Paul’s Letter to the Romans. By Colin G. Kruse. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012. 627 pp. Hardcover, $52.00.
I had been impressed by a quote I’d seen earlier from Kruse on 2 Cor 5:11. That made me think this commentary would be a good one.
I like this commentary, but a few caveats are in order. First, Kruse takes the normal Lordship Salvation view. He says there is such a thing as final judgment and final justification (p. 183). Paul, in his view, always spoke of everlasting life as a possible future reward for perseverance (p. 287). “Authentic faith for Paul always involved obedience and faithfulness” (p. 75). Second, Kruse’s understanding of the theme of the book is similar to the typical salvation from eternal condemnation view (p. 33, though see comments below). Third, though the author does not fully embrace the new perspective on Paul, he also only has minor reservations to it (pp. 21-22). Fourth, he sees the promise that “all Israel will be saved” not as referring to the nation of Israel, but “by ‘all Israel’ Paul means the Jewish elect of all ages” (p. 443).
However, there is so much to like about this commentary that those weaknesses are, in my opinion, far overshadowed by the strengths. First, Kruse has a goldmine of quotes and references to the current literature. Second, he is not locked in to restating what others say. For example, on the theme of the book he says, “The center, heart, and organizing principle of Pauline theology is the action of God through the person and work of Jesus Christ to deal with the effects of human sin, individually, communally, and cosmically. In brief, as far as Romans is concerned, the centrum Paulinum is the gospel of God comprehensively conceived” (p. 33, italics added). While this is similar to what most say, he goes beyond embracing, at least in part, the view of the theme taken by Lopez, Hodges, and other Free Grace proponents. Third, he has many excellent excurses on things like grace (pp. 185-86), Rom 16:7 and whether Junia was an apostle (pp. 565, 567), and eternal life in the Pauline corpus (p. 287, though he fails to explain the texts he quotes and his summary is incorrect). Fourth, Kruse often indicates how many times Paul uses key words and lists all the other uses, which is very helpful.
I believe this is one of the top commentaries on Romans. I highly recommend it.
Robert N. Wilkin
Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society