The Gospel of Romans is one of the most studied books in all of Scripture. It therefore makes sense that there are a plethora of commentaries on this densely packed epistle. Yet due to the modern movement collectively known as the “New Perspective on Paul” (NPP), all commentaries now fall into three groups. Commentaries which were written before the NPP movement, commentaries written in defense of the NPP, and commentaries written in defense of the traditional view of Paul’s teaching on justification. Now due to space and this review not being a short treatise of the NPP, I will not go into detail, but to say that if you hold to the NPP or the traditional view, most likely you will desire a commentary which promotes your view, for it encompasses not only a person’s view on Pauline epistles but of the fundamentals of Christianity.
Frank Thielman’s commentary on the book of Romans for the Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament produced by Zondervan Academic easily falls into the category of commentaries written in defense of the traditional position. This does not mean that Thielman ignores the NPP rather he examines it well, gives it’s strength and weaknesses before arguing in favor of the traditional position. Thielman not only writes from a traditional view of Paul, he asserts that Paul was the author and exegets Romans from a Reformed position. This makes sense since Thielman is an ordained minister of the Gospel in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). This is clearly seen and will be a benefit to the pastor with a Reformed view of scripture as well as for those looking for a work that argues this position.
As with all of the commentaries written in the ZECNT, this work is written in a manner which examines the Greek text yet, one does not need to have knowledge of Biblical Greek to use this work, rather it is just a benefit if they do. Furthermore since these commentaries are aimed at the Pastor, they are application packed, yet examines the scripture in detail to greatly aid in sermon preparation. Specifically with regard to this commentary, Thielman writes at a level that this work is helpful to the seminary student and scholar as well. That said most of the higher technical comments on the Greek text are kept in the footnotes.
This commentary is not without a few weaknesses, the most noticeably, while this commentary is a full commentary, I was expecting it to be a bit longer, not only because of the length of the epistle, but because of the theological impact that this book has on the rest of scripture. Thankfully even though this commentary is slightly shorter, than I would like, what is in the commentary is spectacular. That is why I would call this commentary full yet not robust, and would not be ranked as the best commentary on the book of Romans. All in all, I am a big fan of this commentary and it will be one of the first commentaries that I reach for in my preaching and teaching of the book of Romans.
This book was provided to me free of charge from Zondervan Academic in exchange for an unbiased, honest review.