The book of Romans plays a special role in Scripture. John Calvin called Romans an “entrance…to all the most hidden treasures of Scripture…” It is a book that helped launch the Protestant Reformation due to its influence on Martin Luther by proclaiming the true gospel of justification by faith–and it is a book that continually transforms readers today.
Timothy Keller in both Romans 1-7 For You and his latest Romans 8-16 For You walks through the amazing truths of the book of Romans and applies it to everyday life and faith. These expository guides are part of a larger series from The Good Book Co whose purpose is to help Christians read the biblical book better, feed themselves on God’s truth, and lead others by teaching them. This review will focus on Romans 8-16 for You but applies to Romans 1-7 for You as well (along with Keller’s book on Galatians and Judges and the whole series).
Each volume is around two-hundred pages with a dozen chapters each that unpack the rich and sometimes perplexing truths of the gospel as revealed in Romans. Each cover’s graphic does a good job explaining their section on Romans. 1-7 shows a wrapped gift waiting to be received and Keller does an excellent job in sharing the gift of the gospel and justification by faith in Christ. 8-16‘s cover opens up the gift and unpacks some of the most glorious truths of the gospel (8-11) and then shows how we practically walk it out (12-16).
Right in Keller’s Sweet Spot
While I’ve never read or heard anything from Keller that wasn’t a homerun, Romans 8-16 features topics that are right in Keller’s sweet spot: law versus the gospel, how to overcome sin by the Spirit, God’s sovereignty and human freedom, Christian engagement with the world and government, and practically living in community as people transformed by the gospel.
Right out of the gates the 8-16 volume nourished my soul and challenged me as it unpacked some of my favorite portions of Scripture. The three chapters on Romans 8 are worth the price of the book.
In a way, I felt like Keller was my tour guide that led me to the top of Mt. Everest and then looked out over the vast world, explaining the God’s glorious plan of the gospel and how He has equipped us to live the Christian life transformed by His grace. Keller’s clear explanations and powerful illustrations puts sometimes difficult to understand theological concepts at a reachable level for readers, and real life applications drive the transformation home. Throughout the book, Keller shares quotes and explanations from the likes of Augustine, Lloyd-Jones, Calvin, and Luther, showing the rich history the church has in studying such an important book.
One of the surprising elements of both volumes was the appendices Keller shares. Each volume includes a detailed structure of the chunk of Romans being covered and also goes deeper on certain theological topics (in 1-7 it is idolatry and the New Perspective on Paul, while in 8-16, Keller dives into sovereignty and election that arise from Romans 8-11). Each appendix provides a thorough, thoughtful, and accessible treatment of their subjects as possible in less than a dozen pages.
I work for an organization that trains pastors in expository preaching because I believe the Bible clearly understood and applied brings life to those who hear it. The same goes for expository guides like Romans 1-7 for You and Romans 8-16 for You. These books make Scripture and our response to Scripture both crystal clear and “more desirable than gold” (Psalm 19:10).
For that reason, along with Keller’s powerful communication of the message of Romans, I cannot help but give both volumes of Keller’s Romans for You Series my highest recommendation and say that this type of book might be the most useful thing you read other than the Bible. I recommend these practical books for Bible study leaders and all Christians wanting to dig deeper in Scripture but not be overwhelmed with overly academic or technical commentaries.
Title: Romans 8-16 For You
Author: Timothy Keller
Publisher: The Good Book Co
Rating: 5 Stars
*This book was provided by Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a fair review.