Having tried, again and again over many years, to follow Paul’s course in Romans with some application, we can only confess to an overwhelming and ever-increasing sense of the unity of the epistle, and, especially, of 1.16b-15.13. We are impressed again, every time we re-read it, by the unity of structure of that great central mass of Romans, by its orderliness in detail, and by its sheer intelligibility (by “its intelligibility,” we mean not, of course, that it is easy reading – there is much in it we do not expect to have grasped properly this side of death! – but that it makes more and more sense the longer and harder and the more rigorously one concentrates on what it is saying, and that the teasing difficulties it contains in abundance are not the sort of difficulties which a careless author creates by impreciseness of thought and slovenliness of expression, but the sort which are inherent in any serious human discussion of the realities it deals with: God, man, sin, death, forgiveness, sanctification, resurrection – to mention only some). We are more and more convinced that 1.16b-15.13 is a theological whole from which nothing at all substantial can be taken away without some measure of disfigurement or distortion.
We realize, of course, that where we think we see unity, articulation, coherence, some think they see so much confusion and such gross inconsistencies that they feel constrained to regard much of the epistle as the workmanship of would-be interpreters who have, more or less, seriously misunderstood Paul’s own thought. To all such, we can only say, with respect, that they do not seem, to us, to have read Paul very attentively or patiently…
From: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans by C. E. B. Cranfield; The International Critical Commentary series; 2 volumes (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, Limited, 1975-1979), 2:819.
C. E. B. Cranfield is 96 years old today.