tim Keller shows in one of his introductory paragraphs, it is fruitful to consider Romans 8 with the rest of the letter:
"I have always believed that at the heart of Romans 8 you have the secret to really using the gospel in your heart to change yourself in a profound way; and that the rest of Romans will show you what that change will look like in a practical way. My prayer is that as you read the second half of this wonderful letter, you will find your heart thrilled by the gospel, your mind shaped by the gospel, and your life changed by the gospel.” (loc 67)
And as helpful as Keller’s treatment of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility in Romans 9 to 11 is, and a host of other subjects in 12 to 16, I doubt I’ll be the only reader to find his three chapters on Romans 8 the most stimulating to mind and heart. Keller shows how setting one’s mind “on the things of the Spirit” (Romans 8:5) relates to the rest of the chapter. It means to be preoccupied with what the Spirit is preoccupied with: "how in Christ we are adopted, loved and welcomed” (193). Yes, “to 'mind…the things of the Spirit’...means never to forget our privileged standing or the fact that we are loved, and to let this dominate our thinking, our perspectives, and therefore our words and actions” (202).
The strength of this book is its succinctness. It will help you understand the last half of this magnificent epistle without bogging you down. Indeed, it will do the very opposite: it will stir you up.
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