Romans: The Cathedral of the Christian Faith
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel,
and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which
was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of
the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for
the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
Romans 16:25ff (Spoke 1, Cycle 3)
If the major themes of Scripture find their root in Genesis and their branch in Isaiah,
so they flower in Romans. Few books, if any, have received accolades quite like this
"cathedral of the Christian faith" as it was called by Frederick Godet.
In the introduction to his Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans he lists but a few of
the prominent Christian leaders who have recognized the unique significance of the Book of Romans:
Coleridge calls the Epistle to the Romans "the profoundest book in existence."
Chrysostom had it read to him twice a week. Luther, in his famous preface, says
"This Epistle is the chief book of the New Testament, the purest Gospel.
It deserves not only to be known word for word by every Christian, but to be the subject of
his meditation day by day, the daily bread of his soul." ... Melanchthon, in order to make it more
perfectly his own, copied it twice with his own hand. It is the book which he expounded most frequently
in his lectures. The Reformation was undoubtedly the work of the Epistle to the Romans,
as well as the epistle to the Galatians; and the probability is that every great spiritual revival in
the church will be associated as effect and cause with a deeper understanding of this book.
Reformer John Calvin wrote that "If a man understands Romans he has a sure road open
to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture." Gleason Archer concurs,
saying, "There is no more complete compendium of the Christian doctrine in the
sixty-six books of the Bible than the Epistle to the Romans." Likewise, Dr. Lloyd-Jones called it
"a colossal and incomparable statement of Christian truth." Chafer noted this "breadth of divine
revelation" when he said "the Book of Isaiah reminds
us of the Epistle to the Romans."
Furthermore, Paul Achtemeier noted that the Book of Romans, like both Genesis and Isaiah,
is marked by the primary Aleph themes of Creation and the
Sovereignty of God:
Paul was on fire to preach the good news of the gracious lordship of God expressed
in Jesus Christ, and nowhere more so than in Romans. Because God as creator is Lord over the whole
of created reality, reflections on that lordship encompass the full range of human
problems, and nowhere is that more the case than in Romans.
Just as Isaiah is the Alpha Prophet of the Old Testament,
so Romans is the Alpha Epistle of the New. The great miracle of God is that He
engraved the correlated preeminence of these two undisputed doctrinal masterpieces in the geometric Stone
of His everlasting Word.
A Divine Theological Tapestry
And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful
are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:15ff (Spoke 1, Cycle 3)
The thematic correlation amongst the three Books on Spoke 1 is astounding to behold.
A quick review of Romans reveals it to be an intricate theological tapestry woven primarily
with threads drawn from Genesis and Isaiah. Barry G. Webb noted a few of the threads from
Isaiah in his book
The Message of Isaiah: On Eagles' Wings
where he also adds his voice to the great chorus of scholars who have recognized Isaiah as the "Romans"
of the Old Testament:
In terms of theological significance, the book of Isaiah is the "Romans"
of the Old Testament. It is here that the threads come together and the big picture of God's
purposes for his people and for his world is most clearly set forth. ... The
New Testament moves to its climax by echoing Isaiah's promise of death conquered, tears
wiped away, and new heavens and a new earth. In fact it was Isaiah who, via the LXX, gave us
the term "gospel" ...
Webb's assertion that Isaiah "gave us the term 'gospel'" is based on passages like
Isaiah 52:15 that Paul quoted in Romans 10:15 above. He was speaking of the Greek word
evangelidzo, translated as "preach the gospel." This is the root of the English word
In the Greek Septuagint version of Isaiah it first occurs immediately after the prophecy of John
the Baptist (Inner Wheel correlation
Matt 3:3Isa 40:3), rendered as bringest good tidings in the KJV:
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain;
O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up,
be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!
Isaiah 40:9 (Spoke 1, Cycle 2)
The Doctrine of the Trinity is evident here in this Old Testament passage. The proclamation
"Behold your God!" refers to Jesus Christ, the Divine Shepherd mentioned two verses later
(Isa 40:11, see John 10:11). Robinson spoke truly when he called Isaiah "the prophet of the gospel
before the Gospel," and as Wolf noted above, "It is no accident that in Romans Paul quoted Isaiah seventeen
times - more than any other New Testament author." These quotes are, in fact, only a hint of the
truly profound integration of the Books on the First Spoke. Of the sixty explicit citations of
the Old Testament in Romans, exactly half come from the first two Books on Spoke 1.
Furthermore, Romans is the only Book on Cycle 3 that mentions Isaiah by name, and he does so five times!
(Rom 9:27, 9:29, 10:16, 10:20, 15:12). This is but one of the many unique links between Isaiah and Romans
found in no other New Testament Epistle on Cycle 3.
Moreover, the links between Genesis and Romans are just as profound and inextricable.
It begins with the universal conviction of sin based on the natural revelation of God given
in creation available to all people cited in parallel with Isaiah 1 above (BW book pg 63).
Romans charges that every person who rejects God is guilty and "without excuse, because that when
they knew God, they glorified him not as God ... and changed the truth of God into a lie,
and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator." This theme
culminates in Romans 3 with the declaration that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."
Having thus established the bad news of the universality of our sin and guilt before God,
Romans lays the foundation of the Good News on Abraham's encounter with God in Genesis:
What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh,
hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.
For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
Romans 4:1ff (Spoke 1, Cycle 3)
The highlighted passage is truly the Genesis of the Gospel, revealed in the Book
of Origins (Gen 15:6). Romans then continues to draw from Genesis, amplifying this idea and
applying it to all who would come to God through faith:
Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might
be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of
the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all, (As it is written, I have
made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the
dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
Romans 4:16ff (Spoke 1, Cycle 3)
The verse cited in Romans 4:17 with "as it is written" comes from Genesis 17:4. No other Book
of the Bible quotes this verse. It is unique to Genesis and Romans. This is an example of a KeyLink,
defined as a unique word or group of words found only in Books on a single Spoke that exemplifies
their common theme. In my decade of study, I have found many hundreds of such KeyLinks
connecting the Books on every Spoke of the Wheel. They are primary witnesses of its Divine design.
The truly stunning KeyLinks involve Alphabetic KeyWords based on the corresponding
Hebrew Letter, as is the case with the KeyLink between Genesis and Romans under discussion.
It is based on three fundamental Aleph KeyWords Av (Father), Avraham, and
The "v" in Av and Avraham represents the soft Bet (ב) which is its proper
pronunciation in these words (see the Alphabet Table, BW book pg 22).
Christians are familiar
with Av through its Aramaic cognate Abba which is both transliterated and translated in Romans 8:14:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of
adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
The KeyLink is based on the name God gave to Abraham as a sign that he would be the
Father (Av) of the Faith (Emunah), the prototype of the great multitude who
have been reconciled to God through the Faith of Jesus Christ (see Synopsis, BW book pg 128).
We have a Spoke 1 KeyLink based on three principal Aleph KeyWords
which exemplify the central
Gospel message that unites the Books of Genesis and Romans. Again, this
reveals how God
engraved the meaning of the text on multiple levels in its geometric structure and integrated
it with the symbolic meaning of the corresponding Hebrew Letter! Has such a wonder ever been
imagined, let alone seen?
The Holy Trinity
Yet for all this there is, as always, an ever-deeper wonder being revealed here.
The Bible was given that we might know the Triune God; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God revealed the character and role of each Divine Person in associated Alphabetic KeyWords.
The First Person is denoted by the Aleph KeyWord Av (Father) and the Second Person by the Bet
KeyWord Ben (Son). These ideas will be developed later in the appropriate chapters.
are overwhelming. We have a complete convergence of the meaning of the Hebrew Letters,
the geometric structure of the Wheel and the specific content of the Books with all of this
descending from the Triune nature of the Eternal God! This is, of course, exactly what
we would expect in a Divine revelation given by the Holy Trinity. We already saw a hint of
it in the role the Number Three plays in the tri-radiant symmetry of the Canon Wheel (Sign of Deity)
and the number of its Cycles. The more we learn of the structure of the Bible Wheel, the more
we understand it as a blazing synergy of fiery symbols designed by God Himself to bear the glory
of His Self-Revelation. Praise His Name, now and forever!
Yet there is still more to see just on this introductory level. The interweaving of
threads from Genesis continues in Romans 5 which traces the origin of sin and death to "Adam's transgression"
(Rom 5:14) saying "by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon
all men, for that all have sinned" and then linking this to God's gift of salvation by grace through faith,
"which is by one man, Jesus Christ" (Rom 5:15). Finally, Romans 9 contains a flourish of KeyLinks to
Genesis (BW book pg 134) just before shifting to the great salvation passages of Isaiah.
It is here that we find the ultimate joint proclamation of God's Sovereignty in the one of the
most profound KeyLinks in the entire Bible:
This is a double KeyLink because the verse in Romans is linked to two verses in Isaiah
(29:16, 45:9, see Synopsis, pg 127). Remember, this is a Spoke 1 KeyLink displaying the Aleph
theme of God's Sovereignty that has been universally recognized as dominant in both Isaiah and
Romans. This is the Divine integration of the content with the form of Scripture that utterly
astonishes the mind that is able to see what is really going on here.
The passage from Romans concludes the argument that was developed over three chapters (9-11)
in answer to the question "Is there unrighteousness with God?" (Rom 9:14). It is answered by argument
in Romans and by declaration in the immediate context of the Key-Link in Isaiah 45:21
where God flatly states "there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour." The whole chapter
of Isaiah 45 profoundly parallels the issues dealt with in Romans 9-11, where also we find the
greatest density of quotes from Isaiah. The KeyLink phrase therefore reveals the common theme
and thrust of these two Books. Its appearance nowhere else in the entire Bible must be understood
as the work of God who alone could have superintended its overall design.
This is the First Spoke of the Wheel – a pillar of fire that enlightens the
whole body of Scripture and bears Eternal Witness of its Divine Design. Entire volumes could be written
on the endless correlations amongst the elements of Spoke 1. In this one section alone we
have seen the independent witness of over nineteen mutually corroborating Biblical scholars – Watts, Hubbard,
Smith, Copass, Robinson, Delitzsch, Eusebius, Chafer, Wolf, Godet, Coleridge, Chrysostom,
Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Archer, Lloyd-Jones, Achtemeier, Webb – spanning nearly the entire
history of the Church. And this is but a small sampling of the great cloud of witnesses who could have
been called forth to testify. It is not to their authority I appeal, but only to their witness that
they themselves have seen the profound and inextricable links between these Books that now are
revealed to be geometrically integrated by God. Such witnesses abound for the entire structure of
the Divine Word. This is the great miracle of the Wheel. It has been implicit in
the Canon since the day it was sealed and the servants of God have been writing as if they were following
it as a hermeneutical Star Chart in their travels through the glorious galaxy of God's Holy
Scripture. What now should we expect since the inner workings of this Map of Heaven have
been explicitly revealed?