What’s More Relevant: Human Guilt Or Social Justice?

Ray Ortlund on what St. Paul believed to be most relevant to the needs of early Christians in Rome:

We might imagine ancient Rome in terms of gleaming marble, flowing togas and sumptuous banquets.  But for most people there it was miserable.  For example, the apartment buildings of Rome were built higher and higher, until their shoddy construction gave way and sometimes tumbled down.  Jerome Carcopino, in Daily Life in Ancient Rome (New Haven, 1940), page 25, refers to the emperor’s alarm over “the frequent collapse of buildings” there.  If we could get into a time machine and go stand on some street corner in first century Rome and listen, we might hear off the in distance the roar of some wretched apartment building falling over.

This is where the Roman Christians lived and raised their kids and met for Bible studies and bore witness, and so forth.

What did the apostle Paul consider most relevant to their very real and urgent human needs?  His letter to them, including the wrath of God, the universality of human guilt, the righteousness of God in the death of Jesus, faith as our only conceivable response, union with Christ, the gift of the Holy Spirit, the divine plan for Jews and Gentiles, the new community created by the gospel, and so forth.